Music of Denmark

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Danish jazz musician Chris Minh Doky in a live performance. Chris-minh-doky-live-dudelange-2008.jpg
Danish jazz musician Chris Minh Doky in a live performance.

Denmark's most famous classical composer is Carl Nielsen, especially remembered for his six symphonies, while the Royal Danish Ballet specializes in the work of Danish choreographer August Bournonville. Danes have distinguished themselves as jazz musicians, and the Copenhagen Jazz Festival has acquired an international reputation. The modern pop and rock scene has produced a few names of note, including , Lukas Graham, D-A-D, Tina Dico, Aqua, The Raveonettes, Michael Learns to Rock, Volbeat, Alphabeat, Safri Duo, Medina, Oh Land, Kashmir, King Diamond, Outlandish, and Mew. Lars Ulrich is the first Danish musician to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Denmark Constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a sovereign state in Northern Europe. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. The southernmost of the Scandinavian nations, Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

Carl Nielsen Danish composer

Carl August Nielsen was a Danish composer, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as his country's most prominent composer.

Royal Danish Ballet classical ballet company

The Royal Danish Ballet is an internationally renowned classical ballet company, based at the Royal Danish Theatre in Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen, Denmark. It is one of the oldest ballet companies in the world and originates from 1748, when the Royal Danish Theatre was founded. It was finally organized in 1771 in response to the great popularity of French and Italian styles of dance. The company was founded with the opening of the Royal Danish Theatre, which has served as its home since that time. The Royal Danish Ballet school was founded in 1771 under the French ballet teacher Pierre Laurent (1730-1807), Then Vincenzo Galeotti developed it and August Bournonville founded his methodology for the school.



The Brudevaelte Lurs from northern Zealand Bronse-Lurer-Danmark.png
The Brudevælte Lurs from northern Zealand

The earliest traces of Danish music go back to the many twisting bronze-age horns or lurs which some experts have identified as musical instruments. They have been discovered in various parts of Scandinavia, mostly Denmark, since the end of the 18th century. [1] [2]

Lur wind instrument

A lur, also lure or lurr, is a long natural blowing horn without finger holes that is played by embouchure. Lurs can be straight or curved in various shapes. The purpose of the curves was to make long instruments easier to carry and to prevent directing the loud noise at nearby people.

Scandinavia Region in Northern Europe

Scandinavia is a region in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. The term Scandinavia in local usage covers the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The majority national languages of these three, belong to the Scandinavian dialect continuum, and are mutually intelligible North Germanic languages. In English usage, Scandinavia also sometimes refers to the Scandinavian Peninsula, or to the broader region including Finland and Iceland, which is always known locally as the Nordic countries.

Codex Runicus: Denmark's oldest musical notation Codex Runicus - Dromde mik en drom i nat.jpg
Codex Runicus: Denmark's oldest musical notation

In his Gesta Danorum (c.1200), historian Saxo Grammaticus refers to the power that music had over King Erik the Kind-Hearted. In the 13th and early 14th centuries, German minnesingers such as Tannhäuser and Frauenlob sang in the Danish courts. The Codex Runicus (c.1300) contains a verse written in runes with a non-rhythmic musical notation. The first line is Drømdæ mik æn drøm i nat (I Dreamed Me a Dream Last Night). There is also evidence that English monks came to Denmark to sing at a celebration commemorating St Canute, who died in 1086. In 1145, Lund Cathedral received Scandinavia's first choir statues, and by 1330 it was one of the larger churches to have an organ installed. [1]

<i>Gesta Danorum</i> 12th century work of Danish history

Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 13th century author Saxo Grammaticus. It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history. It is also one of the oldest known written documents about the history of Estonia and Latvia.

Saxo Grammaticus 12th/13th-century Danish historian

Saxo Grammaticus, also known as Saxo cognomine Longus, was a Danish historian, theologian and author. He is thought to have been a clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, the main advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the Gesta Danorum, the first full history of Denmark, from which the legend of Amleth would come to inspire the story of Hamlet by Shakespeare.

Eric I of Denmark Danish monarch

Eric I, also known as Eric the Good, was King of Denmark following his brother Olaf I Hunger in 1095. He was a son of Sweyn II. His mother's identity is unknown. He married Boedil Thurgotsdatter.

