Tesla's Pigeon

by Melissa Dunphy

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  • Compact Disc (CD)

    Both recordings of Tesla's Pigeon - orchestral and piano-vocal - in a beautiful gatefold card case with artwork by Robinson Smith.

    Includes immediate download of 15-track album in the high-quality format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, and more), plus unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.
    ships out within 3 days
    edition of 70 

     $15 USD or more

     

  • Poster/Print

    These limited edition four-color prints are silk-screened individually by hand (see creation photos below!) from the original Tesla's Pigeon album artwork by Robinson Smith.

    Each sheet is approximately 11 inches square, with the printed image itself 8.5 inches square. They fit beautifully in frames designed for LP covers, with a 1.25" to 1.5" matt.

    Includes immediate download of 15-track album in the high-quality format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, and more), plus unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.
    ships out within 3 days
    edition of 30 

     $35 USD or more

     

  • Immediate download of 15-track album in the high-quality format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, and more). Paying supporters also get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.

    Download includes pdf's of orchestral score and piano-vocal score.

     name your price

     

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about

In the 1920's to 40's, Serbian-American scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla lived out his twilight years having metaphorically wrecked himself on Manhattan Island, bankrupted and broken by a public relations war with Thomas Edison. A staunch believer in the connection between his genius and sexual abstinence, Tesla shunned women, choosing instead to feed and care for street pigeons in his hotel room at the New Yorker. His closest friend was a white dove that visited him every day at his hotel room window. In moments of delirium, Tesla believed this pigeon to have mystical knowledge and the ability to communicate with him, and declared to friends that he was in love with her. One night, the bird flew into Tesla's room close to death, and according to Tesla, a light came from her eyes more intense than that of the most powerful lamps in his laboratory before she died in his arms. Tesla said that at that same moment, he knew his life's work was finished. Tesla's Pigeon is sung from the dove's perspective in these final moments, and explores parallels between the relationship between Tesla and his pigeon, and Prospero and Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest, with text adapted from Ariel's songs, Goethe's Faust, the poetry of George Sylvester Viereck, Serbian traditional song and poetry, and personal letters to Tesla.

credits

released 17 September 2011

Melissa Dunphy, composer www.melissadunphy.com
Jessica Lennick, soprano www.jessicalennick.com
Tim Ribchester, piano www.timribchester.com

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about

Melissa Dunphy Philadelphia

Nationally acclaimed award-winning composer Melissa Dunphy specializes in political and theatrical vocal music, such as the smash hit 2009 choral work the Gonzales Cantata (featured on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow). Her compositions have been performed around the country by Chanticleer, the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, St. Louis Chamber Chorus, and the American Opera Theater. ... more

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Track Name: I (Orchestral)
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Curtsied when you have, and kiss'd
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.

--Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel)
Track Name: II (Orchestral)
I have been thinking of you
all day and all evening as I do so often.
I sat on a little hillside this afternoon
looking over green meadows
to the sea beyond
and wishing that I could loan you my eyes
that you might have my vision
and drink in the beauty of the day.
You are as silent as only you know how to be.

-- Katharine Johnson, Letter to Nikola Tesla
Track Name: III (Orchestral)
I hunted thee where the Ibis nods,
From the Brocken's crag to the Upas Tree,
My lonesomeness was as great as God's,
When He cast us out from His Holy See,
But now at the last thou art come to me!

-- G. S. Viereck, "Queen Lilith" from The Candle and the Flame
Track Name: IV (Orchestral)
When the spring blossoms rain down,
When the fields' green benediction shines on us,
I will hurry to help you where I can.
I hover o’erhead in airy circles,
quieten your heart’s grim trouble,
Pull out the burning, bitter arrows,
Cleanse your mind of sorrow.
I lay your head on a cool pillow,
Bathe you in milk of amnesia,
Loosen your stiffened limbs
And return you to the holy light.

