It is difficult to see clear periods in Börtz's work. In this respect he differs from other contemporary Nordic composers such as Per Nørgård and Sven-David Sandström. As with Börtz's great role model Bruckner, it is a matter of continuous development, where his distinctive personal style from the very beginning is constantly enriched by new experiences.

In this development, there are certain key works that more clearly than others summarize the experience gained and constitute stepping stones forward. One such work is undoubtedly the operaThe backers(1988-89).

Around 1980, Börtz began to leave both the elementary ideal and the distinct sound field composing that so strongly marked his 70s music for a more complex and varied music. This process is clearly felt in works such asSinfonia 6-8,Quartetto 3 per archiand the orchestral workParody. Börtz also believed that the Backants were connected to his symphonies, and one finds the same long symphonic lines of development in the opera as in the instrumental works. At the same time, the close contact with the human voice led to a development of the melodic writing, which had an impact on his tonal language as a whole. During rehearsal work with the Backants at the Royal Opera, Börtz composed, for example, his ninth sinfonia in which singing melody lines play a greater role than in any of his earlier instrumental works.

The new melodic orientation manifests itself in several ways in Börtz's music from the 1990s, partly in large vocal works such asSongs about death(1992-94) and the operaMarie Antoinette(1997), partly in a trilogy of solo concerts where the word songs is included in the title:Songs and dancesfor trumpet and orchestra (1994-95),Songs and shadowsfor violin and orchestra (1995-96) andSongs and lightsfor clarinet and orchestra (1998). However, he only composed one symphony during the 90s,Symphony 10(1991-92). It took 14 years before he followed upSymphony 11(2005). However, he never abandoned symphonic thinking, but believes that it remains in works such as the solo concerts and Songs of Death.

2011 cameSymphony 12for baritone and orchestra to a text by Kjell Espmark. They continued their collaboration in the big oneSymphony 13for two reciters, three vocal soloists and orchestra which premiered with the Royal Philharmonic in 2019.

But there is also a new rhythmic orientation in Börtz's 90s music that has its basis in the Backants. In the music of the backantes in the opera, there is a rhythmic vitality and drive unmatched in his earlier music. Before the Backants, his rhythmicity was non-metrical and one could not speak of tempo in the traditional sense, but only of varying degrees of density of events. In the works of the 90s, Börtz, on the other hand, makes great use of the changes and contrasts between fast and slow tempos made possible by a more metric writing style with a clear sense of pulse. One also finds a far-reaching simplification of the rhythm and how it is notated in his music from the last decade. The rhythmic simplification is, however, combined with an increased complexity in other respects. Börtz's music has become more eventful and contains greater contrasts than before. In addition, the harmonics and instrumentation have become richer and more varied.

Joakim Tillman

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