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August Jaresch

The story of the composer Svend Westergaard begins like many other stories of Danish composers: he trained as an organist at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, continued with private composition studies with Finn Høffding and abroad, became a reviewer in the press and later a theory teacher, and for a period was principal of the institution at which he had taken his diploma. But unlike most other composers, when the mode of the music changed and Denmark too acquired a modernist-coloured musical establishment, he remained true to his tonal, traditional idiom, and despite unmistakable composing skills and a clear aesthetic agenda, he was consigned to the oblivion reserved for composers who do not fit in with their times.

When modern music – and the avant-garde experiments – came to Denmark in earnest at the beginning of the 1960s, Svend Westergaard was strongly critical of the new currents, and his pen and tongue were particularly sharp when it came to the uncritical absorption of the new foreign, systematic ways of composing. For Westergaard, modern music was something unheard-of, and he clearly had great difficulty understanding why familiar harmonic rules and what was euphonious to the ear could or should be replaced by pseudoscientific tables in serial music – or for that matter happenings and aleatory procedures inspired by the visual arts.




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