Australian composer born 30 August 1966 in Perth.
Liza Lim was born in Australia in 1966. She studied composition in Melbourne with Richard David Hames and Ricardo Formosa and in Amsterdam with Ton de Leeuw. Upon finishing her studies at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1986, she earned her masters from the University of Melbourne in 1996 and her PhD from the University of Queensland.
Lim is Sculthorpe Chair of Australian Music and Professor of Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Before that, she was a lecturer in composition at the University of Melbourne. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Berkeley, Cornell University, the Getty Research Institute, at Australia’s major universities, and at IRCAM’s Agora festival. She taught at Darmstadt in 1998. In 2012, she was named to the Akademie der Künste der Welt in Cologne and organized the musical program for the opening of the Cutting Edge Festival there, around the theme of circumcision. From 2008-2017, Lim was a professor of composition and the director of CeReNeM, the Centre for Research in New Music at the University of Huddersfield, UK. She is now Professor of Composition and inaugural Sculthorpe Chair of Australian Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she leads the ‘Composing Women’ program.
Many of Lim’s myriad commissions have arisen from her collaboration with the Australian ensemble ELISION, for which she has written such pieces as the chamber opera The Oresteia (1991-1993) and the Chinese ritual street opera Moon Spirit Feasting (1997-1999). In 1996, a concert of her work was organized by Radio Bremen, and another by the Ensemble für neue Musik Zürich in 1997. She frequently collaborates with the Ensemble intercontemporain, which commissioned pieces from her in 1992 – Li Shang Yin –, 1999, 2000 – Machine for Contacting the Dead –, 2005; she has also received commissions from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2006, 2008, 2009 – Pearl, Ochre, Hair String – and the Ensemble für neue Musik Zürich. In 2004, the Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned an orchestral piece, Ecstatic Architecture, which premiered for the opening of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry. Lim was composer in residence with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2005-2006, for which she composed Immer Fliessender, Flying Banner, and The Compass. In 2007, she held a residency in Berlin as a guest of the DAAD fellowship program. In 2021-2022, she was composer-in-residence at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
Her music has been featured in major festivals around the world, including the Maerzmusik Berliner Festspiele in 2008, the Venice Biennale in 2007, the Festival d’Automne in Paris – In the Shadow’s Light (2004), The Quickening (2005), Mother Tongue (2005) – the Salzbourg festival – Songs Found in Dream, which premiered in a performance by Klangforum Wien in 2005 –, the festivals of Lucerne and Donaueschingen –The Guest, for recorder and orchestra (2010). The SWR Symphony Orchestra (Germany) and the Brisbane and Melbourne festivals in Australia co-commissioned her opera The Navigator, which premiered in 2008 and was staged in Moscow and in Paris in 2009. The Cologne Opera and the Musikfabrik ensemble commissioned Tree of Codes, an opera for solo vocalists, ensemble, and electronics, which premiered at the Cologne Staatenhaus in 2016.
Lim’s awards and honors include the Paul Lowin Award, the Fromm Foundation Award, and the Ian Potter Foundation Senior Fellowship for Ochred String (2008), as well as several Australia Council Fellowships. She was a founding member of the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne (2012-2016) and in 2022 was elected a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin.
Her creative approach is shaped by the experience of ecstatic transformation and intercultural exploration. She draws inspiration from ritual music, aesthetics of the Aboriginal cultures of Australia and Asia, and Chinese theater – Moon Spirit Feasting. Traditional culture and modernist abstraction are woven together in her scores. Lim collaborates with traditional musicians: Koto, for koto and ensemble (1993), The Quickening, for soprano and qin (2004-2005), The Compass, for flute, didgeridoo, and orchestra (2005-2006), Sonorous Bodies, for koto and voice (1999),Philtre, for solo hardanger fiddle (1998), How Forests Think, for sheng and ensemble (2015-2016). She also composes for early instruments (The Long Forgetting, for Ganassi tenor recorder (2007)), combining them with traditional instruments in The Navigator.
Lim also composes music for installations, and has worked with visual artists such as Domenico De Clario – Bar-do’i-thos-grol (1994-1995) – Judith Wright – Sonorous Bodies – and Judy Watson – Glasshouse Mountains (2005, Queensland Music Festival).
By Laurent Feneyrou
The art of Liza Lim is a singular fabric woven of different compositional, cultural, and artistic threads. She describes her identity as “hyphenated” (between China, the home of her ancestors, and Australia, where she was born), which she has often observed from Europe (the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, etc.), and which implies that relationships between the different elements it contains are unstable, even ambivalent, resembling the crisscrossing of pathways, or the warp and weft of a cloth. Liza Lim often uses the language of textiles, of soft folds or rough stitches, of a veil stretched between an object and its observer, opening up a ritual space, as in Veil (1999) for seven instruments, or in The Weaver’s Knot (2013-2014) for string quartet, whose title refers to a sturdy knot that has been used for centuries in textile production.
Art such as this implies multiculturalism – what Lim sometimes refers to as “transculturalism” – which is a historical given in Australia, one of its foundational myths as a society. It is a myth, as Lim often underlines, whose brutality and inequality has been borne by its Aboriginal peoples. How to reinvent this historical given? How to find a way out of oppositions between Asian and Western-type societies? Liza Lim recalls in this vein that Chinese residents of Australia have maintained traditions and rituals that the Cultural Revolution forbid in China, and which, as a result, have been largely lost there. How can multiculturalism be a part of the creative process and define a language more rigorous and structurally articulated than the ‘crossover’ practiced by other composers, notably those with roots in countries of the Far and Middle East living in Europe and North America? From what place can musicians speak? What cultural authorities do they call upon? Lim has described the ways in which the notion of multiculturalism has come to represent a way of being in the world as an artist, a way of working that embraces both the idea of cultural exchange and intersection, and the understanding that there are differences within cultures that must be honored, as well1”.
Countless literary and musical allusions are threaded through the work of Liza Lim. In addition to Chinese and Australian culture, her most important influences, to which we will return, other significant influences to mention are: the alap of Indian raga in Inguz (Fertility) (1996) for clarinet and cello; the asymmetry of phrasing, a tension-generating silence, and the fluctuation between noise and timbre unique to Japanese tradition in Koto (1993), for eight instruments; the ecstatic and intimate Sufism of Hafez in Tongue of the Invisible (2010-2011) for piano, baritone, and sixteen instruments. References to the Persian poetry of Djalâl ad-Dîn Rûmî sparkle in The Alchemical Wedding (1996), for ensemble; The Heart’s Ear (1997), for flute, clarinet, and string quartet, whose initial phrase is based on a melody for Turkish ney; Ecstatic Architecture (2001-2004), for orchestra, which premiered at the grand opening of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall; and Immer Fliessender (2004), for orchestra, whose title recalls Mahler and the prologue to the Ninth Symphony in the Vienna of a crumbling empire, seen here as if through a window opened up from the Ottoman Empire, just beyond the border…
Her instrumental approach often brings these cultural mixings to the foreground: the timbres, at once “together” and “apart,” play out in lines that adopt more or less the same contour, but slightly altered, with other stresses and other ornamentations. For example, in Yuè Lìng Jié (Moon Spirit Feasting) (1999) – a Chinese ritual street opera for three voices and ensemble – flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, percussion, and cello perform alongside a koto (Japanese zither) and an erhu (Chinese spike fiddle). The work is non-religious, not strictly a ritual, but seeks to establish a community, albeit filtered through its own diaspora. Other examples include Burning House (1995), for koto and voice; The Alchemical Wedding (1996), which includes an erhu; the video installation Sonorous Bodies (1999), with koto; orMachine for Contacting the Dead (1999-2000), for twenty-seven musicians, whose central section returns to the timbres of the Chinese qin (a plucked instrument with seven open strings) as well as to other aspects of its repertoire. Lim describes the qin as emblematic for her of the ways in which the physical world and its sensuality, visceral experience, are enmeshed in the subtle realm of the energetic; to her, it is a physical manifestation of the way the tactile and the world of dreams can be intertwined2. Those familiar with the instrument know to listen not only to the plucking of the strings, but to the way the fingers caress the string once it has been plucked. There is a spiritual dimension to this noise, considered to be the instrument’s breath. Liza Lim uses the qin again in dialogue with a soprano voice in The Quickening (2004-2005), after Yang Lian.
The hybrid nature of Lin’s instrumental palette stands out in The Compass (2005-2006), a work featuring renewed focus on Australia (which the composer began to intensify in 2006) and one of the country’s distinctive instruments, the digeridoo. The work twines the instrument’s physical traits and the telluric symbolism of its raspy voice together with a large, Western-style orchestra and a solo flute. Themes of fire, earth, breath, and chant also run through The Compass, drawn from Aboriginal culture. (These cultural references return in Ochred String (2007) for oboe, viola, cello, and double bass, and in Pearl, Ochre, Hair String (2009-2010) for orchestra, whose titles refer to two elements used in birth, initiation, marriage, burial, healing, fertility, love, and witchcraft rituals, and which are associated with material transformation and spiritual states: dampened ochre used as pigment and string made from human hair rubbed with ochre and animal fat.)
