Folke Rabe: Rondes, for choir (mixed or male), 1964, comment

I wrote Rondes in the spring of 1964 on a commission by the music dept. of the Swedish Broadcasting Corp. They were planning a training session with the combined forces of the Radio Choir and Eric Ericson's Chamber Choir. I suppose they expected some kind of an experimental score for choir to work with. Lars Edlund studied the score with the choirs during this session. The first public performance, however, took place later, in the fall of 1964.

In the 1960s I was, along with many colleagues, interested in composing with timbres as a form-defining element. I was also interested in extending the means of expression in voices and instruments. Consequently I wrote a piece that was not based on a text but on vocal sounds that you perhaps cannot find in any language. Furthermore, in those years I was (and I still am!) interested in the visual aspects of music performances, e.g. to compose the movements of musicians and singers on stage. All the mentioned aspects are present in Rondes.

The spectacular features of the piece have, since, caused some sensation. Rondes has frequently been on the program when Swedish choirs have been touring abroad. These performances have inspired foreign choirs to study the score and to include it in their repertoire. Rondes is one of my most frequently performed works and it has been sung in many countries around the globe; in the Americas, in Africa, Asia and Australia.

Folke Rabe, 2000-03-24


In Rondes there has been a graphically unclear tone cluster in the tenor part on page 1. The pitches in the cluster should be, from bottom to top: C#, D#, F, G. This detail has now been improved by the present publishers, Gehrmans in Stockholm, Sweden.

Folke Rabe, 2009-02-11