Historical influences

Pratum Spirituale by Mogens Pederson (1620) Pratum Spirituale Pederson 1620.gif
Pratum Spirituale by Mogens Pedersøn (1620)

The greatest influence on the evolution of music in Denmark has certainly been the monarchy. At the time of his coronation in 1448, Christian I engaged a permanent corps of trumpeters, and by 1519 the court had a corps of court singers and an instrumental ensemble as well. The collections of works used by the chapel royal under Christian III in the middle of the 16th century were based on Dutch, Italian, French and German masters. Christian IV spent considerable sums of money on training local musicians and bringing foreign masters to Denmark. Mogens Pedersøn, one of his Danish musicians who had studied in Venice under Giovanni Gabrieli, became one of Denmark's most important composers of church music. His principal work Pratum spirituale was a collection of 21 Danish hymns in five-part settings, a mass in five parts, three Latin motets and a number of Danish and Latin choral responses. It was published in Copenhagen in 1620 and is still performed today. [3]

Christian I of Denmark King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden

Christian I was a Scandinavian monarch under the Kalmar Union. He was king of Denmark (1448–1481), Norway (1450–1481) and Sweden (1457–1464). From 1460 to 1481, he was also duke of Schleswig and count of Holstein. He was the first king of the House of Oldenburg.

Christian III of Denmark King of Denmark and Norway

Christian III reigned as King of Denmark from 1534 until his death, and King of Norway from 1537 until his death. During his reign, Christian established Lutheranism as the state religion within his realms as part of the Protestant Reformation.

Christian IV of Denmark 17th-century King of Denmark and Norway

Christian IV was king of Denmark and Norway and duke of Holstein and Schleswig from 1588 to 1648. His 59-year reign is the longest of Danish monarchs, and of Scandinavian monarchies.

Under the influence of Louis XIV of France, music for the theatre was established in Denmark during the reigns of Frederik III and Christian V when lavish court ballets were performed. This soon led to opera and the performance of Der vereinigte Götterstreit composed by Povl Christian Schindler on Christian's birthday in 1689. Although it was a great success, there was little interest in opera after the theatre caught fire a few days later causing 180 deaths. [4]

Louis XIV of France King of France and Navarra, from 1643 to 1715

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. In the age of absolutism in Europe, Louis XIV's France was a leader in the growing centralisation of power.

Frederick III of Denmark King of Denmark and Norway

Frederick III was king of Denmark and Norway from 1648 until his death in 1670. He also governed under the name Frederick II as diocesan administrator of the Prince-Bishopric of Verden, and the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen (1635–45).

Christian V of Denmark King of Denmark and Norway

Christian V was king of Denmark and Norway from 1670 until his death in 1699.

In 1569, shortly after the Reformation, Denmark's first hymn book, Thomesens Salmebog, was published with music for the individual hymns. [1]

Dieterich Buxtehude (c. 1637–1707) was a German-Danish organist and a highly regarded composer of the Baroque period. His organ works comprise a central part of the standard organ repertoire and are frequently performed at recitals and church services. But he is most remembered for his vocal compositions. In his day Buxtehude was considered to be the unrivalled master of his time. [5]

Classical music

Opera, song and concerts

Frederik IV opened a new opera house in Copenhagen in 1703, the first performance being an opera by the Italian Bartolomeo Bernardi. Reinhard Keiser, the prolific opera composer from Hamburg, presented his works in Copenhagen from 1721 to 1723. In 1748 Den Danske Skueplads (the Danish Theatre) moved into a new building and in 1779 Det Kongelige Kapel (the Royal Danish Orchestra) became a permanent attachment. [6]

Christoph Weyse: Song composer Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse.jpg
Christoph Weyse: Song composer

Pietro Mingotti, from Venice, who had formed an opera company was invited to Copenhagen by Queen Louise in 1747. His members included Christoph Willibald Gluck and Giuseppe Sarti. In 1756, Sarti provided the music for the first syngespil which, in the early 1790s, became established as a popular national genre with Høstgildet (the Harvest Celebration) and Peters Bryllup (Peter's Wedding). Both were composed by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz.

Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse, from Altona, who was a pupil of Schulz, is remembered above all for his Danish songs, hymns and carols, which remain popular to this day. But he also composed religious music, piano pieces, and symphonies. [7]

Friedrich Kuhlau wrote Elverhøj (Elves' Hill) (1828), which contains the music for Kong Kristian stod ved højen mast , a Danish national anthem. Elverhøj is considered to be the first Danish national play and has been performed in Denmark more than any other play. Kuhlau was also a pianist who brought Beethoven's piano music to Denmark. [8]

Schulz and Kunzen both gained importance as a result of their influence as chief conductors at the Royal Theatre. They brought the best of European music to Danish audiences. Weyse and Kuhlau contributed not only to orchestral and chamber music, but also to the popular repertory, Weyse with secular and religious songs and Kuhlau with chamber music suitable for amateur musicians. [9]

Another successful composer and conductor in the mid-20th century was Emil Reesen (1887–1964), who is remembered above all for his highly successful operetta Farinelli (1942), which is still popular today. [10] [11]

Opera has continued to figure prominently on the Danish music scene, thanks in part to the Copenhagen Opera House, which was opened in the year 2000. Although the majority of performances cover the works of the well-known European composers, Danish operas are also included from time to time. In 2010, with the involvement of the ambitious young artistic director Kasper Bech Holten, there were performances of Poul Ruders' new work Kafka's Trial, while in recent years works by both John Frandsen and Bent Sørensen have been part of the repertoire as well. [12]

The Golden Age

Hans Christian Lumbye (1810-1874) Hans Christian Lumbye.gif
Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–1874)

The 19th century saw the emergence of a number of Danish composers inspired by Romantic nationalism. Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann (1805–1900) who, apart from opera and ballet music, contributed to song and the piano repertory. From 1843 until his death, he was the organist at the Church of Our Lady. His works are not only romantic but generally inspired by the old Nordic legends. [13]

Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–1874) was employed as the first music director at the Copenhagen amusement park Tivoli when it opened in 1843. Here he had a platform for presenting a large foreign and Danish repertory, including his many waltzes and galops. In 1839, he had heard a Viennese orchestra play music by Johann Strauss, after which he composed in the same style, eventually earning the nickname "The Strauss of the North". [14] One of his most popular pieces, associated with Tivoli, is Champagnegaloppen (the Champagne Galop), which starts with the happy sound of a champagne cork popping. It has been used in several Danish films including Reptilicus (1961), and Champagnegaloppen (1938).

Niels W. Gade (1817–1890) participated in the development of Musikforeningen (the Music Society) which had been founded in 1836 with the purpose of extending and improving the understanding of classical music. He became its conductor in 1850, and under his management a number of masterpieces of choral music were given their first performance in Denmark, among them Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1875. [15]

Marie Taglioni in Bournonville's La Sylphide Sylphide -Marie Taglioni -1832 -2.jpg
Marie Taglioni in Bournonville's La Sylphide

At the conservatory in Copenhagen he helped teach future generations, including Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen. In the spirit of Romantic nationalism, he composed eight symphonies, a violin concerto, chamber music, organ and piano pieces and a number of large-scale cantatas, among them Elverskud (The Elf King's Daughter), the most famous Danish work of its kind. [16]

Another major contributor to the Golden Age was August Bournonville (1805–1879), the renowned ballet master and choreographer. From 1830 to 1877, he was the choreographer at the Royal Danish Ballet, for which he created more than 50 ballets admired for their exuberance, lightness, and beauty. He created a style which, although influenced by the Paris ballet, is entirely his own. Bournonville's best-known works are La Sylphide (1836), Napoli (1842), Le Conservatoire (1849), The Kermesse in Bruges (1851) and A Folk Tale (1854). He drew on a number of different composers including Holger Simon Paulli and Niels Gade. The ballets are widely performed today, not only in Denmark but worldwide, especially in the United States. [17]

The Carl Nielsen era

As a result of problems with Germany, Denmark's attitude during the first half of the 20th century became nationalistic and introverted. The two leading figures, Carl Nielsen and Thomas Laub revived interest in the purer music of earlier periods such as the Renaissance. [9]

Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) Carl Nielsen.jpg
Carl Nielsen (1865–1931)

Contemporary composers

In addition to those specialising in rock, folk and electronic music, Denmark has a number of contemporary composers who have been successful in writing classical music covering a variety of genres. Among the most successful are:

Frederik Magle Frederik Magle conducting 2011 (cropped).jpg
Frederik Magle

Other notable contemporary composers include Bent Sørensen, and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (both winners of the Nordic Council Music Prize), and Frederik Magle (compositions for the Danish Royal Family).

Light Classical

One of the most universally known pieces of Danish music is the Jalousie 'Tango Tzigane' (1925) composed by Jacob Gade. It has been used in countless films, such as the classic Danish sex comedy I Tvillingernes tegn (1975), where it is the centerpiece of a big nude dancing production number set in the 1930s, [27] and Sally Potter's The Man Who Cried (2000), with Johnny Depp playing a gypsy in the 1920s. [28]

A special position is occupied by Bent Fabricius-Bjerre (b. 1924), who has written music for Danish films and television series such as Matador in his highly individual style. The signature tune Alley Cat quickly won international success in the same class as Gade's tango. [29]


The Marilyn Mazur Group playing in Warsaw in 2008 Marilyn Mazur Group 2008-08-30 Warsaw.jpg
The Marilyn Mazur Group playing in Warsaw in 2008

Jazz has been one of Denmark's most important musical developments over the past century. Its origins can be traced to Valdemar Eiberg's band in 1923 and their recordings the following year. But it was in 1925, when Sam Wooding brought his orchestra to Copenhagen that the Danish music scene was properly introduced to the genre. Early Danish jazz was influenced by three classically trained musicians: Erik Tuxen (1902–1957), who created one the country's first jazz bands, Bernhard Christensen (1906–2004), a composer of both jazz and classical music, and Sven Møller Kristensen (1909–1991) who wrote lyrics for Christensen as well as a number of books about jazz. [30]

As jazz became more popular in the 1930s, one of the rising stars was the talented violinist Svend Asmussen (1916–2017) who made his first recordings in 1934 at the age of 18 and was still playing with his quartet more than 70 years later. [31]

During the German occupation in the 1940s, jazz was discouraged but many musicians continued to perform while others escaped to Sweden, including drummer Uffe Baadh. Indeed, the period became known as "The Golden Age of Jazz" as the number of concerts in hotels and restaurants increased and the number of recordings rose from about 180 in 1935–1939 to over 650 from 1940 to 1945. [32]

Jakob Bro Jakob Bro.jpg
Jakob Bro

Following World War II, Danish jazz musicians began to split into an older guard, which maintained the style of older New Orleans jazz, and newer musicians who favored the bebop style of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie that was then emerging in America. The former were represented by musicians such as pianist Adrian Bentzon, trombonist Papa Bue, and trumpeter Theis Jensen, while the latter included saxophonist Max Brüel, bassist Erik Moseholm, and trumpeter Jørgen Ryg. [1]

In the early 1960s, when there was something of a revival, the Jazzhus Montmartre opened in Copenhagen, reflecting the atmosphere of clubs in Paris and New York City. It soon became a major venue for both Danish and American artists. Many Americans moved to Denmark including Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Lee Konitz and many others. The American pianist Kenny Drew formed a trio with drummer Alex Riel and bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen which became a staple at Jazzhus Montmartre. [33] Danish musicians also began to explore free jazz in the 1960s with saxophonist John Tchicai the most prominent proponent. In parallel, a more mainstream wing evolved, including saxophonist Jesper Thilo. [1]

As rock music became more popular in the 1970s, jazz's popularity waned, but it continues to be supported in venues such as the Copenhagen Jazzhouse and the Jazz Club Loco, as well as at the annual Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Danish jazz musicians continue to find unity in diversity, exploring a wide range of feelings and genres and bringing new strength to contemporary jazz as it unfolds in all its shapes and sizes. [33] Prominent jazz musicians today include Carsten Dahl, Jørgen Emborg, Thomas Clausen, Fredrik Lundin, Marilyn Mazur, Mads Vinding, Ib Glindemann, Jakob Bro, Chris Minh Doky and his brother Niels Lan Doky. [34]

The organization JazzDanmark, [35] funded by the Danish government, works to promote jazz in Denmark and Danish jazz abroad.


