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Niels Rosing-Schow

Suste Bonnén
A lyrical, questing composer, distinctive among the younger composers for his Francophile orientation. His music lies between the two poles: an intellectual, rather ascetic discipline on the one hand and an urge towards the exuberant and improvisational on the other. With a direct quotation from the composer, it is "a music which is composed so that the felt and the known cannot be separated". Rosing-Schow's works are often exquisitely treated with delicately prepared instrumentation, clarity and a sensuous use of colour. He is therefore an obvious composer for the sinfonietta ensemble, and several of his sophisticated pieces for this configuration are today standard works in Danish music. With the same French-oriented elegance he writes for choir and larger orchestral ensembles. Two of his major works are the operas Brand (Fire) and Dommen (The Judgement).

Niels Rosing-Schow began his composing career in the early 1970s within the framework of the ‘Group for Alternative Music’. This loose association of Danish composers wanted to create an alternative, aesthetically and organizationally, to the more established contemporary music environment. The work Kinderlieder to texts by Bertold Brecht (1977) for female choir and an unconventional ensemble of seven instruments, with its tonal and polyrhythmic layering, its simple treatment of the texts and its bright atmosphere, is a typical expression of these tendencies.

At the beginning of the 1980s Rosing-Schow tended towards a more lyrically concentrated idiom in works like Trio per flauto, viola ed arpa (1983) and a number of vocal works. The works from the end of the eighties, including Double (1987) and the chamber opera Brand (1989) exhibit a growing interest in the outward-looking, gestural and dramatic aspects of music.

In the subsequent period, which began with the works Ritus I and Ritus II (1990), this was combined with formal processual thinking that also left its mark on Voix interieures (1991). In the course of the nineties the composer also assimilated elements of French-inspired ‘spectral’ harmony. This inspiration is most clearly expressed in the sinfonietta work ...sous les râles du vent d’Est (1992), in the work Archipel des solitudes for mezzo-soprano, choir and orchestra (1995) and in the violin concerto Trees (2000/01).