Solitaire (by Arne Nordheim)


by Arne Nordheim

About the Work

This piece was written for the opening of the Henie Onstad Art Centre near Oslo in 1968, with Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal as the underlying material. There was especially one line in the poem Les Bijoux that captured Nordheim’s attention:

“The processing of diamonds makes possible the refraction of light in different angles and the word ‘solitaire’ points to the simplest possible mounting, where a diamond stands alone.”

In this piece we experience a tonality that is ambiguous because of the relationship between the two harmonic series that the composer employed.

(Programme notes by Jøran Rudi).

About the Composer

Arne Nordheim (b.1931) was a leading light of contemporary music, is regarded as the contemporary Norwegian composer who has achieved the greatest recognition beyond the borders of his own country.

Nordheim’s name is inextricably linked to the arrival of musical modernism in Norway. In his roles as composer, music critic and champion of composers’ rights, he ensured that international trends gained a foothold during a period when Norwegian music was still influenced by national romanticism, as was the rest of the Norwegian art world in the wake of World War II.

He studied at the GRM in 1955 and afterwards continued to compose electroacoustic works at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1965 he was invited to compose at the Polish Radio Experimental Studio in Warsaw and he continued to visit the studio until the mid 1970s, where this piece and many others were composed.