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Poul Rovsing Olsen   (1922 - 1982)

composer

Poul Rovsing Olsen had a special feeling for the human voice – and it did not come from strangers: his mother sang; she was a pupil of Lauritz Melchior, and was also a distant relation of the famous tenor. His father, a company director, played the cello and piano. In the family home there were often musical evenings with programmes with the main emphasis on songs by Mozart, Schubert and Schu­mann, Weyse, Heise, Lange Müller and Carl Nielsen.

At an early age Poul Rovsing Olsen took lessons in ear training and piano, and his obvious musical talent was ensured a harmonious development. He gra­duated in piano and music theory from the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copen­hagen, and in law from Copenhagen University, after which he went to Paris and continued his musical training with the renowned teacher Nadia Boulanger and the famous composer Olivier Messiaen. In parallel with this Rovsing Olsen frequen­ted the Parisian Musée de l’Homme, where he could immerse himself in the music of faraway peoples, with which he had been much preoccupied since his high school years; an interest which later in life made Rovsing Olsen an internationally recog­nized ethnomusicologist who went on research trips to the Persian Gulf, India, Green­land and Egypt. There he studied the local music and song traditions and made recordings of the songs of the pearl divers of Bahrain and the traditional Green­landic songs.

Rovsing Olsen’s list of works comprises 85 numbers, including songs, piano pieces, chamber music, orchestral works, ballets and the operas Belisa and Usher. Taken together, this oeuvre constitutes a continuous stylistic development with its origins in the stringent neoclassical way of writing and gradually incorporates sono­rities and structural experiences from western modernism as well as non-western musical cultures. At first compositional attention is concentrated around the rhyth­mic profiles. In time the expressive side of melody and dynamics is also strengthened. This is evident for example in songs to texts by William Blake, Pär Lagerkvist, Rainer Maria Rilke and Charles Baudelaire.

Text: Teresa Waskowska

Live Dates

07/09/2012   Discreet orchestral virtuosos
We caught up with conductor Bo Holten for a short chat about his two new CD releases with music by Erik Norby and Poul Rovsing Olsen
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28/02/2017   David's Review Corner

POUL ROVSING OLSEN: Songs
"Certainly the vocal quality of the mezzo, Hetna Regitze Bruun, is always very beautiful with intonation that is in the centre of each note"
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01/01/2014   Listen Magazine

Poul Rovsing Olsen: Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
"It's gratufying to come across an excellent piano concerto never heard before."
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13/10/2013   Expedition Audio

Poul Rovsing Olsen: Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
RECOMMENDATION: "I've spun this CD many times - these are substantial and intriguing works, given exceptional performances and captured in excellent sound."
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21/03/2013   Gramophone

Poul Rovsing Olsen: Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
"Dacapo’s sound is excellent."
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19/03/2013   American Record Guide

Poul Rovsing Olsen: Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
"Exceptionally-well-played-and-recorded."
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14/03/2013   MusicWeb International

Poul Rovsing Olsen: Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
"Christina Bjørkøe handles the wide changes of tempo and mood with great aplomb and subtlety."
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26/02/2013   Fanfare

Poul Rovsing Olsen: Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
"All I can say is grab it, sit back, and close your eyes when listening: The music will do the rest."
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04/01/2013   OPUS

Poul Rovsing Olsen: Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
5/6 Stars

"... makalöst spel av Christina Bjørkøe ... en omistlig kulturgärning från Bo Holten och Dacapo".
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01/11/2012   Records International

Poul Rovsing Olsen: Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
"Clear-cut rhythms, expressive melodic lines and colorful tonal effects."
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Photo: Zofia Kruszona

Discography

Songs
Songs
Poul Rovsing Olsen

CD 8.226078 (2017)

Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
Piano Concerto and Orchestral Works
Poul Rovsing Olsen

CD 8.226038 (2012)

Brilliant music from the 1950s by a composer with an unusually international outlook. A real discovery!

Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope
The Jalina Trio

CD 8.226503 (2005)

Brilliant, intense piano trios from the second half of the 20th century

Belisa
Belisa
Poul Rovsing Olsen

CD 8.226013 (2004)

Chamber opera based on Lorca’s erotic, surreal drama

Music for Cello and Piano
Music for Cello and Piano
Poul Rovsing Olsen

CD 8.224222 (2003)

The ethnomusicologist Rovsing Olsen was inspired by both Arab and French music

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

DCCD 9316 (1993)


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