Hybridity is not merely geographic, however. It is historical, as well, with careful attention to authenticity in instrument building and the musical language associated with it. Thus The Navigator (2008), an opera in six scenes and a prelude, for five vocalists, sixteen instruments, and electronics, with libretto by Patricia Sykes, combines a baroque trio (recorder, baroque harp, and viola d’amour, which dominate most of Scene 2, sub-titled “Sensorium”), a modern ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion, and strings), an electric guitar, and sound design. The Ganassi recorder is used as a solo instrument, notably in the Prelude. “The Ganassi flourished in 15th century Venice in a school of recorder playing that was highly virtuosic and full of extravagant ornamentations. As an instrument, it was associated with the supernatural, the melancholic, the pastoral and the erotic. […] I love the expressivity of the Ganassi recorder - the immediacy that the sound has, with its closeness to breath - it registers every subtle shift and nuance in the body3”, Liza Lim explains. She returns to this instrument in other pieces derived from The Navigator — Weaver of fictions (2007): The long forgetting (2007), Sensorium (2007), as well as in The Guest (2010), a concerto for recorder (baroque, Ganassi, and basset recorder) and orchestra.
The instrumental formations used accumulate strata, which bump up against each other or blend together harmoniously, and in which each instrument intervenes with its own acoustic and aesthetic qualities, carrying the memory of its repertoire and with respect for its own expressiveness. The result is a great richness of timbres, of gestures, and of moods. Instead of a smoothed-over whole, Lim builds situations in which differences may be flattened out or exacerbated to the point of friction. In Invisibility (2009), for cello in scordatura tuning, multiple degrees of pressure on the strings are specified (light, harmonic; medium, between noise and timbre; normal), the left hand at times muffling the strings so that only the sound of the bow hair is heard. Two types of bow follow each other, and are then combined: the first is an ordinary bow, and the second is what the composer calls a “guiro bow”, whose hair is wrapped around the stick, so that the two materials alternate as the bow is drawn across the string, creating a granular, unstable sound. Like a landscape of unpredictable rifts where, nevertheless, all movements become audible. The corporeal nature of the instrument and its interactions with the person performing on it are manifest: “The body is the place of ecstasy – it has its own ‘weathers’ and dynamical systems, shimmering patterns of physical, cognitive and affective precipitations that are continually shifting and transforming. In my musical language, the enculturated body with its rituals and ways of experiencing the world creates abstract structural patterns that approach the raw physical phenomena of sound in search of an intensity of experience, in search of a ways of opening to ‘suddenness’ or ‘excess’, in search of a staging of pure presence, in search of patterns of ecstasy4”.
The self and its fault lines
As we see, for Liza Lim, the coexistence of cultures in geography and history is less of a concern than the coexistence of these things in one’s own self, which arranges and orders them in other ways, and in so doing establishes ‘limits’ – not impassable borders, but permeable boundaries. Discussing the way Chinese cultures and structures have been defined from within the space of Australian culture, the composer has proposed the metaphor of fault lines, along which different elements rub up against each other, collide, and break apart5. Multiculturalism puts together differences, diffracts elements of interiority and supposes an archipelago of entities that travel – physically, metaphorically, and culturally; imagines that travel as an odyssey or a desert crossing, taking up the task of linking together. Not at all a linear pathway from one place to another, or, even less, from cause to effect – and, in opera, not at all narrative in form or carrying the features of a psychological drama – constellations, massed entities and open lines, composed of interruptions, suspensions, and forking paths, reflect the image of a “hyperworld” in motion, mobile and polyvalent. And so this musical form, attentive to the energies it teases out, may be characterized as total, “climatic” and “simultaneist.” (Lim draws analogies with acupuncture’s approach to the human body, where a needle placed at a point in the ankle might have a healing effect on the lungs). Above all, though, Lim’s multiculturalism implies that geographic, historical, cultural, and even sexual identity are never fixed; identity is a thing that redefines and rebuilds itself all the time. This idea sheds light on the mobility of instrumental and vocal sound: vibratos, micro-intervals, trills, multiphonics, distortions, veils, turbulences, continuous points of perforation and modulation of sound elements that are disjointed or assembled in ways that reject even the tiniest invariance in sound, giving it an aura and sketching out an inner polyphony, in its densest, knottiest heart.
From this point, the composer asks herself how to transcend the oppositions between Self and Other, to move between what is familiar and what is foreign. The Navigator responds with desire and love; with Eros, the primordial divinity, who incarnates duality. “I am two souls in myself,” wrote Sappho, who is cited in the work. Another of the poet’s fragments (R. 182) describes Eros as a “weaver of tales (muthoplokon) – or a “weaver of fictions,” according to the Prelude’s subtitle. Lim also discovers another phrase by Sappho in a book by Anne Carson: Eros, the Bittersweet (R. 97-98). Sung by The Navigator at the end of Scene 2, the words point to the ambivalence, the tugging at the senses, and the illusion that conditions the erotic. Through his mother, Pénia (Poverty), the god watches an unreachable horizon, because touching it, closing that distance, would signify that the horizon – the desire – would cease to be; through his father, Poros (Resourcefulness or Expediency, although poros can also mean a river or sea bed, a path, a way, a passage) is always traveling, traversing seas and expanses of sand. Greek cosmogonies teach us that Eros, the underlying force that assures the propagation of the species and the internal cohesion of the Cosmos, was born from the primeval Egg, engendered by the Night, and that his two halves, split apart, formed the Land and the Sky, enriching the themes of fertility and childbearing, which are another feature of Lim’s work. In the introductory notes to The Heart’s Ear (1997), Lim mentions a Rûmî poem describing how birdsong begins in the egg (a song about the very act of being born); The Quickening (2004-2005) describes the first time a mother feels her infant moving in her belly, as well as other kinds of birthing: lives, ideas, sap circulating in trees. A final example: the last scene in The Navigator describes a dream in the womb, during which, in a ritual of rebirth, a cicada is placed on the eyes of a fetus.
