Musical Explorations of the Messier Catalogue of Star Clusters and Nebulae


Composed between 2004 and 2011, Musical Explorations of the Messier Catalogue of Star Clusters and Nebulae is Bruce Lazarus’ series of fourteen piano pieces based on the work of Charles Messier (1730-1817), a French astronomer who compiled a list of approximately 110 diffuse objects in the night sky, objects which in Messier’s day were often confused with comets but now are recognized as familiar objects such as as the Andromeda Galaxy, The Pleiades, Orion Nebula, and the Globular Cluster in Hercules. Recent Hubble telescope photos of Messier Objects reveal vistas of extraordinary beauty and also great variation in energy patterning – spiraling, floating, exploding, diffusing – which strongly suggest musical variations in rhythm, texture, formal design, and melodic elements. 

Recent performances of the Messiers - along with beautiful slideshows of the celestial objects - have included NYC’s World Science Fair, the MIT Celebration of Science Festival, South Florida Science Festival/Carl Sagan Day, ArtsAdhimsa Music Festival, Gloucester Area Astronomy Club, Salon33 in Princeton, and - with choreography by Mary Seidman and Dancers - at the La Mama Theater Dance Lives! Festival, 2015 Governor’s Island Arts Festival, American Dance Guild at Citibank Theater, and College of St. Elizabeth.


Messiers was discussed by Astronomy magazine columnist Glenn Chaple in his article “Music of the Stars,” Lazarus was interviewed by host Jim Freund on WBAI’s late night Hour of the Wolf following the 2013 CD release, and Lazarus' article on the Messier pieces is featured at Galactic Inquirer. This performance of Messier 63 Orion Nebula was selected Juilliard Alumni Video of the Month for November 2014: