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Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen   (1932 - 2016)

composer

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen was one of the most striking composers from northern Europe over the past half century – a unique personality and a major figure in Danish musical life, even though he considered himself to be an outsider.

He was born in 1932 and had his debut as a composer in 1955. In his early works, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen was inspired by such figures as Nielsen, Bartók and Stravinsky. Around 1960, he was influenced by post-war serialism, but soon rejected it once again and became instead a leading figure within ‘the new simplicity’: laconic music which nevertheless, in Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s hands, can be extremely ambiguous. Equivocality and a provocative absurdity are recurrent features of his production. As he himself has formulated it: ‘I often write music that cannot make up its mind, and that is deliberate.’

The material in Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s music is often extremely restricted. Motifs and sound elements are repeated and displayed without mercy, since confrontation for him is artistically speaking the salt of life. This can lead both to violent clashes and to completely static, eventless modes of expression.

His orchestral works include such pieces as Mester Jakob (Frère Jacques, 1964), Tricolore I-IV (1966-69) in which the simplicity of the material is extreme, Symphony, Antiphony (1978), which turns the symphonic format upside-down, Concerto Grosso (1990) for string quartet and orchestra (referred to by the composer himself as ‘Vivaldi on Safari’), the piano concerto Plateaux pour Piano et Orchestre (2005), and Cello Concerto (1996), a Violin Concerto (2002) and a concerto for tympani Triptychon (1985).

He has composed 14 string quartets, the last three of which can be played at one sitting and thus form yet another opus. His vocal music ranges from small songs that both continue and question the Carl Nielsen tradition to extremely demanding choral works such as Three Stages (2002) and Four Madrigals (2001). As recently as 2015, he had the premiere of his first work of music drama, Sol går op, sol går ned (The sun rises, the sun sets).

 

Live Dates

24/06/2016   Kronos Quartet and Theatre of Voices honour Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
The Kronos Quartet have changed their European tour plans to give a special memorial and CD release concert at the Copenhagen Opera on 9 July, together with Theatre of Voices and Paul Hillier.
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08/06/2016   Two new releases with Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen
Ved KLANG Festivalens afslutningskoncert fredag 17. juni præsenterer Athelas Sinfonietta to nye CD-udgivelser med musik af Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen og Ole Buck
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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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22/10/2013   New video: Early & Late - Gáman
View the video trailer for the trio Gáman's soon-to-be-released debut album "Early & Late" which combines traditional folk tunes from Greenland, Denmark and the Faroe Islands with new works by Danish composers.
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15/12/2011   Årets bedste i Politiken og Berlingske
Ifølge både Politikens og Berlingskes musikanmeldere har Dacapo leveret et par af årets bedste klassiske CD-udgivelser
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01/12/2011   Grammy nomination for Hillier and Ars Nova
Paul Hillier and Ars Nova Copenhagen have been nominated for an American Grammy Award in the category "Best Choral Performance".
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10/10/2011   From the Gramophone blog: Send in the Danes
As Dacapo's new Knudåge Riisager cycle launches, Andrew Mellor surveys Danish music's long affair with the funny
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12/05/2011   Two prestigious prizes to the Kronos Quartet
It says something about the Kronos Quartet that they've won honors from two very dissimilar organizations on the same day.
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01/03/2011   Interview with Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
Read the interview on Naxos of America Blog and learn more about the Danish composer's new release.
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03/11/2010   PGH's Plateaux i nyt remix
Oplev Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreens klaverkoncert "Plateaux" i en helt ny ramme - og se Smagsdommernes bedømmelse på DR2
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04/07/2016   Politiken

PELLE GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN Green Ground
6/6 Hjerter

[..] "Kronos Quartet og vokalkvartetten Theatre of Voices hørte til Gudmundsen-Holmgreens yndlingsgrupper, og deres nye fælles cd lyder sådan også som noget af det bedste, der ?ndes med mandens musik." [..]
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30/06/2016   GregersDH

PELLE GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN Repriser
5/5 Stars

[..] "Ingen af samtidens danske komponister har skrevet som Pelle G.-H."
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29/06/2016   Berlingske

PELLE GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN Incontri
5/6 Stars

[..] "Vel allermest bevægende på CDen med BBC Symphony Orchestra under ledelse af danske Thomas Dausgaard: »Incontri« fra 2010 forbliver et af de flotteste orkesterværker på dansk jord. Selv den store »Symphoni, Antifoni« fra 1977 holder fra ende til anden. Han økonomiserer meget med lyden i begge værker. Bruger nogle helt bestemte toner og springer altså andre toner over. Resultatet er en poesi med fokus på lyden i sig selv. Lyden som en art objekt i egen ret. Nogle gange gribende smukt. Altid tankevækkende og insisterende på noget så umoderne som den kritiske eftertanke."
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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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14/12/2014   Berlingske - ÅRETS BEDSTE 2014

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Mixed Company
"Elskere af ubesværet musik kan uden videre lukke øjnene og lade sig suge ind i hans stemninger af lykkelige solnedgange og fjerne pigestemmer."
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06/05/2014   Audiophile Audition

Early & Late
"In her charming, highly informative liner notes, Trine Boje Mortensen traces how the folk music intertwines with the new."
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14/03/2014   MusicWeb International

Early & Late
"The sounds and general concept behind this project are unique and captivating [...] Everything is beautifully recorded and enthusiastically and brilliantly performed [...] A brilliant idea."
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01/03/2014   Gramophone

Early & Late
"The disc offers a highly distinctive concept and timbral palette, and it is beautifully recorded."
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20/03/2013   Espace.mu

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
"très beau."
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18/12/2012   Allmusic.com

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
5/5 Stars

"Highly recommended; Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s astonishing music commands the attention of anyone interested in contemporary choral music."
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21/11/2011   American Record Guide

Distant Still - Trios for violin, horn and piano
"These Danish composers from three generations seem intent on forging their own paths ... this is a fascinating and powerful piece."
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01/10/2011   Gramophone

Ruders, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Eichberg: Distant Still - Trios for violin, horn and piano
"Taken together, they offer a fascinating cross-section of the diversity of temperament among Danish composers ... a disc that is as finely recorded as it is played."
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08/09/2011   MusicWeb International

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
"Ars Nova's sound is rarefied and superbly focused...This is music of rare skill and beauty, magnificently sung...don't hesitate."
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01/07/2011   American Record Guide

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
"Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen's music is a clever exercise in Danish Modern."
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01/07/2011   Diapason

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
5/5 Stars

"Les Trois scenes esquissent un monde exuberant, imprévisible, plein d'humour, qui s'ouvre sur des rues animées, traverse un bois où chantent les oiseaux"
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21/06/2011   Fyens Stiftstidende

Distant Still - Trioer for violin, horn og klaver
4/6 Stars

"De tre musikere har spillet sammen siden slut-90' erne, og viser til fulde, at instrumentsammensætningen er udfordrende og lytteværdig."
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08/06/2011   Kristeligt Dagblad

Distant Still - Trios for violin, horn and piano
4/6 Stars

"De tre musikere spiller hele vejen igennem med en omhyggelig sans for detaljerne."
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01/05/2011   Ritmo

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
4/4 Stars

"Destacan, como siempre, un gran equilibrio y una nitidez extraordinaria. Paul Hillier extrae de ellos todo el jugo y aporta su experiencia en un disco para recordar."
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21/01/2011   Politiken

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
5/6 Hjerter

"Man får fornemmelsen af, at kormusikken er helt central for Gudmundsen-Holmgreen - at han bliver rigtig skarp af at skulle forholde sig til ordene."
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20/01/2011   Musical Pointers

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
"Reveals itself as of extreme beauty."
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12/01/2011   Kristeligt Dagblad

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
4/6 Stars

"Umiddelbart fængende melodier gør dette værk til en nydelse ... Det skal høres."
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16/12/2010   Fyens Stiftstidende

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
5/6 Stars

"Ars Nova Copenhagens fortolkninger er sublime, teksterne smælder, skønsangen fryder, stemmerne udnyttes til det umulige."
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01/11/2010   Klassisk

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
4/5 Stars

"Imponerende at én komponist rummer så mange verdener."
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01/01/2010   International Record Review

Kronos plays Holmgreen
"Fearless performances are in evidence throughout"
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31/12/2009   Philadelphia City Paper

