Subscribe to Dacapo's newsletter

Playlist provides an introduction to the themes in ‘Peter Heise: The Song Edition’

Playlist provides an introduction to the themes in ‘Peter Heise: The Song Edition’

The pianist Christian Westergaard has organised Peter Heise’s almost 300 songs into no less than 11 CDs, each with its own particular theme. We have asked Westergaard to compile a playlist with one song from each theme, so as to provide an introduction to the mammoth release.

15 April 2021

The Peter Heise: The Song Edition release – much praised by reviewers – is with its 11 CDs one of the largest musical compilations ever released in Denmark. Christian Westergaard, who took the initiative for, and is the pianist on, the release has organised the 11 CDs on the basis of various themes.

To provide an introduction to the large release, we have asked Westergaard to select one song from each theme for the playlist Peter Heise: The Song Edition Condensed. In the near future we will continously dip into the 11 different songs that exemplify the various focal points of the release, here on Dacapo’s website, on FacebookInstagram and in our own newsletter.

Stream the playlist Peter Heise: The Song Edition Condensed.

Theme 4: Echoes

'Echoes' is the theme of the fourth CD, which can be heard in condensed form in the song Ossians sang til aftenstjernen, sung by Lars Møller. The song is inspired by Heise's mentor Niels W. Gade's first opus, Echoes of Ossian.

»How did the fabled bard Ossian's song sound?« asks Christian Westergaard. »Many romantic composers, i.a. Heise's mentor Niels W. Gade, felt the longing for a music whose purity and power could carry into any future. Gade wrote his first opus as Echoes by Ossian, and as echoes of echoes stands one of Heise's most original and stand-alone songs, Ossians sang til aftenstjernen. The same key, the same archaic beauty and pride as in Gade's orchestral overture - purity, power and an homage to the older composer. Music of great impact created as a longing for a poet who was never more than a phantom.«

Theme 3: Images from the Golden Age

The third CD carries the title 'Images from the Golden Age'. The theme can be experienced in condensed form on track no. 3 on the playlist, that is 4 Folkeviser: No. 4, Husker du i høst sung by Bo Kristian Jensen. Christian Westergaard elaborates:

»You are standing at a museum, looking at a Danish Golden Age painting of rural everyday life. You take a scanning glance over the different situations depicted in the painting and linger at a young woman and man. This is the starting point of Peter Heise's and Carl Ploug's Husker du i høst, a perfect encounter between an unpretentious poem and Heise's masterly compositional craft: A simple melody you will remember after hearing it once.

The melody is repeted to every verse of the poem, but continues to open itself up with new possibilities to the specific contents of each verse. And as you move on to new pictures, the situation on that specific painting has burnt an impression of itself onto you eyelids. And the song won't leave your brain again.«

Theme 2: Erotic poems

The theme of the second CD is 'Erotic poems' which can be experienced in the song Erotische Gedichte (Sung in German) No. 1: An eine Freundind, which is track no. 2 on the playlist. Erotische Gedichte is sung by Jakob Bloch Jespersen. Christian Westergaard says about the theme:

»The second CD takes its title from Heise's collection of Emil Aarestrup's vivid depictions of the erotic moment, the snapshot of the sensation, the second which dies in a little while, but which gives everything, including death, its value. Heise's encounter with Aarestrup's musical verse becomes a highlight in his song-writing, and Til en veninde is perhaps the best love song any Danish classical composer has written.«                        

Theme 1: The North

The first CD has the theme of The North as its point of departure. The theme is present in condensed form in the song Bergliot No. 1: I dag Kong Harald må holde Tingfred, which on the release is sung by Johanne Thisted Højlund. Westergaard says this about the music to Bergliot:

“The first CD takes you on a tour of Heise’s Nordic universes: Finnish-Swedish folklore, Norway’s great writers, personally known to Heise, and finally a journey very close to reality into the distant past of the Kings’ Sagas: Peter Heise’s neglected masterpiece Bergliot, which on the release is sung by Johanne Thisted Højlund.”

Westergaard relates the following about the music for Bergliot:
“To me, his music for 
Bergliot is a time-machine back into the landscape of the sagas. The first song is an almost filmic inflight that gives me gooseflesh every single time. And from the first notes I am entranced by the story of a woman who is stronger than all the mighty men put together who surround her. It is Heise’s first great musical portrait of a woman. And, along with those which came later, a cornerstone in Nordic music.”

  • Peter Heise

    Peter Heise: The Song Edition