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Hans Abrahamsen

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Hans Abrahamsen


Hans Abrahamsen (b 23 December 1952, Kongens Lynby, Denmark) is a Danish composer.

Abrahamsen began with piano lessons at a very young age after hearing his father play the instrument. From 1969 to 1971, he studied horn, music theory and music history at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. Later on, in the 1980s, he continued his studies attending seminars with György Ligeti.

Abrahamsen is considered to have been part of a trend called the "New Simplicity", which arose in the mid-1960s as a reaction against the complexity and perceived aridity of the Central European avant-garde, particularly the circle around the Darmstadt School. Abrahamsen’s first works conformed to the tenets of this movement. For Abrahamsen, this meant adopting an almost naive simplicity of expression, as in his orchestral piece Skum ("Foam", 1970).

Around this time, he was also involved with a group called the Gruppen for Alternativ Musik, which was designed to allow musicians to "perform new music in alternative forms," and "to develop socially and politically committed music." These ideals can be seen in his Symphony in C. His style soon altered and developed into a personal dialogue with Romanticism which can be seen in his orchestral work Nacht und Trompeten. In 1982, he found early success when this piece was performed by the Berlin Philharmonic.

From 1990 to 1998, Abrahamsen completed only one work, a short song. After his return to composition, his music was radically changed. It combined his early artistic attitudes with newer artistic goals with a modernist stringency and economy into a larger individual musical universe.

One of his latest works is Let Me Tell You, a song cycle for soprano and orchestra based on the novel of the same name by Paul Griffiths. Abrahamsen received the Grawemeyer Award for this work. His first opera Snedronningen (The Snow Queen) is a free adaptation of the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It was premiered at the Danish Opera House on 13 October 2019.

Other pieces for winds by the same Hans Abrahamsen are Round and In Between (1971) for brass quintet; Flowersongs (1973) for flute, oboe and clarinet; Two Pieces in Slow Time for Brass Ensemble (1999), as well as a good number of large chamber ensemble with mixed instrumentation with a majority of wind instruments.

Works for Winds