Vagn Holmboe

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Vagn Gylding Holmboe (, 20 December 1909, Horsens, Jutland – 1 September 1996, Ramløse) was a Danish composer and teacher who wrote largely in a neo-classical style.


At the age of 16, Holmboe began formal music training at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen on the recommendation of Carl Nielsen. He studied under Knud Jeppesen (Theory) and Finn Høffding (Composition). After finishing his studies in 1929 he moved to Berlin where, for a short period, Ernst Toch became his teacher.

In 1933, he married the Romanian pianist Meta Graf. After moving back to Denmark in 1934, he taught at various institutions, including the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen from 1950 to 1965.

His students included Per Nørgård, Ib Nørholm, Bent Lorentzen, Arne Nordheim, Egil Hovland and Alan Stout.


Holmboe composed about three hundred seventy works, including thirteen symphonies, three chamber symphonies, four symphonies for strings, twenty string quartets, numerous concertos, one opera, and the late series of preludes for chamber orchestra, as well as much choral and other music, in addition to some early works that never received opus numbers. His last work, the twenty-first string quartet, Quartetto sereno, was completed by his pupil Per Nørgård.

He is considered to be the most important Danish symphonist after Carl Nielsen. His music is characteristically tonal, and musical metamorphosis of thematic or motivic fragments characterize most of his...
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