Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism 1843835819, 9781843835813

Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is one of the most playful, life-affirming and awkward voices in twentieth-century music. His w

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism
 1843835819, 9781843835813

Table of contents :
Contents
List of Illustrations
List of Music Examples
List of Tables
Preface
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Carl Nielsen Chronology
1 Introduction: Carl Nielsen at the Edge
2 Thresholds
3 Hellenics
4 Energetics
5 Funen Dreams
6 Counterpoints
7 Cosmic Variations
8 Conclusion
Appendix: Sketches for the Sinfonia semplice
Select Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

CA RL N I ELSEN and the idea of modernism

Carl Nielsen (1865–1931) is one of the most playful, lifeaffirming, and awkward voices in twentieth-century music. His work resists easy stylistic categorisation or containment, yet its melodic richness and harmonic vitality are immediately appealing and engaging. Nielsen’s symphonies, concertos and operas are an increasingly prominent feature of the international repertoire, and his songs remain perennially popular at home in Denmark. But his work has only rarely attracted sustained critical attention within the scholarly community; he remains arguably the most underrated composer of his international generation. This book offers a critical re-evaluation of Carl Nielsen’s music and his rich literary and artistic contexts. Drawing extensively on contemporary writing and criticism, as well as the research of the newly completed Carl Nielsen Edition, the book presents a series of case studies centred on key works in Carl Nielsen’s output, particulary his comic opera Maskarade, the Third Symphony (Sinfonia espansiva), and his final symphony, the Sinfonia semplice. Topics covered include his relationship with symbolism and fin-de-siècle decadence, vitalism, counterpoint, and the Danish landscape. Running throughout the book is a critical engagement with the idea of musical modernism – a term which, for Nielsen, was fraught with anxiety and yet provided a constant creative stimulus. daniel m. grimley holds a University Lectureship in Music at Oxford, and is the Tutorial Fellow in Music at Merton College and Senior Lecturer in Music at University College. His previous books include Grieg: Music, Landscape and Norwegian Identity (Boydell, 2006), and the Cambridge Companion to Sibelius (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

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CA R L N I ELSEN and the idea of modernism

Daniel M. Grimley

the boydell press

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© Daniel M. Grimley 2010 All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner The right of Daniel M. Grimley to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 First published 2010 The Boydell Press, Woodbridge isbn  978 1 84383 581 3 The Boydell Press is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk ip12 3df, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mount Hope Ave, Rochester, ny 14620, USA website: www.boydellandbrewer.com A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Designed and typeset in Adobe Warnock Pro by David Roberts, Pershore, Worcestershire Printed in Great Britain by CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham and Eastbourne

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Contents

List of Illustrations  vi



List of Music Examples  vi



List of Tables  vii



Preface  ix



Acknowledgements  xv



List of Abbreviations  xvii



Carl Nielsen Chronology  xviii

1 Introduction: Carl Nielsen at the Edge  1 2 Thresholds  23 3 Hellenics  61

4 Energetics  96

5 Funen Dreams  132 6 Counterpoints  178

7 Cosmic Variations  237 8 Conclusion  289

0 prelims.indd 5



Appendix: Sketches for the Sinfonia semplice  294



Select Bibliography  298



Index  305

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Illustrations Fig. 1.1

Carl Nielsen, c. 1908: photograph by George Lindstrøm (courtesy Royal Library, Copenhagen)  xx

Fig. 1.2

Carl Nielsen, c. 1880? (courtesy Royal Library, Copenhagen)  xx

Fig. 1.3

Carl Nielsen, 1887 (courtesy Royal Library, Copenhagen)  22

Fig. 4.1

Hans Mersmann’s wave types, modelling various musical forms (from Angewändte Musikästhetik, 1926)  117

Fig. 4.2

Hans Mersmann, models of complex wave form structures (from Angewändte Musikästhetik, 1926)  117

Fig. 4.3

Hans Mersmann’s energetic model of four-movement classical structure (from Angewändte Musikästhetik, 1926)  119

Fig. 5.1

Johan Thomas Lundbye, Landskab ved Arresø, 1836 (courtesy Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen, with permission)  138

