Songs without Voices


four pieces for 8 players
Mixed Chamber Ensemble
Instrumentation - hn - pno - vln.vla.vlc

Commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as part of the Elise L Stoeger Composer's Chair Award

First Performance
26.4.1992, Alice Tully Hall, New York, USA: Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center/Oliver Knussen

Score 0571513506 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

Songs Without Voices is a collection of short, self-contained compositions for flute, cor anglais, clarinet, horn, violin, viola, cellos and piano. Over the past few years I recovered an old enthusiasm for writing songs, and it occurred to me to try to apply this to the instrumental sphere. Three of the present pieces are, literally, songs without voice – that is, a complete poem is ‘set’ syllable for instruments in the course of a movement; and one is from a more private lyrical impulse – a cor anglais melody written upon hearing of the death of Andrzej Panufnik, a person I much admired. I hope it won’t be thought coy if I allow the music to speak on its own terms apart from those few indications of stimulus. I began composition in Aldeburgh in October 1991 and completed it in New York in April 1992, when it was first performed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, which commissioned Songs Without Voices as part of the Elise L. Stoeger Composer’s Chair Award. It is doubly dedicated to Fred Sherry (cellist and then Artistic Director of the Society) and to Virgil Blackwell for this fiftieth birthday.

© Oliver Knussen

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