• Messiaen and the Blackcap Warbler

    During this time of spring, New York City is on a major "flyway" of birds and is a hot spot for bird-watching. With more than 20 species of warbler that have been spotted in Central Park, this reminded one of our archivists about a manuscript given to Carnegie Hall by Messiaen of the blackcap warbler' call.

    Take a look of the manuscript below and listen to what the blackcap warbler sounds like.

    Here is a translation of the letter in the image above:

    17 June 1990

    Gino Francesconi, Archivist
    The Carnegie Hall Corporation Archives
    881 Seventh Avenue
    New York, NY 10019 – U.S.A. –

    Dear Sir,
    You will find attached for your collection of manuscripts from Carnegie Hall Archives, a bird song. It speaks of a “black-headed nightingale” noted by myself in France the 16th of May 1989 at 6:00 PM. Like all bird songs that I have put notes to (in France and in other countries) this text belongs to my masterpieces and remains my property. The copy is handwritten just as you had asked. As requested it is dedicated to “Carnegie Hall”. I ask you please to acknowledge receipt of this manuscript.

    With all my sincere good wishes,
    Olivier Messiaen

    Listen to what a blackcap warbler sounds like:

     Messiaen blackcap warbler male
    Blackcap Warbler (male)