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Plateaux
"This is one of the most compelling new piano concertos in recent memory."
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01/07/2009   Gramophone

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Plateaux
"...vivid performances from the Danish National SO in Plateaux. Cracking sound, too."
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02/03/2009   American Record Guide

Kronos plays Holmgreen
"I don't think I've heard the Kronos Quartet sounding better than this"
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20/01/2009   Politiken

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Plateaux
5/6 Hjerter

”Med ni »kig ind gennem nøglehuller«, som komponisten kalder klaverkoncertens ni korte og længere satser, får man pikante og forunderlige ting at se. Brudstykker af frækt jazzet Gershwin, rytmisk stønnende Stravinsky og elegant nattefilosoferende Bartók vendes og drejes i det tomme rum som af usynlige hænder.”
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03/05/2007   Politiken

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Music is a Monster (DVD)
4/6 Hjerter

"Ord, musik og billeder hænger inspirerende godt sammen.", "En film så musikalsk, at man bliver høj i hjernehatten af den. På 12-tone-måden."
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01/05/2007   Berlingske Tidende

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Music is a monster (DVD)
5/6 Stars

"Et must for elskere af ikke blot Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, men også af dansk musik og det danske land i almindelighed."
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02/12/1997   BBC Music Magazine

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Music for Voices and Instruments
5/5 Stars

"If you enjoy the fruits of an unfettered musical imagination, somewhat akin to Ligeti’s, this CD is for you."
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03/11/1997   BBC Music Magazine

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen: Orchestral Works
5/5 Stars

"The performance of the soloist, Morten Zeuthen (for whom it was written) and the orchestra are utterly gripping ... One of the most exciting CD's I've come across this year"
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Photo: Jeppe Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

Discography

Green Ground
Green Ground
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

CD 8.226153 (2016)

Incontri
Incontri
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

CD 8.226120 (2016)

Repriser
Repriser
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

CD 8.226126 (2016)

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

CD 8.226583 (2015)

Mixed Company
Mixed Company
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

CD 8.226114 (2014)

A large-scale work cycle for chamber orchestra and singing voices, based on John Dowland’s Renaissance melody Flow my tears

Early & Late
Early & Late
Various

SACD 6.220640 (2013)

Nordic folk music and contemporary avant-garde meet in a unique combination of violin, recorder and accordion

Distant Still - Trios for violin, horn and piano
Distant Still - Trios for violin, horn and piano
Ruders, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Eichberg

CD 8.226549 (2011)

Contemporary works written for The Danish Horn Trio by Poul Ruders, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and Søren Nils Eichberg

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

SACD 6.220583 (2010)

Paul Hillier, a devoted admirer of Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, leads ARS NOVA through this extraordinary vocal performance

Plateaux
Plateaux
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

SACD 6.220533 (2009)

The latest masterpiece by Holmgreen is a sparkling piano concerto in nine surprising movements

Kronos plays Holmgreen
Kronos plays Holmgreen
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

SACD 6.220548 (2008)

The world-famous American Kronos Quartet plays three of Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s lush works

Music is a monster (DVD)
Music is a monster (DVD)
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

DVD 2.110406 (2007)

Jytte Rex’ portrait film of the composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

Organ Music
Organ Music
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

CD 8.224254 (2002)

New works demonstrating Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s constant urge to explore

Chamber Music
Chamber Music
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

CD 8.224225 (2002)

The provocative Plateaux pour deux for cello and squeeze-bulb horn – and what followed after

Orchestral Works
Orchestral Works
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

CD 8.224060 (1997)

Three key works by the caustic, energetic absurdist of modern Danish music

Music for Voices and Instruments
Music for Voices and Instruments
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

CD 8.224056 (1997)

Razor-sharp vocal works from a 25-year period with texts by among others Samuel Beckett

Works for Organ
Works for Organ

CD 8.224018 (1995)

Organ meets harp and percussion in works from the end of the 20th century

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

DCCD 9316 (1993)

Symphony - Antiphony; A Symphony in Time
Symphony - Antiphony; A Symphony in Time
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and Karl Aage Rasmusssen

DCCD 9010 (1992)


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