Folke Rabe (born in Stockholm, Sweden on October 28th 1935) started out as a jazz musician (trombone) in the 1950s, in dixieland and swing bands, later as well in big bands under the direction of Lulle Ellboj, Harry Arnold, Arne Domnerus and others. During his studies at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm Rabe began putting more emphasis on composing. Among his teachers Bo Wallner, Karl-Birger Blomdahl, Ingvar Lidholm, György Ligeti and Witold Lutoslawski may be mentioned. A number of journeys in Europe, North and Latin America, China and India have had an important influence on his musical and cultural perspectives. But also geographically closer experiences and connections, such as the Northern Lappish Yoik singing traditions, have influenced, for instance, his French Horn concerto "Nature, Herd and Relatives".
In Folke Rabe's list of works you may find some focal points in music for chorus, electro-acoustic music and, especially in recent years, music for brass. There are concertoes as well as smaller pieces for world famous Swedish brass soloists such as Christian Lindberg (trombone) and Hakan Hardenberger (trumpet). Simultaneously with his activities as a composer Rabe has all the time been working as a music administrator as well, during the '70s in various positions within the lnstitute for National Concerts in Sweden, the last three years as program director. In 1980-2000 Folke Rabe was on the staff of the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation as editor, editor-in-chief and program manager. At present he is a freelance composer and introducer of concerts.
Folke Rabe's work has involved experimentation, breaking free from convention and salutary displays of humour. ”Bolos” for four trombones, composed in 1962 together with Jan Bark and performed by the "Culture Quartet" to which they both belonged, occupies a legendary position in the history of contemporary Swedish music as an attempt to devise new technical approaches to the instruments and also as an unconventional approach to the audience. Rabe's achievement as a composer of choral music has also been essentially important. His choral compositions concentrate on such widely differing elements as choral speech effects, improvisation techniques, graphic notation and interesting sound material (overtone studies, language sounds) etc. Pioneering music is also to be found in such compositions as ”Piece”, "Rondes”, and ”Joe's Harp”. ”Rondes”, by the way, is probably Rabe's most frequently performed work (in tough competition with his solo trombone piece "Basta" Rondes has been sung all over the world.
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