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Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup

Let's just 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 page 252).   
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)
Just 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 enterprise. 
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 indeed).

The Esrum-Hellerup 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 peculiar composers.
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.

Please forgive me.

The Esrum-Hellerup Choir: http://home.worldonline.dk/isl29229/EH-bio.htm

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