Essays in English

Composer’s biography

by Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen


A stepwise ascending motion in the viola.

C major.

Piano pianissimo.

A harp harmonic rounds off a delicate first phrase.

Silence. New phrase.

A clarinet sounds too, but is really only noticed when, like an echo effect, it remains hanging on a note that the viola has just abandoned. A flute sound emerges from the melody like a note that is stuck, before it again glides off and vanishes into the melodic progression. Now a horn too is heard far off, and the second violins enter with the viola’s theme, but at the interval of a second higher, and slowly, slowly a fugue unfolds which, out of the melody of the strings, slowly allows the rest of the orchestra to sound.

It is beautiful and alluring. The music streams forth in a flowing non-metrical motion of almost imperceptibly shifting note values. The orchestration constantly coaxes forth new tone colours. One can always follow the development of the music. But the music is not only amenable. There is an inevitability about the development as if an inexorable fate hangs over the work. Something has been set in motion which will be brought relentlessly to a conclusion....

Read more…

John Frandsen and his vocal music

by Trine Boje Mortensen

As a composer and a participant in the organizational bodies of the Danish musical world, as an organist, debater, recording producer and lecturer, John Frandsen’s level of activity is sky-high. With his integrity, curiosity and enviable energy, John Frandsen is one of the firm pillars of the Danish musical scene, and has been so throughout his active musical life. But the image of the pillar is not satisfactory, for pillars stand still – and John Frandsen does not. For that, too much humour and curiosity are mixed in with the sober and robust.

Read the entire booklet article for the cd "Songs"

The golden age of Danish music     

Contemporary music in Denmark has for the last decades experienced a golden age. There is a very vigorous and productive environment among composers as well as performers, the stylistic diversity is great and the quality of contemporary Danish music obtains more and more recognition. Read more…

A tour of the outer limits - by Jørgen I. Jensen

A major, fully developed requiem – a mass for the dead – for soloists, choir and orchestra, perpetuating the grand tradition of requiem masses; a musical unfolding of the whole medieval Latin text with roots all the way back to the early Church; written by a Danish composer with a cultural consciousness that is contemporary in every way.

One cannot help wondering how this is at all possible. It shouldn’t be,

Read the entire booklet essay from the REQUIEM cd

Melody, refinement and an echo of Romanticism

– music by John Frandsen

Melody is what is normally emphasized in the work of John Frandsen – his special melodic vein, the feeling for the finely wrought vocal melody that permeates Frandsen’s music. A melodic approach that the composer himself has sometimes characterized as “surrealistic”. Read more…

The future of chamber music...(?)

Chamber music has always been the most exclusive area in art music. Just look at the name: music, meant to be played in a small room, perhaps even under private circumstances. In the classical aera chamber music was often used as a medium for formal or aesthetic experiments. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven wrote some of their most radical and experimental pieces for such small ensembles. But then, afterwards, they carried with them the most significant results from their ”laboratories” and implemented them in the ”great” public tradition – in operas, symphonies, church music, oratories, wherever they might catch a greater audience.

Today the situation is different. Chamber music has become a genre of its own. And it has become the genre of contemporary music. Very few composers of today have regular contact with the major music institutions, so there is no longer a forum for presenting the results for a main audience.

Unfortunately it seems to me that many contemporary composers feel quite satisfied with this. They enjoy living in this splendid isolation, as long as no-one disturbs them – and they can keep up governmental support... Read more...