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Every year the competition organization is selecting the Swedish contemporary composers to be presented.
The contemporary Swedish composer of the competition 2006 was Daniel Börtz and 2008 Hans Gefors. At the 2010 competition the candidates can make their choice between Daniel Börtz and Hans Gefors.
Born: August 8, 1943 in Osby
DANIEL BÖRTZ, born in southern Sweden, studied violin for John Fernström in Lund and composition for Hilding Rosenberg. Once at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm he studied violin for Charles Barkel and Josef Grünfarb and composition for Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1962-65) and Ingvar Lidholm (1965-68).
In the autumn of 1967 he studied electronic music for Gottfried Michael Koenig in Bilthoven, Holland. He was a deputy board member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music between 1969 and 1971, board member between 1971 and 1979, and secretary between 1972 and 1979. He was a teacher of orchestration at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm in the 1970s and 80s, and president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music between 1998 and 2003.
Initially, Börtz adopted the “Polish” tonal field of the 1960s, while a work as early as Voces for orchestra, three female voices and tape (1966-68) also conveys a powerful social commitment. Although Börtzs style went on to shift focus from tone and additive form to a more linear style of writing in an organic form language, his compositions are steeped from the beginning in a simplicity and austerity that bring out the lucidity of his emotionally charged declamations.
Despite the seminal chamber music works such as ”String Quartet No.3” (1986) and the series of ”Monologhi” for different solo instruments, it is the symphony orchestra and music drama that have emerged as Börtzs primary genres. Key works are also ”Sånger om Döden” (”Songs about Death”) (1994), which recalls the epic song cycles of the late romantic period, and the oratorio ”Hans namn var Orestes” (”His Name was Orestes”) (2001-02). ”Sinfonia 1” (1963) heralded a period of extensive and important symphonic creation, with a new approach to tonality and atonality, and what, for his contemporaries, were astonishing references to Bruckner.
Of the nine symphonies that ensued, one – ”Sinfonia 2” – is as short as an overture, and another, thrice as long – ”Sinfonia 6” – has a soprano sing Shakespeares sonnet 64 and create apocalyptic tonal atmospheres of disaster, war and death. ”Sinfonia 7” (1986) extends a sweeping arch over a dramatic plot-line that hints at the patterns of the classical-romantic symphony. The solo concertos for trumpet, violin, clarinet, piano and recorder of the 1990s are seen by Börtz as an extension of the symphonic genre.
Börtzs waxing interest in melodics (exemplified in an oboe concerto from 1986), the human voice (”Sinfonia 8” with vocal parts to poems by Tomas Tranströmer, 1988) and the big philosophical questions culminated in a partnership with director Ingmar Bergman in the music drama ”Backanterna” (”The Bacchae”) (Royal Opera, 1991). Intrinsic to this piece – as to Börtzs orchestral music – are the striking contrasts between violently powerful theatrical expression in the crowd scenes and disasters, and the chamber-like serenity of the intimate dialogue parts. The drama demanded of Börtz purity in the lines and a merciless clarity in the expletives. Börtzs other opera, ”Marie Antoinette” (Folkoperan, 1998), which he wrote to a libretto by Claes Fellbom, uses a kind of filmic method with numerous flashbacks and flash-forwards to different times and places.
The music switches rapidly between solo, dialogue, ensemble and crowd-scene in a multicoloured tonal idiom that embodies everything from condensed chamber music and borrowed tunes to the shocking musical eruption depicting the storming of the Bastille. A third opera, ”Svall”, again to Fellboms libretto, will be produced during the 2005-06 season as a collaboration between the Royal Opera and Riksteatern.
Born: December 8, 1952 in Stockholm
HANS GEFORS development from young seeker to established discoverer in the realm of music has entailed a number of metamorphoses and unexpected turns in his compositorial career.
As a young composer, he attempted to find answers in the work of other composers and in several other disciplines – a still healthy theoretical curiosity led him to Per Nörgårds eternal series and modern astrology, as well as quantum physics and philosophy. A great inspiration, which eventually became the most important complement to his musical thinking, has been literature and poetry. This, coupled with his interest in melodic thought and dramaturgy, led him to the realm of opera at a time when Swedish musical drama led a dwindling existence and the classical operatic form was an aberration.
In his own fashion, Gefors challenged the dominant trend of the time as he began to research exactly what it was that caused a text and a piece of music to become good opera. His determined work with this form has to date resulted in four full-length operas and several smaller music dramatic works, song cycles, and works for choir.
His first full-length opera was Christina, which was commissioned and premiered by the Royal Opera in 1986. The libretto was by Lars Forssell. After this came a commission for the May Festival in Wiesbaden in 1992 – Der Park, to a text by Botho Strauss. Clara, to a text by Jean-Claude Carrière, was written for the 100th anniversary of the Opéra-Comique in Salle Favart, and was premiered in connection with this anniversary at the storied theatre in Paris in 1998.
Hans Gefors increasingly sophisticated understanding of the dramatic elements of texts set to music has also colored the instrumental music he has written in between his large operatic works. The common denominator in this development has been a downscaling of the theoretical work and the construction of mathematical models that do not contribute directly to the quality of the music. Instead, he has concentrated on an intuitively understandable and exactly formulated expression alongside a thoroughly worked musical form.
In all he writes, man and the human voice are the measuring sticks – these never-ending sources and mirrors of all our sensory development. Hans Gefors was born in 1952 in Stockholm, has lived in Helsingborg and Copenhagen, and now resides in Lund. From 1972 to 1977, he studied composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark, where he also received his diploma.
Aside from his work as a composer, Hans Gefors has been active as a music journalist and as editor of the Dansk Musiktidsskrift (Danish Music Journal). In 1988, he was named professor of composition at the Malmö Academy of Music, a position he held until 2001.
He holds a number of directorships, and is a member of the jury for the Polar Music Prize. Hans Gefors has received among other awards the Litteris et Artibus in 2000, and the Christ Johnson Music Prize, the major Prize for the song cycle Njutningen (”The Enjoyment”) in 2003 and the minor Prize in 1994 for the orchestral work Twine.