Spielzeit 2023/2024 literature music

Katalog der Vögel

Olivier Messiaen / Pierre-Laurent Aimard / Birgit Minichmayr
Mit Texten von Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Judith Schalansky, Vinciane Despret
Festspielhaus St. Pölten / Ehemalige Synagoge / Praterlounge


Half of all field and meadow birds have disappeared. When Asked which musicians influenced him the most, Olivier Messiaen replied, birds and most of all the blackbird which can improvise over eleven or twelve verses. With his 13-part cycle “Catalogue d’oiseaux” (“Catalogue of Birds”), written between 1956 and 1958, the French composer delves deeply into the world of birdsong. He drew inspiration from his love for the sounds, colours, shapes and rhythms of nature. But how many of the 77 bird species whose voices Messiaen transcribed in different regions of France and to which he responded compositionally can still be heard today, in times of species extinction? 

Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and actress Birgit Minichmayr put Messiaen’s work on the world of birds into a new context with selected texts by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, author of the libretto of “JUSTICE”, and philosopher Vinciane Despret. In her book “Living as a Bird”, released in 2022, Despret describes the complex relationships between birds and their diverse worlds and forms of existence on our planet. Common notions of rivalry, territory, borders and ownership are set aside in favour of attentiveness to the complexity of social interaction in which space is constantly and collectively renegotiated and reallocated. 

The musical reading will bring Messiaen’s work to life in several parts, first at the Festspielhaus St. Pölten, then elsewhere in the city. 


  • Klavier
    Pierre-Laurent Aimard

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