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Ghosts and Trolls

Donald Macleod explains how Gade responded musically to prevailing artistic currents in Copenhagen. With Piano Sonata in E minor; Symphony No 1 (excerpt); Et folkesagn (excerpt).

Donald Macleod explores folk-tales in Niels Gade's charming ballet, Et folkesagn, written as a co-production with his father-in-law, the Danish composer J.P.E Hartmann and the literary source of his only Sonata for Piano.

Taken under his wing by Felix Mendelssohn, in his lifetime the Danish composer Niels Gade was a celebrated figure, who performed to great acclaim in Great Britain and across Europe. In his birthland Denmark, his association with Copenhagen's Music Society and his founding directorship of the Conservatory gave him a voice of influence within musical circles. He remains part of the Danish national consciousness, through the Wedding March from his ballet "Et folkesagn". It's one of the most popular picks for weddings. However, since his death, at the age of 73 in 1890, performances of his music have become all too infrequent leaving most of his considerable legacy largely unheard.

The 200th anniversary of Gade's birth provides a good reason to rediscover his music. Weddings aside, Niels Gade is the composer of no less than eight symphonies; a concerto for his own instrument, the violin; a rich variety of choral settings and solo songs; a host of chamber music, including a piano trio, and no less than five string quartets; piano music and a whole series of large-scale works which we might want to categorise as choral cantatas but which he called "concert pieces".

There is little published information about Niels Gade available in English. Donald Macleod is joined by Dr. Colin Roth, a co-director of the Nordic Research Centre at the University of Sheffield. Across the week, Colin shares his own research into Gade's music and information garnered from the most detailed biography of the composer, which was published in Denmark in 2002 by Danish musicologist Inger Sørensen.

Today Donald Macleod and Colin Roth discuss how Gade responded musically to the prevailing artistic currents in Copenhagen.

Pa Sjolunds fagre sletter (excerpt)
Danish National Radio Choir
Stefan Parkman, conductor

Symphony No 1 in C minor, Op. 5 (1st movement)
Collegium Musicum, Copenhagen
Michael Schønwandt, conductor

Piano Sonata in E minor, Op 28
Alexander Vaulin, piano

Et folkesagn (Act 3, Scene 1)
The Danish Radio Sinfonietta
Harry Damgaard, conductor.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Niels Wilhelm Gade

    Pa Sjolunds fagre sletter

    Performer: Danish National Radio Choir. Conductor: Stefan Parkman. Singer: Stefan Parkman.
  • Niels Wilhelm Gade

    Symphony No 1 In C minor Op 5 - Moderato

    Conductor: Michael Schønwandt. Ensemble: Collegium Musicum.
    • DMA: CD 86.
    • DMA.
    • 1.
  • Niels Wilhelm Gade

    Sonata In E minor Op 28

    Performer: Alexander Vaulin.
    • Class: CD 332.
    • Class.
    • 1.
  • Niels Wilhelm Gade

    Wedding Waltz (Et Folkesagn)

    Orchestra: Danish National Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Harry Damgaard.
    • CPO 999 426-2.
    • CPO.
    • 1.


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