Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup
get one thing strait - Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup never existed. He was born
as a spoof in 1980 with the publication of The New Grove Dictionary (vol.6
He was in fact fabricated by that illustrious expert on
Scandinavian music - and contributor to Grove's - Robert Layton. Since
nobody had time to check it - and the editor, Stanley Sadie, didn't suspect
anything - Esrum-Hellerup went to press. Here Robert Layton claims - among
other things - that Esrum-Hellerup planned a performance of Parcifal
in Esbjerg. Now here Stanley Sadie ought to have seen through the spoof: It
was not permitted to perform Parcifal outside Bayreuth at that time,
and neither did the town Esbjerg exist as it does today - it was just a
small hamlet with some fishermen's houses. And - of course - the
bibliography consists only of one book: - in French one: A. Pirro: Esrum-Hellerup.
sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris, 1910)
the name Esrum-Hellerup would have made any Dane suspicious. Dag is a Swedish name and
extremely seldom in Denmark - besides it means Day. Henrik is OK - but
Esrum is a small town 40 kilometers north of Copenhagen and Hellerup is a
major suburb - usually known for its very wealthy people.
Now - the story could have ended there - and with Stanley Sadie's contempt for
Robert Layton's crime. But - it didn't.
Like P.D.Q.Bach - Esrum-Hellerup became
cult. Even if he never existed, Esrum-Hellerup
suddenly came to life, and on the net you will find many pages about him
claiming the most fantastic things - for instance that he died choking on
a fish bone during an out-door performance on Esrum Lake of Wagner's opera
The Flying Dutchman. Now the Danish Meteorological Institute
would have told Mr. Sadie that an out-door opera in September in Denmark
could very well prove a risky - not to say chilly or even wet
Somewhere you can also read that his father
was in fact not a chamber flautist to King Christian IX - but a railway
crossing guard. He himself was also somewhere described - not as a flute
player - but an ophecle´de virtuoso (an ophecle´de is a rare
predecessor of the modern-day tuba).
Indeed the game now is to concoct
the most unlikely stories - like Esrum-Hellerup collaborating with Bruckner
on a ballet.
In 1983 an amateur choir was formed - as
the Esrum-Hellerup Choir, which has toured Europe with rarely heard music
- AND with the most astonishing press releases. In 2004 they
performed the Passion after St. Matthew (Bach) for with strings, piano and
saxophone quartet. (By the way it is a very recommendable amateur choir
New information about Esrum-Hellerup keep coming up and new works are
being discovered - even with the rumor that Chandos Records was now going to record some of
them with the BBC Philharmonic. Yes - I think cult is the right word - and I am
proud to be able to contribute.
Who the poor fellow is, that has lent his photo to the entry on the net - nobody
knows. But Esrum-Hellerup lives on along with P. D. Q. Bach and Hoffnung's
Well - anyway it gave Mr. Sadie - for whom I have great respect - an
opportunity to include an article in the newest Grove's about spoofs.
Layton was certainly not the first. Riemann and other notable musicologist
have also joined the Club of Spoofers and invented composers.
Being the sole editor of this site (and perhaps a little more suspicious
than Mr. Sadie) I have not had that wonderful opportunity of being
intelligently fooled - yet (at least I think not), so I decided to do it myself by including
Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup with three invented works which give very little
musical meaning. If nothing else - this entry will secure a place for
me in the Hall of Blame.
Esrum-Hellerup Choir: http://home.worldonline.dk/isl29229/EH-bio.htmGo
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