The Danish Music Review
The Danish Music Review
at The Royal Theatre ol Copenbagen
»Peter Grimes«, the opera by Benjamin Britten which had its first performance at The Royal Theatre of Copenhagen in October is one of the most beautiful modern opera performances of the Danish opera. Dr. Herbert Rosenberg writes: »On October third the first performance in Denmark took place, and as the opera has been thoroughly reviewed in the newspapers, I shall briefly confirm. that The Royal Theatre has done an excellent piece of work. The stage manager has succeeded in perfeetly uniting the musical and scenic elements into a whole. Without exception the achievements of the soloists, the choir and the orchestra are excellent; the same is the case with the beautiful decorations borrowed from the opera of Stockholm. The very fine result is first and foremost due to John Frandsen, the new conductor of The Royal Theatre. The fact that his name is mentioned at the expense of the whole staff should not be regardedis an underestimate of their work and its results, and is only due to the cause that »Peter Grimes« was the debut of John Frandsen as an opera conductor«.
After this Dr. Rosenberg passes to characterizing the opera itself as well as its libretto, emphazising the sympathetic feature of Britten's opera that it avoids any kind of cheap and sensational effects. None of the »dramatic« events of the work are shown on the stage. The author thinks that in this opera Britten takes up the line begun by Mussorgski and continued by Debussy in his »Pelleas et Melisande«. Britten's declamatory style is related to the style of both Mussorgsky and Debussy. Grimes' monologues in the second and third acts slightly remind one of the false Czar Boris' death paroxysins. Also the psycholollical realism, in the ensemble seenes reminds one of Mussorgsky, even if Britten works out his brilliant ensemble movements much more skilfully than the Russian composer. The exquisite orchestral treatment suggestively employed for strenghtening the progression of the plot, shows a relation to Richard Strauss (Salome and Elektra). But of course Britten is a child of our time; his harsh, sometimes even hard and soniewhat reserved tone has nothing in common with the sensualism and sentimentality of Strauss or the sweetness of Debussy. However, many naturalistic and impressionistic tendencies may be traced in his style, but they are worked out in a fine and personal manner.
In the examples quoted the author shows samples of Britten's fine dramatic effeets, thus in fig. 1 the inhabitants of the fishing village who take part in the legal procedure and constantly break off the procedure by their eurious comments emphazised by a repeated serniquaver figure in the orchestra eharaeterizing the barren excitement of their talk. It is furthermore characteristic of Britten to combine different keys in his descriptions of persons and situations. (Fig. 2-3).
The author also mentions Britten's musical illustrations - in certain cases appearing in »leit-motifs« - as well as the interludes of the opera which he does not consider to be entirely on a level witli Britten's excellent ensembles, but he eoncludes in ascertaining that in spite of everything, »Peter Grinies« is an eminent work bearing the stamp of genius. It is astonishing that this piece of music is Britten's first, experiment as a composer of operas.
Now Something Must Be Done
In this article Frede Schandorf Petersen emphazises the importance of securing the copyright for the works of Carl Nielsen, the great Danish composer, which have been issued by German publishers. The works in question consist of only four compositions, but on the other hand these hold a somewhat predominating position in his art. They are his third symphony »Espansiva« - a symphonic corner stone in Danish music the great piano suite opus 45, the string quartet in F inajor opus 44, and Praeludium and Theme with variations for solo violin opus 48. These compositions have not been available for several years, and if no efforts are made to have them issued by a Danish publisher the consequence will be that they can be obtained neither in Denmark nor abroad until Germany will. be able to reprint them, some time in the future. But in the same way as several publishers in other countries have succeeded in obtaining the copyright, which has earlier been in German hands it should also be possible for Denmark to get hold of the copyright for important Danish works which have been published in Germany.
Furthermore, the author seriously eritizises the manner in which the art of Carl Nielsen has been negleeted; Linst. graniinophone recordings are lacking, and editions of pocket scores have been deplorably delayed. And now that recordings are being inade it is nevertheless impossible - on account of the government's hostile attitude towards cultural values such as musie -- to obtain these recordings, because no nioney is granted for this, purpose, while - on the other hand a considerable quantity of low class literature from other countries may be imported freelv. A reasonable, attitude on the part of the governnient, and this problem may easily be solved without demanding extra foreign currency.
The Problem of
Provincial Orchestras in Denmark
The following three contributions have been received in reply to Knud Age Riisager's article concerning the problem of provincial orchestras. (See D.M. 1947 no. 6 page 129 and 149). Hans Chr. Jensen who for a generation has been a conductor in the province and has arranged no less than 1100 concerts, writes about his experience of musical life outside the capital. He proposes not to start from the top if it is a question of encouraging the interest taken in music by an audience totally lacking every qualification for appreciating genuine music. The problem will not be solved by establishing provincial orchestras only; the foundation should be laid already in the schools in the country by creating favourable conditions for the development of the taste for music and by educating and employing teachers who are able to give the fundamental instruction and education.
Johan Bentzon emphazises the necessity of establishing one of the provincial orchestras in Southern Jutland and expresses his wish that the government would understand that in times when bread is scarce, culture is twice as necessary.
Also Knud Christensen points out the importance of creating a really effective musical education in the schools as well as establishing satisfactory accomodation in the provinces.