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John Frandsen, curriculum

Photo: Marianne Grøndahl

born 1956 in Aalborg.


M.A. in music from Aarhus University in 1982.

Exam from The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus as organist 1983,

and as composer 1985; teachers: Hans Abrahamsen and Karl Aage Rasmussen.

1991-1994 conductor lessons at The Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen.


Teacher in organ and music theory at The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus 1980-1996.

Organist at Helligaandskirken in Aarhus 1984-1993, and since 1993 at Farum and Stavnsholt.

Conductor of the Cantilena Choir 1983-1993.

Conductor of Aarhus County Youth Orchestra 1993-1996.

Since 1997 conductor af the chamber choir Convivium.

1993-1995 chairman of The Danish State’s Art Foundation

1999-2008 chairman of Danish Composers’ Society and member of KODA’s board

2002-2005 chairman of Phonofile.dk

2004-2007 president of Nordic Composers’ Council

2006-2009 vice-president of European Composers’ Forum

2008-2011 chairman of the board of Edition Samfundet and Vocal Group Ars Nova

2011-2013 vice president of Danish Arts Council

From 2013 board member of Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen and Music Theatre Undergrunden

From 2015 artistic manager of Danish Chamber Orchestra

2015-2016 Composer in residence at Rønnebæksholm Arts Centre


Granted a 3-year scholarship from Danish Arts Foundation 1986

Poul Schierbeck Prize 1994

Hakon Børresen Prize 1998

Merit award from Danish Arts Foundation (for the Vice and Virtue Trilogy) 2004

Carl Nielsen and Anne-Marie Carl Nielsen Prize 2015


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John Frandsen wrote a great number of vocal works, both for solo voice and choir. Among these are the two Blake-cycles, Songs of Innocence (1984) and Songs of Experience (1991), for high voice and guitar, Stabat Mater (1986) for tenor and organ, Seven Silly Songs (1988) for mezzo and guitar, Winternächte (1989) for mezzo and viola, Magnificat (1990) for double choir, and Millenium Mass (1999) for solo, choirs and orchestra. November 2010 he finished a Requiem commissioned by DR Danish National Symphony Orchestra and premiered in the DR Concert Hall April 2013.


Also in his instrumental works the melodic aspects is prominent - especially in the early works as 1st string quartet String Song (1980), the wind quintet Avers/Revers (1985), and the 1st Symphony Dance of the Demons (1988). Often his music has a dramatic and imaginative quality; e.g. the Cello Concerto Hymn to the Ice Queen(1994), the 1st Symphony Danse of the Demons (1988), and the 2nd string quartet Danse Macabre (1991). His frequent use of stylistic quotations and well-known thematic fragments - as in the sinfonietta piece Variations on a Falling Star (1996) or the flute concerto Beauty and the Beast (2011) - lends much of his music a surrealistic quality.


In the recent years John Frandsen has made a name as opera composer. His first opera Amalie was premiered in 1984, and since 1995 he has written 6 operas - among them a trilogy based on the Danish novel Vice and Virtue in the Middle Time (premiered 2004) and a full scale symphonic opera for The Royal Theatre of Copenhagen, I-K-O-N™ (premiered 2003). His latest opera projects were a chamber opera based on a Danish cartoon, EGOLAND (2013), a chamber opera on the famous Ibsen play A Doll's House (2014) and a chamber opera The Martyrdom (2017) based on the fate of Danish author Kaj Munk.

Also the more ‘abstract’ instrumental theatre has his interest, as it is seen in the 2nd wind quintet De/cadences (1987) and in the Hymn to the Ash Bird (1992) for voices and tape