By Jørgen Mortensen

Per Nørgård

Danish composer, born 13 July 1932.

  • Has composed more than 300 works, including symphonies, chamber music, choral works, opera, electronic music, ballet, film.
  • Has received numerous awards, including the Nordic Council Music Award in 1974 and the Sonning Award in 1996.
  • Has taught and inspired a whole generation of Danish composers.
  • Has composed for both professional and amateur musicians.

Per Nørgård's musical universe is in constant movement; an ongoing process of asking questions and searching for new answers.

His creative activity could be called a kind of research into problems of a musical, aesthetic and existential nature.
He is a unique composer, setting out to explore the whole world.

5 decades:

The 50s

His studies, "The Universe of the Nordic Mind".

Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music 1952-55, later in Paris under Nadia Boulanger.

Wrote Symphony No. 1 in 1953-55, difused with the mood of "the universe of the Nordic mind". His models were especially his teacher, Vagn Holmboe, and Sibelius.

Photo: With Vagn Holmboe, 1952
Photo: In Paris with Nadia Boulanger, 1957

Music sample: extract from the 1st Movement of Symphony No. 1, Sinfonia austera

The 60s

Modernism, experimentation, serialism, collage.

Photo: From the beginning of the 60s
Billede: On tour with the Rikskonserter, 1969

Music sample:

Excerpt from the ballet, Den unge mand skal giftes (The Young Man Must Marry)

The 70s

Psychedelic period. Music to arouse consciousness, mood music, hierarchy and cosmic harmony.

: About 1970

Music sample:
From Rejsen ind i den gyldne skærm (Voyage into the Golden Screen)

Music sample:
From Symphony No. 3

The 80s

Wölfli, schizoid, conflict.

: January 1983, at a performance of Det guddommelige Tivoli (The Divine Circus)

Music sample:
Extract from the choral work, D’Monstrantz Vöögeli, with a text by Wölfli from Den foruroligende Ælling (The Alarming Duckling)

The 90s

Tonal lakes, multidimensional - constructing radically different musical happenings.

: Tokyo 1991

Music sample:
From Concerto in due tempi for piano and orchestra.