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Factsheet Denmark Classical Music

Factsheet Denmark Classical Music

Factsheet Denmark Classical

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of DenmarkFactsheet DenmarkAPRIl 2002CLASSICAL MUSICThese days people talk of a new GoldenAge of Danish composition music. Thefirst Golden Age, when Danish music andmusical life really flourished, was in thefirst half of the 19th century, while thesecond Golden Age began in the early1990s.Today a great deal of music is composedand performed and, on average, 300Danish works are premiered every year.Particularly noticeable is the increasingproductivity in the number of stageworks, dominated by chamber operas.In addition a new Danish full-lengthopera was premiered at The Royal Theatrefor the first time in thirty years in 2000:Poul Ruders’ (b.1949) The Handmaid’sTale was a great success and several foreignperformances are planned.The Period Before the19th CenturyRight up to the 19th century, Danishcomposition music was with a few exceptionsproduced by foreign composers whocame to the country in the service of thecourt. Among the earliest Danish composerswere Mogens Pedersøn (c.1583-1623)and Diderich Buxtehude (1637-1707).Buxtehude is also regarded as a Danishcomposer, although he was of Germanorigin, and he is often described as one ofthe great masters of organ music beforeJ.S. Bach.German Composers in DenmarkUntil the mid 19th century the trend-settingcomposers in Denmark were fromNorthern Germany, such as J.A.P. Schulz(1747-1800), who was particularly involvedin the dissemination of popular songs,F.L.Æ. Kunzen (1761-1817), C.E.F.Weyse (1774-1842) and F.D.R. Kuhlau(1786-1832).Schulz’ and Kunzen’s importance primarilyrested in their position as chief conductorsat The Royal Theatre, where theypresented a European repertory of highstandard to the Copenhagen audience.Weyse and Kuhlau have made a moreweighty contribution to the standardrepertory within both orchestral andchamber music, but also the more popularrepertory: Weyse with secular secular andreligious songs and Kuhlau with chambermusic that was also accessible to amateurmusicians.The First Golden AgeNot until the next generation, which includesJ.P.E. Hartmann (1805-1900),H.C. Lumbye (1810-1874) and Niels W.Gade (1817-1890), did Denmark producea number of native composers. Thus theOpera in Søndermarken Park (1998). Every yearmore than 100,000 people attend The RoyalTheatre’s two open-air concerts in SøndermarkenPark and at the national memorial groundSkamlingsbanken. Photo: Martin Mydtskov Rønne.foundation was laid for an actual Danishsound, which was a further developmentof the work of the German predecessors.Hartman features prominently in thefirst Golden Age. Apart from a number oforchestral works and theatre music, he hascontributed to the Danish treasury ofsong and the piano repertory. Lumbye wasemployed as the first music director at theCopenhagen amusement park Tivoli whenit opened in 1843. Here he had a platformfor presenting a large foreign andDanish repertory, including his manywaltzes and gallops in the Johann Strausstradition.Gade completes the first Golden Age.After a period abroad and contact with,among others, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy,Gade participated in the developmentof The Music Society (founded in1836) with the purpose of extending andimproving the understanding of classicalmusic. At the conservatory in Copenhagenhe helped teach future generations,including Carl Nielsen (1865-1931).Carl Nielsen and HisContemporariesDuring the second half of the 19th century,the Central European – and due to theDanish military defeat in 1864 especiallythe German – influence on Danish music

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