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Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

Born: 1932

Nationality: Danish

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

Photo © Lars Skaaning


”Yes and no….”

The picture often painted of PelleGudmundsen-Holmgreen is that of a nay-sayer,an anti-expressive, anti-virtuoso, anti-romantic inveterate dissenter, apessimist who does not believe in big metaphysical words and beautifullycrafted unities. This picture appears well backed by Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’sdeclared fondness for Beckettian absurdism and his affinities with so-calledmusical concretism, rendering sound as mere sound. But that surely cannotbe all...

     If Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen is apessimist, he is at least in his own way also a ‘failed pessimist’. Theintriguing thing about his musical idiom is that, despite its prominentcontrariness, it is still able to say yes to being here and being part of the dialogue. In the great majority of hisworks, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen has cultivated a quite special precise ambivalence which allows his music to snarl at itself, totell itself to shut up, even if it nevertheless sounds and is present. His musical world contains manycontradictory pheno­mena, yeas and nays at well nigh all levels of music: intensenoise alongside the almost inaudible; simplicity and clarity in motifs andstructures combined with an anarchistic antipathy to large-scale ‘rounded’forms; contrary statements allowed to live their own lives side by side as independent beings.

     Time often stands still when one is in thecompany of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holm­green’s poetic beings and is drawn into theirsometimes silent, sometimes noisy world of repetitions, displacements and smallpushes. Some might regard this as frustrating, others will see it as a uniquequality, but it is certain that the beings are there, and that they live andbreathe.

© Ursula Andkjær Olsen

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