Pelle Gudmundsen- Holmgreen: Musikken er et monster

By Jytte Rex

A genius at imitating the sounds of animals (of all ages and in different situations), the Danish composer gives us hilarious and fascinating insights into the world of his inspirations, including Samuel Beckett (to whom he is often compared), Igor Stravinsky and John Cage. We witness the Kronos Quartet perform his most recent work, based on the stories and songs of Hans Christian Andersen. Picturing him swimming in the ocean, paddling down a river or dancing at home, the film develops into a thoughtful visual conversation with the artist, who discusses what it means to be a contemporary composer and why music can become a monster!

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (born 1932) is among Denmark's foremost modern composers, the recipient of several prestigious awards. A unique personality in Danish musical life, and the most grotesquely humorous of the generation of Danish composers born in the inter-war years, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen came from a family of painters and sculptors.

Taking up music rather late, he immersed himself in experimental serialism around 1960. He was among the Danish composers who, at the end of the sixties, rejected the serialist techniques in favour of a "new simplicity". Among Gudmundsen-Holmgreen's large output are many orchestral works including the award-winning Symfoni - Antifoni, his Concerto Grosso for string quartet and orchestra, and a new Cello Concerto. He has also written many chamber works, choral works and works for solo instruments.