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Messiaenic Birdsong (1 Viewer)


an occasional visitor
Have just enjoyed a slightly extended lunchhour listening to Stephen Moss talking about the birdsong music of Olivier Messiaen on the radio


The Golden Oriole

Ornithologist Stephen Moss explores French composer Olivier Messiaen's fascination for using birdsong in his music and how it became a refuge from watching his wife's slow death.
it should be available via the BBC's listenagain facility from later on today but
will also be repeated on Radio4 15:30 Saturday 13th Dec...


the following lifted from http://www.oliviermessiaen.org/messbiog.html

Since the age of eighteen Messiaen had been collecting the songs of thousands of birds throughout France and the world. Early works showed an inkling of birdsong influence but after the war in the late 40s and 50s he began notating their songs in great detail and this became a vital musical source for him.

He would begin by selecting a bird, say a warbler where he would notate hundreds of different warblers and then creates a composite of the best elements of all the warblers notated thus ending up with an 'ideal' warbler. The song is usually combined with the birds habitat, surroundings and time of day. 'It's the process of transformation' that Messiaen enjoys and relates this to the paintings of Monet who is not interested in putting say a water lily directly on the water of a picture but representing one variation of the light on the water lilies. His researches were so intense that he became an authoritative ornithologist able to recognize almost any bird that he heard. Several works have been devoted entirely to birdsong namely Catalogue d'Oiseaux, Réveil des oiseaux, Oiseaux Exotique, Le merle noir, Petites esquisses d'oiseaux and almost all other works include substantial references to the songs of birds.

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