Author Topic: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)  (Read 142463 times)

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Offline relm1

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #740 on: July 19, 2021, 05:10:17 AM »
Shirley you jest! :)

I think amw nailed it... a Phrygian E minor, at least in the first movement.

It ends on an E major though.  It's definitely not a firm E major but all the notes at the end are E, G#, and B.  So one of those E minor modal to E major ending.  The sustained ending chord is definitely E major but those low staccatos muddy it up until the end where they too fall in line and land on E.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #741 on: July 19, 2021, 05:33:46 AM »
It ends on an E major though.  It's definitely not a firm E major but all the notes at the end are E, G#, and B.  So one of those E minor modal to E major ending.  The sustained ending chord is definitely E major but those low staccatos muddy it up until the end where they too fall in line and land on E.

Do you regard Beethoven's 5th symphony as being in C major? Because of how it ends?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2021, 05:35:57 AM by Madiel »
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #742 on: July 19, 2021, 05:37:47 AM »
It ends on an E major though.  It's definitely not a firm E major but all the notes at the end are E, G#, and B.  So one of those E minor modal to E major ending.  The sustained ending chord is definitely E major but those low staccatos muddy it up until the end where they too fall in line and land on E.

Holmboe adopting the Picardy Third.
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Online Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #743 on: July 19, 2021, 06:08:36 AM »
Holmboe adopting the Picardy Third.

Is there any inverse ending- a piece in major scale ending with a minor chord of the tonic key? Probably no feeling of solving?

Offline amw

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #744 on: July 19, 2021, 06:38:31 AM »
Is there any inverse ending- a piece in major scale ending with a minor chord of the tonic key? Probably no feeling of solving?
Some of the more famous examples include:
Chopin op 32 no 1
Brahms op 119 no 4
Schubert D899 no 2
Mendelssohn op 7 no 7
Schumann (C) op 5 no 3
Harris (R) symphony no 3
a number of Schubert songs, e.g. Die böse Farbe and Tränenregen

There are also plenty of multimovement works in major keys with last movements in the minor key (Mendelssohn Symphony no 4 is the most famous example), and some pieces that start in a major key and end in a minor key that is not the tonic, e.g. Chopin Ballade no 2. A longer though necessarily incomplete list can be found here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_major/minor_compositions

I would not characterise the end of the Sinfonia Boreale as a Picardy third or a change of mode though; it is perfectly congruent with the scales E F G G# A# B C# D (octatonic mode I) and E F G G# A B C C# D# (nine note) which have been important throughout the work. It also (although this is subjective) lacks the emotional sense of a change to a lower plane of tension that the Picardy third is supposed to engender; the ending instead feels like a point of maximum tension, a breaking point.

Offline krummholz

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #745 on: July 19, 2021, 07:08:29 AM »
Is there any inverse ending- a piece in major scale ending with a minor chord of the tonic key? Probably no feeling of solving?

Two examples off the top of my head:

Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4 in A Major ("Italian") ends with a minor-key tarantella finale, and the final chord is indeed A minor.

Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 2, also begins in A major and ends with a finale consisting of a minor-key theme and variations, ending on a chord of A minor.

There are undoubtedly many more.

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #746 on: July 19, 2021, 07:38:57 AM »
Thank you for the lists gents. I will check if they really (psychologically) resolve.

As for the SY8, a coexistence of third and flat third notes may sound closer to the major scale. But I thought that the opening sounded like Phrygian without a raised third note. I will listen carefully today.
In the Symphony, as well as his other works, I often hear Japanese minor (1-2-3-5-6-8: ie ABCEFA.)

Offline relm1

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #747 on: July 19, 2021, 04:09:47 PM »
Do you regard Beethoven's 5th symphony as being in C major? Because of how it ends?

What key is Sibelius Symphony No. 7 in?  Where does it start and where does it end?  What is it's relationship to tonal ambiguity?  How does that relate to Holmboe?  What is the relationship of Sibelius symphonies to mid century nordic composers who use Sibelius as their structural modal?  You're welcome.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2021, 04:15:59 PM by relm1 »

Offline Madiel

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #748 on: July 19, 2021, 05:20:31 PM »
What key is Sibelius Symphony No. 7 in?  Where does it start and where does it end?  What is it's relationship to tonal ambiguity?  How does that relate to Holmboe?  What is the relationship of Sibelius symphonies to mid century nordic composers who use Sibelius as their structural modal?  You're welcome.

I’m just trying to point out that the standard way to describe the key of a piece (when there is a key) is to look at its beginning, not its end. Standard practice is to refer to Beethoven’s 5th as in C minor despite the fact that the final movement is clearly not in C minor. Which makes your repeated references to how Holmboe’s symphony ENDS completely unorthodox.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline krummholz

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #749 on: July 20, 2021, 02:39:17 AM »
I’m just trying to point out that the standard way to describe the key of a piece (when there is a key) is to look at its beginning, not its end. Standard practice is to refer to Beethoven’s 5th as in C minor despite the fact that the final movement is clearly not in C minor. Which makes your repeated references to how Holmboe’s symphony ENDS completely unorthodox.

While I agree with this, it's worth pointing out that in the case of Sibelius's 7th, the symphony is said to be in C major even though the rule that the nominal key is determined by the opening doesn't really apply: the rising scale with which the work opens could as easily be A minor, and it quickly lands in a remote key (G# minor I believe), and the key remains ambiguous for quite a while. And yet, the piece definitely ENDS in C major!

The exception that "proves" the rule? Not sure, just thought I'd point it out since @relm1 did bring up the SIbelius.

Of course, Holmboe didn't designate a key for his 8th so the whole discussion is somewhat moot...

