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Arne Nordheim

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

The Hunting of the Snark (1976)
Wilhelm Hansen
Solo Works (excluding keyboard)
Year Composed
6 Minutes

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Programme Note
Arne Nordheim The Hunting of the Snark (1976)
THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK, a fantasy for trombone solo composed in 1975, is the result of a close collaboration between Nordheim and the trombonist Per Brevig. The title refers to Lewis Caroll’s book about the hunt for the mystical, imaginary animal. Beginning with resounding flourishes, Nordheim’s fantasy leads us through many mournful as well as grotesque and merry episodes as the search is intensified without the victim of the hunt giving the slightest sign of making an appearance. The piece is dedicated to Per Brevig, who gave it its first performance on Norwegian television in 1975.

The collaboration between the composer and performer was so unusual in this case that it deserves comment. It began with Nordheim formulating a number of ideas, which he let Brevig try out on his instrument, and the process was recorded on tape. From approximately two hours of taped material, Nordheim edited and composed the piece as it is today; that is, the tape version was technically much too complicated to be directly transferable back to the instrument. Therefore, this was the last step in the process of “making possible” the impossible in collaboration with the musician and, thus, The Hunting of the Snark was given its final form. (The process is not so different from the tradition in folk music, in which elements from different sources are put together to form a whole.)

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