for guitar and chamber orchestra


The chaconne is a musical form dating back to the 16th century and having various names in various lands, including the Italian Ciaconna and the English Ground. The form has been popular in many places and eras and used by many composers, among them Buxtehude, Monteverdi, Purcell, Bach, Rameau and Telemann. More recently, composers such as Philip Glass, John Adams, John Corigliano, Györgi Ligeti and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen have composed chaconnes.

The general idea of the chaconne is that a simple bass-line or ground bass is repeated throughout the piece, allowing for variations on this single melody. In some cases, composers have chosen a relaxed interpretation of the form, freely varying the melody and harmonic progression. Others have taken a more strict approach, repeating the ground bass and harmonic progression throughout the piece.

My guitar concerto is composed in single movement and, except in the very beginning, the piece is constructed as a strict chaconne. The piece opens with the soloist searching his memory, trying to recall a forgotten melody. Once he has “remembered” the 10-bar melody, it is repeated consistently and regularly as a ground bass with changing instrumentation and varying textures during the entire piece. I found it both challenging and inspiring to compose a work with only one simple melody, recalling the words of Igor Stravinsky: “My freedom thus consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned to myself for each one of my undertakings.”

Chaconne was composed for and in close collaboration with the guitarist Jakob Bangsø, with generous support from the Royal Library in Copenhagen and the Danish Arts Foundation.

Watch an excerpt of the world premiere of Chaconne at the Royal Library in Copenhagen featuring Jakob Bangsø and the Diamant Ensemble on February 21, 2017: