• Per Nørgård
  • Terrains Vagues (2000)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • 3(2pic).2+ca.2+bcl.2/4(pic trp).3.3.1/timp.4perc/pf/acc/str
  • 25 min

Programme Note

Per Nørgård
for orchestra

Preface / Programme Note

A few of my works, for instance TWILIGHT (for orchestra, 1977), could be said to “jump” or “bolt” just before the ending; in the last minute or two a completely new music appears, breaking off the development, and indicating a wholly new perspective. Typical of this is my SYMPHONY NO. 6, which boasts several of these glimpses of new musics in the final minutes. The very last glimpse is of a music so different that the symphony momentarily turns “inside-out”. This short ending, or coda, with its multi-layered and heavily stomping music held captive my imagination to the extent that it became the starting point for my next endavour, the present work, TERRAINS VAGUES.

If the word symphonic means that the music has long-term development and hierachic sub- and super-orders – then my new worked is anything but: it is rather short-sighted, often out of breath, most of the time squinting back and forth between “now” and “next”.

I found the title when I heard the Danish poet Klaus Rifbjerg read his poem TERRAINS VAGUES, which starts like this (in the poet’s own translation):

There were wild oats
And the soil was black
But sparkled
When the sun was out
The air sharp in the nostrils
Hard to define
Somewhere between knife coal and
Acid and that special light and sweet
Whiteness thornbushes exhale.

It was nothing special
Because everything was special…

Apparently, it was French author Victor Hugo who coined the phrase terrains vagues, which roughly translates into “vague-areas”, meaning the border-areas between nature and civilization. In Hugo’s words: “trees vanish, roofs take over” and “the divine murmur of Nature is silenced, the noise of Mankind takes over”.

I broke up the term TERRAINS VAGUES in its separate components for the purpose of indicating three sections in the work: first TERRAINS (“areas”), secondly VAGUES (here pointing at the other meaning of the word, “waves”), thirdly TERRAINS VAGUES. The sections are not separated by breaks or rests, but rather by transitional passages of lesser activity, stagnant, vibrating orchestral sounds.

TERRAINS VAGUES was commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. It was premiered on 1 April 2001 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, at the Barbican Hall, London.

The first Danish performance took place on 27 September 2001, Thomas Dausgaard conducting the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Danish Radio Concert Hall in Copenhagen.

The work is dedicated to Thomas Dausgaard.

Per Nørgård


Terrains Vagues: I. Terrains —
Terrains Vagues: II. Vagues —
Terrains Vagues: III. Terrains Vagues


Score preview