Anne Linnet at a concert in Odense, 2006 Anne Linnet-Concert 20060720 Odense Denmark.jpg
Anne Linnet at a concert in Odense, 2006

In the early days of rock and beat, some Danish artist quickly adapted this new type of music with success. Bands like Peter og Ulvene, Sir Henry and his Butlers, The Beefeaters and later on Steppeulvene (the Steppenwolves), Alrune Rod and Savage Rose were among the popular bands in Denmark throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Still, Danish rock and pop music in those days resembled more of German schlager than American or British rock.

The Danish rock scene thrived in the 1970s when groups drew on trends in the United States and Britain. Many consider their style to be Danish although this seems mainly to be due to the language of the songs and the way they fit into the national agenda. The most successful have been Gasolin', Shu-Bi-Dua, Sebastian, Anne Linnet, Gnags, TV-2, and more recently Magtens Korridorer. Kim Larsen who had played with Gasolin' went on to become a very successful solo artist in his own right while Sebastian has composed a number of successful musicals for theatre and film. The versatile Anne Linnet is still popular in Denmark today. [36]

Until fairly recently, few Danish rock groups had been successful outside Denmark. An exception was D-A-D (formerly Disneyland After Dark) who had a hit with Sleeping My Day Away in the early 1990s. [37] Today, however, with the Music Export Denmark initiative, several rock bands are doing increasingly well internationally. These include Mew, Iceage, Volbeat, Kashmir, The Raveonettes, and Blue Van. [38] [39]

The Raveonettes, Roskilde Festival, 2005 The Raveonettes-2005-Roskilde.jpg
The Raveonettes, Roskilde Festival, 2005

Other rockartists worth mentioning are The Kissaway Trail, Junior Senior, Nephew, Carpark North, Saybia, VETO, Swan Lee, Dúné, Volbeat and Dizzy Mizz Lizzy which has just had a revival. [40]

Famous Danish rock and metal musicians include Lars Ulrich, the drummer and co-founder of Metallica, Mike Tramp, the vocalist and co-songwriter of White Lion, and Kim Bendix Petersen, aka King Diamond, vocalist of Danish heavy metal band Mercyful Fate and the eponymous King Diamond.

The annual Roskilde Festival is held in Danish city of Roskilde. The festival is the second-largest in Europe with ticket sales normally running from 70,000 to 100,000. The festival has featured many prominent artists (mainly rock), such as Nirvana, Guns N' Roses, Slipknot, Kings of Leon, U2, Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath and Green Day, and there has also been an emphasis on world music, alternative genres and Danish music at the festival. In 2000, the festival suffered a terrible accident during a Pearl Jam concert where nine people were crushed by the wild crowds, making security a primary issue of the following festivals. The festival has suffered no further incidents of the kind. [41]


Medina - one of the most successful Danish artists. Medina Aalborg 2009.jpg
Medina – one of the most successful Danish artists.
Thomas Helmig performing in Aalborg, 2009 Thomas Helmig (Musician).jpg
Thomas Helmig performing in Aalborg, 2009
Tina Dico in concert in Det Musiske Hus in Frederikshavn in February 2008 Tina Dico.jpg
Tina Dico in concert in Det Musiske Hus in Frederikshavn in February 2008

As with rock music, the Danish pop scene has started to benefit from the Music Export Denmark initiative.

Popular in the early and mid 90s was the pop-soft rock band Michael Learns to Rock, whose brand of ballads made it a popular act in many Asian markets, [48] selling nearly 9 million records in Asia. [49] A Danish band with a big impact outside of Denmark is the Europop group Aqua, whose hit "Barbie Girl" helped the band sell a total of 15 million albums and 6 million singles. [50]

Denmark also participates in the annual Eurovision Song Contest, and holds its own Dansk Melodi Grand Prix competition to select the song that will represent Denmark in the Eurovision contest. Denmark has won the Eurovision Song Contest three times: first with Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann's "Dansevise" in 1963; the second with Brødrene Olsen's (Olsen Brothers) "Fly on the Wings of Love" (from the Danish Smuk Som Et Stjerneskud, literally "Beautiful as a shooting star") in 2000. And finally in 2013, Emmelie de Forest with Only Teardrops scored 281 points at Malmö, winning the contest with a margin of 47 points over Azerbaijan. Denmark therefore hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen. [51]

The winners of the 2010 Melodi Grand Prix, Christina Chanée and Tomas N'evergreen with "In a Moment Like This" were already doing well in Eastern Europe by mid-March as their song became the most popular download in several countries. [52]

Some hit songs of Danish origin have become international hits after being covered by foreign artists. Vengaboys covered The Walkers' "Shalala Lala", Jamelia covered Christine Milton's "Superstar", Shayne Ward covered Bryan Rice's "No Promises" and Celine Dion covered Tim Christensen's "Right Next to the Right One". Different covers of Rune's "Calabria" have also been international hits.

