BASIL RAMSEY listens to Rued Langgaard's 'Sinfonia interna'
The Danish composer Rued Langgaard, born in 1893, became a misfit, a
composer mostly ignored by those who administered artistic matters in Denmark.
His hour-long first symphony eventually had its premiere by the Berlin Philharmonic
in 1913. Langgaard's musical outlook baffled and alienated his Danish colleagues,
for his style was based in late Romanticism interminging with visionary
ideals. Then around 1924 he modified his thinking and music, harking back
to the ideals of Romanticism itself. If meant as a means to gain performances
from his countrymen, it failed. His last years were no better than the first,
and he died in 1952 still suffering the ignomony of an outcast.
Interest in his music gathered momentum in the sixties, but it
has taken until now for publication of some of the music, a book about his
life, and now a CD of his Sinfonia interna.
I have had some difficulty in clinching an understanding of the derivation
for Langgaard's music. With most of us there's a gut reaction when sampling
unfamiliar music. All I can say is that my gut takes little notice of this
composer's offerings, yet I hear music that is somewhat unusual within its
Romantic boundaries. As I've felt like that with Berlioz' music all my life,
I know I experience unexpected problems. Langgaard's music needs careful
listening and a sympathetic ear. Certainly a second CD of his small-scale
works would enlarge our experience and perhaps a better understanding of
the creative talent which undoubtedly he possessed.
Copyright © 24 May 2000 Basil Ramsey,
Eastwood, Essex, UK
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