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Poul Rovsing Olsen   (1922 - 1982)

composer

Poul Rovsing Olsen (1922-1982) was born into music. His father played cello and piano, his mother sang, and there were often private music soirees in his home. At an early age he was given ear training and piano lessons, and his obvious musical talent was ensured smooth development.

Poul Rovsing Olsen studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, graduating in music theory and piano in 1946. Two years later he took a new degree in law at the University of Copenhagen. Thus equipped for the world, he went off to Paris, where he continued his musical studies with the famous teacher Nadia Boulanger and the composer Olivier Messiaen.

After his return in 1949, Rovsing Olsen unfolded the whole range of his talents. As a lawyer he worked until 1960 at the Ministry of Education, where he helped to draft the Danish Copyright Act. He worked as a musical writer on the newspapers Information and Berlingske Tidende, and he composed.

An interest in Oriental music aroused at an early age was greatly strengthened in 1958 when he joined the legendary excavations in the Arabian Gulf led by the Danish archaeologist professor P.V. Glob. Over the next few years, Rovsing Olsen returned to the Gulf States several times, and went on music-collecting expeditions to places as diverse as India, Egypt, Turkey and Greenland. The ethnomusicological expertise he thus acquired brought him wide recognition in specialist circles and led to a position as Keeper of the Danish Folklore Archives, where he was able to concentrate on the ethnomusicological work, and to the post as Chairman of the International Council for Traditional Music. Two results of his exploration of the musical culture of the Gulf States were the record Pêcheurs de Perles et Musiciens du Golfe Persique (Disques Ocora, OCR 42, 1969) and the book with three accompanying CDs Music in Bahrain. Traditional Music of the Arabian Gulf (Moesgaard Museum, Denmark and the Ministry of Information, Bahrain, 2002).

To his artistic credit Poul Rovsing Olsen has 85 compositions, including orchestral works, the ballets Ragnarok, La Création, The Wedding and The Outsider, the operas Belisa and Usher, songs, piano compositions and chamber music.

The research on the musical cultures of faraway countries left its mark on Rovsing Olsen’s own compositions. He aimed at clarity and substance, and by fusing elements from the Occidental and Oriental traditions he developed a personal musical idiom that was unusual in Danish music. Poul Rovsing Olsen himself said that it was his dream “to make music as direct as possible, to bring it closer to the listener”.

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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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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Discography

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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