Hjalmar Borgstrøm

Post is not available in the requested language For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.Hjalmar Borgstrøm’s studies of the soul, death, and music by Erling E. Guldbrandsen We, listeners and musicologists alike, know very little about the life and music of Hjalmar Borgstrøm. This is a curious situation considering the important role he played in Norway’s music life as a distinguished public…

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Post is not available in the requested language For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

Hjalmar Borgstrøm’s studies of the soul, death, and music by Erling E. Guldbrandsen We, listeners and musicologists alike, know very little about the life and music of Hjalmar Borgstrøm. This is a curious situation considering the important role he played in Norway’s music life as a distinguished public debater and composer. His mature works resemble those of none other. Borgstrøm expert Jens Arbo wrote in 1925 “The strong element of reflection, of contemplation in his music points towards the deepest reaches of spiritual life.” Hjalmar Borgstrøm (1864–1925) made his mark on the cultural life of Norway’s capital, Kristiania (now Oslo) during the first decades of the twentieth century, both with a number of distinctive musical compositions, and with his knowledgeable and incorruptible contribution as a music critic, educator of the general public and debater in the city’s leading newspapers. His music was regularly performed until at least as late as World War II, after which it disappeared almost entirely from the repertoire for more than fifty years. Since the year 2000 a remarkable revival of Borgstrøm’s music has taken place. Both of his operas, Thora paa Rimol and Fiskeren, have finally received their first performance, more than one hundred years after they were composed. The first of the two has already been released on CD (Simax PSC1230), while the latter is in the process of being recorded (PSC1222). A number of his songs and instrumental works are being released on disc for the first time; the same goes for Jesus i Gethsemane (1904), Die Nacht der Toten (1905) and the violin concerto in G major (1914). In retrospect Borgstrøm does not stand out as having been particularly radical, although it was as an innovator his contemporaries saw him. As a young man Borgstrøm had friends in radical artist circles in Berlin, one of whom was his peer Ferruccio Busoni, composer and pianist, who later performed the solo part in Borgstrøm’s piano concerto Hamlet in a major presentation of Borgstrøm’s music in Berlin in 1905. In writings and articles Borgstrøm and Busoni polemicized strongly against the idea of ‘absolute’ music. “I find sheer cultivation of beauty reprehensible, not to say demoralizing.” Jan 2010