Experiencing Music: A Composer’s Notes
Vagn Holmboe, 1909-96, was one of the most important composers of his era, and the most important Danish composer after Carl Nielsen. In a book intended for the general reader, he discusses the nature of music from the point of view of the composer, the performer and the listener. Where do musical ideas come from? What are composers’ working methods, and how much are they really aware of them? What is the role of performers, and what sort of freedom do they have in interpreting music? What do listeners do in listening to music? Do you require a musical education in order to understand modern music? What, essentially, is the musical experience?
This is the first appearance in English of these important essays, originally published in Danish, under the title Music – the Inexplicable. To the translation of this book several other essays have been added: Holmboe also writes on Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, ‘Haydn and Tradition’, on Nielsen, and his own early career, and on human responsibility and artistic freedom.
Professor Paul Rapoport contributes a lengthy introduction to Vagn Holmboe and his music, although, as he points out, ‘this is not a book about Vagn Holmboe nor a book addressed solely to musicians’; ‘there is no requirement […] to be a musician in order to understand […] this book: Holmboe’s prose, like his music, is addressed to his fellow human beings, whoever and wherever they may be’.