The organic and the natural are core themes in Lim’s work, from her first piece, Garden of Earthly Desire (1988-1989), all the way through to The Navigator where, very explicitly, the electronics distort recordings of cicadas6, and in her most recent pieces. Citing the philosopher Elizabeth Grosz, Liza Lim explains, in an article titled “Patterns of Ecstasy” that art is not so much about human creativity as it is about nature, earth’s ability to make superabundance for the senses – the singing and dancing of birds, lilacs rustling in the wind. A bird does not sing about anything, but it intensifies our perception of a given moment, in a given place and its surroundings, a testament to the epiphanic quality of aesthetic experience. In this context, the cycle of seasons sings out in In the Shadow’s Light (2004), for string quartet; this cycle appears in The Quickening through metaphors of voyages through death and life, as well as in The Four Seasons (after Cy Twombly) (2009), for piano; here, as “climates” and “seasons” of an inner life.
Another dimension of Liza Lim’s work must be discussed here: her attention to language and to writing. Composed for coloratura soprano and fifteen instruments, Li Shang Yin (1993), the name of a 9th-century poet, is inspired by Chinese ideograms, which complete “meaning” in an analogical, more than a discursive form7. And if the grammar of a language orients one’s understanding of the identity for which it is the vehicle, Lim analyzes the way in which the form of Chinese verbs does not vary according to the subject. This grammatical singularity is the focus of the libretto of Yuè Lìng Jié (1999). Here, it is instructive to examine the idea of native language, which the composer evokes in the very title of Mother Tongue (2005), for soprano and fifteen instruments, along with early childhood and the intimate tonalities of a child’s first words, as well as the intonations one finds at the moment of death, and even the disappearance of language, which is inextricably bound to the loss of homeland. Words are broken down into abstract entities, allowing them to react at an equal level with the elements: water, droplets, waves, earth, dust, etc. Voodoo Child (1989), for soprano and seven instruments, after a Sappho poem, also tends toward this breakdown of language; the work pushes toward an analogy, a transposition, or even a translation of the guessed-at sounds of Ancient Greek. Sappho’s verses, which enunciate love, dampness, and honey, “hot and cold sensations prickling under the skin” (in Lim’s words), uncontrollable trembling, rendering the tongue unable to speak - this creates a score with flexible textures, where transformations of vowels, modulations of the throat and mouth cavity, and harmonic modifications inspired by Mongolian chanting respond to strings bowed near the bridge, to the harmonics and song of wind instruments, to cymbals, to timbales and percussions acting as frequency generators.
The theme of language introduces the idea of ceaseless rewriting and the demanding nature of myth and mythology. “Myths are incredible storehouses of deep cultural knowledge so I find them endlessly fascinating, relevant and alive8”. Already in The Oresteia (1991-1993), a “memory theater”, fruit of a collaboration between Lim, the director Barrie Kosky, and the choreographer Shelley Lasica, the composer worked with material from Ancient Greece: the drama of the Trojan War, the murder of Agamemnon, Orestes and the matricide, and the prophetess Cassandra. The result is “a story of unappeased possession” based on Aeschylus’s Oresteia, a drama by Tony Harrison, and poems of Sappho9. The Navigator is also packed with mythological references: the archipelago obviously recalls Homer’s Odyssey; the ghostly presence of the Mahabharata can be felt; and Scene 3 alludes to an episode in the Breton folk version of Tristan and Isolde10. The concrete elements of the plot are less important than the oblique lines of force around the themes of metamorphosis and risk. If the game of love is always a return to a game already played, desire and rewriting set the The Navigator in a mythical temporality, that of suspension in ravishing, to the point of devouring the other (Scene 2) or that of eternal return, the alternation of love and war, creation and destruction, opening and closing – resembling the valves of the heart with which the opera closes.
