Composer (Born 1956 in Denmark)
Kim Helweg began composing at the age of 13 and made his professional debut in 1974 with the composition “A Little Wind Quintet” at a concert for alternative music. The first published work by Kim Helweg, HVIDHEDEN OG STILHEDEN (The Whiteness and the Silence) from 1975, shows clearly which composers have influenced his formative years – namely John Cage and Penderecki. The composition is a blank page – has no duration, no instrumentation and no indication that tells us whether it is supposed to be regarded as a piece of music, a poem or anything else. Other pages came soon after, using “graphic notation” to be conceived freely as pictures of music or music of pictures. A “Tabular Rasa” as it might be and at the same time a very early musical turning point.
The blank Page was followed by “real heavy sound”. A chance encounter with American fusion-music drastically altered his course and led to an extended period of jazz/rock compositions culminating in two jazz/rock symphonies and the rock-operas Ulysses (1982) and Black Mass (1983).Compositions that connected the idioms of jazz and rock with the classical composition technique.
In 1985 and 1988 Kim Helweg won the 1st prize for compositions made for The Danish Radio Concert Orchestra. In 1986 his anti-musical” The Kreutzer Sonata” (based on Tolstoy and Beethoven) – with both music and lyrics by Kim Helweg – won the 3rd prize at the European Broadcast Union competition in Monaco after loud protests from the Italian and French jury, who wanted the work awarded with the 1st prize due to its originality.
Since 1988 Kim Helweg has chiefly composed for classical ensembles, but still with a visible jazz/rock influence. The included element of improvisation which was previously left open for the musicians to create was now replaced by written music very often based on a serial row and micro rhythms.
From this period the works Interference in the version for the Royal Danish Brass, Variations on Chick Corea’s LA FIESTA performed by Thorson & Thurber Duo, and the America Fantasy for Safri Duo all achieved important international recognition.
From the same period we also have major works like the Violin Concerto, the Cello Concerto and the Symphony no.1 and Symphony no.2 that challenged the soloists and the orchestras with organic but very complicated micro rhythms.
In his piece SHLAG for punk singer and Orchestra (commissioned by Staatstheater Stuttgart 1992, choreography by Roberto Oliveira (Br)) he went even further. To obtain the perfect rhythmical performance from the orchestra in this piece, several monitors were placed in the orchestra, so the musicians had the feeling of being very close to all the other instruments. The piece requires a punk singer that screams the word “shlag” throughout the entire work, which is spiced with meaningless sounds from the Germanic languages. The piece was received as an unpleasant provocation in the German press (“loud meaningless music”, “pseudo modernism”, “to loud to understand”), but since then it became one of the most performed pieces by Kim Helweg and has been choreographed 3 times until now.
The main work of this period is the musical epos DVOJNIK for 2 pianos and orchestra (commissioned by the Thorson & Thurber piano duo), inspired by the concept of the double image from the novel by Dostojevsky. The Concert has a double image as well: 2 Concerts, 2 pianos and with 2 musical layers throughout the work which exists in two versions. It was recorded in 1996 by the Thorson and Thurber piano duo, but the 1st live performance didn’t take place until June 7th 2002 at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The piece was performed by the piano/percussion quartet MASA 2 and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Buenos Aires and was a huge success with both the audience and the press.
The DVOJNIK was followed by another Concerto for 2 percussionists and orchestra: Barroco Brasileiro (Commissioned by Safri Duo) performed in 1999, the large piece Requiem Piazza Duomo for 1.000 singers and 100 musicians (performed in connection with Copenhagen Cultural City 1996) and several works for chamber orchestra commissioned by “Musik i Väst” in Sweden.
Collaborations with different choreographers add other aspects to Kim Helweg’s music. The works; Eidolon (Rambert Dance Company with chamber orchestra (London)), Cupid and Psyche (The Royal Danish Ballet and The Royal Danish Orchestra (Copenhagen)) and The Return of Don Juan (Arc Dance Company with Chamber Orchestra (London)), choreographed by Kim Brandstrup, introduce a kind of neo romanticism which changes into a kind of neo modernism in later works such as: “Divided in Three” (3 Etudes for piano solo), “Spiri” (for 2 pianos), “Silent Tales”” (Al Niente for cello solo and electronics), commissioned and choreographed by the important Danish choreographer Jens Bjerregaard, in which the inspiration from Cage and Penderecki again is clearly to be heard.
In 2002 and again in 2004 the opera STALINGRAD was performed by Holland House at The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. The libretto was written by the British author Howard Barker, whose remarkable plays have been performed all over the world. Once again the double image is an important element in both the music and the story, which is not chronologically told. 2 images of one character, 2 orchestral groups, and 2 pianos and so on.
In 2003 Kim Helweg wrote the Partita I-VI. The 6 Partitas are actually one long piece (90 min.). The piece was cut into 5 smaller pieces and one long for practical reasons. The year 2003 decided the title, the deadlines decided the length, and the commissioner decided the instrumentation. The 6 “fragments” became 3 pieces for piano solo, one string quartet, one piece for 2 pianos and percussion and a concerto for viola, double bass and electronics. The last one was written for the Dance performance “Shaved, Plucked and Moisturized” by Jens Bjerregaard.
Following works are the “Nothing Florid” (2005, written for a dance performance by Jens Bjerregaard and his new company Mancopy). “The Labyrinth” piano sonata no.2 (2005, written for a dance performance by Adria Ferrali, recorded by Manuel Massone). “RAUM” (2006-07, again written for a dance performance by Jens Bjerregaard), “Movements” for cello sol (2008, written to the great cello player John Ehde, who also has recorded the piece). The double image ballet score Ballerina/Danseur Noble (2009) is to be performed at the Opera House, Copenhagen, May 2010 by the The Royal Danish Ballet and The Royal Danish Orchestra conducted by Mats Rondin with choreography by Kim Brandstrup.
In 2015 Kim Helweg started working on the Quantum Music project (supported by Creative Europe and The Danish Arts Foundation). Together with physicist Klaus Mølmer from Aarhus University he created a number musical scales based on frequencies from quantum leaps. This resulted in different works as:
Quantum Leaves for Guitar and Cello (2016) BEC-Music. Concerto no. 3 for Cello and Orchestra (2017.Written for John Ehde. Royal Theatre Copenhagen.
Quantum Suite for guitar solo (2017). Written for Jens Bang-Rasmussen. Carnegie Hall, New York
Super Position for 2 pianos (2017).Written for LP Duo. Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Miniature for piano solo (2018). Written for Roberta Swedien. US
Balmer Concerto for 13 percussionists (2018). Written for Jeanni Zhang.
Perschen Dance for accordion solo (2018). Written for Milos Katanic.
Presentation of the Quantum scales was done at Institut Henri Poincaré, Sorbonne Université, Paris, France July 2 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIVBaZkxZF4
Article: Composing with Quantum Information
Kim Helweg’s music has been regularly performed in Europe, North America, South America and in South Korea, and since 1992 his works were commissioned from Italy, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Holland, Sweden, USA, England, Serbia, Austria and China.
Since 1983 Kim Helweg has been regular supported by the Danish Arts Foundation.
The CD-labels are Chandos, Olympia, Rondo, Focus, IRCO and Classico among others.
© Ankerstjerne Music 2019