Donald Macleod explores the composer's final years, when he was lauded but dogged by ill health.
Donald Macleod looks at Nielsen's final years, when he was lauded at last, but dogged by ill health
When the sculptor Anne-Marie Nielsen created a monument to her husband, the Danish composer Carl Nielsen, she said she had wanted to capture "the forward movement, the sense of life, the fact that nothing stands still" in his work. From his early years in the woods and fields of Fyn during the aftermath of the catastrophic 1864 war, to his studies and triumph as a composer in Copenhagen, and years of restless travel and touring beyond, Donald Macleod traces the evolution of a composer determined to forge his own path.
Nielsen was by his 60th birthday a celebrated composer, part of a distinguished artistic couple honoured by the Royal Family for their contribution to Danish culture. But despite the national celebrations and torchlight processions on his birthday, shortly afterwards Nielsen confided in an interview that if he had the chance to live his life again he would learn a useful trade, in which he could see results. The steadily deteriorating state of Nielsen's health led him slowly to withdraw from his commitments, but wrapped up in the excitement of rehearsals for a revival of his opera Maskarade in Copenhagen, he overdid things, and he died after a series of heart attacks.
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