Karl Aage Rasmussen

b. 1947



When it comes to describing Karl Aage Rasmussen, it is not easy to find a starting point; he has made his mark as composer, writer, conductor, lecturer, performer, administrator and much more. 

Karl Aage Rasmussen graduated from the Aarhus Academy of Music in 1971, where he was appointed Professor in Composition in 1988. Many of his works use pre-existing material woven into a dense musical montage. Words like ‘de-composing’ and ‘re-composing’ seem fit, and in later years, this interest has resulted in the arrangement and completion of music by Schumann and Schubert.

While his early works focused on the individual detail of these montages, he later became increasingly concerned with a sense of momentum and in exploring our experience of time and movement. This is demonstrated in the chamber symphony Movements on a Moving Line (1987), in which the texture is created out of different instruments playing the same music in different times. Titles like A Symphony in Time (1982) and A Tempo (2001) also reveal this interest. In addition, psychological and dramatic dimensions have assumed a growing importance in works written since the 1990s.

Rasmussen was awarded the Carl Nielsen Prize in 1991 and the Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize in 1997.
Critical Acclaim
...The music of Karl Aage Rasmussen is intellectual in the best sense. It is music that reflects upon it's own existence in time and space, and it's historical background. Politiken

Rasmussen's insight into the music of our century is overwhelming, and he has been able to behold it from new angles and to provide new wholes for us John Christiansen, Jyllandsposten


Karl Aage Rasmussen was born in 1947. He was educated at the Aarhus Academy of Music. As well as composing Karl Aage Rasmussen has been active as a conductor, of amongst others his own ensemble The Elsinore Players. Furthermore he has been active as an editor of programmes about new music for Danish Radio, co-editor of the Danish Music Magazine, member of the Danish Music Council, and he has been in great demand as a lecturer in many European countries and in the USA. 

Karl Aage Rasmussen started composing in the mid-60s, when he was mainly occupied with orchestral music. Concepts like 'music about music', 'music on music', 'music over music' are keys to his works from the 70s, as he often used pre-existing musical material in new connections and for new purposes, not as collage or quotation, but in a densely woven montage of 'words' from widely different languages of music. The montage technique and the 'not-authentic' in his choice of musical material also characterizes Rasmussen's music from more recent years, but the concentration on detail and deliberately non-dynamic expression has been replaced by an increased interest in form and course - not least the musical conditions of our experience of time, movement and coherence. The musico-dramatic works from the end of the 70s are among the first expressions of this interest, which later was continued in works like A Symphony in Time and the string quartets Solos and Shadows and Surrounded by Scales

With the chamber symphony Movements on a Moving Line his music assumes the character of a labyrinthine ’weaving together’ of the same music in different tempi, and this way of thinking has dominated his music since then. New ideas about the experience of time and of tempo, partly related to so-called fractal mathematics, form the basis of works like Phantom Movements and Etudes and Postludes. In the most recent years psychological and dramatic dimensions have penetrated this thinking, for instance in the violin concerto Sinking through the Dream-Mirror and in Webs in a stolen Dream. In 1991 he received the Carl Nielsen-Prize, and he was in 1981, 1985 and 1993 nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize. Karl Aage Rasmussen received the Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize in 1997.



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