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 1953 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 oThéâtre du Petit Marigny by Yvonne Loriod and the ensemble Domaine musical, conducted by Rudolf Alberth.

Orchestral setting

Piano, piccolo, 2 flutes, oboe, 4 clarinets, clarinet in E-flat, bass clarinet, bassoon, 2 French horns, trumpet, glockenspiel, xylophone, 6 percussionists.

The work

Golden-fronted leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons) Golden-fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons) at Jayanti, Duars, West Bengal W Picture 308.jpg
Golden-fronted leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons)

The birdsongs in this piece are from Asia and the Americas: the Southern hill myna (? "Mainate hindou"), the Golden-fronted leafbird, the Baltimore oriole, the Greater prairie chicken, the Northern mockingbird, the catbird, the Indian robin, the White-crested laughingthrush, the American robin (entrusted to the two clarinets), the Swainson's thrush, the Hermit thrush, the Red-whiskered bulbul and the Wood thrush.

Hindu rhythms

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

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 minute.


Michael Thompson (French horn), London Sinfonietta (Orchestra), Paul Crossley (piano) (+ Des canyons aux étoiles... , Couleurs de la Cité céleste ) CBS Records, 1989, Angelin Chang (piano) + Cleveland Chamber Symphony) New European Recordings, won the 2007 GRAMMY for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (With Orchestra)

See also

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