Danmarks Radio for Orchestra, BVN 351, was composed by Rued Langgaard in 1948.
Instrumentation: 126.96.36.199/188.8.131.52/timp/2 perc/org/str.
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This extremely short orchestral piece was composed 7 May
1948 in Ribe. Exactly between 5:45 and 6:45 in the morning
(“normal time”). Rued Langgaard indicates the time of day
in both the sketch for the composition and the fair copy of the
score. Fair-copying of the score took place on 10 May, 4:30 to
6:00 in the morning (“summertime”), after, it should be noted,
Langgaard had taken his obligatory morning constitutional in
Ribe (he suffered from insomnia and arose in the early morning
hours). After the work’s final measure Langgaard wrote:
“Short, razor-sharp line of thought in music excluding all
extraneous ‘developmental’ fussiness and with lightning fast
movement in all the parts”. The same day, 10 May, he sent the
score as program suggestion to the State Broadcasting Service
in Copenhagen under the title Denmark’s Radio, Fandfare for
Grand Orchestra – “fandfare” as a sarcastically meant spelling
mistake with an allusion to “the Devil” (fanden = the Devil in
Danish). Langgaard had, as is known, an ambivalent relationship
with the State Broadcasting Service. The work was not accepted
and the score was therefore returned to Langgaard, who
nevertheless submitted it again. The State Broadcasting Service
clearly regarded the piece as a joke from the composer’s side.
When Langgaard died in 1952 the unperformed score was to
be found in broadcasting corporation’s music archive, from
which it was later transferred to the Royal Danish Library.
The score is furnished with a dedication to the State Broadcasting
Service and the motto “Vivat the Radio Signal!”, i.e. “Long live
the radio signal”. This signal is better know as Denmark’s Radio’s
“pause-signal”, which was launched in 1931 and is used until
this day on P1, though in modernised arrangements. The melody
is the oldest known written down Danish folk tune whose
origins are transmitted in a manuscript from around 1300. The
text begins with the words “I dreamed a dream last night”. As
pause-signal the melody fragment was in its time played by a
specially constructed device with metallophone bars.
Langgaard cites the signal twice in the trumpets, trombones,
tubas and bells. He prescribes though that the brass stand
up when playing. The melody is in d minor and Langgaard
chooses to let the orchestra perform wildly gesticulating, concurrent‘commentaries’ in D major. In measure 35 of the score
he has furnished the tone d sharp in the horn and organ with
the addition “Dis!” (d sharp in Danish) – a typical mocking,
langgaardian idea, which, of course, is yet another provocative
reference to the strained relationship, the dis-harmony he
felt in relation to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (which
frequently disavowed his works).
In 1976 the piece was produced by the Danish Broadcasting
Corporation with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Carl von Garaguly and broadcast a few times on the
radio. The composition has, until now, not been performed in
concert but was recorded in 2008 by the DR Radio Symphony
Orchestra with Thomas Dausgaard (Dacapo 6.220519).
Bendt Viinholt Nielsen, November 2011.