In the composer's workshop

Telling titles

In his youth, Langgaard was apparently not very interested in the titles of his works. It was only when he fell back on a style of Romantic pastiche in the middle of the 1920's that he began to feel the need precisely to express the content of his works by giving them a telling, emphatic title. In the 1930's - when he had almost stopped composing - he often spent time in the reading room of The Royal Library, and one of the things that interested him was looking up things in dictionaries and encyclopedias. When he hit on a good title, he wrote it down in the notebook he had brought with him - or on one of the library's borrowing slips.

Here is the word Finisterre (which means "World's End", and is the name of a place in Spain), which he stumbled on and wrote down in orfer to se what it would be like if he used it as the title of an opera.

Langgaard drew his inspiration from many sources: the Bible, works of literature and dictionaries, and sometimes he made up new words himself, such as Kremàtio or Kremàscó, which for a period was the title of his opera. He was attracted by words with such a 'resounding' ring. In the 1940's, Langgaard also often looked for ambiguous words and expressions which could properly express the absurd and paradoxical music he was writing at that time. A typical example is the title, Le Béguinage, which in French means 'holiness', but in a mocking, derogatory sense. Homespun titles such as Solàmok also express this confrontation within the same term of positive and negative elements.