Per Nørgård's Symphony No.1 'Sinfonia Austera' Op.13 (1953-55), revised 1956 edition in full score.
Although my first symphony plays for 30 minutes, 2/3 of my third symphony, the time for composing the work was the same: 3 years, from 1953 to 1955 (Symphony No. 3: 1973-1975). One of the reasons probably was the challenge of a “symphonic work” for a 21 year old composer. And all the afterthoughts following every – more spontaneous, sudden – bright idea in the long progress of forming the work. Important for the slow working process I remember that every section of the symphony came to me, at strange moments, in a ´complete vision´, like a sounding vision in time. The problem was in detail to analyze and notate my what I had actually had heard. For instance: with the polyphonic woodwind section in the first movement (with the “Tapiola”-birdcry, a greeting to Jean Sibelius) I only knew, in the beginning, that it should be music in the high register and only for woodwinds. But of what they should play…I had no idea at all.
The severe character of the symphony (sinfonia austere) is with no doubt very juvenile. But as many things in both life and music has elements of youthfulness, I think that my serious young symphony should live and stay the way it was composed in 1953-1955.