Carl Nielsen

~ Person

Legal name: Carl August Nielsen


Carl August Nielsen (Danish: [kʰɑːl ˈnelsn̩]; 9 June 1865 – 3 October 1931) was a Danish musician, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as his country's greatest composer. Brought up by poor but musically talented parents on the island of Funen, he demonstrated his musical abilities at an early age. He initially played in a military band before attending the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen from 1884 until December 1886. He premiered his Op. 1, Suite for Strings, in 1888, at the age of 23. The following year, Nielsen began a 16-year stint as a second violinist in the prestigious Royal Danish Orchestra under the conductor Johan Svendsen, during which he played in Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff and Otello at their Danish premieres. In 1916, he took a post teaching at the Royal Academy and continued to work there until his death.

Although his symphonies, concertos and choral music are now internationally acclaimed, Nielsen's career and personal life were marked by many difficulties, often reflected in his music. The works he composed between 1897 and 1904 are sometimes ascribed to his "psychological" period, resulting mainly from a turbulent marriage with the sculptor Anne Marie Brodersen. Nielsen is especially noted for his six symphonies, his Wind Quintet and his concertos for violin, flute and clarinet. In Denmark, his opera Maskarade and many of his songs have become an integral part of the national heritage. His early music was inspired by composers such as Brahms and Grieg, but he soon developed his own style, first experimenting with progressive tonality and later diverging even more radically from the standards of composition still common at the time. Nielsen's sixth and final symphony, Sinfonia semplice, was written in 1924–25. He died from a heart attack six years later, and is buried in Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen.

Nielsen maintained the reputation of an outsider during his lifetime, both in his own country and internationally. It was only later that his works firmly entered the international repertoire, accelerating in popularity from the 1960s through Leonard Bernstein and others. In Denmark, Nielsen's reputation was sealed in 2006 when three of his compositions were listed by the Ministry of Culture amongst the twelve greatest pieces of Danish music. For many years, he appeared on the Danish hundred-kroner banknote. The Carl Nielsen Museum in Odense documents his life and that of his wife. Between 1994 and 2009 the Royal Danish Library, sponsored by the Danish government, completed the Carl Nielsen Edition, freely available online, containing background information and sheet music for all Nielsen's works, many of which had not been previously published. In 2015, the 150th anniversary of Nielsen's birth, numerous celebratory performances of his works are scheduled.

