Tribute to Axel Borup-Jørgensen
Mogens Christensen was born in 1955 on Læsø, the largest island in the North Sea bay of
Kattegat, off the northeast coast of the Jutland Peninsula. In 1983, he graduated from the Royal
Academy of Music with degrees in Music Th eory and Music History. Christensen would go
on to study with Per Nørgård, Poul Ruders, Hans Abrahamsen and Karl Aage Rasmussen.
Christensen earned his Master’s degree in composition, continuing his studies with Ib Nørholm
at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, fi nally making his debut as a composer
in 1993. Th e following year, his work “Vinterlys” (Winter Light) (1991) was singled out for
special honors receiving third prize at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers,
For the past thirty years, Christensen has been extremely active as both a teacher and a composer.
His extensive list of works includes an opera, works for symphony orchestra, chamber
orchestra and small ensembles as well as songs, choral works, music for solo instruments and
a number of works for electronic media. He has served as composer in residence for the
Copenhagen Philharmonic (1998-2001) and the Randers Chamber Orchestra (2006-2008).
He is also the author of several Danish books on music theory. Since 2005, Christensen has
been Professor of Music Communication at the Academy of Music and Music Communication
As a composer, Christensen sees himself as a natural heir to Scandinavian impressionism,
combining a refi ned sense of melodic construction with a solid sense of architecture and
rhythm, fi nding extra-musical sources of inspiration in the world of dreams and fantasy, the
visual arts, birds, the Zodiac, and, of course, poetry. Th roughout his career, Christensen has
been drawn to writing for the recorder, beginning with his prize-winning Winter Light of
1991, the concerto A Fancyer’s Delight (1993), Busy Bees and Birds (2005) and Dansebagateller
(2008) among many others.
In writing his Nordic Summer Scherzo, composer Christensen used some pitches taken from
one of Borup-Jørgensen’s piano pieces, and greatly expanded and developed them in his own
style. In addition to using Borup-Jørgensen’s thematic material, the work was also inspired by
Swedish culture and the famous Swedish “midnight sun”, both of which were dear to Axel.
Christensen’s scherzo is largely a coloristic piece, combing and re-working a series of tone
colors and eff ects in diff ering combinations.
Th e string orchestra’s textures consist largely of high-pitched harmonics, tremolos of various speeds and intensities, slow moving glissandi, both bowed and pizzicato and occasional passages reminiscent of Sibelius’ string writing, a small “tribute within a tribute” which the composer added for the benefit of the Finnish musicians of the Lapland Chamber Orchestra. Th e recorder’s part is similarly structured around a number of coloristic devices: the work is framed by the sharp high-pitched sforzando created when
the player covers the labium of the instrument tightly while blowing at high breath pressure, multiphonics, (an eff ect created by cross-fi ngerings and over-blowing), singing and playing two diff erent pitches, flutter tonguing and rapid tremolos and trills. The composer writes: “Th e main idea in Nordic Summer Scherzo was to create a dialogue between noisy sounds and small fragments of melodies.”