Arne Nordheim (1931-2010) is, apart from Edvard Grieg, Norways most important and internationally recognized composer, whose compositions were groundbreaking of his time.
He is known, admired, and sometimes criticized within and outside Norway through nearly half a century. The composer and his art, which consists of almost all genres and embraces widely different aesthetical positions, cannot be disregarded. His musical language imparts always a humanistic message.
“Musical composition does not consist merely of writing down notes. Living a creative life involves expressing the restlessness in one’s soul. Composing is not only making sound. It is philosophy, silence, speed, rhythm, everything”, Nordheim declared some years ago. This straight- forward characterization, correspond to Nordheim’s way of thinking about music and life – to his perception of self as well as to his courage to induce thought-laden processes to mental vibrations. Arne Nordheim is an eager and daring sound experimentalist, regarded for several decades as Norway’s most prominent figure on the international scene of modern music.
Nordheim is rightly considered to be the one of the most innovative composers of our time. This status is affirmed by almost every work of his impressive output, which provides clear evidence of his inspiring pioneering spirit and supreme command of the compositional craft.
It is Nordheim’s merit that new doors were opened to creating music – young composers especially learned through Nordheim that there was a worthy world to explore intensively outside Norway. Viewed in the light of these facts, it is not unreasonable to maintain that Nordheim’s pioneer work became of vital importance for the development of new music in Norway. The musicologist Kjell Skyllstad thus describes Nordheim as “the great reformer and restorer of Norwegian music after the Second World War”. Hallgjerd Aksnes, and expert on Nordheim’s music, calls him “a romantic and lyrical modernist, a literary oriented composer who likes to express his musical stance in extra-musical terms”. Finally, Nordheim’s Danish colleague, Per Norgard, has hailed Nordheim as “the innovator of not only Norwegian music, but also of Scandinavian music as such”.
Respons 1-IV for percussion and electronics exists in several versions, where the number of percussionists varies. Respons is a reference work within the percussion repertoire, and is one of Nordheims most important chamber music works.