The Redemption – Vagn Holmboe


  • 19.00: Introduction by Thomas Michelsen (In danish)

Vagn Holmboe:

  • Song at Sunset opus 138b for choir (1978),
  • Die Erfüllung opus 183 for choir, solo soprano, solo baritone and horns: flute, oboe, clarinet, fagotto, two trumpets, bassoon and tuba  (1990/1993)
  • Ode til Sjælen opus 161 for choir, brass sixtet (two trumpets, two horns, bassoon and tuba) and organ (1985)
  • Zeit opus 94 for string quartet and alto (1966/67)
  • Solhymne opus 77 for choir (1960)

At this year’s All Saints’ Concert, Mogens Dahl Chamber Choir aims to pay tribute to one of the great composers of Danish music: Vagn Holmboe.

Externally, Vagn Holmboe kept a low profile about it, but internally, in his music, he was always guided by spiritual thoughts about music as a manifestation of something cosmic. Nothing less.

Therefore, he seized the opportunity when the Rudolf Steiner movement asked him to compose a work with texts by the romantic mystic and poet Novails. The work became ‘Die Erfüllung’, which had its premiere in the Steiner context but, until now, despite being one of Holmboe’s major works and a core piece in his repertoire, has never been performed or recorded.

The sister work to ‘Die Erfüllung’ is the quintet ‘Zeit’ for string quartet and alto voice. It is a work that similarly has a mystical and cosmic outlook and has also not been recorded so far, even though Holmboe assigned opus numbers to both works and clearly valued them both.

The rest of the concert program also reflects the spiritual aspect of Holmboe’s art and worldview, focusing on the cyclic nature of reincarnation, which guided his view of composing cosmic music, as he called it.

The sunset is also present in the ancient Egyptian “Hymn to the Sun,” which describes the sun’s journey from sunrise to sunset until the new sunrise, and, of course, in “Song of Sunset” with lyrics by Walt Whitman.

Overall, with this concert, we aim to provide a new insight into the core of Holmboe’s perspective on what music was and what music could do: namely, provide human beings with insight into the cosmic or higher order, as he also referred to it in his private diary – just as Thomas Michelsen has detailed in his biography of the composer, ‘The Profound and the Pure,’ making extensive use of previously unpublished sources such as Holmboe’s diaries.