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Carl Nielsen

Donald Macleod explores Carl Nielsen’s worldview through his music.

Donald Macleod explores Carl Nielsen’s worldview through his music.

You’ll find a clue as to Carl Nielsen’s character in any number of photographs that show him smiling; they include snaps of him taken as a young man in which he’s cheekily pulling funny faces for the camera. They’re far removed from the formal portraiture one might expect of Denmark’s foremost composer. As well as a good sense of humour, these unselfconscious poses reveal an open, inquisitive fascination with the world around him.

In this episode, Donald Macleod explores how the world around him fed into Nielsen’s music. Excerpts from five of his symphonies reveal some of his most profound thinking on life, while his major choral works Hymnus Amoris and Springtime on Funen - which directly relate to his rural childhood - show a more personal side of his character. Ever the keen observer, there’s comedy and drama and even a musical portrait of chickens to be found in his operas.

Music featured:
Maskarade: Overture
Violin Concerto, Op 33 (Rondo: Allegretto scherzando)
Frihed er det bedste guld
Helios Overture
Afflictus Sum (3 Motets)
The Cockerel’s Dance (Maskarade)
Se dig ud en sommerdag
Chaconne, Op 32
Symphony No 3 (1: Allegro espansivo)
String Quintet in G major (3: Allegretto scherzando)
Springtime on Funen, Op 42
Five Piano Pieces Op 3 (Humoresque: Allegretto giocoso)
Little Suite for Strings (Intermezzo)
6 Songs, Op 10
Symphony No 1 (Allegro orgoglioso)
Hymnus Amoris
Benedictus Dominus (3 Motets)
Jens Vejmand (excerpts)
Suite, Op 45 for piano (Allegretto un pochettino)
Saga-Dream
Saul and David (Act 4)
String Quartet in F major, Op 44 (1: Allegro non tanto e comodo)
Symphony No 5 (Allegro – Presto – Andante poco tranquillo – Allegro (tempo 1))
Graeshoppen
Wind Quintet (1: Allegro ben moderato)
Pan and Syrinx, Op 49
Sonata for violin and piano No 2, Op 35 (2: molto adagio)
Symphony No 4 (1: Allegro)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Johannah Smith for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Carl Nielsen https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0006m0z

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3cjHdZlXwL7W41XGB77X3S0/composers-a-to-z

Release date:

Available now

1 hour, 6 minutes

Podcast