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Jørgen Plaetner

composer
1930
2002
Willi Østerberg
The composer Jørgen Plaetner (1930-2002) is well known as one of Scandinavia's electronic music pioneers. He was born in Copenhagen, played piano as a boy and at the age of 19 was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. There he studied composition and music theory with composers Vagn Holmboe, Niels Viggo Bentzon and Bjørn Hjelmborg as well as organ with P.S. Rung-Keller. Jørgen Plaetner was already then aware that experiments were being done with electronic music on the Continent. In the famous holiday courses for contemporary music in Darmstadt, Plaetner attended the first performances of Stockhausen's Gesang der Jünglinge and Kontakte. This had an intense effect on Plaetner, who began to build up his own electronic music studio in Kalundborg, far from the nearest colleague.
Jørgen Plaetner was also an enthusiastic music teacher and in 1957 he took up a teaching post at the State School for the Blind. In 1967 he took up an even more unusual position in Holstebro as the country's first 'town composer'. Here he established a council music school for children, wrote music for the local ensembles and even set up a local electronic music studio. His teaching principles were inspired by Carl Orff and Bartók, and introduced the pupils to contemporary music at an early age.
In 1977 Plaetner broke with electronic music and moved with his wife to Sweden where the stay the rest of his life. When Plaetner died at the age of 72, his works were gradually being forgotten in Denmark. However, modern computer music circles did manage to make contact with the old pioneer before he died. And a year after his death, when Dacapo released a CD with a selection of his electronic music works from the 1960s and 1970s (Dacapo 8.226511), Plaetner achieved a posthumous breakthrough both in Denmark and abroad. The originality of the electronic works has completely overshadowed the compositions Plaetner wrote for acoustic instruments. These included chamber works, vocal music, theatre music and eight piano sonatas. In particular the late works he wrote in Sweden are more or less unknown in Denmark, for as a rule they were only performed at events with the Swedish composers' group Media Artes, of which Plaetner was a member.