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Per Nørgård

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

Wie ein Kind (1980)
Work Notes
Tilegnet Erling Kullberg
Text Writer
Adolf Wölfli & Rainer Maria Rilke
Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen
Chorus a cappella / + 1 instrument
Year Composed
16 Minutes

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Programme Note
Per Nørgård Wie ein Kind (1980)
I. Wiigen-Lied(Adolf Wölfli)
II. Frühlings-Lied' (Rainer Maria Rilke)
III. Trauermarsch mit einem Unglücksfall (Adolf Wölfli)

In the present work I have aimed at a confrontation of two poetic expressions, one rising from the tortured soul of a schizophrenic: Adolf Wölfli (1864-1930), the other being that of a highly respected and famous poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, who actually knew the works of Wölfli.

The first movement, Lullaby (“Wiigen-Lied”, in Wölfli´s typically sensual spelling) has many psychological aspects, and it is punctuated by strange, distant calls, reminiscent of those of a street vendor or those of a mother calling from way up in a tower block to her child way down in a narrow courtyard.

The second movement, Spring Song (“Frühlings-Lied”, by Rilke) is the song of the happy child, the child in vital harmony: open, playful, sensually aware.

Funeral March with Attendant Minor Accident (“Trauermarsch mit einem Unglücksfall”, by Wölfli), the third movement, repeats the musical themes of the first movement, but a male soloist, who does his best to sing after the fashion of his fellow singers, suffers some embarrasing frustrations.

Adolf Wölfli, a poor, young and mistreated worker, was convicted of attempted child molestation and put in an asylum in Bern in 1895, for life. Painting, writing stories, poems and "composing" became his way of surviving the asylum. His total, rather fantastic oeuvre is around 25.000 pages. Walter Morgenthaler, a doctor at the Waldau Clinic, took a particular interest in Wölfli's art and his condition, published Ein Geisteskranker als Künstler (A Psychiatric Patient as Artist) in 1921 which first brought Wölfli to the attention of the art world.

Per Nørgård (1980)

  • Ensemble
    Danish Radio Chamber Chorus, Parkman
  • Ensemble
    Danish National Choir
    Stefan Parkman
  • Ensemble
    Ars Nova
    Bo Holten
  • Ensemble
    Ars Nova
    Tamas Vetö
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