Category Archives: Classical Music

Danse Macabre (Dance of Death)

With Halloween drawing closer, it’s the season for dark, ghostly music and scary images so here’s an excerpt of ‘Cortège & Danse Macabre” (Procession and Dance of Death) from the symphonic suite ‘Cantabile’ – now on YouTube. As performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, at the premiere performance in 2009.

More info and MP3/Lossless downloads HERE

More dark classical music

New album release on November 21st

My next album “Like a Flame” will finally be released in ten days – on November 21st – by the Swedish record company Proprius Music! It’s a double album with 23 of my own works performed on the pipe organ in Jørlunde church.

In the week following November 21st, where I’m holding a “CD release concert” in Jørlunde church at 16:00 (4 pm), it will be available in most of Scandinavia, with the rest of the world following soon after. But I will post the specific release dates for each country/region as soon as I know myself.

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover, created by Michel Winckler-Krog:

Like a Flame Album cover
Like a Flame Album cover

On Giraffe Bones and Deadly Dances

Tuesday I spend the whole morning at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen (Part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark), armed with various clubs, playing on a wide range of bones. Even an Elephant’s thigh bone (it is huge!).

Quite extraordinarily I had been granted access to the bone collection of the Zoological Museum in order to find a bone with the perfect sound for use in the 2nd symphonic poem of »Cantabile«; the »Cortège & Danse Macabre« at the first performance on June 10th.

In the »Danse Macabre« I have specified the playing on real bones (!), but since human bones have too little sound (and probably would be slightly… what shall we say… “improper” to play on), I needed to find a different kind of bone. A bone with sound, but still clearly “looking” like a bone.

And, O, did I find that. The Giraffe thigh bone has an amazingly loud, sharp tone. Just what I had imagined when I wrote the piece and specified the use of a bone. It’s big. but not as big and heavy as the Elephant bone by far, so it can be handled by just one person. The Elephant thigh bone would have required the use of two percussionists  – one to hold it, and one to play.

So I ended up borrowing this giraffe thigh bone from 1930.

An unusual musical instrument

A Long Journey – The history of Cantabile (Part 1)

The journey begins in early 2003 with my first meeting with Prince Henrik (the Prince Consort of Denmark), regarding the composition of a large work for symphony orchestra, choir and soloists – using poems from his book »Cantabile« as the text. A journey that would end up taking many years longer than I, or anyone else, would have expected. But in the process I would learn much and in the end it would change my life in many ways.

Musical journeys never end, but the journey of Cantabile will reach its originally planned destination with the first performance of the remaining parts of the work on June 10th. (Read more about the concert here).

»Cantabile« is a suite consisting of three symphonic poems. I began working on the first poem »Souffle le vent« (Cry of the winds) in the late summer 2003, and finished it just in time for the first performance on June 10th, 2004 at the gala-concert celebrating Prince Henrik’s 70th birthday.

form the premiere performance of Souffle le vent
The first performance of Souffle Le Vent in the Tivoli Concert Hall

Early in 2003 the plan was for the entire work to be performed at that concert, but as the year progressed the plans were changed to only include »Souffle le vent«. part of the reason for this was the orchestra’s very tight schedule in the spring, but this was fine with me giving me time to focus on getting the first poem just right.

The first performance of »Souffle le vent« was indeed a milestone for me, and the premiere went very well with Thomas Dausgaard conducting the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (DR SymfoniOrkestret) and chorus. Excerpts are available as downloads.

But there was trouble ahead. Big trouble. I “caught” a very bad case of writer’s block and over a period of several years rewrote the 2nd and 3rd poems more than 10 times from scratch until I finally was satisfied…

To be continued…

The »Souffle le vent« score
The »Souffle le vent« score (Photo © Frederik Magle)

A »Cameo« Performance with Nikolaj Znaider

An old friend of mine, the violinist Nikolaj Znaider, called me today and asked if I would do what can best be described as a »cameo« performance tomorrow evening – the 16th.

Nikolaj is giving a concert performing as soloist, as well as conducting, among other works Fritz Kreisler’s »Concerto for Violin & Orchestra in C Major – in the style of Vivaldi« with his »Nordic Music Academy« Orhcestra. It so happens that this concerto includes a part for organ, so I’m jumping in and will play it. I don’t have the score or organ-part so I’ll do it prima vista at the general rehearsal tomorrow, but it shouldn’t be difficult to play.

