pour choeur d’enfant et orchestre symphonique

A Triumph to exist, for children’s/ treble choir and symphony orchestra
duration 15 minutes


What do I fear? I am a part of infinity…

This is the opening line of a poem from 1916 by the Finland-Swedish poet Edith Södergran. It is a wonderful motto that can take us through life.

My composition based on the poem begins there, in infinity. The orchestral bells and crotales symbolize the twinkling stars in the dark outer space of the string instruments.

When the choir chimes in, the music has moved us to bright, vibrant sounds, with the oboe and the clarinet responding to the choir from separate sides; A triumph to live, a triumph to breathe, a triumph to exist!

The second part of the piece is dark, suggestive, and focuses on time. The choir slides up and down their notes, measuring time. The orchestra marks the beat, like the swinging of a huge pendulum: Time – transformer, time – destroyer, time – enchantress, are you deceiving me with new intrigues…

By the end we are back in bright, trembling tones. And the final phrase endows us with courage: one day all stars will die, but they always shine fearlessly.


For a composer, the combination of children’s choir and symphony orchestra is a wonderful universe. The intensive sound of the children’s voices and the colourful palette of the instruments is inspiring and creativity-enhancing.

Triomphe d’exister is composed for the CPO children’s choir, and the Porto National Orchestra with its seat in the Casa da Música, the contemporary concert hall in northern Portugal. Because Swedish and Portuguese are such different languages, I composed the piece for the French translation of the Edith Södergran’s poem (see translations into English and French below). Every language has its special character and sounds, which of course affect the music. I once wrote a different piece to the same poem in its original Swedish form, and the music is something else completely!

– Karin Rehnqvist, 1 December 2008

Triomphe d’exister


Que craindre? Je suis une partie de l’immensité.

Je suis une partie de la grande force du tout,

un monde isolé parmi des millions de mondes

une étoile de première grandeur qui s’éteindrait la dernière.

Triomphe de vivre, triomphe de respirer, triomphe d’exister!

Triomphe de sentir le temps glacé couler dans ses veines

et d’entendre le fleuve silencieux de la nuit

et d’être debout sur la montagne, au soleil.

Je marche sur le soleil, je me tiens sur le soleil,

je ne connais rien d’autre que le soleil.


Temps – qui transforme, temps – qui détruit, temps – qui envoûte,

viens-tu avec de nouvelles intrigues, mille ruses pour m’offrir une existence

comme une petite graine, comme un serpent lové, comme un rocher au milieu de la mer?

Temps – toi meurtrier – écarte-toi de moi!

Le soleil remplit jusqu’au bord ma poitrine d’un miel exquis

et il dit: un jour toutes les étoiles s’eteindront,

et pourtant elles continuent de briller sans crainte.

– Edith Södergran, trad. D. Jauzion-Graverolles, 
adapté par Karin R



Triumf att finnas till (in Swedish, the original)


Vad fruktar jag? Jag är en del utav oändligheten.

Jag är en del av alltets stora kraft,

en ensam värld inom miljoner världar,

en första gradens stjärna lik som slocknar sist.

Triumf att leva, triumf att andas, triumf att finnas till!
Triumf att känna tiden iskall rinna genom sina ådror

och höra nattens tysta flod

och stå på berget under solen.

Jag går på sol, jag står på sol,

jag vet av ingenting annat än sol.


Tid – förvandlerska, tid – förstörerska, tid – förtrollerska

kommer du med nya ränker, tusen lister för att bjuda mig en tillvaro

som ett litet frö, som en ringlad orm, som en klippa i havet?
Tid – du mörderska – vik ifrån mig!
Solen fyller upp mitt bröst med ljuvlig honung upp till randen

och hon säger: en gång slockna alla stjärnor, men de lysa alltid utan skräck.

– Edith Södergran



A triumph to exist


What do I fear? I am a part of infinity.

I am a part of the great power of the universe,

a single world within a million of worlds,

a star of the first magnitude which is extinguished at last.

A triumph to live, a triumph to breathe, a triumph to exist!
A triumph to feel time run icy cold through your veins

and hear the silent river of night

and stand on the mountains under the sun.

I walk on sunshine, I stand on sunshine,

I know of nothing but sunshine.


Time – transformer, time – destroyer, time – enchantress,

are you deceiving me with new intrigues, a thousand ruses to give me an existence

like small seed, like curled snake, like a rock in the ocean?

Time – you murderess – avaunt!

The sun fills my breast up to the brim with sweet honey

and she says: one day all stars will die, but they always shine fearlessly.

– Edith Södergran, transl. by Martin Allwood