By Joshua Cheek
Contemporary Danish Works
Vagn Holmboe, Gordon Jacob’s Danish near-contemporary, was an enormously prolific composer, with almost 400 works to his credit. Holmboe began his compositional career in earnest following his entrance examination to the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, when the national composer Carl Nielsen looked through some of his compositions and encouraged him to continue.
During his long and productive career, Holmboe composed 13 symphonies, 21 string quartets and a large number of concertos including a series of chamber concertos for virtually every orchestral instrument, including a lovely and atmospheric one for recorder, written especiallyfor Michala Petriwhen she was just 17.
Despite being highly regarded in his native Denmark, Holmboe suffered the same fate as many fine mid-century composers, as his traditionally constructed, tonal music was eclipsed by the novelty of the avant garde. Happily, his music is currently experiencing a revival.
“I liked Vagn and his Romanian wife Meta very much, and am still close friends with their son Thor. I was invited to their home quite a few times over the years, when they invited other artistic people, painters and authors. Those evenings made a great impression on me, beingvery young, and I still have vivid memories of them.”