Unfortunately The “Tivoli Concert Hall” in Copenhagen (where the concert takes place) doesn’t have a pipe organ, and there’s too little time to arrange for a decent digital organ to be brought on stage, so I’ll have to do with a standard keyboard, but I’ll get the most out of it, and it’s always a pleasure performing with a great musician like Nikolaj. It’s going to be fun, no doubt! 🙂

»Journey in Time« in Spain

Tomorrow – May the 4th, 2007 at 20:00 hours – my Variations and Theme »Journey in Time« for violin and piano is going to be performed at the Conservatorio Superior de Música “Rafael Orozco” in Córdoba, Spain by an excellent violin and piano duo consisting of Encarnación Almansa (violin) and Javier Santos (piano). See the current list of concerts at the Córdoba Music Conservatory (in Spanish). Besides my work, the duo will perform works by Schubert, Debussy-Heifetz, and Anatoly Varelas.

I cannot attend the concert myself but I will be looking forward to hear how it goes – hopefully very well! :-). I wish Encarnación and Javier all the best for the concert tomorrow and send my appreciations for them performing »Journey in Time«!

A Tale Of Two Music Forums

A little over four years ago (in 2002) I founded Magle International Music Forums. Initially it worked as a sort of glorified »guest book« in addition to my personal site. But very soon – within the first 6 months – I took it in a completely different direction and largely removed the affiliation with my person. For example by adding sections where other composers and musicians can promote their music and have it reviewed. Since the launch the forum has grown significantly and consists today of close to 16,000 posts covering a wide array of musical genre and topics: classical music, pipe organs, crossover & fusion, progressive rock, film music, etc.

In the beginning of 2006, my megalomaniac tendencies took the better of me, and I began considering ways to expand even further… One thing I considered was possibly buying other sites, and thus I went looking on the net. I came across a site called Talk Classical, which is a »classical music forum« of very high quality, but at the time it was almost dead. It had about 3500 posts and 200 members, but the level of activity was very low with only a few new posts per week. It sparked my interest – perhaps a chance to revive it? I went as far as looking up the owner of the domain and began thinking about how to approach him by email, but for various reasons I decided to leave it for the time being.

And then the miracle happened, only about a month after I had considered contacting the owner, in the middle of February, I stumbled across a classified ad (post) on a forum about dealing with domain names – completely by chance! It so happened that the owner had put up for an online auction! That was a sign I couldn’t resist, and it ended up we me buying the Talk Classical forum and domain name. It was the first time I had bought a website but the takeover went pretty smoothly.

To begin with I also took over the hosting account, but it was a so called »shared hosting« (running on a server with maybe hundreds of other sites) causing the forum to run annoyingly – sometimes unbearably – slow. Magle International Music Forums was also running on shared hosting (though at a different company) and also experienced low performance. So, on June 6th, 2006 I finally took the step all out and moved both sites to a dedicated server. It’s extremely expensive and causing me quite big “losses”, but (after some initial teething problems) both sites now run at excellent speed. So I consider it an investment in the future – it better pay of some day! 😀

After taking over Talk Classical I started doing small but significant technical improvements, besides moving it to the dedicated server. I also began a long term internet ad campaign that has brought in many new members. The first 6 months, things went slow. Posting rates improved but only at a relatively slow pace, and I myself had unfortunately only limited time for posting. Then in the fall the breakthrough happened! The rate of new members and posts began to increase exponentially, and here we are today with Talk Classical being a rather thriving and growing classical music forum.

As of recently, some days Talk Classical is even more active than Magle International Music Forums. My goal is of course for both forums to be successful. Originally I contemplated some sort of technical merger, but I have since abandoned that idea and will instead run the two forums as separate but somewhat interconnected »sister sites«. There’s actually a little competition between them on the subject of classical music, but I believe a little friendly competition can only be good thing.

The challenge now is to build on the momentum and keep the growth of Talk Classical and further expand Magle International Music Forums. In fact the latter is probably the one requiring the most work right now as it has seen a slight slowdown as of recently. How do I differentiate the two forums, and how do I use and expand their individual strengths to mutual benefit? Those are some of the challenges facing me.

One thing’s for sure. Running a forum, yet alone two, is a big job. I constantly have to consider how to do it without it taking time away from me composing – I guess I’ll just have to stay awake a few more hours a day 😉 Without the help from dedicated moderators and co-administrators it would be outright impossible, luckily for me (and the communities) there are some great moderators/co-admins on both forums. No matter what, the joy from seeing such a project succeed is immense and will make it worth it all.

I will keep you posted on the progress

Best regards,
Frederik Magle