Ib  Nørholm
Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen

Ib Nørholm

(1931-2019)

Ib Nørholm is one of Danish music's grand old men and one of the most significant Danish composers of the last forty years. With his ten major symphonies he is, alongside Carl Nielsen, Vagn Holmboe, Rued Langgaard and Per Nørgård, one of the greatest Danish symphonists of the twentieth century.

Ib Nørholm's musical career began early. He has played the piano since the age of nine and the organ since the age of 15. As early as the age of 18 he made his debut with his first major composition, the chamber opera The Snail and the Rose Hedge based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen. Nørholm studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen with Vagn Holmboe, Finn Høffding, Niels Viggo Bentzon and Bjørn Hjelmborg as his teachers. In 1955 and 1956 he took his final exams - including the major organist diploma which marked the beginning of a long life as an organist among other things.

In the course of the 1950s Nørholm wrote a series of works whose style can best be characterized as Nordic-lyrical, and which thus continued in a direct line from Carl Nielsen and later Vagn Holmboe. In 1960 Nørholm - like many other European composers - had a very direct encounter with the Central European showdown with the musical aesthetics of the older generation when he and his colleagues Per Nørgård, Helmer Nørgaard and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen went off in Nørholm's own Volkswagen to the ISCM Festival in Cologne. The four composers, all the same age, were already then greatly interested in the international avant-garde and met regularly, for among other purposes to analyse Boulez' new works and discuss the implications of the new currents; but the meeting in Cologne with first performances of Stockhausen's Kontakte, Boulez' Pli Selon Pli, Kagel's Anagrama and Ligeti's Apparitions was a boundary-shifting experience that was to leave its crucial mark on Nørholm's music throughout the early 1960s. The previous Danish post-Nielsen modernism was superseded by a far more abstract style of writing combined with ever greater openness towards all conceivable forms of musical expression. Ib Nørholm's style, however, changed quickly again: after a few years with predetermined serialism, with structuralism, with graphic notation, with works with aleatory elements and the use of sound sources like mechanical toys, Nørholm moved in the middle of this decade towards the style of composing that was later designated "the New Simplicity". The simpler style was most clearly expressed in a major work of the period, From the Flora of Danish Poetry (1966) for soprano and piano/guitar with texts by Danish poets like Frank Jæger, Asger Pedersen, Johannes Kirkegård and others.

Regardless of leanings (conscious or unconscious) towards named styles and movements, the special Nørholm feel has never been gainsaid in his works. If one were to label his music after 1970, it would have to be something like "integrated bitonality", as expressed most finely and clearly in the Fifth Symphony from 1980 and the Ninth Symphony from 1993; and not least in the hour-long work for soloists, choir and orchestra The Elf-Mirror from 1996, which is based on an old Danish ballad adapted by the Danish poet Poul Borum.

Alongside his work as a composer Ib Nørholm has functioned as a teacher for several generations of Danish composers. As early as 1965 he got his first teaching job at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense, and from 1981 until his retirement in 2000 Nørholm was Professor of Composition at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, where as head of the composing course he left his clear mark on the young Danish composers of today. In addition, in the course of his career, Nørholm has held a number of professional posts, and has among other things been a member of the National Arts Foundation (1971-74) and chairman of the Danish ISCM Committee (1973-78).

Available Works

All categories Solo 2-6 Instruments 7+ Instruments Choir Orchestra Music Drama and Stage Music Educational Music

  1. 5 Digte af Inger Christensen

    2017 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  2. Late Harvest, Op. 205

    2016 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  3. Over strengene

    2016 • Ib Nørholm

    Educational Music

  4. Myrens gang på jorden

    2016 • Ib Nørholm

    Educational Music

  5. Tæl – og (be)hersk

    2016 • Ib Nørholm

    Educational Music

  6. Metrik, kære ven, og fødder

    2016 • Ib Nørholm

    Educational Music

  7. Grå vinter

    2016 • Ib Nørholm

    Educational Music

  8. Musiker, violin og bue – et trekantdrama, op. 192

    2010 • Ib Nørholm

    Solo

  9. Understrømme, op. 196

    2011 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  10. Partita

    2008 • Ib Nørholm

    Solo

  11. Inspirationen

    2010 • Ib Nørholm

    Orchestra

  12. September-Oktober-November

    1962 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  13. Kenotafium

    1961 • Ib Nørholm

    Orchestra

  14. Piano Trio

    1959 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  15. 12 Sange

    1978 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  16. Symfoni nr. 12

    2009 • Ib Nørholm

    Orchestra

  17. Syv Salmer

    2007 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  18. “Den følende blomst”

    2008 • Ib Nørholm

    Orchestra

  19. Sprækker i virkeligheden

    2008 • Ib Nørholm

    7+ Instruments

  20. Impressions (The Little Mermaid)

    2004 • Ib Nørholm

    Orchestra

  21. Jubilate Deo in Primavere

    2005 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  22. Impressioner

    2004 • Ib Nørholm

    Choir

  23. Fluktuationer

    1962 • Ib Nørholm

    Orchestra

  24. De Fynske Katarakter

    1976 • Ib Nørholm

    2-6 Instruments

  25. Lys

    1979 • Ib Nørholm

    7+ Instruments

  26. Sonata quasi variazioni

    1974 • Ib Nørholm

    Solo

  27. Stilleliv

    1968 • Ib Nørholm

    7+ Instruments

  28. The Garden Wall

    1976 • Ib Nørholm

    Music Drama and Stage Music

  29. Lux Secunda

    1984 • Ib Nørholm

    Orchestra

  30. Relief I-II

    1963 • Ib Nørholm

    Orchestra

  31. A Discourse on Time

    1982 • Ib Nørholm

    Solo




Advanced works search

News

  1. RELEASE · Educate·S · Pieces for Violin

    general

    RELEASE · Educate·S · Pieces for Violin

  2. Educate·S · Pieces for Piano recorded

    general

    Educate·S · Pieces for Piano recorded

  3. Ib Nørholm - Mindeord

    general

    Ib Nørholm - Mindeord

  1. Ib Nørholm - Obituary

    general

    Ib Nørholm - Obituary

  2. Save 25% on all solo pieces

    general

    Save 25% on all solo pieces

  3. Educate·S - New Music for Music Schools

    general

    Educate·S - New Music for Music Schools

  4. Sneak peek of new Edition·S project

    general

    Sneak peek of new Edition·S project

  5. Ib Nørholm Premiere at the Carl Nielsen International Music Competition

    general

    Ib Nørholm Premiere at the Carl Nielsen International Music Competition

  6. A Busy Spring for Edition·S Composers

    general

    A Busy Spring for Edition·S Composers

  7. Ib Nørholm to be premiered at the Carl Nielsen competition

    general

    Ib Nørholm to be premiered at the Carl Nielsen competition

  8. 81 years old and still going strong!

    general

    81 years old and still going strong!

  9. Ib Nørholm premieres new symphony

    general

    Ib Nørholm premieres new symphony

  10. Ib Nørholm 80 this month – loads of concerts nationwide!

    general

    Ib Nørholm 80 this month – loads of concerts nationwide!

Show More News