Universal Edition - Ian Wilson – Phosphorus

Ian Wilson

Ian Wilson

Year of composition: 1997
Subtitle: String trio no. 1
Scored for: for violin, viola and violoncello
Composer: Ian Wilson
Instrumentation details:

Commissioned by: Commissioned by the Sonorities Festival with funds from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Lottery Unit
Duration: 23′
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World Première

Location: Ormeaubach Gallery Belfast / Great Britain
Date: 12.05.1998
Orchestra: Psappha Ensemble

Work Introduction

Passion is the elemental force being explored in this work, an idea inspired by a little allegory found in Laura Esquivel's book Like water for chocolate, where the soul is described as containing a book of matches which can be lit one after the other and will last for life if one finds the right lover. However, if one is careless they may all light at once in a mad conflagration, and if one is too careful, they may become damp and never light at all.

Phosphorus is a set of ten variations on a theme, presented at the beginning and recalled at the end, which I took from my piano piece A Haunted Heart, and variations five, six and seven form the contemplative and lyrical core of the work.

The title was suggested by the artist, Barbara Freeman (phosphorus, of course, being a major ingredient in match-heads), whose set of 12 paintings of the same collective title is a partner work to my trio, both works being presented together at the premiere in May 1998, and both commissioned by the Sonorities Festival with funds from the National Lottery Unit of the Northern Ireland Arts Council.

Ian Wilson


“Wilson’s string trio, ‘Phosphorus’, often written in trailing lines and pitting one instrument against the other two, has something of that mode of directness and mood of spirituality that is currently associated with some of the composers of Eastern Europe.”

(The Irish Times, 19 May 1998. Psappha. Sonorities Festival, Belfast)

score and parts - Phosphorus

  • for violin, viola and violoncello
  • Edition type: score and parts

1 Ensemble that has played this work:

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