5. Niels & Nielsen

Denmark is unique among the Scandinavian countries in sharing a sometimes troublesome – as the Dano-Prussian wars of 1848 and 1864 demonstrate – border with Germany.

Nineteenth century wars notwithstanding, German music was at still at its zenith during this period; so it’s understandable that gifted Danish composers should gravitate to the musical institutions of their neighbour.

Niels Gade is a famous example. His career took him to Leipzig where he became deputy to the conductor of the Gewandhaus orchestra, his friend and mentor, Felix Mendelssohn. On Mendelssohn’s death in 1847 he was placed in charge of the orchestra, but the war of 1848 forced him to return to his native Denmark where he became an important figure in Scandinavian music, both through his own compositions and as a supporter and teacher of such as Grieg and Nielsen.

An opportunity to sample the works of teacher and pupil – their fourth symphonies and violin concertos:

Symphony No. 4 in B-flat

Andantino – Allegro vivace e grazioso [00:00]
Andante con moto [07:18]
Scherzo. Allegro, ma non troppo e tranquillamente [12:53]
Finale. Allegro molto vivace [15:42]

… then, death…

Violin Concerto in d

Allegro con fuoco 0:00
Romanze: Andantino espressivo 11:30
Rondo scherzando: Allegro, ma non troppo 18:55


Symphony No. 4
The Inextinguishable

… and, finally, nature: the ‘ancient, mysterious’ northern forests, ‘brooding savage dreams’:

00:18 Allegro
12:02 Poco allegretto (8 bars after tempo marking)
16:32 Poco adagio quasi andante
25:55 Con anima – Allegro


Violin Concerto

00:05 Praeludium largo
06:20 Allegro cavalleresco
19:44 Poco adagio
25:32 Rondo


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