Ulysses Awakes

Ulysses Awakes (after Monteverdi) is a musical composition for solo viola and strings by English composer John Woolrich.[1] It is a creative transcription of Ulysses' first aria in act 1, scene 7 of Claudio Monteverdi's opera Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria. Ulysses has been washed up on the coast of Ithaca, his homeland.

Am I sleeping or awake?
And what country surrounds me?

'It's a powerfully effective piece, which manages to be utterly faithful to the spirit of Monteverdi and yet entirely part of Woolrich's musical world, too.' [2]

Ulysses Awakes was commissioned by Dartington International Summer School and first performed there by Clare Finnimore and the Guildhall String Ensemble on August 11, 1989.


Solo viola with 6 violins, 1 viola, 2 cellos, 1 double bass




  • Robert Philip Performing Music in the Age of Recording (Yale University Press 2004)
  • John Wenham and Richard Wistreich (editors) The Cambridge Companion to Monteverdi (Cambridge University Press 2008)