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Ib Nørholm   (Born 1931)

composer

Ib Nørholm (b. 24th January 1931) was already composing as a schoolboy, and by the time he left school he had already made his debut as a composer (with a piano sonatina performed at Det Unge Tonekunstnerselskab in 1947) and had written his first opera, The Snail and the Rose Hedge (1949, after Hans Christian Andersen). In 1950 he began studying music history and theory at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen and took his organist diploma (1955). As an organist, music critic (on the newspaper Information, 1956-64) and not least as a composer, he quickly became one of the central personalities in the circle of young composers who represented -contemporary Copenhagen musical life.

These young composers shared the feeling of being at a dead end. The traditional aesthetic that prevailed at and was spread from the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen had lost its attraction for the young. A new inspiration was necessary, and they took it from the ISCM festivals in Rome (1959) and Cologne (1960) and from the citadel of serialism, the summer courses at Darmstadt where Stockhausen, Boulez, Maderna and Nono were the pace-setters.

Ib Nørholm made the pilgrimage to the international music centres with his friends. He saw, listened and learned. And he became one of the leading figures in the new departure in Danish music that took place at the beginning of the 1960s with FLUXUS festivals and the ISCM festival in Copenhagen in 1964 as milestones. Major works from these years are Fluctuations, which won the Dutch Gaudeamus Prize in 1964, and the TV opera Invitation to a Beheading (1965), which combines twelve-tone technique with collage principles.

1965 became the crucial dividing-line in Ib Nørholm's development as a composer. That year he began on a project that has proved fruitful for more than 40 years, and has resulted in more than 150 works with the piano work Strophes and Fields (opus 33, 1965) as the first, epoch-making step. Briefly, the project involves combining the expressive potential of modernism with lyrical-melodic expressiveness, which was in Ib Nørholm's blood; or, put differently, saying goodbye to aesthetic prejudices about what one should and should not do; and welcoming the compositional craftsmanship that makes it possible to do what one wants.

With this goal Ib Nørholm could look at the classical genres and forms - symphony, opera, string quartet, piano Lied - with present-day eyes. Eleven symphonies from no. 2, Isola bella (1968-71) to no. 12, Realities (2009), four operas from The Young Park (1970) to The Revenge of Truth (1985), a wealth of chamber-music works and songs, as well as monumental works for voice and orchestra such as The Elf-Mirror (1995-96) and The Bell (2005, after Hans Christian Andersen's tale) document the strength with which Ib Nørholm has pursued his goal through almost half a century. By virtue of these and many other precisely formulated and expressive works Ib Nørholm stands as the renewer of the classical tradition in post-war Danish music.

The age did not fail to recognize this. For almost 40 years from 1963 until 2001, Ib Nørholm was a sought-after, highly appreciated composition teacher; first at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense, then from 1972 at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, where in 1981 he took up the professorial chair of composition that had been vacant since Vagn Holmboe's departure in 1965. There he influenced generations of young composers with his ideals of the obligations of technical skill and artistic freedom that took over from the former harmony of conservatory and conservatism.

Ib Nørholm retired as the professor of composition when he turned 70 in 2001. But not as a composer. About fifty works have come during his retirement. He is still renewing himself and the musical scene from which he came.

Live Dates

16/09/2015   Trio Ismena present debut album
Trio Ismenas debut-CD udkommer mandag 21. september, og fejres med koncert og reception i Literaturhaus på Nørrebro.
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31/01/2012   CD-release og koncert: Tavole per Orfeo
Dacapo Records og musikforlaget Edition Wilhelm Hansen inviterer til koncert og CD-release på udgivelsen "Tavole per Orfeo"
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14/04/2016   Der Neue Merker

Buxtehude and his Circle
"Paul Hillier hat mit seinem formidablen Sängern und einem achtköpfigen Instrumentalensemble wieder einmal einen Hit gelandet."
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01/02/2016   Gramophone

NØRHOLM, GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN, HVIDTFELT-NIELSEN, HEGAARD, KOCH: Fem danske klavertrioer
"The piece is worth the price of the disc alone, and suggests that Nielsen's legacy of individuality has eclipsed Gade's ideas of conformity when it comes to Denmark's most worthy 21st-century music."
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04/01/2016   The Classical Reviewer

NØRHOLM, GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN, HVIDTFELT-NIELSEN, HEGAARD, KOCH
"Here we have five very fine works that, in different ways bring much enjoyment. There isn’t one disappointing work here. Trio Ismena provide first rate performances, often bringing a real eloquence. The recording is excellent."
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01/11/2015   Magasinet Klassisk