-- Goethe, Faust (Ariel)
Track Name: V (Orchestral)
Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly.
I am thy lover, I am thy mother,
Time cannot prison us, space cannot smother.
Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting golube,
Vas golube, vas golube …

--Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel)
--Katharine Johnson, Letter to Nikola Tesla

Oj golube, moj Golube
(O pigeon, my pigeon)

-- Traditional Serbian folk song

From Jerusalem, the holy city,
Flying came a swift grey bird, a falcon,
And he carried in his beak a swallow.
But behold and see! 'Tis not a falcon,
'Tis the holy man of God, Elias,
And he does not bear with him a swallow,
But a letter from God's Holy Mother.
Lo, he bears the letter to Kosovo,
Drops it on the Tsar's knees from the heavens,
And thus speaks the letter to the monarch:

-- Serbian epic poem, The Downfall of the Kingdom of Serbia
Track Name: VI (Orchestral)
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them.

--Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel)
Track Name: VII (Orchestral)
Hark! Time storms onward.
Our ears ring.
See another day has broken.
The morning’s gates creak and rattle.
Phoebus' wheels roll and crackle.
How noisy is the light!
Its trumpets sound,
Blinding eyes and astounding ears,
Hear the deafening light!

--Goethe, Faust (Ariel)

Was't well done?

--Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel’s final words)
Track Name: I (Piano-Vocal)
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Curtsied when you have, and kiss'd
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.

--Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel)
Track Name: II (Piano-Vocal)
I have been thinking of you
all day and all evening as I do so often.
I sat on a little hillside this afternoon
looking over green meadows
to the sea beyond
and wishing that I could loan you my eyes
that you might have my vision
and drink in the beauty of the day.
You are as silent as only you know how to be.

-- Katharine Johnson, Letter to Nikola Tesla
Track Name: III (Piano-Vocal)
I hunted thee where the Ibis nods,
From the Brocken's crag to the Upas Tree,
My lonesomeness was as great as God's,
When He cast us out from His Holy See,
But now at the last thou art come to me!

-- G. S. Viereck, "Queen Lilith" from The Candle and the Flame
Track Name: IV (Piano-Vocal)
When the spring blossoms rain down,
When the fields' green benediction shines on us,
I will hurry to help you where I can.
I hover o’erhead in airy circles,
quieten your heart’s grim trouble,
Pull out the burning, bitter arrows,
Cleanse your mind of sorrow.
I lay your head on a cool pillow,
Bathe you in milk of amnesia,
Loosen your stiffened limbs
And return you to the holy light.

-- Goethe, Faust (Ariel)
Track Name: V (Piano-Vocal)
Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly.
I am thy lover, I am thy mother,
Time cannot prison us, space cannot smother.
Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting golube,
Vas golube, vas golube …

--Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel)
--Katharine Johnson, Letter to Nikola Tesla

Oj golube, moj Golube
(O pigeon, my pigeon)

-- Traditional Serbian folk song

From Jerusalem, the holy city,
Flying came a swift grey bird, a falcon,
And he carried in his beak a swallow.
But behold and see! 'Tis not a falcon,
'Tis the holy man of God, Elias,
And he does not bear with him a swallow,
But a letter from God's Holy Mother.
Lo, he bears the letter to Kosovo,
Drops it on the Tsar's knees from the heavens,
And thus speaks the letter to the monarch:

-- Serbian epic poem, The Downfall of the Kingdom of Serbia
Track Name: VI (Piano-Vocal)
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them.

--Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel)
Track Name: VII (Piano-Vocal)
Hark! Time storms onward.
Our ears ring.
See another day has broken.
The morning’s gates creak and rattle.
Phoebus' wheels roll and crackle.
How noisy is the light!
Its trumpets sound,
Blinding eyes and astounding ears,
Hear the deafening light!

--Goethe, Faust (Ariel)

Was't well done?

--Shakespeare, The Tempest (Ariel’s final words)