The Wound-Dresser

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The Wound-Dresser is a nineteen-minute-long piece by U.S. composer John Adams for chamber orchestra and baritone singer. The piece is an elegiac setting of excerpts from American poet Walt Whitman's poem "The Wound-Dresser" (1865) about his experience as a hospital volunteer during the American Civil War.[1]

It was written for baritone singer Sanford Sylvan, who premiered it on 24 February 1989 in St Paul, Minnesota, with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer.[2] It was subsequently recorded by the same forces for Nonesuch Records.[3] Interpreters who have performed and recorded it since have included Thomas Hampson[4], Nathan Gunn[5] and Jeremy Huw Williams.[citation needed]

In 2011, the Oregon Symphony performed and recorded the composition for Music for a Time of War.[6]


  1. ^ Kim, Heidi Kathleen (2013-01-01). "Whitman's Identity at War: Contexts and Reception of John Adams' The Wound-Dresser". Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. 30 (2): 78–92. doi:10.13008/2153-3695.2056. ISSN 0737-0679. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Fearful Symmetries / The Wound Dresser". Nonesuch Records. Retrieved 2 March 2018. 
  4. ^ "Passion & Pain: Adams, Haydn & Schubert". Presto Classical. Retrieved 2 March 2018. 
  5. ^ "Adams: Shaker Loops / Wound Dresser / Short Ride in a Fast Machine". Naxos Records. Retrieved 2 March 2018. 
  6. ^ "Music for a Time of War". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  • The John Adams Earbox, Nonesuch Records, NY 1999

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