Author Topic: Erland von Koch  (Read 12000 times)

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Offline Sungam

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Erland von Koch
« on: May 16, 2007, 04:41:13 PM »
I listened to a fleeting moment of "Oxberg Variations" and liked it.  Is this composer good?  Can anyone recommend any other works, or any recordings of this work?

pjme

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2007, 11:52:07 PM »
unfortunately, there aren't not many recordings by a composer that might well appeal to a large audience.
The works I heard were rythmically inventive and brillantly orchestrated ( I like the way he uses percussion). I have several works on tape ( alas, no taperecorder anymore..) and vividly remember well crafted, quite "muscular" music in a late Romantic/early expressionistic idiom. Hindemith, Bartok, Stravinsky ---normal influences for an artist born in 1910.
Symphony nr 5 "Lapponica" is a powerfull and gripping work that I would love to have on CD.

At the website of the Swedish Society for Performing rights I found this portrait/interview : 

http://www.stim.se/stim/prod/stimv4eng.nsf/alldocuments/C13DF177C605B1E4C1256B6E004492E5

His father was composer Sigurd von Koch (1879-1919), and as a boy Erland would lie beneath the grand piano and hear Wilhelm Stenhammar and Ture Rangström play, among others. Since that time he has met many of the big names in 20th century music, including Rachmaninov, Bartók, Stravinsky, Hindemith and Alfvén.

 
Studies abroad
Although he grew up in musically rich surroundings, music was never the obvious option for Erland von Koch. It was not until his teenage years that he began playing piano and soon became interested in jazz. Together with some friends he formed the first jazz band - 'Electric Band' - at Östra Real secondary school in Stockholm, and he led the 'Diddle Kiddies' and 'Optimistic Stompers', always in dark glasses in case a teacher happened by.

 
At the end of the 1920s he won two composition contests organised by the Edda upper secondary association. His interest in music grew, and he gradually began considering a future as a composer.


Studies at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music followed, resulting in a degree in music majoring as a cantor and organist. This was followed by composition, conducting and piano studies in Berlin. The plan was to study under Hindemith, who unfortunately fell into disfavour with the Nazis and was forced to hand Erland von Koch over to his friend and colleague, Paul Höffer. He chose Claudio Arrau as his piano teacher and for conducting he studied under Clemens Krauss.


I ask him what he considers his biggest success as a composer.

"I would say my 'Liten svit för kammarorkester' (Small Suite for Chamber Orchestra), op. 1, which I debuted with - both as composer and conductor - at the Academy in 1934."


The 1930s Generation and the Monday Group
When Erland von Koch returned to Sweden in the late 1930s he was voted into the Association of Swedish Composers, FST, and he made his definitive breakthrough with 'Piano Concerto No. 1' which premiered in 1938 with the Stockholm Concert Association and pianist Herman Hoppe.

 Erland von Koch, Lars-Erik Larsson, Dag Wirén, Hilding Hallnäs and Gunnar de Frumerie all debuted in the 1930s after studying in France and Germany. They all had similar aesthetic values, and came to be known as 'Trettiotalisterna', literally 'the Generation of the 1930s'. Their music is relatively accessible and they were more influenced by Bartók, Hindemith and Honegger than by Schönberg and twelve-tone music.


The younger, radical generation which eventually made up the so-called 'Monday Group' came into opposition with the 'Trettiotalisterna', whom they considered far too traditionalistic. The Monday Group and its advocates had a strong influence on the Swedish music scene for a long time, partly because they held most of the important administrative positions. The 'Trettiotalisterna' felt left out in many respects, but the audiences appreciated their music.


Folk music and the Sami
During the 1940s, Erland von Koch became interested in Swedish folk music. Over the next decade this led to a series of works with some degree of folk musical influence, such as 'The Oxberg Variations' (1956), 'Lapland Metamorphoses' (1957) and 'Dance Rhapsody' (1957). As recently as 1990 he wrote 'Bilder från Lappland' (Images of Lapland), six choral songs based on Sami 'yoik' chants.


Personally, Erland von Koch thinks that he has been too readily and arbitrarily associated with folk music. After all, folklore is one of many elements in his style, and it is now almost fifty years since he moved on to concentrate on other styles.

This is how he describes his journey between the styles: "A tendency towards neo-classicism during the 1930s, a 'romantic' period around the mid-40s, orientation towards a more modern expression in the 1960s, and since then greater freedom encompassing all the trends and isms."

Even so, his interest in folk music and Sami chants strengthened his involvement in the Sami cause and environmental issues, which was expressed most powerfully in his symphony No. 5, 'Lapponica'. It was dedicated to the Sami people and is a kind of protest music against the way this indigenous people has been treated.

The melody is key
Erland von Koch's portfolio encompasses a large number of works in varying styles and forms. It includes 6 symphonies, 15 solo concerts, 12 'Scandinavian dances', the 'Impulsi' and 'Oxberg' trilogies for orchestra, the children's opera 'Pelle Svanlös' (Pelle - the Cat with the Very Short Tail), 5 ballets, an extensive repertoire of songs and even a few hymns.


