A Dismantled Ode To The Moral Value Of Art

2012; dur: 10'; Vocal sextet

It was performed under the direction of Leonard Bernstein at a concert to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall, it appears in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

Hitler celebrated his birthdays with it, and the government of Rhodesia made it their anthem.

And the prisoners in German concentration camps played it.

It also figured prominently at Mitterand’s 1981 investiture.

In 2012, we celebrate the Ode to Joy’s 40 years anniversary as National Anthem of the EU.

Thanks to Neil Young and Edvard Grieg for inspiration.

To Nordic Voices 2012
with support from Arts Council Norway


Written in 2012 and referencing four decades of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” as the European Union anthem, the piece begins enigmatically with textures that sound like vocal approximations of the sonic vocabulary of electronic music from half a century ago. As momentum builds, fragments of Beethoven (and, apparently, Grieg) drift into the texture. The work ends theatrically: singers casually exit, leaving a solo baritone intoning riffs from Canadian rock legend Neil Young, with the text “everything is gonna be alright.”

Is it? Given the context of the program, it seemed more about sad irony than affirmation. Whether or not Ratkje has created a lasting masterwork, A Dismantled Ode is a brilliant and provocative piece. If her bag of tricks is drawn from mainstream contemporary practice, the conception is striking. Nordic Voices’ execution was magisterial.

David Gordon Duke, Classical Voice North America

Tänk er att det officiella firandet är slut och alla har gått hem. På torget ligger ihopknycklade flygblad, godispapper, fimpar och annat skräp.

Men också pulveriserade rester av EU-hymnen ”Ode to joy”, Ludwig van Beethovens final till sin nionde symfoni, som nyss framförts uppe på estraden. Och att torgets duvor, finkar och trastar, som nu lämnats ensamma kvar, ivrigt börjar picka i sig hymnen. Att den plötsligt sätter sig i struparna, blandar sig med kuttrandet och kvittrandet och till slut formar sig till en metalliskt kvidande sång i det allra högsta flöjtregistret. Ett främmande och nästan olidligt hjärtskärande läte som dock efter ett tag blir besvarat från ett nytt och oväntat håll. Av mänskliga röster som fyller luften med orden: ”Everything’s gonna be all right.”

Ungefär så här kan man beskriva årets festivaltonsättare Maja Ratkjes enastående körverk ”A dismantled ode to the moral value of art”, som i fredags uruppfördes av Nordic Voices i Hovs kyrka under Båstad kammarmusikfestival.

Martin Nyström, Dagens Nyheter

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8 Responses to A Dismantled Ode To The Moral Value Of Art

  1. admin says:

    Dear Bryce, many thanks for sharing this. This piece has in a way been on the sketch board since I sent the score to Nordic Voices, as I have only written half of the commissioned work I got from them, they are still waiting for the second half! This is also the reason I haven’t published the score yet. But I guess the piece is now ok to stand alone on it’s own feet, so the second half will simply be another piece. It’s up to the ensemble to have it recorded or not. I don’t have any record company or publisher working for me. Perhaps they will, one day. (You should tell them to!) Thanks again, friend.

  2. Bryce Hocken says:

    I too just heard this performed live by the Nordic Voices in Vancouver. I don’t think I was emotionally prepared for the sheer power behind this piece. I wept like a child by the ending and I just wanted to say thank you for this profound composition. I would also really love to see the score as well as find recordings! There is nothing online that I am aware of. I have so many choral friends that I am dying to share this piece with.

    Thank you so much once again! I hope if not through this feed you could email me back privately.

  3. Jacob says:

    Hello, just checking in. Is this published yet?

  4. admin says:

    Not yet! It’s a work in progress still. (Didn’t know they performed in in Vancouver!)

  5. Jacob says:

    Saw this piece when Nordic Voices were in Vancouver, I thought it was fabulous! Is the score published yet?

  6. admin says:

    Sorry, the score is not published yet, it will be during the next year!

  7. Hi, I wonder if I could have a score of “A dismantled ode” to look over?
    The piece sounds very interesting.
    Could you send it as a pdf. or to
    Ragnar Bohlin
    Söderängsslingan 41
    760 17 Blidö

    Thank you
    Ragnar Bohlin
    Chorus Director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus

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