Ludolf Nielsen – Foraars Ouverture (Spring Overture)
(b. Nørre Tvede, January 29, 1876 – d. Copenhagen October 16, 1939)
Ludolf Nielsen is only one of the many Danish composers who have fallen into oblivion due to the overpowering shadow of his namesake Carl Nielsen. Raised on a farm on the island of Zealand, he received his first music lessons from local musicians and military musicians. At the age of 16, Nielsen moved to Copenhagen for further studies. Like Sibelius, Nielsen began as a talented violinist with a promising future as a virtuoso, and eventually was granted a scholarship at the conservatory where he studied violin as his main subject. Nielsen did not, however, become acquainted with the wealth of European music until 1897, when he joined the orchestra of the Tivoli Theme Park as a violist. Through orchestral playing, but also through self-study, Nielsen taught himself to be a composer and achieved his breakthrough with the symphonic poem Regnar Lodbrog, first performed in 1902. From then on, he was considered one of the most important musicians in his country – a status he was able to consolidate through his three symphonies and not least the opera Isbella and the very successful ballet Lackschmi. In 1926 he was appointed music consultant to the newly founded Danish Radio (DR), where he played a decisive role in the programming. A car accident with serious psychological consequences in 1932 upset his balance. Nielsen was no longer able to compose. In 1939 he died of a thyroid disease.
Ludolf Nielsen’s oeuvre, comprising some 200 works, includes operas, symphonies, symphonic poems, ballets, music for plays, works for solo instrument and nearly 100 songs.
Three major stylistic areas can be identified in Nielsen’s oeuvre. While the early compositions are strongly influenced by national romanticism, his musical language completely changed after the horrors of the First World War. Powerfully positive tones, as if created by a youthful representative of Sturm und Drang give way to a distanced, cooler, but also distinctly finer impressionistic tonality, which finds its climax in the mythological-symbolistic orchestral suite Skovvandring (Forest Walk). After these works did not have the desired success with the public, Nielsen turned his back on „serious“ music, arranged and composed lighter works for radio broadcasts and spent his last years in his beach villa in the Copenhagen suburb of Hellerup. …
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