THE MUSIC OF PER NORGARD: Fourteen Interpretative Essays, edited by Anders Beyer, contains various perspectives on the great Danish composer and his work by Danish and English scholars. Released in 1996, it covers his early work, the "infinity series" music, the Wolfli period, though regrettably it came to early to examine his recent and exciting works as the sixth symphony and the second violin concerto.
The volume contains several highly enlightening musicological essays. "Beyond Infinity" by Erling Kullberg, by far the most useful essay here, is an exhaustive introduction to the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic infinity series and how they are tied together in Norgard's work. Having read this, I'm finally able to appreciate the third symphony. Ivan Hansen's "Waves, Hierarchies, Interferences" explores Norgard's percussion music, including its use of the infinity series, "Sun and Moon" music, and the "music of interference" that Norgard embarked upon in around 1985. There are also essays about Norgard's organ music (written by organist Jens E. Christensen), operas (Jens Brincker), and choral works (Jean Christensen).
Other essays are about Norgard's general aesthetic. The first of these is Jorgen I. Jensen's "The Great Change: Per Norgard and Adolf Wolfli" which recounts Norgard's turn from the infinity series to a schizoid style inspired by the mad Swiss artist who composed his works in a Bern asylum. Jensen was with Norgard on October 9, 1979 when the composer encountered Wolfli's art for the first time at a Danish exhibit, and offers an intimate portrayal of how Norgard's entire approach changed, along with a short biography of Wolfli. Regrettably, there is no musicological analysis of the major Wolfli-period works here (the fourth symphony, "Wie ein Kind", and "The Divine Circus"), just general musings. "Connections and Interspaces" by Karl Aage Rasmussen and "Art and Truth: Per Norgard and Martin Heidegger" by Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen concern some of the metaphysical concerns of his music, as does "In Search of the Spirit", Stephen Johnson's dialogue with Norgard.
Poul Ruder's "Mind the Gap!" is a "colleague's personal view" of Norgard's work, with some interesting points on the spirituality of his music. The last essay is a contribution from Norgard himself. "Early Worlds" is a series of touch reminisces on his childhood and the formative experiences that led to his career in composition.
The typesetting is excellent, and all musical notation is properly engraved, so one doesn't have to fear undecipherable hand-written scores. While quite a lot has been written about Norgard's work--the composer himself has been quite prolific in explaining his philosophy--most of this has been in Danish and there were few resources for the English-language audience. This collection is really an essential purchase for the English-speaking fan of Norgard.