Bent Sørensen

b. 1958

Danish

Summary

”It reminds me of something I’ve never heard!” 

Such was the spontaneous reaction of the Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim upon hearing a work by Bent Sørensen. And it is not easy to imagine a more strangely to-the-point description of the ambiguous, almost paradoxical expressive idiom of this unique composer, who is without doubt the leading Danish composer of his generation. 
 
Sørensen’s music is not recycled; in no way does it rely on the yellowing pages of history for its musical nourishment. His musical language is undeniably of the present day, both aesthetically and technically. The music does, however, appear to be pervaded with memories, wisdom of experience and old dreams, of the inevitability of transitoriness and parting. It is a flickering, glittering world where things seem to disappear at the slightest touch.
 
The moment something becomes tangible and recognizable, it dissolves, becomes obscured, or disappears. But this ghost-like indistinctness is nevertheless the work of an experienced illusionist: Perhaps Sørensen’s most singular talent is his ability to give voice to this indistinctness, to render it distinct and clear. Often he places very simple musical material inside an ingenious musical "hall of mirrors” in which echoes, and echoes of echoes, spread like ripples in water; the quiet, smudged contours, which sound as though heard through falling rain or misted windows, are always drawn in minute, calligraphic detail.
© Karl Aage Rasmussen

Critical Acclaim
...Bent Sørensen's tonal universe is truly original - Tori Skrede, VG

...Bent Sørensen is a master of moods - Jakob Wivel, Børsen

Biography

”It reminds me of something I’ve never heard.” 

Such was the spontaneous reaction of the Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim upon hearing a work by Bent Sørensen. And it is not easy to imagine a more strangely to-the-point description of the ambiguous, almost paradoxical expressive idiom of this unique composer, who is without doubt the leading Danish composer of his generation. 

Sørensen’s music is not recycled; in no way does it rely on the yellowing pages of history for its musical nourishment. His musical language is undeniably of the present day, both aesthetically and technically. The music does, however, appear to be pervaded with memories, wisdom of experience and old dreams, of the inevitability of transitoriness and parting. It is a flickering, glittering world where things seem to disappear at the slightest touch. 

Bent Sørensen was born in 1958, and received his musical education from, amongst others, Per Nørgård and Ib Nørholm. His originality, imagination and technical abilities were praised long before his major breakthrough in the mid-80s. And the first string quartet Alman (1984) along with the other three quartets, Adieu (1986), Angels’ Music (1988), and Schrie und Melancholie (1994), are still considered among Sørensen’s most important works. 

The vastly productive 1990s were dominated by large-scale orchestral works. The major vocal works The Echoing Garden (1992) for soloists, choir and orchestra unfolds as wandering weightless melodies in an echo chamber of many different simultaneous tempi. The violin concerto Sterbende Gärten (1993) – a concerto in the grand tradition, dramatic, graceful, and wild; the Symphony (1996); and the piano concerto La Notte (1998) are surrounded by several major ensemble pieces scored for a variety of forces; for instance, the enchanting concerto Birds and Bells for trombone and 14 instruments (1995) written for Christian Lindberg. 

Danish playwright Peter Asmussen was so taken by the coexistence of the past and the present in Sørensen’s violin concerto that the two artists decided to work together on an opera commission from the Royal Danish Theatre. After five years intense work and collaboration the composer completed Under the Sky in April 2003. Bent Sørensen and Peter Asmussen have since continued to collaborate on the work Sounds Like You (2008) for actors and symphony orchestra, which premiered at the opening of the Bergen International Festival in 2009. 

In the new millennium, Bent Sørensen’s music has gained tremendous international recognition, partly due to the perennial cooperation with the Bergen International Festival resulting in the orchestral work Exit Music (2007) and the symphonic play Sounds Like You (2008). However, in addition, the second piano concerto La Mattina (2009) written for pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, not to mention Tunnels de Lumiére (2010) written for French Ensemble Intercontemporain, have helped spark an international appetite for Sørensen’s works. 

Bent Sørensen received the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1996 for the violin concerto Sterbende Gärten and in 1999 he received the Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize. Bent Sørensen is composer-in-residence at the Danish ensemble Scenatet and held that same title at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the UK in 2011.

In 2014 Sørensen was appointed chairman of the Danish Composers Society and the same year he was awarded the Wilhelm Hansen Prize of Honor.



© Karl Aage Rasmussen

News

Performances

1st October 2020

SOLOISTS
Silke Avenhaus – piano, Bram van Sambeek – bassoon, Janne Thomsen – flute
LOCATION
Knudsens, Holstebro, Denmark

3rd October 2020

SOLOISTS
Silke Avenhaus – piano, Tommaso Lonquich – clarinet, Bram van Sambeek – bassoon
LOCATION
Knudsens, Holstebro, Denmark

15th October 2020

PERFORMERS
Moravska Filharmonie Olomouc
LOCATION
Olomouc, Czech Republic

21st October 2020

SOLOISTS
Kirstine Schneider, Violin
LOCATION
Det Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium, Copenhagen, Denmark

16th December 2020

SOLOISTS
Nina Stemme
PERFORMERS
Göteborg Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Thomas Søndergård
LOCATION
Göteborgs Konserthus, Göteborg, Sweden

Features

  • Bent Sørensen: 2020 Premieres
    • Bent Sørensen: 2020 Premieres
    • Composing is a time-consuming business. Bent Sørensen wrote three major works in 2019 that will be receiving their first performances in early 2020, and he will be featured on festivals and in concert halls throughout the year in Europe and the US.
  • Socially Distanced Onstage Works
    • Socially Distanced Onstage Works
    • With times of uncertainty ahead for the classical music community, Wise Music Classical has compiled a selection of repertoire for string orchestra, chamber orchestra, and chamber ensembles that allows for onstage social distancing.

Photos

Discography