Denmark Music

Denmark Music

Danish music, term for the music in the area of ​​what is now Denmark, a country starting with D according to Countryaah.

The excavated on Danish soil as the main location Luren are witnesses of Bronze Age cultivation of music, but about using them, there is no reliable information.

Even less is known about those in the Edda, the sagas and chronicles of the 9th – 12th centuries. String instruments such as harp, rotta, lute and fiddle mentioned in the 19th century are known that have not survived. Overall, the Danish music history of the Middle Ages remains almost entirely in the dark. Exceptions are the sequences of the 12th century as well as the ballad-like folk songs that developed in the 13th century, which show French influences, were performed to accompany the courtly dance and are still cultivated today; many Danish folk songs were preserved, especially in the Faroe Islands, along with local songs and dances. The sparse sources about musical life in the 15th century are limited to short reports about traveling musicians, skalds, military and court musicians, town musicians and pipers. The trumpet books by Heinrich Lübeck (1598) and Magnus Thomsen (around 1605) bear witness to trumpet music at the Danish court.

European influences

Danish music experienced its first heyday from 1534–1648 under the kings of Christian III. , Friedrich (Frederik) II. And Christian IV., Who enriched the Danish court orchestra with foreign musicians (J. Dowland, H. Schütz and others). The best Danish musicians like Mogens Pedersøn (* around 1583, † 1623) received scholarships from him to visit Venice, the center of musical life at the time, and to perfect their compositional knowledge with G. Gabrieli . At least as important was Luther’sinfluence after the introduction of Protestantism in 1536 et al. was reflected in an extensive Lutheran canon of hymns. D. Buxtehude is also counted among the most important Danish composers, although from 1668 his main place of work was in Germany, but for several years he worked as an organist in Helsingborg and Helsingør.

The history of Danish opera begins in 1689 and was initially mainly under German influence. Due to the opera ban of the pietistic King Christian VI. (1730–1746) subsequently dominated the scene in Italian opera and French ballet. Later, Germans such as J. A. P. Schulz, Hofkapellmeister in Copenhagen (1787–95), contributed with his “Lieder im Volkston” and Singspiele to the development of folk song-shaped, specifically Danish music. This direction was developed by Friedrich Ludwig Aemilius Kunzen (* 1761, † 1817; opera “Holger Danske”, 1787), C. E. F. Weyse (opera “Ludlams Hule”, 1816, also songs) and F. Kuhlau (Music for the national play »Elverhøj«, 1828, still popular today).

»Guldalder« – The Golden Age

During Denmark’s Golden Age (1800–70), the path to Danish national music was continued primarily by J. P. E. Hartmann and his son-in-law N. W. Gade as the main representatives of Danish Romanticism. Both not only created important stage and orchestral works, but also made outstanding contributions as teachers and conductors to the maintenance and further development of Danish music. Peter Arnold Heise (* 1830, † 1879) gave the opera new impulses with his work “The King and the Marschall” (1877) and also emerged as a composer of songs that were inspired by R. Schumann , while Hans Christian Lumbye (* 1810, † 1874) went down in history with its entertainment and dance music as the »Nordic Strauss«.

New national awareness

After NW Gade’s death, in addition to the late romantic style, z. E.g. in the songs of Peter Erasmus Lange-Müller (* 1850, † 1926) and in the symphonies by Rued Langgaard, (* 1893, † 1952), a deliberately simple style with a focus on national music, that of the music of the Renaissance was inspired and was characterized by melodic linearity and harmonic diversity (polyphony, atonality). The main exponent of this new direction was C. Nielsen, who achieved importance especially with his opera “Maskarade” and his symphonic works. His efforts were supplemented in church music by Thomas Laub (* 1852, † 1927), whose reform work the ideals of Caecilianism comes close. C. Nielsen’s legacy lived on in the following generation of composers in a variety of ways: For example, with Poul Schierbeck (* 1888, † 1949), whose cantatas and Impressionist songs are also influenced by T. Laub; in V. Holmboe with his individual notation called the metamorphosis technique; with Herman David Koppel (* 1908, † 1998), whose often free-tonal works (free-tonal music) are also inspired by I. Stravinsky , B. Bartók and jazz, and with Knudåge Riisager (* 1897, † 1974) with his neoclassical style (Neoclassicism). In addition, Jørgen Bentzon (* 1897, † 1951) and Niels Finn Høffding (* 1899, † 1997) were committed to expanding music education.


The engagement with international musical modernism in Denmark has been characterized by a critically reflective distance since the 1960s. Jan Maegaard (* 1926, † 2012) was one of the first composers to break away from C. Nielsen’s influence and enter into a dialogue with the avant-garde. As an “enfant terrible” of Danish music, he developed his own form of A. Schönberg’s twelve-tone technique in the 1950s, before turning to a neo-romantic tonal language in his later work. Traces of contemporary styles and techniques can also be found in Gunnar Berg (* 1909, † 1989) and Bent Lorentzen (* 1935) with their serial music; in which, with minimal music working Bent Sørensen (born 1958); with Else Marie Pade (* 1924, † 2016), who experimented with electronic music, with the computer music composer Gunner Møller Pedersen (* 1943) and with Karl Aage Rasmussen (* 1947), who works with assembly technology. N. V. Bentzon was also active among others. as a happening artist, while Jørgen Jersild (* 1913, † 2004) distinguished himself from the avant-garde with a neoclassical, tonal style. Denmark’s most important contemporary composers include Per Nørgård (* 1932) with his “organic serialism”, the opera composer Poul Ruders (* 1949) and the symphonic composer Ib Nørholm (* 1931).

Second golden age

All of these composers contribute to the great variety of styles and productivity that went down in history as the “Second Golden Age” since the 1990s. Above all, however, Danish music has been enriched since the turn of the century by numerous internationally known jazz, pop and rock artists such as the jazz musicians Palle Mikkelborg (* 1941) and Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen (* 1946, † 2005) or the stylistically versatile »Safri Duo «(Percussion) and the hit, jazz and pop singer G. Hænning . In addition, every year at the major music festivals in Roskilde, Tønder and Skagen, young musicians are encouraged and folk music is kept alive, which is also interpreted by artists such as Haugaard & Høirup or the Serrasgroup (crossover of folk, rock and jazz) has established itself across the country.

Denmark Music