Oiseaux exotiques

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Oiseaux exotiques (Exotic birds) is a piece for piano and small orchestra by Olivier Messiaen. It was written between 5 October 1955 and 3 January 1956 and was commissioned by Pierre Boulez. It is dedicated to Yvonne Loriod, the composer's wife.[1]


This piece was first performed on 10 March 1956 in Paris at the Théâtre du Petit Marigny by Yvonne Loriod and the ensemble Domaine musical, conducted by Rudolf Alberth.

Orchestral setting[edit]

Soloist(s): 1 piano, 2 flutes, 1 piccolo flute, 1 oboe, 4 clarinets, 1 clarinet in Eb, 1 bass clarinet, 1 bassoon, 2 French horns, 1 trumpet, 1 glockenspiel, 1 xylophone, 6 percussion.

The work[edit]

Golden-fronted verdin (Chloropsis aurifrons)

The birds that inspired Messiaen in this piece are: the gracula of India, the golden-fronted verdin, the Baltimore Trouble, the greater prairie chicken, the prairie northern mockingbird, the cat bird, the Indian shama, the white-crested laughingthrush, the migratory blackbird, entrusted to the two clarinets, the swainson, the thrush hermit, the red-whiskered bulbul and the wood thrush.

Hindu rhythms[edit]

Decî-Tâlas of ancient India, Cârngadeva system: Nihcankalîla, Gajalîla, Laksmîca, Caccarî, Candrakâla, Dhenkî, Gajajhampa - and karnâtic theory: Matsya-Sankirna, Triputa-Miśra, Matsya-Tiśra, Atatâla-Cundh.

Greek rhythms[edit]

Composed feet by the metre: Typistlo-Epitrite; verses by the metre: lambelegiac, logaedic verses: Asclepiad, Saphique, Glyconic, Aristophanian, Phalaean, Peregrinean.


The piece lasts about 16 minutes.


Michael Thompson (French horn), London Sinfonietta (Orchestra), Paul Crossley (piano) (+ Des canyons aux étoiles..., Couleurs de la Cité céleste) CBS Records, 1989

See also[edit]


External links[edit]