Untitled - eClassical


Untitled - eClassical

the rnclusion of a number of symbolic figures, it was almost impossible to have the

work performed in the theatre. Horneman, however, was evidently very impressed

with the work which, as he himself put it, 'deviates significantly from the modern

stereotypes'. At the premidre at the Royal Theatre on 9th February 1908 it was

described as ,a satyric drama' but, because it r.l'as neither a play, an opera nor a

ballet, the audience and critics were confused. Horneman received posthumous

praise for his contribution to this stor]' of King Thamyris of Thrace, a grandson of

Apollo. After renouncing his artistic pride, Thamyris is finally transformed into

Homer, the immortal .."ato. of the Odlssey and ltiad, on Mount Helicon' This

satyric drama disappeared from the repertoire after just three performances.^

The Royal Theatre had a iittle more luck u'ith Drachmann's drama Gurre,

nritten in ihe latter part of 1899 and premidred in oslo with music by Johan Halvorsen.

Gripping though the story of Gurre Castle in Northern Zealand and the

love of King %t-ur uttd th" young Tove ma;'be. it has no historical foundation. In

its originallorm the story concerned King valdemar the Great oL57-82), his Queen

Sofie ind his mistress Tove. At some point in the sixteenth century, however, the

story became associated with Valdemar Atterdag (1340-75) and his Queen Helvig.

Theiefore Gurre Castle, where the real Valdemar Atterdag died, came to be

thought ofas the centre ofthe idyllic landscape which is the scene first ofall ofimpassiorred

love, then ofthe royal spectre's wild nocturnal hunt ofthe royal ghost.

The story's inherent coloui naturally appealed to Danish romantic authors, and

it \^,as taken up on numerous occasions in the nineteenth century for either poetic

or drarnatic or". Thor" literary developments - r,l'hlch were vcry variable in quality

- rn their turn gave rise to musical settrngs of equaliy variable merit._As. w'e have

seen, Drachmarin's verbose drama lvas provided with incidental music by both Halvorsen

and Horneman. And it was not only'Arnold Schoenberg who set the author

I.P. Jacobsen's Gurre Songs to music (precisely contemporary with Horneman's

incidental music): a now almost forgotten Dani:ri ilmposer' Gustav Helsted' had

already done so in 1888-90.

Hoineman,s Gzzrre music was well received at the premidre at the Royal Theatre

on 9th Februarl. 1901. Because of Drachmann's impossibie_text, however, the play

received a totai ofjust eleven performances; but in Danish concert hails the fine

preludes Horneman had provided for four of the five acts were gathered together to

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