Søren Hyldgaard’s childhood was always intertwined with musicality and the joy of playing instruments. He was born in Frederiksberg, a part of Copenhagen, Denmark in August of 1962 where he became the center of an atmosphere influenced by tones from the guitar, the double-bass, percussion and song – though curiously enough, he has never played any of these instruments.
On the other hand, he, at an early age, immersed himself with keyboards of all types. “I went and saw “The Sound of Music”, fell in love with all the girls in the movie, went home and could immediately play Edelweiss and Do-Re-Mi.
Cinema fascinated Hyldgaard as well. His father was a keen Super-8 film amateur and spent hours (and quite a bit of money) putting music from records to the family’s escapades caught on celluloid.
At ten, Hyldgaard repeatedly snuck into the livingroom to catch the summer cavalcade of Universal horror classics, where Franz Waxman’s praised music to “The Bride of Frankenstein” moved the young spectator – who would then play the themes on his piano, never forgetting the themes . The circle came round when, in the beginning of the 1990’s, Hyldgaard, along with the English record label Silva Screen took on the task of restoring the score from “The Bride of Frankenstein” and releasing it on CD…
In a way, “The Bride of Frankenstein” became Hyldgaard’s first professional project within the film music genre, and only months later he received the opportunity of composing new music to the documentary film “The Chaplin Puzzle”, the entrée of which was a restoration of an early Charlie Chaplin classic; “Police” from 1915. The project brought him to Prague and to the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, which since then has made music for the majority of Hyldgaard’s soundtracks.
In the years leading up to this Hyldgaard could be found at the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Copenhagen. He spent time here as well as at the Cinema division of The Danish Film Museum, absorbing as many movie classics as possible. During this time, Hyldgaard would moonlight at numerous newspaper and magazine editorial offices and the Danish National Radio offices.
Hyldgaard worked as a culture writer, media journalist, film and music reviewer, was a radio host and made programs dealing with, among other things…..film music! In 1988 Hyldgaard startled the Danish population when he, while celebrating the 50th anniversary of Orson Welles’ documentary-like radio broadcast War of the Worlds, let the well-known Danish newscaster Ole Aabye recite a report that flying saucers had landed at various famous sites throughout Denmark.
Hyldgaard actually considered a film career but was lured by the chanting of the sirens lured him into the realm of music, where he had for many years been “moonlighting”.Søren Hyldgaard composed music for vaudeville shows, theater and musical, became a basically self-taught composer and at various times followed theory classes with established teachers and musicians.
“I can only thank the Danish Film School for not accepting me for the director studies in 1986-1987” says Hyldgaard, who incidently made it to the “semi finals” of the application procedures. “We produced a short feature for the Danish Film School, a “look what we can do” type of film where I of course composed the music.
Later, composer Lars Peter Schultz and I submitted a newly orchestrated score to the Danish National Radio Composers Contest and won 1st place along with many enquiries for more music and orchestral arrangements.” Among the new challenges were a concertino (a “small concerto”) for Guitar and Orchestra composed for guitarist Lars Trier and a composition for Michala Petri, the renowned recorder soloist, in connection with Copenhagen being named the City of Culture.
During the 1980’s a new music genre, New Age, was becoming a reality. Hyldgaard perceived the music form as an outward passage for his melodic flair, and consequently he went to the city of Aarhus and sought out Ole “Kalyana” Kjær, manager for the small yet very active record label Fønix Musik.
Hyldgaard and Kalyana hit it off immediately. Says Hyldgaard, ”- and at the time, to be honest, there weren’t that much competition in the field of New Age!. Kalyana was crazy about the demo tape, which I totally forgot everything about when I went home and composed some completely different music – but he was hooked and that was the main thing!”
Hyldgaard’s secret formula was relying on thorough compositions and orchestrations and the use of real instruments instead of the usual synthesizer sounds. Flying Dreams was released in the fall of 1988 and was amongst Fønix’s first CD releases – Flying Dreams has since sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Hyldgaard has released a handful of additional titles on the Fønix label – the film score album Moments of a Dream being the latest in the string of pearls.
In 1992 a number of demo tapes circulated around the cultural underground of Copenhagen, “I did not have relatives in the movie business”, laughs Hyldgaard. “How else do you get in contact with the film world when you don’t have any credits – than to make a demo tape that can also be a foot in the door for new up-and-coming film directors along with the Danish Film School’s most progressive students.” One of them was Peter Flinth who was finishing his graduation project for the Danish Film School’s director courses.
”Most of the guys merely had synthesizer and keyboard demos to present”, says Flinth, who was not used to composers sending demos with powerful epic sounds that only a large symphony orchestra can produce. “All of a sudden I am holding in my hand a demo with an army of string players and other symphony musicians; I am envisioning beautiful sunsets and a John Williams-like score accompanying my graduation project!”
His ambitions were somewhat different than what the budget could offer; a budget was actually non-existent! Hyldgaard called in a bunch of favors and even persuaded the Copenhagen Youth Symphony (KUSO) and John Høybye’s professional Tritonus Choir to perform as a good deed.
The result was the fantasy film The Last Ferry that both looked and sounded like a professional movie. Peter Flinth was satisfied, grateful and fought diligently to give Hyldgaard a chance at scoring his ambitious and expensive debut film, the adventure drama The Eye of the Eagle which premiered in the spring of 1997. “And the rest is history…”
Since then Hyldgaard has composed music to numerous feature films and television projects. As a result of this it was not until in the spring of 2001 that Hyldgaard had time to return to return to some previous commissioned projects that had been pending, among others a trombone concerto, the Rhapsodia Borealis, which had its first original performance in the fall of 2001. This work recently was released in a symphonic orchestration from the renowned Samfundet til Udgivelse af Dansk Musik??Listen to high quality MP3 Streamings of Concerto Borealis here.
The trombone concerto, which was composed for Jesper Juul Sørensen, one of Europe’s hottest young soloist names to date, was published internationally by Amstel Music and distributed by De Haske (Holland, the European Union and Asia) and the Hal Leonard Corp. (USA, New Zealand and Australia) where orchestras and musicians already play other Hyldgaard works such as The Hans Christian Andersen Suite, Tivoli Festival Overture and Marche Americana. Hyldgaard, together with his Dutch colleague and publisher Johan de Meij, also constitutes a part of the highly esteemed De Haske’s Gold Composer’s Series.
In 2012 Søren Hyldgaard completed his ‘Eye of the Eagle’ Concert Suite for Narrator and Orchestra, based on Søren Hyldgaard’s adventurous score from the 1997 Scandinavian-German co-production. The concert suite is intended for both entertainment and education, much in the same vein as Prokofiev’s ”Peter and the Wolf” and other works.
In early February 2013, Søren has scored the THE STRANGER INSIDE [ trailer ]. Starring William Baldwin, Estella Warren andh Butler, the taught horror thriller is directed by first-timer Adam Neutzsky-Wulff and boasts a strong, gritty score by Hyldgaard.