Mind of Winter, A


by George Benjamin

soprano and orchestra
Stevens W (Author)
Solo Voices with Orchestra, Soprano
The Snowman by Wallace Stevens
2 picc(both=fl).1.ca(=ob).2.2 - 2.ptpt.1.0.0 - perc(1): 3 susp.cym/2 tgl/SD - strings (66442)

Written for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the 1981 Aldeburgh Festival

First Performance
26.6.1981, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, Snape, UK: Teresa Cahill/Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Jerzy Maksymiuk

Score 0-571-51162-7 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

A Mind of Winter is a setting of ‘The Snow Man’ by the American poet Wallace Stevens. A contemporary of Eliot and Pound, he lived most of his life in New England, and it is only in recent years that his true stature as a poet has been widely acclaimed. Two things immediately appealed to me about ‘The Snow Man’ - the abundance of beautiful winter imagery within its compact frame, and the deep ambiguity of its meaning. In this setting, the frozen, snow-covered terrain is depicted by an immobile four-part A minor chord on muted strings; suspended cymbals and multidivided string glissandi portray icy gusts of wind. Various individual aspects of the scene are suggested by other instruments - a solo oboe, woodwind in groups of two or three players, two lyrical horns. At the centre of the landscape stands the solitary Snow Man – a muted piccolo trumpet - around whom the soprano weaves slow, angular phrases whilst beholding ‘Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is’.

© George Benjamin

Licensing Information

News & Reviews

Faber Music at the 2015 Aldeburgh Festival

Featuring no fewer than six Faber composers, this summer’s Aldeburgh Festival looks set to be particuarly vibrant and stimulating. George Benjamin will be Artist-in-Residence, appearing as conductor, pianist and curator in what will be the largest UK retrospective of his work since the Southbank Centre’s ‘Jubilation’ festival in 2012. Read more

'A Mind of Winter' reviews

‘In sheer precision and beauty of sound, this nine-minute work is wonderfully impressive…’ The Observer (Stephen Walsh), 24 January 1982 Read more

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