Anders Hilborg Photo © Mats Lundqvist
Anders Hilborg Photo © Mats Lundqvist

Hillborg, Anders

He is an entertainer of considerable depth, with an ability to musically turn an orchestra on its head or wring unexpected sounds from an instrument or orchestral section. With humour and creativity and an ear for tender tonal sensualism and wild terpsichorean frenzy, Anders Hillborg demonstrates that originality can permeate range.

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ANDERS HILLBORG, born in Stockholm in 1954, is one of Sweden’s brightest composers. Even such early orchestral works as the massive “Rights of Spring”-like "Clang and Fury" and the harmonically extreme "Celestial Mechanics" evince the inimitability and inventiveness that has shaped his music over the years. During the first half of the 1980s his music was borne aloft by a complex methodology, but since then a keenness to produce a more pragmatic “musician-orientated” form of composition has emerged.

"If I’d felt more at home with modernism I might have continued, but I’ve never stopped asking myself: What is a musical language?" says Hillborg. His sceptical, curious nature has generated a broad production, which incorporates chamber and vocal music alongside his orchestral works. The highly original "muo:aa:yiy::oum", which is based on a phonetic formula generating a study in timbre, is now a modern Swedish choral classic. Hillborg has also written film and pop music, his collaboration with singer Eva Dahlgren winning him a Grammy award for Composer of the Year in 1995.

In concentrating on Hillborg’s breadth of scope one risks creating an impression of vagueness, but in actual fact it is quite the opposite. His music possesses a strong individuality that surfaces in everything from the neoclassic and minimalistic violin concerto, via the sonorously charming, prize-winning "Dreaming river", to the ambiguously elegant "Exquisite Corpse", which, like "Liquid Marble", is one of many Hillborg works to have attracted immediate attention both at home and abroad. 

Hillborg’s music is generous with its powerful expressiveness and gushing rhythmical flows, which at times convey a sense of theatrics and playfulness, such as in the clarinet concerto "Peacock Tales". The title of the trombone concerto, "Strange Dances and Singing Water", could, in fact, be a general description of what Hillborg’s music can sound like.

He is an entertainer of considerable depth, with an ability to musically turn an orchestra on its head or wring unexpected sounds from an instrument or orchestral section. With humour and creativity and an ear for tender tonal sensualism and wild terpsichorean frenzy, Anders Hillborg demonstrates that originality can permeate range.

Tony Lundman, (2006)
English translation by Neil Betteridge
© Svensk Musik