The Silver Swan


"The Silver Swan" is a song by Lori Laitman. The poem is by an anonymous author, but is sometimes contributed to English composer Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625).

Composer's Note:

"When Dr. Carol Kimball approached me about composing a new setting of 'The Silver Swan,' I was very hesitant, as I consider the original Gibbons madrigal so magical. As a result, setting these words was a particularly difficult task, and I wound up destroying many an attempt in the process. The song is very lyrical and flowing in nature, and the melody glides over the accompaniment the way the swan glides over the water. The swan’s own speech is preceded by wordless 'aahs'—as if the swan were warming up to the task of speaking. Carol Kimball commented: 'I think the song has — like all good death scenes — its own particular "operatic moment," when the emotions of the text are underlined in an especially poignant way.' For Carol, this moment was the high note phrase accompanying 'Farewell all joys.' The last low note, held for as long as possible, represents the swan’s dying breath. There are two versions of the song – one with, and one without a flute obbligato."

--Lori Laitman


The composer's note as well as the YouTube and audio clips provided in the media player to the right are made possible through a collaboration between the Hampsong Foundation and SongFest. To listen to the audio track in the player, please click on the track name itself.

The Silver Swan

The silver swan who, living, had no note,
when death approached, unlocked her silent throat.

Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:

"Farewell all joys, O death come close mine eyes.
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise."

Audio PLaylist