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To all appearances Carl Nielsen’s life was the embodiment of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale. Born in a village on Denmark’s central island of Funen, he rose to become his country’s unchallenged national composer and a vital renewing force in the twentieth-century symphonic tradition. His music spans the eras of Nordic late-Romanticism and international modernism – he showed his first symphony to Brahms, and his sixth and last was composed at the same time as Shostakovich’s first.
Nielsen’s letters, few of which have been previously translated, enshrine his charming yet fiery personality as vividly as his music. They take us from intense adolescent infatuation, through encounters with new music and art on extended European journeys, and the ups-and-downs of professional life as a violinist and conductor at Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre. They tell the story of his repeated attempts at international breakthrough, of his struggles to articulate his musical philosophy, of his carefully honed contributions to the Danish national song tradition, of the marital crisis that accompanied his greatest symphonic masterpieces, and of his continued creative explorations as he strove to remain true to his ideals in a changing world.
David Fanning er professor i musikvidenskab ved Manchester Universitet. Han har skrevet og redigeret bøger, artikler og kritiske udgaver om Nielsen, Shostakovich, Weinberg og den symfoniske tradition i det 20. århundrede. Han fungerer ligeledes som kritiker for bladet Gramophone og avisen Daily Telegraph.
Michelle Assay blev født i Teheran og er uddannet pianist fra Tchaikovsky-Akademiet i Kiev og Satie-Konservatoriet i Paris. Hun er æresforsker ved Sheffield Universitet, og hendes ph.d.-afhandling, Hamlet in the Stalin Era, indleveret ved Sheffield og Sorbonne, er under udgivelse.
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