Olivier Messiaen and the Albert's Lyrebird: from Tamborine Mountain to Éclairs sur l'au-delà'

Publisher:
Cambridge Scholars
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
Olivier Messiaen: The Centenary Papers, 2010, 1, pp. 52 - 79
Issue Date:
2010-01
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Olivier Messiaen heard and notated the songs of the two species of lyrebirds, the Alberts and the Superb, and both appear in his final major work, Illuminations of the Beyond (Éclairs sur lAu-delà). I will present the background to his hearing an Alberts Lyrebird and demonstrate something of that species musical virtuosity. My colleague, Hollis Taylor, will discuss Messiaens transcription and treatment of its song. Messiaen made extensive use of birdsong in his music. I had recorded Superb Lyrebird song where the reverse applied: birds in the wild using human flute music as territorial songs. I thought that would interest Messiaen, so in November 1981 I wrote to him via his publisher, sending him a cassette of lyrebird song, including the flute songs, and briefly explaining their history.
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