Pehr Henrik Nordgren

A teller of powerful tales

Pehr-Henrik Nordgren (1944–2008) was ‘court composer’ of the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra long before the national composer-in-residence project was launched in Finland. Born in the island province of Åland, he studied in Helsinki and Japan before his path as a composer took him to the little town of Kaustinen, first as Provincial Artist and later, from 1973, as a freelance composer.

Nordgren’s long partnership with Juha Kangas and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra was unusually fruitful, and much of his output consists of works composed specially for it. These number 22 for the Orchestra, String Quartets 5–8 for the Kokkola Quartet made up of members of the Orchestra, and two works for the Kokkola Orchestra.

Nordgren’s output is both extensive and diverse. He drew inspiration from such sources as Finnish and Japanese folk music, and his music has a strong narrative element. And although it is often described as being painted in dark hues, there are also flashes of hope.

“One of the finest, most transfiguring moments in all Finnish music comes at the end of his composition TRANSE-CHORAL, when a radiant major chord at last breaks through, dispelling the agony.” (Kalevi Aho/Helsingin Sanomat 2008)

Premieres of works by Pehr-Henrik Nordgren in the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra’s repertoire:

1974 Portraits of Country Fiddlers, Op. 26 (1st version)
1974 The Whole World Will Lament, Op. 26b (2nd version)
1979 Symphony for Strings, Op. 43
1980 Concerto for Cello and String Orchestra, Op. 50, sol. Seppo Kimanen
1981 “Yonder Lives My Sweet Love”, Op. 40
1982 Concerto No. 3 for Violin and String Orchestra, Op. 53, sol. Kaija Saarikettu
1983 Concerto for Strings, Op. 54
1986 TRANSE-CHORAL, Op. 56
1986 Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra III, Op. 68, sol. Gerard Caussé
1987 HATE-LOVE, Op. 71, sol. Marko Ylönen
1992 Concerto No. 3 for Cello and String Orchestra, Op. 82, sol.   Steven Isserlis
1994 Concerto for Viola, Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra,
Op. 87, sol. Teemu Kupiainen & Esko Laine
1995 Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra, Op. 92, sol.John-Edward Kelly
1995 Equilibrium, Op. 94
1997 Concerto for Horn and Strings, Op. 95, sol. Sören Hermansson
1997 Rock Score, Op. 100
2001 Concerto for Oboe and Strings, Op. 116, sol. Helén Jahren
2004 Concerto for Piano Left Hand Only and Chamber Orchestra (Piano Concerto No. 3), Op. 129 (OCO & Tempesta)
2006 Pictures Of The Country’s Past, Op. 139 (free adaptations of Finnish folk tunes
2007 Song cycle to poems by Edith Södergran, Op. 123
2009 Concerto for Organ and Chamber Orchestra, Op. 143

Pehr Henrik Nordgren 1944-2008