Born: January 29, 1876; Nørre Tvede
Died: October 16, 1939; Copenhagen, Denmark
Ludolf Nielsen was one of the important Danish composers of the early twentieth century. He was more or less a contemporary of his namesake Carl Nielsen (1865 - 1931).
Ludolf Nielsen was born in Denmark, in the village of Nørre Tvede, in 1876. In spite of the absence of family musicians, Nielsen took to music from an early age. At the age of eight, after taking violin lessons from local fiddlers, he began to perform in public at festivalsRead more and other country occasions.
Nielsen, in his middle teens, moved to Copenhagen. This allowed him to enter a more mainstream musical society. Entering a competition when he was 19, Nielsen managed to win a scholarship to the Danish Royal Academy of Music. He embarked upon studies in violin, piano, and music theory. However, his composing talents apparently were inherent and self-taught.
Around his 20th year, Nielsen began to create music. We know that the Tivoli Orchestra hired him as a violist. Some works were performed in 1899, but his first major success appears to be a symphonic poem Regnar Lodbrog. This work garnered an additional scholarship and enabled Nielsen to spend time in the musically rich city of Leipzig. He broadened his heretofore provincial outlook and managed to have a couple of string quartets published.
After returning to Copenhagen and taking up once again with the Tivoli Orchestra (this time as a conductor) Nielsen married (in 1907) and remained actively composing. During this time he wrote his First Symphony (1902) and a tone poem From the Mountains (1903 - 1905). Just after his marriage Nielsen composed a Romance for Violin (1908) and a Second Symphony (1907 - 1909).
The outbreak of the First World War had on Nielsen, as it did on so many other artists, a profound effect. For years he wrote nothing until 1914 when he introduced his Third Symphony, which seemed to have been greeted with critical disinterest.
After the War, and a period as a private music tutor, Nielsen returned to composition. The two important works from this period are his ballet Lackschmi (1922) and an orchestral suite titled Skovvandring (Forest Journey). Nielsen also turned to the Lieder form, eventually composing almost 100 songs.
Between 1926 and the year of his death Nielsen worked for the Danish National Radio Corporation as a programmer. Besides a few pieces for radio plays, the compositional output of this Danish master of orchestral music had ceased. He died in Copenhagen in 1939, at the age of 63. Read less
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