Messiaen Le Merle Noir for Flute and Piano


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Messiaen Le Merle Noir for Flute and Piano

Messiaen Le Merle Noir for Flute and Piano

Composer-Olivier Messiaen


This piece was written in 1952 and lasts for a duration of 5 minutes. Based on the study of bird songs, it is divided into five sections with a mixture of tonal and atonal parts.

A technically challenging piece, Le Merle Noir is suitable for advanced players. French organist and composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) was inspired by Japanese music.

He had a very special way of composing and his work can be identified by its complexity, its diatonic aspect, its harmony with limited transposition, its colour and its additive rhythms. Messiaen composed many works related to ornithology and birdsong, including the ‘Bird Catalogue’ in 7 volumes and the ‘Treatise on rhythm, colour and Ornithology’ in 7 volumes.

Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) held a significant place among French composers, renowned for exploring mystical and religious themes. His compositions were characterized by a distinctive style, marked by intricate rhythms, rich tonal colours, and a unique harmonic language.

Growing up in Grenoble and Nantes, Messiaen’s musical journey began at an early age, as he started composing at seven and taught himself to play the piano. At the age of 11, he joined the Paris Conservatory, where he studied under Marcel Dupré and Paul Dukas. During his time there, he delved into private studies on Eastern rhythm, birdsong, and microtonal music. As a result, in 1931, he secured the position of organist at the Church of the Sainte-Trinité in Paris.

His reputation as a composer grew exponentially with the performances of notable works such as “Offrandes oubliées” (1931) and “Nativité du Seigneur” (1938). In 1936, he co-founded “La Jeune France,” a group devoted to promoting new French music. Moreover, he embraced the role of an educator at various institutions, all the while maintaining an impressive output of compositions, which often drew inspiration from Roman Catholic theology. Notable pieces, like “Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus” (1944) and “Messe de la Pentecôte” (1950), showcased his deep spiritual connection.

Among Messiaen’s remarkable oeuvre, the “Turangalîla-Symphonie” (1948) stands out, skillfully incorporating piano and percussion in a manner reminiscent of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra. Furthermore, his meticulous notations of birdsong in works like “Le Réveil des Oiseaux” (1953), “Oiseaux Exotiques” (1956), and “Catalogue D’Oiseaux” (1959) demonstrated his keen attention to nature’s melodies.

In his treatise “Technique de mon langage musical” (1944), Messiaen offered insights into his compositions and methods, shedding light on his artistic brilliance.

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