However, Liza Lim’s art draws on ritual more than it does on myth, in that it shatters narration, but above all in that it builds a space in which invisible forces or phenomena become manifest. “In my formation as a composer, I notice that I have sought out cultural places and practices that arise from epistemological views or ‘ways of knowing’ that recognise a deep interrelationship between realms of the visible and the invisible11”. In this, Australian Aboriginal teachings have been pivotal for her, with their dialectical relationship between the visible and the invisible. This dialectic is a paradigm that structures meaning. A smooth surface where the eye perceives nothing is not necessarily atonal, static – it may be full of turbulence and moving forces, at another depth. The tiniest opening and that tension is revealed. In an interview with Véronique Brindeau, Lim explained that her thinking about instruments is influenced by her own cultural roots: in Chinese culture, ritual objects, particularly funerary objects, are made to look exactly like those used by the living, but with deliberate imperfections worked into them, which are, in fact, the appropriate way to make offerings to the spirits12. “Shimmering” (bir’yun) in the visual art of the Yolngu, who inhabit north-eastern Arnhem Land in Northern Territory Australia, has also attracted Lim’s attention. As Tim Rutherford-Johnson has written, “This technique projects a shimmering brightness that is seen as emanating from the ancestral creators of Yolngu mythology: bir’yun thus endows the paintings themselves with ancestral power. The shimmer of a painting is not only read as a representation of that power, but is also felt as a direct manifestation of it. That power is regarded as dangerous and is a highly-restricted form of knowledge[…]13”. In other Aboriginal cultures, rituals are undertaken by healers who move through dreaming to hunt and capture songs, dances, and ceremonial markings on bodies, as well as other patterns. It is said that they recognize these forms by their shimmer, a light-like or aura-like quality that both hides and occludes the presence of a spiritual reality. Songs heard in dreaming are described in the kukatja language, for example, as the shimmering of a waterfall. An event’s intensity is measured in this way, its life-vibration, the life-source that is water in a desert land. This idea of shimmering appears in many of Lim’s works, notably in Shimmer Songs (2006) for harp, three percussions, and string quartet; In the Shadow’s Light (2004); and The Quickening. Homorhythmic illusions, the granulated sounds of a rain stick, or, as we have seen, of a guiro bow, and other bouncing bow strokes… Everything here expresses the abandonment of the continuum and discontinuous ecstasy.
- Liza Lim, “Peggy’s Ghost – Multi-Cultural Identity and Creative Renewal” : http://www.newmusicnetwork.com.au/PGH/LL01.html (link verified 12 January 2015).
- Cited in https://www.elision.org.au/ (link verified 12 January 2015).
- Liza Lim, “Ambivalences d’Eros,” Interview with Jérémie Szpirglas, Program for The Navigator at the Amphithéâtre de l’Opéra de Paris-Bastille, Paris Festival d’Automne, 8 December 2009: https://lizalimcomposer.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/music-theatre-now_the-navigator.pdf (link verified 3 December 2021).
- Liza Lim, “Patterns of Ecstasy,” Darmstädter Beiträge zur neuen Musik, 21 (2012), p. 43: https://lizalimcomposer.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/liza-lim-patterns-of-ecstasy.pdf (link verified 3 December 2021).
- Liza Lim, “Peggy’s Ghost – Multi-Cultural Identity and Creative Renewal,” op. cit.
- Cicadas in nature, but also from Greek mythology, where they symbolized desire. When the Muses appeared, the cicadas, who were thought to have been transformed humans, were so charmed by their music that they only wanted to sing, forgetting all else and perishing in a state of desire.
- On ideograms, see in particular Liza Lim, “Der Fortbestand der Ungewissheit. Vortrag zur Zukunft der Musik”, MusikTexte, 96 (2003), p. 22-26.
- “Ambivalences d’Eros,” op. cit..
- On this work, see Johannes Bauer, “Und Troja brennt noch immer. Arbeit am Mythos in Liza Lims The Oresteia,” Dissonanz / Dissonance, 97 (2007), p. 14-17.
- In one Breton version of the legend, Tristan waits; will Isolde’s boat have a white sail, announcing that his beloved is alive and well, or the disastrous black sail, announcing her death? Tristan learns that the sail is black and dies. “Are we actually that reliable witnesses to our own desires or do our projections cast a veil on whatever we experience?”, Lim wonders (“Ambivalences d’Eros,” op. cit.).
- Liza Lim, “Patterns of Ecstasy,” op. cit., p. 27.
- Liza Lim, “Entretien avec Véronique Brindeau,” Accents, January-March 2001, p. 6.
- Tim Rutherford-Johnson, “Patterns of Shimmer: Liza Lim’s Compositional Ethnography,” Tempo, 65 (2011), p. 3.
© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2015
- Solo (excluding voice)
- Amulet for solo viola (1992), 7 mn, Ricordi
- Burning House for koto with voice (1995), 12 mn, Ricordi
- Philtre for violin or hardanger fiddle solo (1998), 5 mn, Ricordi
- Sonorous Bodies for koto with voice (1999)
- Glasshouse Mountains for solo cello (2005), Inédit
- The Long Forgetting for tenor Ganassi recorder (2007), 5 mn, Ricordi
- Weaver of Fictions prelude for The Navigator, for Ganassi recorder (2007), 5 mn, Ricordi
- Wild-Winged One for solo trumpet (2007), 8 mn, Ricordi
- Sonorous Body for clarinet (2008), 12 mn, Ricordi
- Well of Dreams for alto trombone (2008), 5 mn, Ricordi
- Invisibility for cello (2009), Inédit
- The Four Seasons (after Cy Twombly) for piano (2009), 40 mn, Ricordi
- Gyfu for solo oboe (2011)
- Love Letter postcard piece for hand drum (2011), partition téléchargeable sur le site du compositeur
- Axis Mundi for bassoon (2012-2013, 2014), 10 mn
- The Green Lion Eats the Sun for double bell euphonium (2014), 7 mn about
- The Window for quarter-tone bugle (2014), 6 mn
- An Ocean beyond Earth for cello (2016), 15 mn, Ricordi
- An Elemental Thing for wood-block (2017), 15 mn, Ricordi
- Roda - The Living Circle for trumpet (2017), 11 mn, Ricordi
- The Su Song Star Map for violin (2017), 12 mn, Ricordi
- The Table of Knowledge for double bass (2017), 18 mn, Ricordi
- bioluminescence for solo flute (2019), 6 mn, Ricordi
- The Su Song Star Map for viola (2017-2019), 12 mn, Ricordi
- Dianna for horn (2020), 2 mn, édition du compositeur
- Microbiome for bass clarinet (2020), 5 mn about
- elec Sex Magic for contrabass flute, electronics and kinetic percussion installation (2020), 45 mn
- The Slow Moon Climbs; the deep arrangement for flute, from Sex Magic (2021), 2 mn
- ‘Cello Playing ~ as Meteorology for cello (2021), 8 mn
- Lucid dreaming for solo flute (2022)
- Nautilus for solo contraforte (2022), between 7 mn and 8 mn
- One and the Other (Speculative Polskas for Karin), for solo violin (with low octave string) (2021-2022), 13 mn
- Transcendental Étude for solo piano (2022)
- Chamber music
- Pompes Funèbres for string quartet (1987), 12 mn, Inédit
- Hell for string quartet (1992), 10 mn, Ricordi
- Inguz (Fertility) for clarinet and cello (1996), 6 mn, Ricordi
- Perth for flute and percussion (1997)
- Anactoria for six percussionists (1998), 15 mn, Ricordi
- Ming Qi (Bright Vessel) for oboe and percussion (2000), 3 mn, Ricordi
- Spirit Weapons for cello, double bass clarinet and three percussionists (1999-2000), 17 mn, Ricordi
- In the Shadow's Light for string quartet (2004), 26 mn, Ricordi
- Shimmer Songs double quartet, for three percussionists, harp and string quartet (2006), 15 mn, Ricordi
- Ochred String for oboe, viola, cello and double bass (2007), 14 mn, Ricordi
- Ehwaz (Journeying) for trumpet and percussion (2010), 15 mn, Inédit
- Weaver's Knot for string quartet (2013-2014)
- The turning dance of the bee for sextet (2015), 13 mn, Ricordi
- Pharmakon for two tenor-bass trombones (2018)
- Ash – Music for the Eremozoic for saxophone quartet (2020), 16 mn
- String Creatures for string quartet (2022), 27 mn, Ricordi
- Instrumental ensemble music
- Garden of Earthly Desire for ensemble (1988-1989), 26 mn, Ricordi
- Diabolical Birds for ensemble (1990), Inédit
- Koto for koto and ensemble (1993), 12 mn, Ricordi [program note]
- Cathedral for orchestra (1994), 15 mn, Ricordi
- Street of Crocodiles for ensemble (1995), 14 mn, Ricordi
- Gothic for eight solo string instruments (1995-1996), 10 mn, Ricordi
- The Alchemical Wedding for large ensemble (1996), 18 mn, Ricordi
- The Heart's Ear for flute, clarinet and string quartet (1997), 12 mn, Ricordi
- ircam Veil for ensemble (1999), 10 mn, Ricordi
- Machine for Contacting the Dead for clarinet, cello and ensemble (1999-2000), 38 mn, Ricordi [program note]
- The Tree of Life for large ensemble (2001), Ricordi
- Ecstatic Architecture for orchestra (2001-2004), 25 mn, Ricordi
- Immer Fliessender « Ever Flowing » A companion-piece for Mahler's Ninth Symphony, for orchestra (2004), 8 mn 30 s, Ricordi
- Flying Banner Fanfare, for orchestra, based on Wang To (2005), 9 mn, Ricordi
- Songs Found in Dream for ensemble (2005), 16 mn, Ricordi
- City of Falling Angels for twelve percussionists (2006), 18 mn, Inédit
- Pearl, Ochre, Hair String for large orchestra (2009-2010), 18 mn, Ricordi
- Winding Bodies: 3 knots for nine instruments (2014)
