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Abrahamsen, Hans

Born in 1952. He studied with Per Nørgård, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and György Ligeti. His first compositions were published when he was 16, and by 1980 he had already composed a considerable number of works, including Nacht und Trompeten (1981), commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic. In 1984 he wrote the first seven of his Ten Piano Studies.

After fifteen years of decreased productivity, Abrahamsen returned to composing large-scale works (the first of which was his Piano Concerto of 2000), and then also to the Piano Studies, some of which he presented in new arrangements as the Four Pieces for Orchestra (UK premiere at the BBC Proms in 2005). In the new millennium he also composed Snow (Schnee), followed by other major works.

Apart from his output of original works, Abrahamsen has found an outlet as an arranger—or in fact a rearranger, which in Abrahamsen’s own words, allows him to find himself in aspects of other composers’ music. In 1992, for Per Nørgård’s 60th birthday, Abrahamsen proved his outstanding ability as instrumentator by arranging Nørgård’s chamber piece Surf for a sinfonietta. He later went on to arrange Carl Nielsen’s Symphony no. 6 and Debussy’s Children’s Corner (2011).

Hans Abrahamsen has received several awards, including the Carl Nielsen Prize in 1989 and Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize in 1998. He was featured composer at the Witten Days for New Chamber Music in Germany in spring 2012. His music has been released, among others, under the Dacapo label.


Major works (since 1995): Walden for oboe, two clarinets, bassoon and saxophone (1995), Ten Studies for piano (1998), Piano Concerto (2000), Siciliano for cello (2000), Air for accordion (2006), Schnee, Canons 1a&1b for large instrumental ensemble (2006), String Quartet no. 3 (2008), Schnee for large instrumental ensemble (2008), Herbstlied for piano or harpsichord, violin and cello (2009), Traumlieder for violin, cello and piano (2009), Wald for large instrumental ensemble (2009), Ten Sinfonias for orchestra (2010), Liebeslied for large instrumental ensemble (2010), Carl Nielsen: Symphony No. 6, new arrangement (2010), Claude Debussy: Children’s Corner for orchestra (2011), Double Concerto for piano and orchestra (2011), Chorale for Luigi Nono for piano (2012), Flowersongs for flute, oboe and clarinet (2012), String Quartet no. 4 (2012), György Ligeti: Ein Suspens for large instrumental ensemble (2012), let me tell you for soprano and orchestra (2013), Schneebilder for piano, violin, viola and cello (2013), Four Pieces for Orchestra (2014), Bamberger Tanz for orchestra (2014), György Ligeti: Arc-en-ciel for large instrumental ensemble (2014).