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Biography

Hans Abrahamsen (born 23 December 1952) is a Danish composer born in Copenhagen.From 1969 to 1971, he studied horn, music theory, and music history at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. In the 1980's, he continued his studies attending seminars with György Ligeti. Abrahamsen is considered to have been part of a trend called the "New Simplicity", which arose in the mid-1960s as a reaction against the complexity and perceived aridity of the Central European avant-garde. For Abrahamsen, this meant adopting an almost naive simplicity of expression, as in his orchestral piece Skum ("Foam", 1970)

From 1990 to 1998, Abrahamsen completed only one work, a short song. According to the composer, “ couldn’t find the way to make what wanted.” After his return to composition, his music was radically changed. It combined his early artistic attitudes with newer artistic goals with a modernist stringency and economy into a larger individual musical universe. Notable works since his return to composition include a piano concerto written for his wife Anne-Marie Abildskov, and the extended chamber work Schnee ("Snow").

Abrahamsen's let me tell you, a song cycle for soprano and orchestra based on the novella of the same name by Paul Griffiths, was premiered on 20 December 2013 by the Berlin Philharmonic, with soprano soloist Barbara Hannigan (to whom the work is dedicated), conducted by Andris Nelsons. Franz Welser-Möst led the Cleveland Orchestra in the U.S. premiere in January 2016. Abrahamsen won the $100,000 2016 Grawemeyer Award for this work.

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