Ian Wilson: Man-o'-War

Ian Wilson Man-o'-War

Ian Wilson: Man-o'-War

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for orchestra
Ian Wilson
3 2 2 3 - 4 2 3 1 - timp, perc(3), str
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute
1st oboe
2nd oboe (+c.a)
1st clarinet in Bb
2nd clarinet in Bb
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in Bb
2nd trumpet in Bb (+flhn)
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
violin I
violin II
Commissioned by the BBC for the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts 2001
More Less



The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

Ian Wilson’s latest CD, Winter finding, has just been released on the RTÉ Lyric fm label. Gerhard Markson and David Porcelijn conduct the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. The works included are an angel serves a small breakfast (1999, violin soloist Rebecca Hirsch), Man-o’-War (2001), Licht/ung (2004) and Winter finding (2004/5).

Andrew Clements writes in the Guardian, “After recent discs of Ian Wilson's string quartets and works for string orchestra, this strikingly well‑performed collection shows the northern Irishman working with a much more vivid instrumental palette. ... Perhaps the most impressive work, though, is the earliest – the violin concerto from 1999, in which the irrepressibly lyrical solo line unravels like a bundle of threads as it weaves through the orchestral textures; the idea is wonderfully sustained and generates music of great beauty.”

In the Irish Times, Michael Dervan writes that Man-o'-War “unleashes orchestral violence with the abandon of Edgard Varèse” and praises the “strong performances from the NSO”.

Order the CD online

Special prints


Ian Wilson: Man-o'-War

full score
for orchestra , 11’
Instr.: 3 2 2 3 - 4 2 3 1 - timp, perc(3), str

World première

Royal Albert Hall, London (GB)
Ulster Orchestra
Dmitri Sitkovetsky

Press reviews

“As much as I admired the Vanbrugh Quartet’s recording of his String Quartets, I hadn’t expected Wilson’s orchestral writing to be this powerful. As he explained in his pre-Prom interview, he was playing on both definitions of the title – the Portuguese jellyfish and the naval vessel – hoping to convey a sense of threat. It worked…I found ‘Man-o’-War’ both extremely disturbing and technically impressive… Wilson’s talent is an exciting one. Let’s hope his next commission is for a much longer piece. I can’t wait.”

(Independent on Sunday, 12 August 2001. Ulster Orchestra/Dmitry Sitkovetsky, BBC Proms)

“[The work’s] terse concentration, technical economy and command of sharply focused gesture were all strikingly impressive.”

(Sunday Telegraph, 12 August 2001)

“A ten-minute tone poem attempting to evoke both the warship and the poisonous jellyfish of the title, and doing so by means of a darkly colourful, often quite hefty, orchestral style. The instrumental sections were dramatically demarcated on the platform, the textures could not have been clearer. Brass and low woodwind dominated with rich, glowering sonorities, outright snarliness and a striking tuba solo midway. Lower strings sometimes created a treading-water effect; while Wilson’s penchant for quarter-tones allowed the strings as a whole to produce ripples of subtle dissonance that washed back over the orchestra like a polluted tide.”

(Sunday Times, 12 August 2001)

Other works

Sign up for our newsletter!

You will regularly receive information about new scores with free downloads, current prize games and news about our composers.