- Ronda - The Spinning World for nine musicians (2016), 16 mn, Ricordi
- Extinction Events & Dawn Chorus for ensemble (2017), 40 mn, Ricordi
- Sappho/ Bioluminescence for orchestra (2019-2020), between 15 mn and 16 mn, Ricordi
- Mary/ Transcendence after Trauma for orchestra (2020-2021), 21 mn, Ricordi
- Annunciation Triptych for orchestra (2019-2022), Ricordi
- Concertant music
- Unmarked Boxes for oboe, violin, harpsichord and chamber orchestra (1998-2001), 16 mn, Ricordi
- The Compass for flute, didgeridoo and large orchestra (2005-2006), 25 mn, Ricordi
- The Guest for recorder and orchestra (2010)
- Speak, be silent for violin and ensemble (2015), 20 mn, Ricordi
- How Forests Think for sheng and ensemble (2015-2016), 35 mn, Ricordi
- World as Lover, World as Self piano concerto (2021), 21 mn, Ricordi
- Vocal music and instrument(s)
- Voodoo Child for soprano and ensemble (1989), 11 mn, Ricordi
- Li Shang Yin for coloratura soprano and ensemble (1993), 15 mn, Ricordi
- stage The Oresteia A Memory theater, opera in seven parts for six voices and ensemble (1991-1993), 1 h 15 mn, Ricordi
- Sri-Vidya Utterances of Adoration, for choir and orchestra (1994-1995), 16 mn, Ricordi
- Chang-O Flies to the Moon for baritone and percussion (1998), 8 mn, Ricordi
- Chang-O Flies to the Moon Sixth scene from the opera, Yuè Lìng Jié Moon Spirit Feasting , for soprano, bass flute, percussion, koto and cello (1999), 10 mn, Ricordi [program note]
- elec stage Yuè Lìng Jié (Moon Spirit Feasting) Chinese ritual street opera in seven parts (1999), 1 h 15 mn, Ricordi [program note]
- Xi (Double Happiness) for six voices and qin (2001)
- Mother Tongue for soprano and ensemble (2005), 36 mn, Ricordi
- The Quickening for soprano and guqin (2004-2005), 22 mn, Ricordi
- Sensorium concert version of the second scene of The Navigator (2007), 12 mn, Ricordi
- elec stage The Navigator opera in six scenes and a prelude (2008), 1 h 30 mn, Ricordi [program note]
- Tongue of the Invisible for improviser pianist, baritone and 16 instruments (2010-2011)
- elec stage Tree of Codes "Cut-outs in time", opera for soprano, baritone, singer-clarinetist, sixteen instrumentalists and electronics (2013-2015), 1 h 20 mn, Ricordi
- Atlas of the Sky for soprano, choir and three percussionists (2017-2018), 60 mn, Ricordi
- Boat Song for baritone and bassoon (2019), 9 mn, Ricordi
- The Incandescent Tongue for soprano and trumpet (2020), 5 mn 50 s, Ricordi
- Fatimah/ Flowers of Jubilation for soprano, orchestra and singing audience (2021-2022), 10 mn, Ricordi
- A cappella vocal music
- Electronic music / fixed media / mechanical musical instruments
- Annunciation Triptych for orchestra, Ricordi
- Fatimah/ Flowers of Jubilation for soprano, orchestra and singing audience, 10 mn, Ricordi
- Lucid dreaming for solo flute
- Nautilus for solo contraforte, between 7 mn and 8 mn
- One and the Other (Speculative Polskas for Karin), for solo violin (with low octave string), 13 mn
- String Creatures for string quartet, 27 mn, Ricordi
- Transcendental Étude for solo piano
- Ash – Music for the Eremozoic for saxophone quartet, 16 mn
- Dianna for horn, 2 mn, édition du compositeur
- Microbiome for bass clarinet, 5 mn about
- Sappho/ Bioluminescence for orchestra, between 15 mn and 16 mn, Ricordi
- elec Sex Magic for contrabass flute, electronics and kinetic percussion installation, 45 mn
- The Incandescent Tongue for soprano and trumpet, 5 mn 50 s, Ricordi
- Axis Mundi for bassoon, 10 mn
- Ochred String for oboe, viola, cello and double bass, 14 mn, Ricordi
- Sensorium concert version of the second scene of The Navigator, 12 mn, Ricordi
- The Long Forgetting for tenor Ganassi recorder, 5 mn, Ricordi
- Weaver of Fictions prelude for The Navigator, for Ganassi recorder, 5 mn, Ricordi
- Wild-Winged One for solo trumpet, 8 mn, Ricordi
- Chang-O Flies to the Moon Sixth scene from the opera, Yuè Lìng Jié Moon Spirit Feasting , for soprano, bass flute, percussion, koto and cello, 10 mn, Ricordi [program note]
- Sonorous Bodies for koto with voice
- ircam Veil for ensemble, 10 mn, Ricordi
- elec stage Yuè Lìng Jié (Moon Spirit Feasting) Chinese ritual street opera in seven parts, 1 h 15 mn, Ricordi [program note]
- Diabolical Birds for ensemble, Inédit
- Pompes Funèbres for string quartet, 12 mn, Inédit
- Site personnel de la compositrice : www.lizalimcomposer.wordpress.com
- Site de l’ensemble ELISION : www.elision.org.au
- Éditions Ricordi : www.ricordi.co.uk
(liens vérifiés en janvier 2023).
