Nielsen Flute Concerto-Wilhelm Hansen
Nielsen Flute Concerto-Wilhelm Hansen
Publisher: Wilhelm Hansen
This flute concerto was composed in 1926 for Holger Gilbert-Jespersen, flautist of the Copenhagen Wind Quintet. The concerto, consisting of two movements, received a positive response during its premiere in Paris in October 1926, where Nielsen introduced a temporary ending due to health issues. The first complete version was performed in Copenhagen the following January.
Nielsen’s flute concerto has earned a place in the international repertoire. In 1921, inspired by the Copenhagen Wind Quintet’s musicianship, Nielsen composed his Wind Quintet explicitly for the ensemble. The concerto for each member of the quintet was a promise, starting with Gilbert-Jespersen, followed by the Clarinet Concerto for Aage Oxenvad.
The flute concerto showcases Nielsen’s unique style, with neoclassical elements and a departure from traditional tonality, typical of the modernistic trends of the 1920s. The composition features a solo flute, alongside other orchestral instruments like oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, bass trombone, timpani, and strings.
Carl Nielsen (1865-1931), was a violinist, conductor, and Denmark’s foremost composer, particularly admired for his symphonies.
Nielsen studied at the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen from 1884 to 1886. He intermittently served as a violinist in the court orchestra at Copenhagen from 1886 to 1905. Subsequently, he held the positions of Kapellmeister at the Royal Theatre (1908–14) and conductor of the Copenhagen Musical Society (1915–27). In 1915, he began teaching at the Royal Conservatory, where he became director in 1931, shortly before his death.
While Romanticism influenced his early works, Nielsen’s later style displayed a powerful fusion of chromatic and often dissonant harmony, solid contrapuntal structure, concentrated motivic treatment, and bold tonal extensions with frequent polytonal passages.
His six symphonies, composed between 1890 and 1925, are notable for their forceful and articulated tonal progressions. The best known among them are Symphony No. 2 (1902; The Four Temperaments), Symphony No. 3 (1911; Sinfonia Espansiva), and Symphony No. 4 (1916; The Inextinguishable).
Additionally, Nielsen wrote three concerti—for violin (1911), flute (1926), and clarinet (1928)—and two operas, Saul og David (1902) and Maskarade (1906), the latter being widely recognized as the Danish “national opera.” He also composed four string quartets, two quintets, and various choral and keyboard works. His songs based on Danish folk traditions earned considerable acclaim.
Born into a poor family in rural Funen, Nielsen spent his childhood playing in his father’s amateur orchestra and working as a military musician in Odense. Accepted into the Royal Danish Academy of Music in 1884, he studied under Niels W. Gade and J.P.E. Hartmann. After graduating, Nielsen played violin in The Royal Danish Orchestra from 1889 to 1905, later becoming the concertmaster and conducting many of his own works.
In honour of his 60th birthday, Denmark celebrated nationwide, and he became the director of the Royal Danish Academy of Music towards the end of his life.
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