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A drama at the organ in Frue Kirke

Rued Langgaard speaks about Høstens Tid (Harvest Time), and about the vulgarisation that followed.
Berlingske Aftenavis, 21 April 1936

- I feel like a caged animal!

The composer, Rued Langgaard, who has been talking standing by the window sill looking out into Fredericiagade, his eyes like those of a vulture behind his lorgnettes, narrow as razor blades in the light from the window, walks up and down the floor as if impelled by the restless movements of his hands.

- I could put it like this: there is so much discord here in this country that anyone of a spiritual nature can't even die in peace!

He pauses between sentences, but his hands continue to talk their own clear language, as he clenches them behind his back or drums them on the window sill. It seems to be a conversation between a man and his hands rather than an interview; questions do not seem to reach him.

- They have built a wall up around me. But why? I have not even been able to get even a minor post as an organist, even though I have been applying for twenty years, twenty years. And I have not only applied, I have talked - talked and talked endlessly. And to absolutely no avail. Day after day, year after year, constant effort and conflict, so that a lot of the time I lie exhausted in bed. I don't believe that even someone on the dole could really understand what it is like, this struggle. At least he can feel bitterness or rage, but I am a composer, I have to continue to do my duty. Gade had an easier time of it, much easier.

- Do you feel akin to Gade?

- Oh yes! With the real Gade, that is, what I understand by Gade, and that is his later works. They are not played any more, either. They were full of the spirit. But now politics rules music, and the leading circles in the music world are guided by social considerations rather than musical. They hate the direction of Gade's work, the mood of it, the spirit. It is no use using the fact that Beethoven's Symphonies are played as an excuse, they are not the most perfect expression of spiritual beauty anyway. They do not satisfy that longing for deep feeling that is in us, in the people. In fact the people possess precisely what the leading musical circles lack - feeling. They give the people stones for Bread.

- Have you never had luck on your side?

- Yes, indeed. In 1913, in Berlin, when my 1st Symphony was performed. I have written eight, but the first one was given a rapturous reception. But then the World War came. Yes, the World War....

A prelude to "Everyman"

Tomorrow, Rued Langgaard is playing his new composition, "Messis", "Høstens Tid" ("Messis", "The Harvest Time") on the organ at the Cathedral.

- Why have you invited the public free of charge?

- Because people are afraid of organ music, and quite understandably, because they have destroyed and degraded our organs with the dead, screeching stops that belong to the time before Bach. Imagine that such rubbish should have a renaissance! The last time I gave a concert, 24 years ago, it was hard to get people to come. I had to pay for it myself, get financial guarantees in order to be able to present my works. The Cathedral will also have to be paid.
My composition has been written over two years; I call it a drama for organ, and it depicts the Crucifixion and four movements illustrating the words of Jesus himself about "The Harvest Time".

- Are you deeply religious?

- As a composer I am not especially religious. And even though the words of the Bible have inspired me to write this drama for organ, there are also other motives. For example, the time leading up to the World War, from Gade's death up to the World War, which I call The Harvest Time. At this point music reached such a height of splendour and glory, such a richness of beauty, that it can be compared to the time of the harvest in the biblical sense. Now, after this, we see the dissolution, the vulgarisation.

- Your symphonies are seldom performed.

- That is true. At the most they have been played twice, mostly at my own expense. The State Broadcasting Service has played two: "Det Himmelrivende" ("The Heaven-Rending") and "Ved Tordenskjolds Grav i Holmens Kirke" ("At Tordenskjold's Grave in Holmens Kirke"). On the other hand, they rejected one of my large compositions, variations on the major work my father left behind. It was interrupted by his death. My most recent work is a prelude to "Det gamle Spil om Enhver" ("Everyman"). Just as I had finished it, they decided not to perform it anyway. That's it, all the time and everywhere doors are slammed in my face as soon as I approach the threshold.

[Signed] nls. [Carsten Nielsen]