Hyperion Records

Nielsen, Carl (1865-1931)  

Carl Nielsen

born: 9 June 1865
died: 3 October 1931
country: Denmark

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Often described as a ‘nationalist’, Nielsen’s role in Denmark’s rise to musical nationhood is without parallel. Indeed, many of the songs Danish schoolchildren are still taught today were composed by Nielsen. But after the First World War Nielsen turned against nationalism, describing it pungently as a ‘spiritual syphilis’. Having hymned nationhood in his Third Symphony (1911) he portrayed its decline from the ‘high and beautiful’ into ‘senseless hate’ in the mechanistic strutting march-rhythms of the Fifth (1922).

Nielsen’s national consciousness was of a very different kind from that of most late 19th and early 20th-century national composers. His family were Danish peasants on the island of Funen (Fyn) and his father was leader of a village band. Young Carl soon joined as a violinist, and his first compositional efforts were dance tunes. Thus, unlike the vast majority of nationally inclined composers, Nielsen didn’t have to ‘discover’ his country’s indigenous culture: it was in his blood. If he needed a folk tune in one of his works, all he had to do was compose one; it could hardly have been more authentic.

At 14 Nielsen enrolled in the army as a trumpeter, making himself useful in military bands by learning a wide range of instruments. How and when he first encountered classical music isn’t clear but by the age of 19 he had become accomplished enough as performer and composer to attend the Copenhagen Conservatory.

Throughout his life Nielsen remained a fascinating mixture of earthy simplicity and intellectual sophistication, reading widely and keeping up to date with musical innovations. Initially he reacted against Wagner’s modernism, but in later years he was fascinated by what progressive-minded composers like Bartók, Schoenberg and Hindemith were doing. His very last works show him as keen as ever to extend his musical horizons, though without sacrificing the rootedness in nature that he’d inherited and nurtured as a child.

from notes by Stephen Johnson © 2012

Albums
'Nielsen: Complete Piano Music' (CDA67591/2)
Nielsen: Complete Piano Music
Buy by post £20.00 CDA67591/2  2CDs  
'Organ Dreams, Vol. 3' (CDA67317)
Organ Dreams, Vol. 3
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67317  Archive Service   Download currently discounted
'Organ Fireworks, Vol. 5' (CDA66676)
Organ Fireworks, Vol. 5
Buy by post £10.50 CDA66676  Last few CD copies remaining  
'Nielsen: Complete Piano Music' (CDA66231/2)
Nielsen: Complete Piano Music
CDA66231/2  2CDs Rights no longer controlled by Hyperion  
On other labels
'Nielsen & Mozart: Clarinet Concertos' (SIGCD390)
Nielsen & Mozart: Clarinet Concertos
SIGCD390  Download only 15 September 2014 Release   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Nielsen: Flute Concerto; Liebermann: Flute Concerto; Poulenc: Flute Sonata' (CKD367)
Nielsen: Flute Concerto; Liebermann: Flute Concerto; Poulenc: Flute Sonata
CKD367  Download only  
'Nielsen: Symphonies Nos 2 & 3' (LSO0722)
Nielsen: Symphonies Nos 2 & 3
LSO0722  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Mozart & Nielsen: Clarinet Concertos' (SIGCD390)
Mozart & Nielsen: Clarinet Concertos
SIGCD390  Download only 15 September 2014 Release   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Fantasía' (CKD280)
Fantasía
CKD280  Download only  
'Liebermann: Flute Concerto; Nielsen: Flute Concerto; Poulenc: Flute Sonata' (CKD367)
Liebermann: Flute Concerto; Nielsen: Flute Concerto; Poulenc: Flute Sonata
CKD367  Download only  
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
29 Little Preludes, FS136 (Nielsen)
Allegro non troppo  No 3 of Tre Klaverstykker 'Three Piano Pieces', Op 59 (Nielsen)
Arabesque: Moderato  No 3 of Fem Klaverstykker 'Five Piano Pieces', Op 3 (Nielsen)
Chaconne, Op 32 (Nielsen)
Clarinet Concerto (Nielsen)
Commotio, Op 58 FS155 (Nielsen)
Concerto for flute and orchestra, FS119 (Nielsen)
Drømmen on Glade Jul 'A Dream about Silent Night', FS34 (Nielsen)
Dukke-Marsch 'Puppet March': Allegro moderato  No 5 of Humoreske-bagateller 'Humoresque-bagatelles', Op 11 (Nielsen)
Elf's Dance: Tempo di valse  No 5 of Fem Klaverstykker 'Five Piano Pieces', Op 3 (Nielsen)
En lille langsom Vals 'A Little Slow Waltz': Valse lento  No 3 of Humoreske-bagateller 'Humoresque-bagatelles', Op 11 (Nielsen)
Fantasy (Nielsen)
Fem Klaverstykker 'Five Piano Pieces', Op 3 (Nielsen)
Fest-praeludium Ved Aarhundredskiftet 'Festival Prelude for the New Century', FS24 (Nielsen)
Folk Tune: Andante  No 1 of Fem Klaverstykker 'Five Piano Pieces', Op 3 (Nielsen)
Goddag! Goddag! 'Hello! Hello!': Allegretto  No 1 of Humoreske-bagateller 'Humoresque-bagatelles', Op 11 (Nielsen)
Humoreske-bagateller 'Humoresque-bagatelles', Op 11 (Nielsen)
Humoresque: Allegretto giocoso  No 2 of Fem Klaverstykker 'Five Piano Pieces', Op 3 (Nielsen)
Impromptu: Allegro fluente  No 1 of Tre Klaverstykker 'Three Piano Pieces', Op 59 (Nielsen)
Intonation: Maestoso  Movement 1 of Symfonisk Suite 'Symphonic Suite', Op 8 (Nielsen)
Klavermusik for små og store 'Piano music for young and old', Op 53 (Nielsen)
Klaverstykke 'Piano Piece', FS159 (Nielsen)
Mignon: Moderato grazioso  No 4 of Fem Klaverstykker 'Five Piano Pieces', Op 3 (Nielsen)
Prelude (chromatic)  No 28 of 29 Little Preludes, FS136 (Nielsen)
Prelude in A major  No 15 of 29 Little Preludes, FS136 (Nielsen)
Prelude in E major  No 3 of 29 Little Preludes, FS136 (Nielsen)
Prelude in F sharp minor  No 27 of 29 Little Preludes, FS136 (Nielsen)
Prelude in G major  No 11 of 29 Little Preludes, FS136 (Nielsen)
Snurretoppen 'The Spinning Top': Presto  No 2 of Humoreske-bagateller 'Humoresque-bagatelles', Op 11 (Nielsen)
Spilleværket 'The Musical Clock': Allegretto scherzando  No 6 of Humoreske-bagateller 'Humoresque-bagatelles', Op 11 (Nielsen)
Sprællemanden 'The Jumping Jack': Poco allegretto  No 4 of Humoreske-bagateller 'Humoresque-bagatelles', Op 11 (Nielsen)
Suite, Op 45 (Nielsen)
Symfonisk Suite 'Symphonic Suite', Op 8 (Nielsen)
Symphony No 2 'The Four Temperaments', Op 16 (Nielsen)
Symphony No 3 'Sinfonia espansiva', Op 27 (Nielsen)
Tema med variationer 'Theme and Variations', Op 40 (Nielsen)
Tre Klaverstykker 'Three Piano Pieces', Op 59 (Nielsen)
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