Boris Koller (Austria)

Boris Koller used to live as a composer of classical music in Vienna. Currently he is writing a large-scale opera "Tvillingene fra Island". On stage he can be heard with "Poeta Magica" and "Estampie". He plays different nyckelharpas with quatertones. He is also a painter, specializing in Scandinavian landscape. Boris Koller lives now in Sweden.


ENCORE Compositions

Hälleforsnäsarn – Video



Boris Koller, Austria, Sweden, composer, painter, nyckelharpa player and teacher

Article in the CADENCE project

Anhemitonische Heptatonik auf traditionsmusikalischer Basis in Hinblick auf die Nyckelharpa

(in German)

by Boris Koller


The concept of tonality, the "correct" pitches, is a matter of habit and is – opposed to various claims – not based on a law of nature. The modern nyckelharpa is – as it seems – completely equipped with 12 semitones per octave. And yet, embedded in a residual milieu of different tonal concepts there were attempts break up even this half-tones. Why?

Based on Norwegian studies is the subject of the alleged "quarter tones" is briefly outlined and reference is made to construction of the Nyckelharpa that consider that problem.

Die Auffassung von Tonalität, den "richtigen" Tonhöhen, ist eine Frage der Gewohnheit und beruht – entgegen anders lautender Behauptungen – auf keinem Naturgesetz. Die Nyckelharpa heutigen Zuschnittes ist – wie es scheint – vollkommen ausgestattet mit 12 Halbtönen pro Oktave. Und doch: eingebettet in ein Restmilieu von anderen tonalen Auffassungen gab es Versuche, auch diese Halbtöne aufzubrechen. Warum?

Auf der Basis norwegischer Arbeiten wird die Thematik der angeblichen "Vierteltöne" kurz umrissen und auf Nyckelharpakonstruktionen Bezug genommen, die die Problematik berücksichtigen.

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Sheet music

Barockpolskan Video

Trad. Sweden – Arrangement Boris Koller

The title Barockpolskan is also the "program” of this tune. A traditional Swedish melody, very popular in the folk revival of the 1970s, became the theme of the composition. Boris Koller used the traditional Swedish melody in flexible way to a compositional approach as it is more common in continental Europe. Using the single parts of the melody, eight bars each, as examples, he shows how homophonic and polyphonic playing is possible in the ensemble. A soloist harpa introduces the melody; a real harpa string quartet plays variations of the motive. But in fact all five voices are playing like intersecting soloists. The technique of composing is not limited to baroque usages. Also techniques of orchestration like spreading melodies and motives to different instruments were used. To play this composition you need at least some four-row nyckelharpas in the ensemble and one tenor-nyckelharpa.

Download sheet music "Barockpolskan"


ENCORE Compositions

Hälleforsnäsarn Video



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