• Eivind Buene
  • Violin Concerto (2013)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • 1.1.1+bcl.0/1110/perc/hp/str (
  • vn
  • 23 min

Programme Note

The Violin Concerto is composed over several years, and is written for the soloist Peter Herresthal. The fundamental idea is very simple: the four strings of the violin. In the first movement, Falling Angels, the harmonies gradually unfold around the intervals of the open strings of the violin. Starting on the deepest sounding string, new tones are added, expanding the tonal space. The fingers’ contact to the instrument is used to create small displacements and wave motions in the tones. I attempt to exploit every timbral possibilities of the violin string, as the bow strikes it in different places and with varied speed and pressure. To me, this is the essence of a stringed instrument: an instrument with many different layers of timbre and an evolving continuum of pitch as the fingers slide up and down the strings; an instrument that is capable of making both simple, distinct tones and blurred, misty sounds.

The playing of the soloist infects the rest of the orchestra, such that all strings get caught in the play between hamonies and pure sound. This relation is put to extremes In Sound Asleep, when the string section imitate the soloist in a sophisticated play of baroque rhythmical figures. Starting from the clearest string, the music once more moves from simplicity to chaos and rich complexity.

When I work with the orchestra, a dialogue with the past often arises. I believe this is due to the rich history of the symphonic orchestra and the loaded atmosphere of the concert halls. While working on the violin concerto, I felt that a conversation with Alban Berg’s violin concerto from 1935 took place. Fragments and materials from this piece appeared vaguely in the beginning of my work, but are brought to the surface in the closing movement, Among Voices of the Dead. The music is based on a melody that Alban Berg has adopted from J.S. Bach’s chorale ”Es ist Genug”, a chorale that just like Alban Berg’s concerto speaks about death and disappearance. Berg’s concerto is written ”in memory of an angel”, dedicated to Manon Gropius, daughter of Alma Mahler, who died at the age of 16.

The violin concerto by Alban Berg is an example of how the past sings in us with a choir of voices. We live among them, they live among us, and this becomes evident when the orchestral music is brought to life from the silent pages of the score.



Score preview


  • The Investigating Composer: 50 years of Buene
    • The Investigating Composer: 50 years of Buene
    • In 2023, we celebrate the 50th birthday of Norwegian composer/writer Eivind Buene. 25 years ago, Buene was among the Norwegian pioneers of the artistic movement called “Retromodernism.” “Retromodernism” focuses on how the past is used to shape the present, a focus that is a cornerstone in Eivind Buene’s composing.