"That's right, there's plenty on my conscience," he jokes.


He has also composed several solo works, some of the better known being those entitled '18 Monologues' - a series of skilfully executed studies of the orchestral instruments' capacity and expressive scope.

In addition - often simply to make a living, as he puts it - he has written the music for around 30 films, including half a dozen by Ingmar Bergman.

Animated rhythmic aspects - perhaps influenced by his time as a jazz pianist and by Bartók - are characteristic of Erland von Koch's music, as is the prominent role he assigns the melody. "The way I see it, the melody is the key element, the very life and soul of the music, and I have always endeavoured to cultivate its many expressive qualities," he explains.

Distinctions
Alongside his composing, Erland von Koch also worked as a harmony teacher at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm between 1953 and 1975. During the 1940s he was employed at Radiotjänst as conductor and harmony expert, and was also chairman of the Fylkingen New Music & Intermediate Art Society. He became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1957 and a professor in 1968.


Over the years he has been awarded a large number of prizes and distinctions: the Christ Johnson Prize in 1958, Vasaorden (RVO) in 1967, Litteris et artibus in 1979, the Atterberg prize in 1979 and the Alfvén prize in 1981. He was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy of Music medal for musical promotion in 2000.


Erland von Koch likes to quote Sibelius: "Don't think that the years make it any easier to compose music - it just gets harder and harder." At the same time, though, he says he is an incurable optimist:

"Above all I think that music can help us see - and even trust - the powers of good in life."

Mattias Franzén


Offline Sungam

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2007, 07:42:22 AM »
Thanks for the information.  Does anyone else know anything about this composer or his works?

karlhenning

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2007, 07:49:42 AM »
Only the trivial and irrelevant observation that he is only the second person I've heard of, with the name Erland.

The first was my first clarinet instructor, Erland Nordstrom.

pjme

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2007, 09:59:19 AM »
I found this on http://www.musicweb.uk.net/classrev/2000/aug00/koch.htm. That disc is now on my wishlist!


ERLAND VON KOCH (b.1910)
Lappland-Metamorfoser (1957) 12.49
Impulsi (1964) 11.35
Echi (1965) 13.03
Ritmi (1966) 11.43
Oxberg-Variationer (1956) 17.26
 Stockholm PO/Stig Westerberg
rec Stockholm Concert Hall, Jan-Sept 1977; 26 May 1960 (Oxberg)
 SWEDISH SOCIETY DISCOFIL SCD 1024 [66.36]

Clean, sharply delineated, folksy without kitsch and strongly rhythmic, von Koch's music has made small impact internationally. Time for reassessment.

Von Koch was born into a cultured family. Guests at his home included Rangstrom and Stenhammar. His father, Sigurd, was also a composer, and sadly he died when his son was only nine passing on to him his love of the sea, of music and of the Stockholm archipelago. Studies at the Stockholm Conservatory lead on to work with Claudio Arrau and writing music for Ingmar Bergman's early films.

These three pieces are a counterpart to the named orchestral works of William Mathias. They are each tone poems or orchestral studies. The approach is similar to the explosive energising music one finds in Uuno Klami's Kalevala Suite or even Copland's El Salon Mexico. There are traces of Stravinsky and Holmboe. The music 'feels' big and is often marked out by dance fragments stamping and flickering. The woodwind writing is notable for carrying the front-line interest. Too, however, Von Koch employs the percussion to dramatic effect as well as for colour. The music is refreshing and in no way cloying or prolix.

Impulsi, Echi and Ritmi are grouped as the Impulsi Trilogy. The predominance favours verve and virile life. There is a pronounced Hungarian element (Kodaly and Rozsa rather than Bartok) in the Lappland Metamorfoser and, up to a point, the Oxberg Variations (note some Hovhaness-like trombone 'slides'). This is less evident in Impulsi. In both Echi and Ritmi the xylophone is notable for goading the work on to new heights of excitement.

Anyone at all susceptible to Rozsa's Tripartita, Janacek's Sinfonietta, Moeran's Sinfonietta, Kodaly's Galanta and Hary Janos will have no difficulty with these works and will be delighted with the discovery. Notes are light on detail. Recording quality open and lively if marginally harsher in the Oxberg work. Recommended.




Offline Christo

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2007, 06:28:55 AM »
Good tip! Everything by Von Koch I've heard so far, is highly interesting. I'll try to find this one too, and learn what you mean.
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2007, 06:45:40 AM »
I have that disc and depite the sometimes dated sound, this is truly superb music. Highly colourful and inventive, its verve and melodic inventiveness belie the rather serious-looking mien of the composer. Above all, von Koch is a no-nonsense composer, who eschews gratuitous effects or gestures.  To me he sounds like a cross between Hindemith, Milhaud and Arnold. His music is simple, direct, high on melodic content and meticulously crafted.

