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Sir Harrison Birtwistle: ... agm ...

  • for 16 voices and 3 instrumental ensembles
  • 2 2 2 2 - 1 2 2 1 - perc(3), hp(2), pno, Str(2 0 1 2 1)
  • Duration: 30’
  • Instrumentation details:
    high group: 1st flute (+picc)
    2nd flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    clarinet in Bb
    horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    1st violin
    2nd violin
    low group: bass clarinet in Bb
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    1st violoncello
    2nd violoncello
    punctuationg group: piano
    1st harp
    2nd harp
    percussion (3 players): 3 xylophones, 2 vibraphones, claves, high-pitched woodblock, 3x4 temple blocks, 3 hi-hats, 3.2 cowbells, 3x3 suspended cymbals
  • Choir: 4 S, 4 A, 4 T, 4 B
  • Composer: Sir Harrison Birtwistle
  • Text author: Sappho
  • Translator: Tony Harrison
  • Dedication: Dedicated to Nicholas Snowman
  • Commission: Commissioned by Ensemble InterContemporain

Work introduction

Following two earlier works, Harrison Birtwistle returned to texts by Sappho, the great poetess of Lesbos, this time setting the texts in their original, and much more fragmentary, form. The title …agm… has various justifications: the three letters occur in many, if not all, of Sappho’s works; the Greek word for fragment is ‘agma’; and agm is an abbreviation of Agamemnon.


Sample pages

World première

Théâtre de la Ville, Paris (FR)
Ensemble Intercontemporain
Pierre Boulez

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