Orlando Gibbons


The silver Swan, who, living, had no Note, 

when Death approached, unlocked her silent throat. 

Leaning her breast against the reedy shore, 

thus sang her first and last, and sang no more: 

"Farewell, all joys! O Death, come close mine eyes! 

 More Geese than Swans now live, more Fools than Wise." 



About the piece:

"The Silver Swan" is the most famous madrigal by Orlando Gibbons. It is scored for 5 voices (in most sources, soprano (S), alto (A), tenor (T), baritone (Bar) and bass (B), although some specify SSATB instead) and presents the legend that swans are largely silent in life (or at least unmusical), and sing beautifully only just before their deaths.


Orlando Gibbons (bapt. 25 December 1583 – 5 June 1625)
Was an English composer and keyboard player who was one of the last masters of the English Virginalist School and English Madrigal School. The best known member of a musical family dynasty, by the 1610s he was the leading composer and organist in England, with a career cut short by his sudden death in 1625. As a result, Gibbons's oeuvre was not as large as that of his contemporaries, like the elder William Byrd, but he made considerable contributions to many genres of his time. He is often seen as a transitional figure from the Renaissance to the Baroque periods.