I am very excited to talk about today’s composer because he is a composer whose work I am still getting to know. Hans Abrahamsen is a Danish composer who I have been listening to for a few months (I had his music before this but, I just started really getting to know it this year). His work is often associated with that of Ligeti’s.
I have not had the pleasure of playing his music yet (the first in this series thus far whose work I haven’t experienced as a performer) though hopefully that will change soon. I was first introduced to his music in the last year of my undergraduate degree at Hartt by Matt Sargent. He introduced me to his piece Schnee which, is an incredibly beautiful chamber work. His music is extremely delicate. The music can be so fragile at times and while it does seem similar to Ligeti, I am often reminded of the composer Henryk Gorecki’s late work (especially his Fourth Symphony).
One of the most interesting things about Abrahamsen is how little his output is (due in part by a hiatus from composing for about a decade). I find it refreshing to see such a successful composer have such a small output of compositions (at least that he considers acceptable to a public audience), each piece carries so much weight and importance. When learning music throughout the ages by composers like Bach or Mozart or Haydn It can often seem like the more prolific a composer, the better the composers works are. I think this can become a distraction to a composer’s truly great works by letting them become lost in a sea of pieces. The amount of refinement and craft Abrahamsen uses to construct each piece is truly admirable and inspiring. I am excited to get to know more of his works and look forward to playing his music someday.
Walden for Woodwind Quintet
Schnee for large ensemble
Left Alone for piano left-hand and orchestra
Let Me Tell You for Soprano and Orchestra