Offline Madiel

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #750 on: July 20, 2021, 03:19:29 AM »
I always remember someone pointing out how the Sibelius 7th actually starts on G, not A, because the timpani stroke is important and people shouldn't ignore it like that... but yes I'm aware it does a lot of evading of C major along the way.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Online Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #751 on: July 20, 2021, 06:51:24 AM »
Standard practice is to refer to Beethoven’s 5th as in C minor despite the fact that the final movement is clearly not in C minor. Which makes your repeated references to how Holmboe’s symphony ENDS completely unorthodox.

A tonic, not necessarily a first, chord of a major theme? Some works start with an intro in different mode. Some themes start with II minor or IV maj.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #752 on: July 20, 2021, 07:02:32 AM »
Do I seriously have to explain this further?

Are all the people who agreed that Holmboe’s 8th was not in E major reopening the question?

Have you somehow all got this far through your classical music experience without ever actually thinking about why pieces are described to be in the keys they are described in?

I’m not advocating looking at the very first chord in a piece to determine its key, but more importantly I’m struggling to understand how anyone could possibly have READ me as saying any such thing.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #753 on: July 31, 2021, 02:00:39 AM »
As if I needed another listening project, I'm starting today with the Holmboe SQs. I've loved Holmboe’s symphonies for years and have owned the SQs without ever really running hard at them. Having had some meaningful success with the DSCH SQs, I'm sufficiently encouraged with the genre to pick up this set at last, and give them the attention they deserve. I know them a little, so here we go, chronologically. Familiarity with Holmboe’s sound world should help.

SQ #1 to begin!

*straps on Holmboe helmet*

Offline Madiel

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #754 on: July 31, 2021, 04:15:59 AM »
A fine project to strap yourself in for!
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline krummholz

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #755 on: July 31, 2021, 04:40:19 AM »
As if I needed another listening project, I'm starting today with the Holmboe SQs. I've loved Holmboe’s symphonies for years and have owned the SQs without ever really running hard at them. Having had some meaningful success with the DSCH SQs, I'm sufficiently encouraged with the genre to pick up this set at last, and give them the attention they deserve. I know them a little, so here we go, chronologically. Familiarity with Holmboe’s sound world should help.

SQ #1 to begin!

*straps on Holmboe helmet*

Welcome to the world of the Holmboe SQs!

They're quite different from the symphonies, as of course they should be; but there are influences in the SQs that are much less noticeable in the symphonies, especially that of either Bartok, or else the Hungarian and Romanian folk music that both Bartok and Holmboe studied in situ, or probably both to some degree. Some people have even remarked that the Holmboe quartets sound like "watered-down Bartok"... I disagree strongly, but it can sometimes be challenging to hear Holmboe's individual voice in them, especially in the earlier quartets, without prior familiarity with Holmboe's work. Luckily, you have some familiarity, so hopefully that will help.

I look forward to reading your reactions to them. Enjoy!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #756 on: July 31, 2021, 05:11:22 AM »
As if I needed another listening project, I'm starting today with the Holmboe SQs. I've loved Holmboe’s symphonies for years and have owned the SQs without ever really running hard at them. Having had some meaningful success with the DSCH SQs, I'm sufficiently encouraged with the genre to pick up this set at last, and give them the attention they deserve. I know them a little, so here we go, chronologically. Familiarity with Holmboe’s sound world should help.

SQ #1 to begin!

*straps on Holmboe helmet*

Very nice, but please don’t over-extend yourself, my friend. There is such a thing as music overload. It got to the point where I had to take several days off from music one week and, although I didn’t have any difficulty talking about it, I felt it was time to have a little breather and unclog my mind.
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #757 on: July 31, 2021, 12:58:41 PM »
Welcome to the world of the Holmboe SQs!

They're quite different from the symphonies, as of course they should be; but there are influences in the SQs that are much less noticeable in the symphonies, especially that of either Bartok, or else the Hungarian and Romanian folk music that both Bartok and Holmboe studied in situ, or probably both to some degree. Some people have even remarked that the Holmboe quartets sound like "watered-down Bartok"... I disagree strongly, but it can sometimes be challenging to hear Holmboe's individual voice in them, especially in the earlier quartets, without prior familiarity with Holmboe's work. Luckily, you have some familiarity, so hopefully that will help.

I look forward to reading your reactions to them. Enjoy!

I'm hoping to call on your wisdom as I travel 😁

My previous exploration has been somewhat sporadic, but I've heard all the SQs at some point or other, so I'm not coming with total ignorance, thankfully. Funny you should mention Bartok, because the difficulty of his SQs and a fear of just not understanding him, has been one reason for putting off not only an exploration of his SQs, but these also. I now feel less concerned about that. I'll certainly post some reactions, as I'm looking forward to actually appreciating this set, at last.

Very nice, but please don’t over-extend yourself, my friend. There is such a thing as music overload. It got to the point where I had to take several days off from music one week and, although I didn’t have any difficulty talking about it, I felt it was time to have a little breather and unclog my mind.

Kind words, sir! Never fear, I'm nothing if not self-aware 🙂. Today has been mainly a black metal day for myself and my wife as we've gone about our business. Always good to change it up!

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #758 on: July 31, 2021, 01:14:12 PM »
Kind words, sir! Never fear, I'm nothing if not self-aware 🙂. Today has been mainly a black metal day for myself and my wife as we've gone about our business. Always good to change it up!

Very true!
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
« Reply #759 on: July 31, 2021, 07:31:16 PM »
Kind words, sir! Never fear, I'm nothing if not self-aware 🙂. Today has been mainly a black metal day for myself and my wife as we've gone about our business. Always good to change it up!

This is certainly true, although I don’t think I could listen to black metal. ;D
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."