We celebrate the 200th year anniversary of the birth of Niels W. Gade with a tribute to his music. A program with Gades' own music and works by Brahms, Schumann, Weyse, Hartmann, Stenhammar and Langgaard.
Niels Wilhelm Gade was in more than forty years the dominant figure in Danish music life. Gade was the son of a known piano and guitar builder og and it was only natural that he were to be a musician. Later he became a student with composer A.P. Berggreen and played the violin for free with the orchestras in Copenhagen to learn the trade. As a composer Gade got his breakthrough when he was 24 years old i 1841 with the fantasy-ouverture Efterklange af Ossian.
His Symphony no. 1 Paa Sjølunds fagre Sletter was premiered by Felix Mendelssohn with the Gewandhaus orchestra in Leipzig. It was such a success that Mendelssohn offered him a position as his assistant. He settled there og quickly became a huge name in Germany. He was a personal friend of Robert Schumann, Liszt and Wagner. After the death of Mendelssohn in 1847 Gade succeded him as chief of the orchestra. At this time Gade had become world famous.
In connection with the outbreak of the Danish-German war in 1848 Gade was forced to return to Denmark as he would otherwise risk enlistment in the German army. Back in Copenhagen Gade married the daughter of composer J.P.E. Hartmann. The two composers founded - inspired by Mendelssohn - the Royal Danish Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. Gade was the leader of Musikforeningen (The Music Society) with its big choir, which among other things sung Gades' many pieces for choir. Later in life he often travelled to Germany, England and the Netherlands to conduct. Gade lived by the income from his works and from being organist at Holmens Kirke (The Royal Naval Church) in Copenhagen.
Gade is still a composer known all over the world and recordings of his music are regularly made both in Denmark and abroad. The most known pieces are Symphony no. 1 in C-minor, Elverskud and the songs Paa Sjølunds fagre Sletter and Grøn er vårens hæk. He also wrote ballet music, organ music and a number of very popular choral pieces. A trifle, he didn't regard as anything himself, Brudevalsen (the bridal waltz) is now a regular part of every Danish wedding. It is said that balletmaster at the Royal Danish Theater August Bournonville salvaged the music from the wastepaper basket that Gade had thrown it in.