- Eric CLARKE, Mark DOFFMAN, Liza LIM, « Distributed Creativity and Ecological Dynamics: a case study of Liza Lim’s “Tongue of the Invisible” », dans Music & Letters, vol. 94, Issue 4, november 2003, p. 628-663.
- Domenico DE CLARIO et Liza LIM, The Intertwining – the Chasm [documents sur les trois années de collaboration entre la compositrice Liza Lim et l’artiste visuel Domenico de Clario], 1 cd inclus avec des improvisations de Bar-do’i-thos-grol, Institute of Modern Art, 1998, 72 pages.
- Liza LIM, « An Ecology of Time Traces in Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus », Contemporary Music Review, 2020, vol. 39, p. 544-563.
- Tim RUTHERFORD-JOHNSON, « Patterns of shimmer: Liza Lim’s compositional ethnography », Tempo, 2011, vol. 65, Issue 258, p. 2-9
- Liza LIM, The Oresteia ; Chang-O Flies To The Moon, Scene 6 From Yuè Lìng Jié (Moon Spirit Feasting) ; Mother Tongue ; The Navigator, dans « Speaking in Tongues », 3 CD Huddersfield Contemporary Records, 2021, HCR25CD.
- Liza LIM, Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus ; Axis Mundi ; Songs found in Dream, Sophie Shafleitner : violon ; Lorelei Dowling : basson ; Klangforum Wien ; Peter Rundel : direction, dans « Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus », 1 Cd Kairos, 2020, 0015020KAI.
- Liza LIM, How Forests Think, Wu Wei, sheng ; Elision Ensemble, direction Carl Rosman, avec une œuvre de Aaron Cassidy, 1 cd HCR, 2017, HCR13.
- Liza LIM, Winding Bodies: 3 Knots ; The Heart’s Ear, Cikada Ensemble, direction Christian Eggen, 1 cd Lawo CLassics, LWC1086.
- Liza LIM, City of Falling Angels, participants aux cours d’été de Darmstadt, direction Christian Dierstein, dans « Darmstadt Aural Documents, Box 3 », 1 coffret Neos, 2016, 11230.
- Liza LIM, The Weawer’s Knot, Arditti String Quartet, dans « Gift and Greetings », avec des œuvres de Hans Abrahamsen, Mark Andre, Harrison Birtwistle, … et al., 1 cd Winter & Winter, 2016, 910235-2.
- Liza LIM, Invisibility, Séverine Ballon, dans « Solitude »avec des œuvres de Mauro Lanza, Rebecca Saunders, James Dillon, Thierry Blondeau, 1 cd Aeon, 2015, 1647.
- Liza LIM, Tongue of the Invisible, Uri Caine : piano, Omar Ebrahim : baryton, ensemble musikFabrik, direction : André de Ridder, 1 cd Wergo, 2013.
- Liza LIM, Ochred String, dans « musica viva festival 2008 », Stefan Schilli : hautbois, Nimrod Guez : alto, Sebastian Klinger : violoncelle, Philipp Stubenrauch : contrebasse, avec des œuvres de Karlheinz Stockhausen, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Aribert Reimann, Jörg Widmann, Matthias Pintscher, Iannis Xenakis, James Dillon, Beat Furrer, Giacinto Scelsi, Chaya Czernowin, Kaija Saariaho, Rebecca Saunders, Adriana Hölszky, 5 sacd NEOS, n° 10926, 2009.
- Liza LIM, The Heart’s Ear, comprenant aussi : Voodoo Child ; Veil ; Inguz ; The Heart’s Ear ; Philtre ; Diabolical Birds, Ensemble für neue Musik Zürich, 1 cd Now Series, 2002.
- Liza LIM, « The Heart’s Ear », Street of Crocodiles ; The Heart’s Ear ; Voodoo Child ; Inguz (Fertility) ; Koto : The Alchemichal Wedding, Ensemble Modern, ELISION Ensemble, 1 cd ABC Classics, 1999.
- Liza LIM, Bar-do’i-thos-grol,improvisations sur l’art de Domenico de Clario, 1 cd inclus dans The Intertwining – the Chasm, documents des trois années de collaboration entre Liza Lim et Domenico de Clario, Institute of Modern Art, 1998.
- Liza LIM, Burning House, dans « After the fire », Satsuki Odamura : koto, ELISION, 1 cd Vox Australis, n° VAST 019-2, 1996.
- Liza LIM, Garden of Earthly Desire ; The Oresteia, ELISION, 1 cd Dischi Ricordi, 1994.