Painter Jerry Malzahn, left, with Charles Denler, the composer of a symphony inspired in part by Malzahn’s paintings of Colorado

Jerry Malzahn has paintings in some prominent public and private collections, but he’s never been as excited as when his pieces were on view at Boettcher Concert Hall, in Denver, the home of the Colorado Symphony. The occasion was the debut of composer Charles Denler’s “Portraits of Colorado: An American Symphony No. 1,” a piece of music commissioned by the Colorado Symphony. Denler has said his symphony was inspired in part by a Malzahn painting of a Colorado landscape.

“Sangre de Cristo,” by Jerry Malzahn, 2013, oil, 23 x 33 in. Studio painting. A painting of these mountains, painted as Malzahn looked out his studio window, started the friendship that resulted in Denler’s “Portraits of Colorado” symphony.

The world premiere of the symphony was May 31. “It was one of the best times I’ve had since I picked up a paintbrush, one of the greatest honors that I’ve ever had,” says Malzahn. “I’ve painted a long time, but you just never know until something this deep really happens — then you know that your paintings have some real emotion in them. Somebody connected with my paintings and this is the result. It’s the greatest thing that has happened to me in my painting career.”

“Greenhorn Mountain,” by Jerry Malzahn, 2008, oil, 10 x 18 in.

“Longs Peak from Trail Ridge Rd.,” by Jerry Malzahn, 2012, oil on panel, 16 x 20 in. Plein air

Orchestra audience peruses Malzahn’s paintings in the lobby outside of Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver.

The 2007 plein air painting of the Sangre de Cristo mountains by Jerry Malzahn that started the process toward Denler’s symphony

“Goemmer Butte,” by Jerry Malzahn, 2007, oil

The debut of the piece was the culmination of the relationship between the painter and the composer. Denler purchased a painting that Malzahn had done by looking out his studio window at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. When Denler and his wife came to Malzahn’s studio to pick up the piece, Denler’s wife gave Malzahn’s wife an unlabeled CD of Denler’s musical compositions. Malzahn unknowingly found himself listening to Denler’s music as he painted Colorado landscapes. Meanwhile, Malzahn’s painting was inspiring Denler as he wrote “Portraits of Colorado.” Music and visual art came together in the premiere of the symphony.


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