Knussen, Oliver : Whitman Settings


Originally composed for Vocal & Choral and piano in 1991, this 12-minute collection of four songs was later orchestrated to create one of the most intricate and kaleidoscopic scores Knussen has created to date, deploying large forces in textures which are often delicate and shimmering. The opening song ‘When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer’, develops the thrilling heterophonic textures found in Flourish with Fireworks. ‘These characteristically powerful but unusually short poems of Walt Whitman attracted me because they deal with grand natural phenomena on small canvases’ says Knussen, who describes the work as ‘a concise four-movement symphony that muses on things in space or sky.’

‘A treat… As in his operas, Knussen displays a rare feeling for word-setting and graceful melodic writing.’
The Sunday Times (Hugh Canning), 23 June 1991

‘Exultant and glittering.’
The Guardian (Andrew Clements),  4 August 1994

SKU: 9780571514106 Category:

Additional information


Faber Music



Primary composer/editor/arranger

Knussen, Oliver

Published date



Soprano Vocal & Choral, Orchestra