- Deirdre Gribbin (b. 1967)
- Composition Year
- Nurit Stark [violin]
|Composer||Deirdre Gribbin (b. 1967)|
|Work Title||Devil's Dwelling Place|
|Artist(s)||Nurit Stark [violin]|
|Performance Date||Friday 1st July 2016|
|Performance Venue||Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,|
|Recording Engineer||Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm|
|Programme Note Writer||© Deirdre Gribbin|
My great uncle, Freddie Mitchell, fought and survived the battle of the Somme. His remaining short life back in Belfast was blighted by the injurious effects of mustard gas poisoning. He died a young man in a military hospital, alone.
Devil’s Dwelling Place refers to the Delville Wood, a point of strategic importance where German lines were dominant. It was the scene of particular carnage for the 36th Ulster Division who fought on July 1st 1916. The wood was decimated, the trees blown apart. One hundred years on, amongst the furrows
of the trench outlines, trees thrive again, their roots intertwined with the remains of so many soldiers who lost their lives there.
The following account from an unknown survivor encapsulates that sense of inevitability, of vulnerability and of sheer terror. I made up my mind that I was going to be killed. While I was waiting, during the last half-hour, I kept saying to myself: 'In half an hour you will be dead. In twenty-five minutes you will be dead. In twenty minutes you will be dead. In a quarter of an hour you will be dead.' I thought of all the people I liked, and the things I wanted to do, and told myself that that was all over, that I had done with that; but I was sick with sorrow all the same. Sorrow isn't the word either: it is an ache and anger and longing to be alive. There was a terrific noise and confusion, but I kept thinking that I heard a lark; I think a lark had been singing there before the shelling increased. Then the noise became a perfect hell of noise, and the barrage came down on us, and I knew that the first wave had started. After that I had no leisure for thought, for we went over.
This single movement violin line aims to capture the energy of anticipated fear and uncertainty. It also reflects a sense of hope and determination where the instinct for survival in the human spirit is all consuming.