He was born on October 4, 1928, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of Ulla (née Meyer) and tennis player Einer Ulrich. Torben played on the tennis tour from the late 1940s into the 1970s, and on the Tennis Grand Masters tour in the 1970s and 1980s. He became a professional tennis player when he signed a contract with the World Championship Tennis promoters in early 1969 at 40 years old. In 1976 he was the top-ranked senior player in the world. Ulrich played more than 100 Davis Cup matches for Denmark. In 1977, at a month shy of 49, he became the oldest Davis Cup player in history.
Ulrich apprenticed at Reuters news agency in Copenhagen in the late 1940s and began writing for Danish jazz magazines. In the 1950s he wrote primarily on music for the Danish newspapers Information and Politiken, wrote for contemporary jazz music trade journals and was co-editor (with Gustava Brandt and Bengt Janus) of the literary magazine Bazar. In the 1960s he had a weekly music column and wrote jazz reviews and roving reports on assorted cultural themes (with illustrator Klaus Albrectsen) for the Danish daily newspaper BT. In the 1970s he contributed to the music periodical M.M. and in the 1980s and 1990s returned to Information writing on music, film, athletics and culture. In 2003 an anthology of his writings from the 1940s to the 2000s, Jazz, bold & buddhisme, edited by Lars Movin, was published (in Danish) by Informations Forlag. Two books of his thin columns of poetry-like texts (in English) were published by Forlaget Bebop: "Terninger, tonefald: 12 Lines, 36 Off-lines" (2005) and "Stilhedens Cymbaler" (2007).
In the 1950s, Ulrich had a New Orleans-type jazz band, playing clarinet. In the 2000s he was invited to collaborate using voice and texts with the Copenhagen free-jazz trio Clinch (Claus Bøje on drums, Peter Friis Nielsen on bass guitar, Christer Irgens-Møller/keyboards); they released the 2006 album "Dice, Done" (also with Lotte Anker (saxophone) and Steffen Poulsen (electronica)). In 2005 he founded the collaborative improvised music group "Instead Of", composed of Lori Goldston, cello; Angelina Baldoz, trumpet and flutes; Jaison Scott, drums; and Ulrich on voice/texts and "bag of tricks", releasing in 2007 the album "Live on Sonarchy". In 2007 he began recording with Danish pianist Søren Kjærgaard, releasing three albums over the next six years: "Suddenly, Sound: 21 songlines for piano, drainpipe, etc." (2009), "Alphabet, Peaceful, Diminished: 29 Proposals from the Towers of Babble" (2010) and “Meridiana: Lines Toward a Non-local Alchemy" (2014).
Ulrich began painting in 1971 when the Lions Club of Copenhagen asked a variety of politicians, actors, writers and others to make "a blue elephant" for a charity exhibit to benefit a senior center in Denmark. Instead, he explored what the imprint of the tennis ball might be, and in subsequent years created several series of works, "Imprints of Practice" and "Exsamplings of Play", using played tennis balls, skipped rope, and racquet frame and grip, primarily on rice paper. The works have been exhibited in Copenhagen, Paris, Dublin, New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle, among others.
He has appeared in two Jørgen Leth films, Motion Picture (1969) and Moments of Play (1986). He co-directed (with Gil de Kermadec) and appeared in "The Ball and The Wall" (1988), and co-directed (with Rick New and Molly Martin) and appeared in "Body & Being: Before The Wall" (2002).
In 2011 Ulrich began development with choreographer-dancer Beth Graczyk and composer-musician Angelina Baldoz on the dance project "Cacophony for 8 Players", which premiered in 2014 in Seattle. Ulrich is director and a performer in the work.
In 1986 he received the Gerlev Prize from Gerlev Idrætshøjskole in Denmark for athletico-cultural contributions. In 2006 he received an award from Klara Karolines Fond, "for his inspiration to artists of many kinds and for his views on athletics, art and existence". In 2013 the Ulrich family received the Davis Cup Award.
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