Per Nørgård at 90 in 2022

Per Nørgård at 90 in 2022
© Lars Skaaning

Boundless Danish ingenuity. Presently the world’s greatest composer Thomas Roth, Opus, nr. 22

Danish composer Per Nørgård will celebrate his 90th birthday on July 13, 2022. One of the most prominent composers working today, with an overwhelming catalogue of orchestral works, chamber music, choir music and operas. Per Nørgård has it all. A traveller of genres, inspirations and ideas.

Per Nørgård has travelled far and wide in the realm of music. Few composers have delved as deep into so many different genres as masterfully as him. On his musical journey there has always been the presence of an unrestrained curiosity which ties this very diverse and voluminous list of works together.

In Nørgård’s earlier works, one finds a Nordic tone and a stringent approach to composing which reflects his inspiration from among others, such as his teacher Vagn Holmboe and from Sibelius whom Nørgård greatly admired in his youth. Nørgård’s most well-known trademark is his use of the tone generating infinity series, which he began incorporating into his compositions in the 1960s.

With more than 400 titles to his name Nørgård has been very productive with works from a broad spectrum of genres. Choral music has played a significant role in his composition, such as Wie ein Kind (1980) and Winter Hymn (1984). Among his chamber works his ten string quartets stand out. His operas Siddhartha (1972) and Gilgamesh (1979) are central not only to his own output but also in the Danish opera canon. His eight symphonies stand as major works in Danish compositional music and he has stated that he considers them summaries and milestones of his musical journey.

Per Nørgård has not travelled a straight and narrow path. The rough and almost abstruse musical journey that he has been on for most of his life has been necessary for him to end up where he is today with such an important back catalogue.




Looking ahead to his 90th celebration, Edition Wilhelm Hansen and Wise Music Classical present four favourites and two playlists to spotlight the master composer’s substantial catalogue of works for chamber and orchestra. We hope you’ll consider these exciting pieces for concert performances, dance creations, and other live and virtual presentations to mark the 90th birthday of Per Nørgård.

Our favourites

Symfoni nr.3 (1972), Orchestra & 2 Choirs
This is a symphony that sounds complicated, yet it is both cogent and direct. It is a work that embraces modernism, but is entirely founded on contemporary and classical models. It radiates emotion and depth of feeling, though in a somewhat incongruous way. The 86-year-old composer, who was present for this premiere, had good reason to be pleased with this concert - certainly one of the most note-worthy first performances of this year’s Proms.
Marc Bridle, Opera Today

Bach to the Future (1997), Percussion Duo and Orchestra
A thrilling play with virtuosic marimba playing, whiffs of music by Bach and Nørgård’s trademark playful complexity.

Rejse ind i den gyldne skærm (Voyage into the Golden Screen) (1968), Chamber Orchestra
A milestone in Nørgård’s work with the Infinity Series. A work in two movements that are sonically contrasting, but still woven together by a strong sense of movement – from one point to another, and of moving about inside the sound and your own experience of the music.

Siddharta (1979), Opera
Nørgård’s largest opera, a re-telling of the story of how Siddharta transformed and became Buddha. The music is everything from painfully naïve to shockingly brutal.

Synopsis: The opera opens at the court of the childless King Suddhodana, where his doleful queen, Maya, dances in order to conceive a child – Siddharta. The birth has dire consequences with Queen Maya dying, and a ritual horoscope predicts that Siddharta will one day abandon the kingdom. Against the protest, Suddhodana decides to protect his son from life so that he will never be tempted to leave. Only the young, the healthy and the beautiful may see Siddharta; the rest are interned. Only in Act 3 is the deception revealed when Siddharta’s aunt reveals the horde of aged, infirm and ugly whose rebellion is ruthlessly suppressed. In a mixture of distress and disgust, Siddharta flees his home, wife and family to set out on the painful road to enlightenment.


Per Nørgård Concerts in 2022

January 27

I Ching (III. The Gentle, the Penetrating (hexagram no. 57)
with Samuel Barber Summer Music
Esbjerg Ensemble
Esbjerg, Denmark

February 3

Symphony no.8 – Norwegian Premiere
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
John Storgårds, conductor
Bergen, Norway

February 9

Consolazione: Flos ut Rosa
with the World Premiere of Harpo by Anders Koppel
Randers Chamber Orchestra
Tine Rehling, harp
Randers, Denmark

May 1

Sonata for cello solo nr.3: What is the word
Rudersdal Chamber Players
Copenhagen, Denmark

May 5

Prelude to Breaking (2010 Harp Version) – Finnish Premiere
with Witold Lutosławski Slides [Przezrocza]
Lapland Chamber Orchestra
John Storgårds, conductor
Rovaniemi, Finland

May 17

Swan Descending
Lille dans
Mens toner daler
Consolazione: Flos ut Rosa
Tine Rehling, harp
Roskilde, Denmark

May 19

Prelude to Breaking
Esbjerg Ensemble
Esbjerg, Denmark

June - July

I Djurs og Mols, Frederiksværk Musikfestival, KLANG, Bergen International Festival, Time of Music in Finland

August 25

Helle Nacht
Symphony no.8
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Antony Hermus, conductor
Christina Åstrand, violin
Copenhagen, Denmark

Lucerne Festival (Lucerne, Switzerland)

August 27
with with Witold Lutosławski Symphony no.3
Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra
Thomas Adès, conductor

August  30
Symphony no.8 – Swiss Premiere 
with the Swiss Premiere of Vista by Kaija Saariaho
Helsinki Philharomonic Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki, conductor

Rued Langgaard Festival (Ribe, Denmark)
September 2
Ensemble MidtVest
Magnus Larsson, conductor

And much more September 1-4
See the festival program here.

September 16 

Wie ein Kind
Singe die Gärten
Korbogen (excerpt)

In celebration of Per Nørgård's 90th birthday, 4 new choral works by: 
Louise Alenius, Britta Byström, Niels Rosing-Schow and Bent Sørensen

DR Vokalensemblet
Marcus Creed, conductor
Kristoffer Hyldig, piano & Juliane von Hahn, cello
Copenhagen, Denmark

September 22

Symphony no.2
Odense Symphony Orchestra
Cathrine Winnes, conductor
Odense, Denmark

October 13

Terrains Vagues
Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Giordano Bellincampi, conductor
Bjarke Mogensen, soloist
Aarhus, Denmark

November 19
Anniversary concert for Per Nørgård, Hans Abrahamsen & Kaija Saariaho

Århus Sinfonietta
Aliisa Beige Barrière, conductor
Aarhus, Denmark

Sonata for cello solo nr. 4: Rhizom
"gennem torne.." – Harp concerto no.2
Nuit des Hommes
Njord Festival
Copenhagen, Denmark

And so much more. 

For more information, please contact your local Wise Music Promotion Team. See Contact Us.

(September 2022)