Karl Aage Rasmussen

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Karl Aage Rasmussen (born 13 December 1947 in Kolding, Denmark) is a Danish composer and writer.

Quotation and particularly collage played an important role in his music from the early 70s, but increasingly he used pre-existing musical material in new connections and for new purposes, most often in a densely woven montage of small idioms which in themselves were too tiny to work as quotes, but were put together so closely as to create entirely new patterns. He continued to use montage technique, but the non-directional expression was gradually replaced by developmental forms. This is apparent in music for the stage and was later continued in works such as ‘A Symphony in Time’ and the string quartets ‘Solos and Shadows’ and ‘Surrounded by Scales’.

The chamber symphony ’Movements on a Moving Line’ marks the beginning of a long period dominated by an interest in time and tempo, here as a kind of time-travel where the same music seems to appear and disappear in different tempi. New conceptions of time, partly related to the self-similarity in fractal mathematics, has dominated his music since then. In more recent years psychological and dramatic dimensions have emerged in works such as the violin concerto, ’Scherzo with Bells’ and ’Webs in a stolen Dream’.

For more than two decades Rasmussen worked as full professor of composition at the Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark. Among his students: Louis Aguirre Rovira, Kaj Aune, Peter Bruun, Anders Brødsgaard, Karsten Fundal, Michael Nyvang, and Simon Steen-Andersen.

Rasmussen is a prolific writer of essays, so far collected in three volumes. His books on Glenn Gould, Robert Schumann and Sviatoslav Richter have reached a wide audience. Moreover he has lately been engaged in several large projects centered on the music of Franz Schubert. Schubert left his opera ’Sakontala’ unfinished and with only the parts for singers sketched out, but Rasmussen completed and orchestrated a performing version of the opera, first performed in Stuttgart 2006. He has further reconstructed what he believes to be Schubert's lost ’Gastein’ symphony and an orchestral version of Schubert's melodrama ’Der Taucher’ commissioned by the Danish singer Bo Skovhus.

Selected works[edit]


  • Jephta (1977)
  • Majakovskij (1978)
  • Jonah (radio opera 1983)
  • Our Hoffmann (klaverteater, 1986)
  • The Sinking of the Titanic (1993)
  • Sakontala (reconstruction of an unfinished opera by Franz Schubert, 2003)


  • Recapitulations (1968)
  • Symphonie Classique (1969)
  • Anfang und Ende (1973)
  • A Symphony in Time (1982)
  • Movements on a Moving Line (1987)
  • Three Friends (1995)
  • The Lion, the Mouse, the big Elephant and Jens, the Ant (1997, tale for children after Asger Jorn)
  • Scherzo with Bells (1996)
  • A Tempo (2001)
  • Postludes, for 23 solostrings (2007)
  • Building (2007)


  • Contrafactum, cello concerto (1980)
  • Violinconcerto("Sinking through the Dream Mirror", 1993)
  • Double concerto for harp and guitar (1998)
  • Invisible Mirrors, for guitar and chamber orchestra

Chamber music[edit]

  • This moment (1966)
  • Resonance (1972)
  • Love is in the World (1975)
  • A Ballad of Game and Dream (1975)
  • Berio Mask (1977)
  • Parts Apart (1978)
  • Italian concerto (1981)
  • Four, Five – for brass quintet (1982)
  • Solos and Shadows (string quartet, 1983)
  • Surrounded by Scales (string quartet, 1985)
  • Movements on a Moving Line (chamber version, 1988)
  • Webs in a Stolen Dream (1996)
  • Twin Dream (1998)
  • Trauergondol (1998)
  • Camera oscura, saxophone quintet (2001)
  • Liri (2008)

Piano solo[edit]

  • 13 Etudes and Postludes (1990)
  • Contrary Dances (1992)
  • Barcarole (1996)

Arrangements, transcriptions etc.[edit]


  • 1987 Hakon Børresen prize
  • 1991 Carl Nielsen prize
  • 1997 Edition Wilhelm Hansen prize
  • 2003 Danish Academy prize

External links[edit]

Official website: http://www.karlaagerasmussen.com