Klaus Ib Jørgensen (b. 1967)

“Diversity is what's beautiful to me” the composer Klaus Ib Jørgensen (b. 1967) once stated. And the musical space he creates is also a diverse one, where contradictions accumulate a pervading energy, and a great wealth of nuance gives each piece its own special intensity.

“The contrasts well out of Klaus Ib Jørgensen's music, and vital energy is liberated in the friction and the encounters between the opposite expressive poles - between hectic density and breathless suspension, between intangible airiness and insistent presence, between the sound of brightest light and gloomiest darkness, between fragile and violent, high and low.” Niels Rosing-Schow, 2001.

Jørgensen's music speaks - in its own words and in its own peculiar way - very directly to the listener. Several reviewers have noted in the past that the moment the listener finds a way into the composer's music, they are gripped and captured by it. Effortlessly new surprises are constantly presented which maintain musical intensity and the listener's interest. Behind the sound-picture one senses a complete idiom, which however, is far removed from “traditional modernism”. Klaus Ib Jørgensen's music never or very rarely uses the traditional serial techniques characterised by extensive organisation of the fundamental parameters of the music. “The focus of Klaus Ib Jørgensen's freer treatment of his material is more general (and internally interrelated) parameters such as tempo, texture and the musical experience of time.” Niels Rosing-Schow, 2001.

Poetry plays a remarkably prominent role in Klaus Ib Jørgensen's works. In many ways, poetry and music are so entangled that one seems to grow out of the other. The program notes for his works often contain specific literary references in the form of poems or references to historical myths - even the purely instrumental works. It sets a mood for work, and sets in motion a series of associations for both audience and musicians - the same goes for the poetic titles of his works. Jørgensen works with a great sensitivity to the poetry he uses, and the way he makes music and poetry merge means that the music is born and the poem recreated in close cohesion.

Selected works

Moon-pain (2003-08)

A universe enveloped in dreams and lunar mystery centred around poems by the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) – it is Moon-pain and it is Klaus Ib Jørgensen's most comprehensive work. Compositionally, it is multi-faceted and artistically it is multi-dimensional: a “digital literary-musical experience-space”, says the project’s website: www.moonpain.nu.

Over and above composed music, the entire project consists of spoken poetry, audio-poetry accompanied by sound, a spoken introduction to Fernando Pessoa's life and the world, a sound montage tracing Pessoa's footsteps through Lisbon and not least the digital experience-space the work exists in. More than 40 people were involved in implementing the project, which was initiated by Klaus Ib Jørgensen himself.

The Moon-pain cycle consists of six works based on Fernando Pessoa's poetry collection The Mad Fiddler (Lisbon 1915-17) with an instrumentation that falls within the framework of a sextet consisting of violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet and piano - some of the works are for the full ensemble, others for selected instruments or a solo instrument. The Moon-pain project also includes the instrumental work Goblin Dance (2005) and Lisbon Revisited (2008), which is a kind of meta-commentary on the work. Lisbon Revisited is a sound montage based around readings in various languages of Pessoa's poem by the same name and augmented by a series of sound clips that illustrate the sound of Pessoa's Lisbon. It was in this setting that Pessoa wrote the poems that underlie the entire Moon-pain project.

“This kind of music is hard to tie down to a single genre. I hear moments of Berio and Schoenberg here and there, but in the end it has to be said that Jørgensen is his own man. His settings of Moon-Pain are infinitely subtle and delicate, while at the same time robust and with a sense of firm inevitability. They are composed with a fine ear for detail and the sense of drama in Pessoa’s words, but have an airy freedom which occupies a place in today’s response to the romantic traditions…”.

Wrote Dominy Clements from Naxos Album Reviews 2009 on the Moon-pain project.

