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Nielsen 150

Tom Service travels to Copenhagen and Odense, in Denmark, in search of Carl Nielsen, the man and his music, as part of Radio 3's Nielsen 150 season celebrating the anniversary of the composer's birth.

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45 minutes



June 9th marks the 150th anniversary of Carl Nielsen’s birth, and in this week’s Music Matters, Tom Service travels to Denmark to discover more about the country’s most famous composer, his life and his music.

In Copenhagen, Tom visits the Royal Danish Library to meet musicologist Niels Krabbe and see Nielsen’s original manuscripts in the archive. Tom also meets with Danish musicians, including conductors Thomas Dausgaard and Michael Schønwandt, and composer Hans Abrahamsen and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, to hear about the influence he’s had on their music. Danish composer-conductor Bo Holten, with his vocal ensemble Musica Ficta, are preparing a Nielsen programme for the anniversary celebrations, and Tom speaks to Bo to experience the vocal dimension of Nielsen’s ubiquitous influence.

In Odense, 100 miles south-west of Copenhagen on the island of Funen, Tom visits the Carl Nielsen Museum, where he’s allowed to play the composer’s own piano, and also sees the Odense Symphony Orchestra with violinist Nikolaj Znaider and conductor Thomas Dausgaard rehearse an all-Nielsen programme. In addition, we hear Nielsen’s own – not very good… - piano playing, and apparently the only known recording in existence of his voice. “Music IS Life!” as Nielsen would have said.

More information:

Carl Nielsen 2015

Carl Nielsen Museum in Odense

Royal Danish Library

Thomas Dausgaard

Michael Schønwandt

Hans Abrahamsen

Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen

Nikolaj Znaider

Bo Holten and Musica Ficta

Odense Symphony Orchestra


Radio 3 Live in Concert

Afternoon on 3



Role Contributor
Presenter Tom Service
Interviewed Guest Thomas Dausgaard
Interviewed Guest Michael Schonwandt
Interviewed Guest Bo Holten
Interviewed Guest Nikolaj Znaider


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