Electronic music

Safri Duo performing in Aarhus, 2005 SafriDuo.jpg
Safri Duo performing in Aarhus, 2005

Else Marie Pade was a Danish pioneer in electronic music as early as the 1950s. She knew and worked with Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen and has continued to make appearances on the Danish electronica scene well into the new millennium. With his Coma parties, Kenneth Bager brought acid house to Denmark in 1988 and was active in building a Danish club scene, moving venues from the discothèques to deserted factories and basements. [53] [54] The most successful Danish electronic musician internationally is Trentemøller [55] while from a very early age Mike Sheridan has achieved success and been labelled a name of the future. [56] In the more mainstream part of the genre, Safri Duo also experienced international success with their mixture of tribal sound and electronica; also in the electronic scene adding elements of string and brass instruments is the indie folk/electronic four-piece Efterklang.

A leading Danish venue for electronic music is Culture Box in Copenhagen which is subsidised by the Ministry of Culture as a regional music venue, enabling it to keep a high artistic profile. [57] The Strøm and Copenhagen Distortion festivals are also dedicated to the capital's electronic and club music scene. [58] [59]

Jesper Kyd is a famous Danish video game composer, who has been incorporating sounds of dark ambient, electronic and symphonic music into his music and has won many awards.

Martin Jensen with the UK hit "Solo Dance".


Sebastian performing with Eivor Palsdottir at Tonder in 2006 Eivor in Tonder 25 august 2006 0165.jpg
Sebastian performing with Eivør Pálsdóttir at Tønder in 2006

Traditionally, Danish folk music has relied on a fiddle and accordion duo but, unlike its Scandinavian neighbours, Danish fiddlers almost always play in groups with few solo performance. Danish bands also tend to feature the guitar more prominently than the other Nordic countries. [60]

Fiddle and accordion duos play generally rhythmic dance music, local versions of the Nordic folk dance music. The oldest variety is called pols, and it is now mostly found on Fanø with variants such as Sønderhoning from Sønderho. [60]

The first systematic collection of popular folk songs, some of which go back centuries, was undertaken by the folklore collector Evald Tang Kristensen (1843–1929). These important sources were then transferred to the Danish Folklore Archives, established in 1904. The popular dance music tradition was continued into the 20th century by musicians such as the violinist Evald Thomsen (1913–93). [61]

Lars Lilholt Lars Lilholt 1.jpg
Lars Lilholt

Danish traditional music experienced a renaissance when the Anglo-American folk song wave hit Denmark around 1970. Among the prominent soloists, often composing new songs, were Sebastian, Poul Dissing and Niels Hausgaard. The successful Lars Lilholt Band led by the violinist Lars Lilholt combines the folk music tradition with rock. A new and refreshing combination of techno music and medieval ballads has been provided by the group Sorten Muld since their first recording in 1996. [61]

The formation of the Danish Folk Council to actively promote folk music both at home and abroad has helped raise the profile. [62] Curiously, Danish folk music received its biggest boost from the home chart success of Sorten Muld, who used acoustic and electric instruments and electronica on old songs to create something very contemporary on its best-selling albums. Some of the most well-known artists in recent years include Harald Haugaard and Dreamers' Circus. [60]

Music schools

As part of the reform of Danish municipalities in 2008 it was established by law that each of the 98 municipalities runs a music school. The first Danish music schools were formed in the 1930's with inspiration for Germany. From 1991 Musikloven - Law on Music - has had a chapter on music schools. According to the law the purposes of the music schools are to develop and support the musical talents and knowledge and to enhance music in the local communities. The primary goal is to engage with children and youth (0-24 years), but activities for adults are also possible. The financing of the music schools are divided among state, municipality and students (or parents of students).

