Upon Silence


mezzo-soprano and string ensemble of 7 players
Yeats Wb (Text)
Mezzo-soprano, String Ensemble
The Long Legged Fly by William Butler Yeats
2 vla.3 vlc.2 db

Commissioned by the Opéra Bastille, Paris

First Performance
21.3.1992, Amphithéâtre, Opéra Bastille, Paris, France: Susan Bickley/Ensemble Musique Oblique/George Benjamin

Score 0-571-51578-9 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

This transcription of Upon Silence for modern strings was commissioned in 1991 by the Opéra Bastille. Viols have six strings, modern instruments only four, hence the required seven players (two violas, three ‘cellos and two double-basses) instead of the previous five. I have attempted to recapture the magic sonority of viols by exploiting various unusual performing techniques. Occasionally an extra line has been added, and here and there the lower octave of the double-basses is used to add increased depth to the texture. The core of the work however - the melismatic vocal line - remains unchanged.

© George Benjamin

Licensing Information

News & Reviews

'Upon Silence' reviews

‘…I am struck by its accomplishment and potent imagination. The voice, now languid, now darling, hovers over and around the viols like the long-legged fly of the Yeats poem on which the work is based.’ The Times (Tess Knighton), 28 October 1996 Read more

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