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1978 Symphony No. 5 (Scottish National Orchestra feat. conductor: Sir Alexander Gibson) Carl Nielsen 1
1980 Scandinavian Music Grieg, Sibelius, Nielsen, Dag Wirén; The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Neville Marriner 2
1984 Symphonies nos. 5 and 6: Semplice Carl Nielsen; Royal Danish Orchestra, Paavo Berglund 1
1984 Symphony No. 4 "The Inextinguishable" Nielsen; Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan 2
1986 Clarinet Concertos Weber, Nielsen; Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Benny Goodman 1
1986 Sibelius / Grieg / Nielsen Sibelius, Grieg, Nielsen; Nanna Hansen 1
1988 Flute Concertos Nielsen, Reinecke, Busoni; Aurèle Nicolet, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Kurt Masur 1
1988 Symphonies 4 & 5 Nielsen; San Francisco Symphony, Herbert Blomstedt 1
1988 Symphonies Nos.3 Op.27 "Sinfonia Espansiva" and 4 Op.29 "The Inextinguishable" (Royal Danish Orchestra feat. conductor: Paavo Berglund) Carl Nielsen 1
1988 Violin Concertos Sibelius, Nielsen; Cho-Liang Lin, Esa-Pekka Salonen 3
1989 The Complete Piano Music Carl Nielsen; Elisabeth Westenholz 1
1989 Concerto for Violin and Orchestra / Symphony no. 4 "The Inextinguishable" Nielsen; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Yehudi Menuhin, Arve Tellefsen 1
1989 Symphonies 1 & 6 Nielsen; San Francisco Symphony, Herbert Blomstedt 1
1989 Symphonies Nos.1 and 2 Carl Nielsen; Royal Danish Orchestra, Paavo Berglund 1
1989 Symphony No. 2 "Four Temperaments" / Pan & Syrinx Op. 49 / Alladin Suite (Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen) Carl Nielsen 1
1990 Symphony no. 5 / Masquerade: Overture, Prelude, Dance Nielsen; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen 1
1990 Symphonies 2 & 3 Nielsen; San Francisco Symphony, Herbert Blomstedt 1
1990 The Complete Concertos Nielsen; Kim Sjøgren, Niels Thomsen, Toke Lund Christiansen, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Michael Schønwandt 1
1991 Maskarade Overture / Peer Gynt Suites 1, 2 / Aladdin Suite (San Francisco Symphony feat. conductor: Herbert Blomstedt) Edvard Grieg / Carl Nielsen 1
1991 Violin Concertos Nielsen, Sibelius; Yehudi Menuhin, Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mogens Wöldike, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 1
1992 BBC Music, Volume 1, Number 3: Carl Nielsen: Symphony no. 2 “The Four Temperaments”, op. 16 / Jean Sibelius: Symphony no. 5 in E flat, op. 82 Nielsen, Sibelius; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis, Matthias Bamert 1
1992 Symphonies nos. 4 "The Inextinguishable" and 5 Nielsen; National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Adrian Leaper 1
1993 Aladdin, Op. 34 (The Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chamber Choir feat. conductor: Gennadi Rozhdestvensky) Carl Nielsen 2
1993 Violin Concerto / Flute Concerto / Clarinet Concerto Carl Nielsen; Dong Suk-Kang, Patrick Gallois, Olle Schill, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Myung-Whun Chung 1
1993 Symphony no. 4 "Inextinguishable" / Symphony no. 6 "Sinfonia semplice" Carl Nielsen; Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1994 Symphonies: No. 1, op 7 / No. 4, op 29 “The Inextinguishable” Nielsen; Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Gennady Rozhdestvensky 1
1995 Violin Sonatas Janáček, Debussy, Ravel, Nielsen; Christian Tetzlaff, Leif Ove Andsnes 1
1996 Violin Concertos Sibelius, Nielsen; Maxim Vengerov, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim 2
1996 Aladdin Suite / Helios / Pan & Syrinx / Saga-Dream / Maskarade Nielsen; Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi 1
1996 Piano Pieces Carl Nielsen; Leif Ove Andsnes 2
1999 Music for Oboe, Oboe d'Amore, Cor Anglais and Piano Schumann, Daelli, Nielsen, Cossart, Yvon, Koechlin; Albrecht Mayer, Markus Becker 1
1999 String Quartets, Vol. 1: Op. 14 / Op. 44 Carl Nielsen; Oslo String Quartet 1
1999 Carl Nielsen (Det Jyske Ensemble) Carl Nielsen 1
1999 Symphonies Nos. 2 "The Four Temperaments", 3 "Sinfonia espansiva" (Danish National Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Michael Schønwandt) Carl Nielsen 1
2000 Violin Concerto / Clarinet Concerto / Flute Concerto Nielsen; Jonathan Carney, Kevin Banks, Gareth Davies, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Kees Bakels 1
2000 Symphonies Nos. 1, 6 (Danish National Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Michael Schønwandt) Carl Nielsen 2
2001 Liszt: Mephisto Waltz / Tippett: Concerto for Double String Orchestra / Nielsen: Symphony no. 6 Liszt, Tippett, Nielsen; London Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski 1
2002 Symphonies 1 & 6 Carl Nielsen; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä 1
2002 Nielsen: Symphony no. 1 / Sibelius: Symphony no. 7 Carl Nielsen, Jean Sibelius; Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, Okko Kamu 1
2004 Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring / Nielsen: Symphony No. 5, Op. 50 Igor Stravinsky, Carl Nielsen; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi 1
2005 Aladdin Suite (South Jutland Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Niklas Willén) Carl Nielsen; South Jutland Symphony Orchestra, Niklas Willén 1
2005 Sange Carl Nielsen, Marie Carmen Koppel, Mads Bærentzen; Peter Vuust 1
2005 Violin Concerto / Aladdin Suite / Romance for Violin op. 2 Carl Nielsen; Malcolm Stewart, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Douglas Bostock 1
2006 Intimate Voices Edvard Grieg, Jean Sibelius, Carl Nielsen; Emerson String Quartet 2
2006 BBC Music, Volume 14, Number 11: Sibelius: Symphony no. 1 / Nielsen: Symphony no. 1 Sibelius, Nielsen; BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Joseph Swensen, Ulster Orchestra, János Fürst 1
2007 Orchestral Music (Danish National Symphony Orchestra feat. conductor: Thomas Dausgaard) Carl Nielsen 1
2007 Clarinet Concertos Nielsen, Aho; Martin Fröst, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä 1
2007 String Quartets, Vol. 1 Carl Nielsen; The Young Danish String Quartet 1
2007 Clarinet & Flute Concertos / Wind Quintet Nielsen; Sabine Meyer, Emmanuel Pahud, Berliner Philharmoniker, Simon Rattle 1
2008 String Quartets, Vol. 2 Carl Nielsen; The Young Danish String Quartet 1

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