On December 23, 2022, the most internationally successful Danish composer in recent years, Hans Abrahamsen, turns 70. While Hans Abrahamsen might already have had a long and prosperous career, he is still going from one creative masterpiece to another working with the most prominent conductors, orchestras, soloists and ensembles.
Drawing on inspiration from the masters such as Bach and his old teacher Ligeti, Hans Abrahamsen creates a fascinating world filled with delicate melodies and focus on the vibrating nature of sound itself within masterly crafted structures. Snow has been a reoccurring theme in Hans Abrahamsen’s music all the way from Winternacht (1978) to his first opera Snow Queen (2018) with the work Schnee (2008) as a natural highlight – already hailed as a modern day classic.
In his youth, Abrahamsen played the horn and was accepted into the Royal Danish Academy of Music. However, his interest in composition and music theory soon grew and he would quickly make his mark nationally and internationally. His big international breakthrough came when the Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned the nocturnal orchestral piece Nacht und Trompeten (1981) to great success.
Hans Abrahamsen has throughout his career found a special creative outlet in marvelous orchestrations of pieces by famed composers such as Bach, Debussy and Carl Nielsen, which was maintained during a pause in his compositional work during the 90’s.
For Abrahamsen, his own music continues to inspire new compositions based off ideas already present in previous works. Some of his most recent compositions Left, alone (2015) for piano and orchestra, Concerto for Horn and Orchestra (2019) and the large scale orchestra piece Vers le Silence (2021) thus form a beautiful trilogy. Orchestration and reworking is also at the heart of 10 Präludien (2020) commissioned by Münchner Kammerorchester, which builds on own Abrahamsen's first string quartet, 10 Præludier (1973) and the masterly crafted 10 Pieces for Orchestra (2020) which takes its departure in his 10 Studier (1998) for piano.
His list of works and awards continues to impress. In 2016 Hans Abrahamsen received both the Grawemeyer Award and the Nordic Council Music Prize for the song cycle Let Me Tell You (2013) commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and sung and dedicated to Barbara Hannigan. As one of only two Danish composers, Hans Abrahamsen also in 2019 won the prestigious Léonie Sonning’s Music Prize.
Throughout the year, musicians and orchestras have been paying tribute to Abrahamsen’s works in concerts and recordings. The recording of his first opera Snow Queen by Bayerische Staatsoper won the Gramophone Contemporary Award 2022 while Schnee recorded by John Storgårds and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra was nominated in the same category.
We at Edition Wilhelm Hansen and Wise Music hope you will join us in celebrating Hans Abrahamsen both today and in the years to come!