Von Koch wrote absolutely smashing guitar and flute concertos, easily among the best ever done. I really wish I knew his symphonies.

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2007, 06:46:17 AM »
Only the trivial and irrelevant observation that he is only the second person I've heard of, with the name Erland.

The first was my first clarinet instructor, Erland Nordstrom.

Well, don't forget Bergman's favourite actor, Erland Josephson.

Offline The new erato

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2007, 12:43:50 AM »
There's the:

Swedish Violin Sonatas

Sigurd von Koch: Sonata for Violin and Piano in E Minor
Hilding Rosenberg: Sonata for Violin and Piano No 2
H Melcher Melchers: Sonata for Violin and Piano Op 22

Cecilia Zilliacus, Bengt-Åke Lundin

on Phono Suecia PSCD705 which was awarded  The Swedish Gramophone Award for the Classical Album of the Year 1999. On my wish list, haven't heard it.

Offline BachQ

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2007, 04:04:28 AM »
I enjoy his monologs for clarinet . . . . . . .

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2007, 05:00:29 AM »
Sigurd and Erland are not the same person! They're father and son, respectively. I haven't heard any of his music, so thanks for the rec for the violin sonatas (Rosenberg is also a composer I like a lot).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2009, 01:06:30 PM »
Sadly, Erland von Koch died earlier this year(31 January). He was the last of his generation of Swedish composers(Wiren, Larsson, Pettersson).

The Obituary from "The Independent"(London)-

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/erland-von-koch-composer-inspired-by-scandinavian-folk-music-1661061.html

snyprrr

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2009, 01:56:56 PM »
I've been trying to get that, is it Swedish Society?, disc, but it's either MIA, or they want $80 on Amazon. It shows up on ebay every now and then, though.

Even my mom knows who Koch was (then again, I once found Pettersson/Dorati LP :o in her collection of otherwise Mario Lanza/Swedish snoozers)!

I was going to ask if this was the old Koch thread. It is.

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2009, 05:32:54 PM »
Time for a Koch revival. He was one of Sweden's most honest composers.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2009, 02:44:45 PM »
Time for a Koch revival. He was one of Sweden's most honest composers.

You may well be right....but I simply do not know enough of von Koch's music to tell. The only stuff i have heard is from the Phono Suecia cd: the Symphony no.2 "Sinfonia Dalecarlia", the Viola Concerto, Suite No.1 from tyhe Ballet "Cinderella" and Nordic Capriccio.

von Koch seems to have been largely ignored as far as record companies are concerned and I would certainly agree that he is due for revival. Perhaps CPO will take him up-as they are about to do for Kallstenius.

Offline jowcol

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2012, 03:24:40 PM »

Symphony nr 5 "Lapponica" is a powerfull and gripping work that I would love to have on CD.


As it is not commercially available, and it is a gorgeous and haunting work, you can download mp3s of non-commercially released versions of his 4th and 5th symphonies, as well as his double concerto for violin, piano, and orchestra here.

http://www.mediafire.com/?sel2256835pzu37

These are from radio broadcasts.  If anyone finds out that these are available commercially, let me know and I'd delete this  link.

If you like Moeran's Symphony, this will really appeal to you.  It really is a fine symphony, and needs to be heard.
"If it sounds good, it is good."
Duke Ellington

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2012, 04:20:31 PM »
As it is not commercially available, and it is a gorgeous and haunting work, you can download mp3s of non-commercially released versions of his 4th and 5th symphonies, as well as his double concerto for violin, piano, and orchestra here.

http://www.mediafire.com/?sel2256835pzu37

These are from radio broadcasts.  If anyone finds out that these are available commercially, let me know and I'd delete this  link.

If you like Moeran's Symphony, this will really appeal to you.  It really is a fine symphony, and needs to be heard.

Thanks for this, I'll give it due listening time in short order.

snyprrr

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2012, 04:38:04 PM »
I had an uncle named Erland. Von Koch is certainly a Composer I NEED to get to know. The mid-century Swedes seem to have gotten something right! I'm thinking of Larsson and Wiren and Koch and Rosenberg and...

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2012, 02:59:45 AM »
My first proper clarinet instructor (as opposed to the first couple of years of lessons with the band director) was an Erland.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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http://www.karlhenning.com/
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snyprrr

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Re: Erland von Koch
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2012, 05:54:55 AM »
My first proper clarinet instructor (as opposed to the first couple of years of lessons with the band director) was an Erland.

My first proper clarinet instructor (as opposed to the first couple of years of lessons with the band director) was an Erland.

Ah, Karl has officially entered The Golden Years! There's one Thread, where, I think it's vandermolen, tells the same story (the wheelbarrow?) every time the Thread comes up. :P  Ginko? ;) ;D

Sometimes I fear for my memory. :-X