Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen (b. 1969)

Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen trained both as a cellist and composer at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Aarhus. As a composer he studied with Karl Aage Rasmussen, Bent Sørensen and Olav Anton Thommesen at the Academy and privately with Henryk Gorecki and Poul Ruders. He has been the leader of Ensemble 2000 and chairman of the Aarhus Young Composers Society, and is at present director of the SPOR Festival in Århus. Outside Denmark TAO's music has been performed in Germany, England, France, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Chile, Russia and Finland. He works with orchestras and musicians such as the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR, Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, The Other Opera, the Esbjerg Ensemble, Das Henschel Quartett, Quartetto di Cremona, the Pellegrini Quartet, Helene Gjerris, Erik Kaltoft, Concerto Copenhagen, Ensemble 2000, SWR Radiosinfonieorchester and many others. His music has represented Denmark at Rostrum in Paris, and the Piano Concerto Steinfeld represented Denmark at ISCM in Stuttgart in 2006, where the work was performed by SWR Radiosinfonieorchester and Rolf Hind conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer.

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Lasse Laursen, a collegue of the composer, writes:

"Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen possesses an unusually developed ability to imagine original and surprising music; he knows how to write impossible music. By "impossible music", I mean music which sounds illogical, almost seeming to defy the laws of nature - like an object crazily tilted, an organism run amok, or the collision of apparently dialectical opposites. This is particularly striking in his systematic studies such as Zwei Zwölftontänze, where boogie-woogie meets 12-tone music, or in Trio, where the piano ends by more or less assaulting the flute-part. But these strange partnerings are also present in the freer ensemble works. In Tonkraftwerk, elephant-roars and machine-noise stand side by side, while party-horns, a hawaii-guitar and the remaining ensemble melt into one big "all as one".

It is difficult to locate this experience of impossibility precisely. Because of course it is possible - otherwise we wouldn't hear it. The impossible in Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen's music is that we hear something that we didn't ever imagine possible - we don't believe what we hear.

The experience of impossibility is reinforced by the composer's virtuoso treatment of form and instrumentation. This quality characterises the composer's entire output, and influences the music's articulation, phrasing and its general "playability". Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen's background as cellist is transferred to his works through a very concrete sense of instrumental technique and an ever-present awareness of the fact that his music is to be played by musicians, giving space for the seldom phenomenon of classical virtuosity."

By Lasse Laursen