Bent Sorensen was born in 1958 in Borup, Zealand. He was a comparatively late-comer to contemporary composition, beginning his musical career as a folk musician, only entering the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen when he was 25 years old. While there, he studied with Ib Norholm and later continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in
While still a student, Bent Sorensen made an impact with three string quartets composed between 1986 and 1988, Alman, Adieu and Angel’s Music, which were later recorded by the famed Arditti Quartet in 1990, the year before his official debut as a composer. The recording would propel Sorensen into the heart of the contemporary music scene. A series of highly individual chamber works followed in the late 1980s and ‘90s, including Les Tuchins (1986), Clairobscur (1987), Shadowland (1987) and The Deserted Churchyards (1990).
In the 1990s Sorensen expanded his cataloque to include large scale orchestral and choral works, including Th e Echoing Garden (1990-92), a symphony (1995-96), and the three solo concertos – the violin concerto Sterbende Garten (1992-93, awarded the Music Prize of the Nordic Council), the trombone concerto Birds and Bells (1995) and the piano concerto La Notte (1996-98).
Sorensen’s music is characterized by his focus on minute details of sound and texture as motifs, pitches, rhythms, harmony and texture shift slowly, creating a constantly shifting sonic perspective. Early critics grouped Sorensen’s music with other practitioners of the “New Complexity” like Brian Ferneyhough and Michael Finnissy, but increasingly it has become apparent the composer’s layered textures of swirling melismas and stuttering rhythms owe much more to his experience playing Danish folk music. Other recurring themes in Sorensen’s music are darkness, shadow and what one writer has described as “the aesthetics of decay; music on the verge of silence.”
Sorensen has received numerous awards and honors, including the Nordic Council’s Music Prize, for “Sterbende Garten” and the Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize (1999) in addition to being a frequent invitee as guest composer at numerous prestigious international music festivals. Sorensen was for many years professor of composition at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.