The individual works (or movements) are:

  1. 1  Moon-bound
    2003-4 · duration 12:45
    Voice + fl, cl, pno, vl, vla, vlc
    Original title of the poem is The Island

    Commissioned by Radio France / Festival Présences
    World premiere February 4, 2004, La Maison de Radio France, Paris
    Katalin Varkonyi (mezzo-soprano) 
    and Ensemble Alternance

  2. 2  Moonlit
    2006 · duration 8:30
    Voice + fl, vl, vla, vlc
    Original title of the poem is Lycantrophy

    Commissioned by Ensemble Alternance
    World premiere May 10, 2006, Salle Cortot, Paris
    Suzanne Otto (mezzo-soprano) 
    and Ensemble Alternance

  3. 3  In Silence and Moon
    2007-8 · duration 10:30
    Voice + cl, pno, vlc
    Original title of the poem is Dream

    World premiere April 4, 2008, Casa da Música, Porto
    Iris Oja (mezzo-soprano) and REMIX under the baton of Paul Hillier

  4. 4  Spirit Beams
    2007-8 · duration 4:45
    Voice + cl, pno, vla
    Original title of the poem is Spell

    World premiere April 4, 2008, Casa da Música, Porto
    Iris Oja (mezzo-soprano) and REMIX under the baton of Paul Hillier

  5. 5  Lunar Land
    2003-4 · duration 6:00
    Voice + fl, cl, pno, vl, vla, vlc
    Original title of the poem is Not Myself

    Commissioned by Radio France / Festival Présences
    World premiere February 4, 2004

  6. 6  Still. Moon
    2008 · duration 3:45
    Fl, cl, pno, vl, vla, vlc
    Instrumental epilogue

    World premiere April 4, 2008, Casa da Música, Porto
    REMIX under the baton of Paul Hillier

Total duration c. 48 minutes.
The movements can be performed individually. The last movement may not make a lot of sense standing alone, 

Temperature (1993) Cadenza (1994-95)

The accordion occupies a special place in Klaus Ib Jørgensen's compositions. In about a third of his works one or more accordions are included, and most of them have been played and recorded by very reputable accordionists from both home and abroad.

Temperature for accordion and ensemble was Klaus Ib Jørgensen's breakthrough work. It was played several times on Danish and Swedish radio and in 1996 it was presented at the UNESCO Rostrum of Young Composers. Cadenza, which was begun the following year, is a condensed version of Temperature, lasting less than half the amount of time and solely for solo accordion. Jorgensen says of the two works that the form is in many ways tied to a series of pictures that express the forces of nature and the energy they can release. Therefore, instead of more traditional formal musical descriptions such as 'development' and 'coda', he uses words like 'overheating', 'permafrost', etc. Niels Rosing-Schow has written the following about Temperature: a feature of the accordion concerto is the music's almost imperceptible branching out and growth through 'tonal paths': the soloist's material 'proliferates' and is gradually shared with or taken over by sonically related instruments. In this refined way the music expands more than once in the progression from soloist to full ensemble.


Klaus Ib Jørgensen (b. 1967) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Music (1989-95) where he studied music theory with Yngve Jan Trede, composition with Niels Rosing-Schow and orchestration with Erik Norby.

Jørgensen's works are written for a wide range of varied ensembles ranging from solo works to opera, large and small ensemble pieces, etc. His works have been performed at numerous concerts in Europe, Canada and the United States by ensembles such as the Portuguese REMIX ensemble, the Canadian Aventa Chamber Players, Reflexion K from Germany, the French Ensemble Alternance, Danish ensembles as klettWood, FIGURA Ensemble, Athelas Sinfonietta, inter alia. From 2008-10 Klaus Ib Jørgensen was composer in residence for the chamber ensemble Aventa. Many of his works have been recorded and released by Dacapo Records.

During his student years Klaus Ib Jørgensen was actively engaged in music politics and organisational work in musical life. In 1989, he co-founded the Athelas Sinfonietta and FIGURA Ensemble, and from 1993-2012 he was director of music publisher Edition·S – music¬sound¬art – which previously was called the Society for the Publication of Danish Music. During his 19 years as head of the publishing company he transformed Edition·S into a very modern and highly recognised music institution. In 2012, Klaus Ib Jørgensen became head of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra.