C.Nielsen (1917) Public Domain

Carl Nielsen (9 June 1865 – 3 October 1931) was a Danish composer, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as Denmark’s most prominent composer.
Brought up by musically talented parents on the island of Funen, he did show musical abilities at an early age. Nielsen played in a military band before attending the ‘Royal Danish Academy of Music’ in Copenhagen (1884-Dec.1886). He premiered his Op. 1, Suite for Strings aged 23, and in 1889 he began a 16-year stint as a second violinist in the ‘Royal Danish Orchestra’. In 1916 Nielsen took a post teaching at the ‘Royal Danish Academy’, where he worked until his death. Today his symphonies, concertos and choral music are internationally acclaimed but Nielsen’s career and personal life were marked by many difficulties, as for example, the turbulent marriage with the sculptor Anne Marie Brodersen. Throughout his lifetime, Nielsen maintained the reputation of a musical outsider; it was only later that his works firmly entered the international repertoire, accelerating in popularity from the 1960s, thanks to Leonard Bernstein and others. In Denmark, Nielsen’s reputation was sealed in 2006 when the Danish Ministry of Culture listed four of his works amongst the greatest pieces of Danish classical music. For many years, he appeared on the Danish hundred-kroner banknote, and a dedicated ‘Carl Nielsen Museum’ in Odense documents his life. 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 of Nielsen’s works. Nielsen is especially noted for his six symphonies, his Wind Quintet and his concertos for violin, flute and clarinet. Furthermore, in Denmark his opera ‘Maskarade’ and many of his songs are integral part of the national heritage. Although his early compositions were inspired by composers such as Brahms and Grieg, he soon developed his own style. 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. Read more: Carl Nielsen