A lyrebird in Paris : for clarinet, violoncello and piano
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Library shelf no. 785.2413/HAM 1 [Not for loan]
A Lyrebird in Paris was commissioned by the Lyrebird Music Society Inc. as part of their celebration of the ninetieth anniversary of their establishment in 1921 as the Melbourne branch of the British Music Society of Victoria. The branch was founded by the Melbourne-born socialite, music-lover and philanthropist Louise Berta Mosson Hanson Dyer (1888-1962). At the age of 42 Louise Dyer left Melbourne to make her home in Europe where she went on to found the music and record publishing company Éditions de L'Oiseau-Lyre in Paris in 1932. Louise named this company after that most spectacular and memorable of Australian birds the Superb Lyrebird. The first aim of her company was to produce a complete edition of the music of the French baroque composer François Couperin [le grand] (1668-1733), and the complete twelve volume set appeared in 1933. A number of the keyboard works in Volume IV have titles that refer to birds, such as "Les Fauvètes plaintives" (The plaintive warblers). L'Oiseaux-Lyre was also famous for its pioneering recordings of early instruments. Recordings such as Couperin's Pièces de violes performed on viola da gamba and harpsichord made in 1959. References to these works appear in A Lyrebird in Paris. For example, the cello part from bars 121-134 quotes freely from the viole Suite no. 1 in E minor.
However, the overriding character of this work is the presence of the lyrebird and its home amongst the tree ferns, dense undergrowth and magnificent towering mountain ash of the wet sclerophyll forests close to Melbourne. I was particularly inspired by recordings made in the 1960s in Sherbrooke Forest near Melbourne, of a lyrebird's distinctive territorial and courtship calls. These recordings provided the starting point for much of the melodic, rhythmic and structural elements of the work.
The theme of connection to place is an important one for human beings today as we struggle to come to terms with our relationship with our natural environment. Incorporating my response to birdsong in my compositions is an engagement with the notion that I am part of an environment, just as these birds are.
Instrumentation: Clarinet, cello, piano.
Duration: 10 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Lyrebird Music Society.
First performance: by Ensemble Liaison — 24 Sep 11. St Johns Southgate, Melbourne
- Inspired by: Birdsong
Performances of this work
24 Sep 11: St Johns Southgate, Melbourne. Featuring Ensemble Liaison.
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