PER NØRGÅRD: UT ROSA – for eight part mixed choir (SSAATTBB) - (2001)
The concept of Mary has a depth that transcends all religious persuasions. All over the earth symbols of the gentle and maternal are known. But the word ´Maria´is also associated - in sound - with the Latin word for the sea, mare, and she thus becomes the Star of the Sea, Maris Stella.
In my Thirds Symphony the Maria motif is used in a hymn in the second, and last, part of the work. Flos ut rosa floruit was composed directly in the context of the symphony, and the melody had a ´stamina´ that carried it over into many later compositions
In 1975 I wrote the ensemble work Nova Genitura for soprano and – primarily – Baroque instruments (and choir ad lib). This included a simple Marian hymn with an anonymous medieval text. I little knew then that I would often return later to this music – even all the way into the new millennium. Later that year the melody was already used in a 22-minute work for tenor (or soprano) and lute (or harp), Fons Laetitiae (The Fount of Joy). And in 1977 the melody became one of the two main subjects in the orchestral work Twilight. Later the composer Hans Gefors finished his opera “The Park” with a version of the melody in a paradisiac quodlibet.
I felt that there was more to be found in this music in the summer of 2000. Just as fascinated as I was 25 years ago, in “Ut Rosa” I moved further into the ‘musical garden’, which among other things had the melody generated by every third note in the diatonic infinity series (and
their fifths and thirds). Here I discovered a whole new bouquet of polyphonies, relatively proportioned in accordance with ‘the Golden Section’. And later again, in 2003, the melody became the structural basis for my 20-minute Harp Concerto no. 2 Through Thorns. “The four verses of the anonymous medieval hymn are formed in Ut Rosa as four independent choral pieces, combined without breaks in the c. 11-minute six-part work. The choral piece “Flos ut rosa floruit” (1991-version) forms the opening verse, the natural point of departure for the new melodic and contrapuntal developments in the subsequent three movements. Ut Rosa was composed at the request of Ivan Hansen, to whom the work is dedicated.”