Composers and their stage works 

The Master Builder

(Bygmester Solness)

Henrik Ibsen (1892)

Three-act drama.

Halyard Solness, a self-taught architect who stands at the top of his profession, has become aware that he possesses uncanny extra-sensory powers over people and events. Unsettled by these "trolls within," he believes himself to be on the verge of madness brought on by prolonged brooding over the ambiguous origin of his fame. His first success came after a disastrous fire that caused the death of his two infant sons but permitted the subdivision of his wife's estate into lots on which he could build in accordance with his own ideas. He is tormented by the fear that he willed the fire in order to gain entry into his profession. In fact, he is afraid that whatever he wills comes to pass and that subsequently he must pay a terrible price for his wishes.

In Hilda Wangel, a bewitching young woman who says she has been under his spell since childhood, Solness senses a final chance for redemption. Fearful that he will be overtaken and destroyed by the younger generation, personified by his talented draftsman Ragnar Brovik, Solness has always guarded his commissions. Hilda persuades him to prove that he is unafraid of competition by giving Ragnar his chance. Solness meanwhile has completed the building of a new home for his wife and himself. To free his conscience and reinstate his claim to being the supreme master builder, Hilda urges him to climb the building's high tower in order to place the dedicatory wreath. Against the warnings of his wife, Solness makes the ascent and falls to his death.