Music in everyday life

Music is an important part of the lives of most Danes. One of the carefully observed traditions is to include music at celebrations at large, including family oriented ones such as wedding parties, birthdays and anniversaries. Indeed, it is not only common to engage one or more musicians for dancing but it is usual for the guests to write songs, normally to well-known traditional tunes, in honour of those to be celebrated. [63]

There is also a popular tradition of choir singing. There are hundreds of amateur choirs throughout Denmark, usually specialising in traditional Danish songs or folk music. [64]

Denmark has two national anthems, which are widely performed. Der er et yndigt land (There is a Lovely Country) is sung loudly and enthusiastically at sporting events and is the most popular. Lyrics are by the Danish poet Adam Oehlenschläger and music by Hans Ernst Krøyer. Kong Kristian stod ved højen mast (King Christian stood by tow'ring mast), is sung on official occasions when the royal family is represented. Lyrics are by Johannes Ewald while music was probably written by Ditlev Ludwig Rogert and can be heard in the final tableau of Elverhøj. [9] [65]

Copenhagen Opera House Copenhagen Opera House - side view.jpg
Copenhagen Opera House

In recent years, there have been two important developments for the Danish music scene. The first was the opening of the Copenhagen Opera House in 2005 where ever since full houses have applauded the performances of the great European operas and some of Denmark's more recent contributions. [12] The other was the completion of Danmarks Radio's Concert Hall in 2009 where the national broadcaster not only presents its orchestral music but also choirs, jazz, rock and pop. [66]

Other important venues for music include:

Tivoli Concert Hall Tivoli Concert Hall-2.jpg
Tivoli Concert Hall


Music festivals are plentiful throughout the country and are very popular, with more than 130,000 attendees at Roskilde Festival, the largest music festival in Northern Europe and around 300,000 partygoers to Copenhagen Distortion street festival. Many smaller recurring music festivals of all genres are held throughout and on all times of the year. This includes the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, the traveling Grøn Koncert, Tønder Festival, Aalborg Opera Festival, Thy Chamber Music Festival and Skagen Festival, among many others. [71] [72]

See also

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Germany claims some of the most renowned composers, singers, producers and performers of the world. Germany is the largest music market in Europe, and third largest in the world.

The music of Argentina includes a variety of traditional, classical and popular genres. One of the country's most significant cultural contributions is the tango, which originated in Buenos Aires and its surroundings during the end of the 19th century and underwent profound changes throughout the 20th century. Folk music was particularly popular during the 20th century, experiencing a "boom" in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s thanks to artists such as Atahualpa Yupanqui and Mercedes Sosa, prominent figures of the Nuevo cancionero movement. In the mid-to-late 1960s, the countercultural scene of Buenos Aires originated Argentine rock, considered the earliest incarnation of Spanish-language rock for having an autochthonous identity that differed from that of England or the United States. It was widely embraced by the youth and since then has become part of the country's musical identity as much as traditional music. According to the Harvard Dictionary of Music, Argentina also "has one of the richest art music traditions and perhaps the most active contemporary musical life.

The culture of Denmark has a rich intellectual and artistic heritage. The astronomical discoveries of Tycho Brahe (1546–1601), Ludwig A. Colding's (1815–1888) neglected articulation of the principle of conservation of energy, and the foundational contributions to atomic physics of Niels Bohr (1885–1962); in this century Lene Vestergaard Hau in quantum physics involving the stopping of light, advances in nano-technology, and contributions to the understanding of Bose-Einstein Condensates, demonstrate the range and endurance of Danish scientific achievement. The fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875), the philosophical essays of Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855), the short stories of Karen Blixen, penname Isak Dinesen, (1885–1962), the plays of Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754), modern authors such as Herman Bang and Nobel laureate Henrik Pontoppidan and the dense, aphoristic poetry of Piet Hein (1905–1996), have earned international recognition, as have the symphonies of Carl Nielsen (1865–1931). From the mid-1990s, Danish films have attracted international attention, especially those associated with Dogme 95 like those of Lars Von Trier. Denmark has had a strong tradition of movie making and Carl Theodor Dreyer has been recognised as one of the world's greatest film directors.

