Clarinet Concerto op. 57
Carl August Nielsen – Clarinet Concerto Op. 57
(b. Nørre-Lyndelse near Odense, 9 June 1865 – d. Copenhagen, 3 October 1931)
Carl Nielsen was born into a poor family living in a farming community south of the city of Odense, Denmark, the seventh of twelve children. His father worked as a laborer on the neighboring farms and as a house painter. He was also an amateur musician, playing violin and cornet at various functions in the area. According to Nielsen’s published boyhood memoirs, “Min fynske Barndom” (My Childhood on Funen, 1927) his earliest musical memory was his mother handing him a three-quarter size violin on which he taught himself a few tunes before receiving any formal tuition. Before his teenage years Carl regularly played along with his father at dances and other functions. He also started composing little melodies. To help with the family income it was also necessary for him to take on various odd jobs, including one as a goose-herder. Upon completing his schooling he was apprenticed to a shopkeeper. Perhaps fortunate for his future career as a great composer, the shop went bankrupt and the young Nielsen returned home. Soon thereafter his father heard that there was an opening for a military musician in Odense, and they agreed that Carl should practice the trumpet intensively and apply for the audition. He won the job as a trumpeter but did not give up the violin, taking lessons in Odense while in the military. During this time he wrote some trios and quartets for brass instruments, all of which are lost. After his military service he was accepted into the Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen (later the Royal Danish Academy of Music) where he studied violin with only occasional composition lessons. After graduation, making a living as a composer was not a realistic option, so he took a position in the violin section of the Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra in addition to taking on some private pupils. Although on paper he was fully trained as a musician, Nielsen knew that as a composer he needed to acquire more knowledge and expertise so he continued his training by taking private lessons with Orla Rosenhoff, a noted teacher. Slowly he made headway as a composer and was eventually able to quit his orchestral position.
His subsequent musical career centered around Copenhagen, where after working as an orchestra musician, he served as a conductor, teacher, and finally as Director of the Royal Conservatory. His compositions are now in the repertoire all around the world and include six symphonies, three concertos, five string quartets, two operas, and numerous choral and chamber works.
But even as a renowned composer, total financial security and universal recognition were always an illusion. As he stated in a newspaper interview on the occasion of his 60th birthday in 1925: “If I could live my life again, I would chase any thoughts of art out of my head and be apprenticed to a merchant or pursue some other useful trade the results of which could be visible in the end. … What use is it to me that the whole world acknowledges me, but hurries away and leaves me alone with my wares until everything breaks down and I discover to my disgrace that I have lived as a foolish dreamer and believed that the more I worked and exerted myself in my art, the better position I would achieve. No, it is no enviable fate to be an artist. We are dependent upon the most capricious fluctuations in the public’s taste, and even if their taste is sympathetic to us … what difference does it make? We hear applause and shouts of bravo, but that almost makes matters worse. And our publishers – well, they would rather see the back of us.”…
Read preface / Vorwort > HERE