Trio Ismena: Five danish piano trios
"(...) En stærk enhed af tre individer, der tør profilere sig, spiller præcist, saftigt og med kant (...) Trio Ismena er klart værd at lære at kende."
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09/10/2015   David's Review

Five Danish Piano Trios
"Dedicated to Trio Ismena, the young group who have rapidly found a place among today’s outstanding chamber groups, and here show a dedication and affinity to modern Danish music"
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06/05/2014   Gramophone

The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs
"Under Hillier’s direction, Ars Nova Copenhagen perform a cappella, with meticulously shaded dynamics, articulation and colour."
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04/05/2014   Diapason

The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs
5/5 Stars

"Les membres de Ars Nova Copenhagen respirent et phrasent d'une seule voix."
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16/02/2014   Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten

The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs
5/6 Stars

"Nænsomme, fine og forførende udgaver.", "Weyse, Gade og Nielsen smiler med i graven".
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13/02/2014   Politiken

The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs
4/6 Hjerter

"En nærmest ufattelig perfektion præger hele CD'en."
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01/09/2012   Classical Guitar Magazine

Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
"For aficionados of contemporary music.", "A fine addition to any collection."
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02/07/2012   International Record Review

Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
"Both Torp and Pålsson are in their element. The recording is both intimate and admirably clear".
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01/07/2012   American Record Guide

Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
"Norholm shows humor, grace, passion, and excellent craft"
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07/06/2012   Fanfaremag.com

Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
"Ib Nørholm is, in fact, an excellent composer" ... "I certainly enjoyed the listening experience."
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01/05/2012   Classica

Finn Høffding: Orchestral Works
3/4 Stars

"Fêtons et réjouissons-nous de cette écoute imposante, de cette découverte si enthousiasmante."
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01/05/2012   Gramophone

Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
"...the composer could hardly wish for more elegant interpreters. "
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28/03/2012   David's Review Corner

Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
"In Else Torp we have that pure and almost innocent voice that seems ideal for the music, and she is well partnered by Per Palsson's admirable guitar playing"
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28/03/2012   Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten

Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
4/6 Stars

"Else Torp stiller så klart ind på den stemningsfulde danske lyrik, at man uden videre lader sig opsluge."
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02/03/2012   Information

Ib Nørholm: Tavole per Orfeo
"Else Torp opleves som en næsten guddommelig sirene i den såre danske og undertiden også sælsomt udanske melodibog af Ib Nørholm."
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27/01/2005   Politiken

Ib Nørholm: Choral Works
4/6 Hjerter

"Klare og karakteristiske stemningsfarver, en mængde lunerigt træfsikre maleriske detaljer og en frisk og yndefuld korisk diktion”
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11/10/2003   Classics Today (10/10)

Art of Brass Copenhagen: From the Merry Life of a Spy
"This absolutely brilliant disc should give fans of great brass playing something to cheer about."
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Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen

Discography

Five Danish Piano Trios
Five Danish Piano Trios
Nørholm, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Hvidtfelt-Nielsen, Hegaard, Koch

CD 8.226583 (2015)

The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs
The Golden Age of Danish Partsongs
Various

SACD 6.220568 (2014)

Paul Hillier’s interpretations of choral classics by among others Gade, Carl Nielsen and Weyse sung to perfection by Ars Nova Copenhagen

Tavole per Orfeo
Tavole per Orfeo
Ib Nørholm

CD 8.226068 (2012)

Exquisite, poetic songs for soprano and guitar, written in the 1960s by a classic master of Danish music.

Woodworks
Woodworks
Abrahamsen, Nørholm, Kayser, Buch etc.

CD 8.226541 (2007)

Danish recorder works from the past 50 years played by an outstanding trio

Alpha
Alpha
Alpha

CD 8.226518 (2006)

The sensational trio with saxophone, percussion and recorder. Listen!

Choral Works
Choral Works
Ib Nørholm

CD 8.224700 (2004)

Winter music of great purity and poetry by a master composer of our time

Breath and Wings
Breath and Wings
Jens Schou

CD 8.226507 (2004)

Improvisation music and new works for clarinet

From the Merry Life of a Spy
From the Merry Life of a Spy
Art of Brass Copenhagen

CD 8.226001 (2003)

Sparklingly incisive performance of a virtuoso brass quintet

Americana
Americana
Ib Nørholm

CD 8.224168 (2000)

Moderne kor-klassikere til tekster af Walt Whitman og Poul Borum

Music for Guitar
Music for Guitar
Rovsing Olsen, Nørholm, Nørgård, Gerfors, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

DCCD 9316 (1993)


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