Music of New York City

The music of New York City is a diverse and important field in the world of music. It has long been a thriving home for popular genres such as jazz, rock, soul music, R&B, funk, disco, and the urban blues, as well as classical and art music. It is the birthplace of hip hop, boogaloo, doo wop, bebop, New York punk rock, and US new wave. It's also the birthplace of salsa music, born from a fusion of Cuban and Puerto Rican influences that came together in New York's Latino neighborhoods in the 1960s. The city's culture, a melting pot of nations from around the world, has produced vital folk music scenes such as Irish-American music and Jewish klezmer. Beginning with the rise of popular sheet music in the early 20th century, New York's Broadway musical theater, and Tin Pan Alley's songcraft, New York has been a major part of the American music industry.

Maryland is a U.S. state with a musical heritage that dates back to the Native Americans of the region and includes contributions to colonial era music, modern American popular and folk music. The music of Maryland includes a number of popular musicians, folk styles and a documented music history that dates to the colonial archives on music from Annapolis, an important source in research on colonial music. Famous modern musicians from Maryland range from jazz singer Billie Holiday to pop punk band Good Charlotte, and include a wide array of popular styles.

Music of Lithuania overview of music traditions in Lithuania: folk, classical, contemporary, pop, etc.

Music of Lithuania refers to all forms of music associated with Lithuania, which has a long history of the folk, popular and classical musical development. Music was an important part of polytheistic, pre-Christian Lithuania – rituals were accompanied by music instruments and singing, deeds of the heroes and those who didn't return from the war were celebrated in songs.

Music of Greenland overview of music traditions in Greenland

The music of Greenland is a mixture of two primary strands, Inuit and Danish, mixed with influences from the United States and United Kingdom.

Themusic of Italy has traditionally been one of the cultural markers of Italian national and ethnic identity and holds an important position in society and in politics. Italian music innovation – in musical scale, harmony, notation, and theatre – enabled the development of opera, in the late 16th century, and much of modern European classical music – such as the symphony and concerto – ranges across a broad spectrum of opera and instrumental classical music and popular music drawn from both native and imported sources.

Music of North Macedonia

The music of North Macedonia refers to all forms of music associated with the Republic of North Macedonia. It has much in common with the music of neighbouring Balkan countries, yet it remains overall distinctive in it's sound and rhythm.

Music of Serbia has a variety of traditional music, which is part of the wider Balkan tradition, with its own distinctive sound and characteristics.

The music of Armenia has its origins in the Armenian Highlands, where people traditionally sang popular folk songs. Armenia has a long musical tradition that was primarily collected and developed by Komitas, a prominent priest and musicologist, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Armenian music has been presented internationally by composers Aram Khachaturian, Alexander Arutiunian, Arno Babadjanian, Karen Kavaleryan as well as by pop musicians and performers such as duduk player Djivan Gasparyan, composer/instrumentalist Ara Gevorgyan, singers Sirusho, Eva Rivas and many others.

The music of Alaska is a broad artistic field incorporating many cultures.

Eivør Pálsdóttir Faroese singer and songwriter

Eivør Pálsdóttir, known professionally as Eivør, is a Faroese singer-songwriter with a distinctive voice and a wide range of interests in various music genres spanning rock, jazz, folk, pop and, European classical music. Her musical roots are in the Faroese ballads.

Friedrich Kuhlau Danish composer

Friedrich Daniel Rudolf Kuhlau was a Danish composer during the Classical and Romantic periods. He was a central figure of the Danish Golden Age and is immortalized in Danish cultural history through his music for Elves' Hill, the first true work of Danish National Romanticism and a concealed tribute to the absolute monarchy. To this day it is his version of this melody which is the definitive arrangement.

Hakon Børresen Danish composer

Axel Ejnar Hakon Børresen was one of the foremost Danish composers of the 20th century.

Danish Jazz goes back to 1923 when Valdemar Eiberg formed a jazz orchestra and recorded what are thought to be the first Danish jazz records in August 1924. However, jazz in Denmark is typically first dated to 1925, when bandleader Sam Wooding toured in Copenhagen with an orchestra. This was the first time most Danes had heard jazz music. Some prominent early Danish jazz musicians include Erik Tuxen who formed a jazz band and later was named conductor of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Bernhard Christensen, an art music composer who incorporated jazz elements into his pieces, and Sven Møller Kristensen, who was the lyricist for many of Bernhard Christensen's pieces and who wrote a book on jazz theory in Danish.

The following is a list of notable events and releases that happened in Scandinavian music in 2017.
(Go to last year in Scandinavian music or next year in Scandinavian music.)


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