NIELS VIGGO BENTZON (1919 - 2000)
A descendant, on his mother’s side, of J.P.E. Hartmann, and a cousin of Jørgen Bentzon, Niels Viggo Bentzon studied at the Copenhagen Conservatory and established himself as a concert pianist. At the same time he won a wide reputation as a composer and extended his interests to the visual arts, poetry and music criticism. He was among the most prolific Scandinavian composers of his generation, often experimenting with avant-garde techniques but in a generally tonal framework.
Bentzon’s opera Faust III, after Goethe, Kafka and James Joyce, was first staged in 1964. It was followed 10 years later by the chamber opera Automaten, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann. His stage works also include four ballets.
For orchestra Bentzon wrote 24 numbered symphonies. Symphony No. 4 uses his own version of the technique of metamorphosis, and Symphony No. 5 has the descriptive title Ellipses and develops the same technique. Symphony No. 7 ‘The Three Versions’, completed in 1952, continues the same stylistic trend. Symphony No. 8 has the additional title Sinfonia discrezione, and Symphony No. 24 is numbered Op. 597, an indication of the composer’s prolific output. Other orchestral works include a number of piano concertos, concertos for violin, for oboe, for clarinet, for cello, and for multiple instruments.
Chamber and Instrumental Music
Bentzon’s chamber music includes a number of string quartets as well as duo sonatas for various instruments. In addition to sonatas he wrote many works for piano, including the 13 volumes of his Det temperede klaver (‘The Tempered Clavier’).