Commissioned by The Rued Langgaard Festival and The Danish National Symphony Orchestra

  • Orchestration list - with doublings specified: 1 Picc; 2 Flutes (2nd. db. Alto Fl.); 2 Oboes; 1 Eng. Horn; 2 Clarinets in Bb & A; 1 Bass Cl. in Bb; 2 Bassoons; 1 Contra Bsn; 4 Horns in F; 3 Trumpets in C; 3 Trombones Timpani; Percussion (approx.: 6 players); 2 Harps; Celesta; Strings
  • 15 min

Programme Note

When the Covid lockdowns happened, I was about to start composing a new work. But I often need to procrastinate in order to get started. I also needed to hear a lot of music and I set about listening to the symphonies of Danish composer Rued Langgaard and all of his other works, initiated by many conversations with Esben Tange. Accordingly, I have dedicated this work to Esben and Berit.

Among other things, I enjoyed his piano music in the wonderful recordings by Berit Johansen Tange and I fell in love with his Gintajali Hymns. Especially the last three pieces, named ‘The Sea of Silence’, ‘Rainy Leaves’ and ‘Golden Streams’. And as always, when I have to immense myself in music and procrastinate, I started imagining the pieces played by an orchestra and I could immediately hear these pieces in a version for orchestra, so I set about orchestrating them. It was fantastic to get so close to the composer Rued Langgaard in this way.

They are three very different pieces. The first piece ‘Sea of Silence’ is slow music that flows towards an end current, and then there are the ‘Rainy Leaves’ of the second piece where everything is constantly falling – which by the way reminds me of my old teachers Nørgård and Ligeti. The final movement, called ‘Golden Streams’ is also based on descending lines and in the culmination all the notes appears that Langgaard might have heard in the bells of the Marble Church in Copenhagen. A church with great significance to Rued Langgaard who refers to it in two of his symphonies.

In the pieces, I even found references to my own music, an early choral piece called ‘Universe Birds’, which also makes it appearance in my opera ‘The Snow Queen’. Rued Langgaard was famously isolated from the Danish music life during his many years in the city of Ribe, just as I was isolated during the time I wrote these pieces.

@Hans Abrahamsen


The orchestration by Hans Abrahamsen of Gitanjali Hymns was commissioned by the Rued Langgaard Festival and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. It was premiered at the Rued Langgaard Festival in September 2022. 

The work is dedicated to Berit Johansen Tange and Esben Tange.



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