Fig. 5.2

Peter Hansen, Pløjemanden Vender, 1900–2 (courtesy Faaborg Kunstmuseum, with permission)  175

Fig. 8.1

Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen: Carl Nielsen memorial, Oslo Plads (courtesy Royal Library, Copenhagen)  290

Music Examples Ex. 2.1

Nielsen, ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’, Musik til fem Digte af J. P. Jacobsen, op. 4/5  32

Ex. 2.2

Nielsen, ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’: (a) voice-leading chart; (b) Schenker, Die freie Satz, fig. 15b; (c) Nielsen, ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’, background schematic  37

Ex. 2.3

Nielsen, ‘Genrebillede’, Viser og Vers af J. P. Jacobsen, op. 6/1  39

Ex. 2.4

Nielsen, ‘Genrebillede’, voice-leading chart  43

Ex. 2.5

Nielsen, ‘Arabesk’, Fem Klaverstykker, op. 3/3  46

Ex. 2.6

Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: background schematic  55

Ex. 2.7

Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: voice-leading sketch, bb. 1–5  56

Ex. 2.8

Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: harmonic reduction (Exposition), bb. 39–85  57

Ex. 2.9

Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: harmonic reduction (Development), bb. 133–49  58

Ex. 2.10 Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: harmonic reduction (Reprise), bb. 241–93  59 Ex. 3.1

Nielsen, Helios Overture (opening)  62

Ex. 3.2

Nielsen, Helios Overture: voice-leading, bb. 285–310  67

vi

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Ex. 3.3

Nielsen, Maskarade: Act 1, bb. 18–48  91

Ex. 4.1

Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: thematic table  105

Ex. 4.2

Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: harmonic reduction (Exposition), bb. 1–138  107

Ex. 4.3

Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: harmonic reduction (Exposition), bb. 138–259  122

Ex. 4.4

Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: harmonic reduction (Development), bb. 259–424  124

Ex. 4.5

Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: harmonic reduction (Reprise), bb. 424–end  125

Ex. 5.1

Nielsen, Springtime on Funen: 'Dansevisen', bb. 105–11  133

Ex. 5.2

Nielsen, 'Taagen Letter' (Moderen), bb. 27–end  150

Ex. 5.3

Nielsen, ‘Jens Vejmand’, Strofiske Sange, op. 21/3, first stanza  157

Ex. 5.4

Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, second movement: voice-leading sketch  163

Ex. 5.5

Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, fourth movement: thematic table  173

Ex. 6.1

Nielsen, Chaconne: opening  191

Ex. 6.2

Nielsen, Chaconne: climax, bb. 130–46  193

Ex. 6.3

Nielsen, Theme and Variations: theme, bb. 1–16  204

Ex. 6.4

Nielsen, Theme and Variations: Variation 7, bb. 113–28  205

Ex. 6.5

Nielsen, Theme and Variations: climax, bb. 257–88  207

Ex. 6.6

Nielsen, Commotio: thematic table  232

Ex. 6.7

Nielsen, Commotio: conclusion  234

Ex. 7.1

Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: first movement, opening  258

Ex. 7.2

Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: first movement, climax  259

Ex. 7.3

Mahler, Symphony no. 4: first movement, opening  261

Ex. 7.4

Nielsen, Maskarade: Act 1, opening  262

Ex. 7.5

Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: first movement, bb. 50–8  264

Ex. 7.6

Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: first movement, bb. 204–14  267

Ex. 7.7

Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: third movement, opening  270

Ex. 7.8

Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: second movement, bb. 29–33  273

Ex. 7.9

Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: finale, opening  281

Tables Table 4.1 Symphony no. 3, first movement: formal chart  104 Table 5.1 Symphony no. 3, second movement: formal chart  163 Table 5.2 Symphony no. 3, fourth movement: formal chart  172 Table 6.1 Commotio: formal chart  229 Table 7.1 Sinfonia semplice, first movement: basic formal chart  257 Table 7.2 Sinfonia semplice, finale: formal scheme  280

vii

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Preface

C

arl nielsen  is one of the most playful, life-affirming, and awkward voices in twentieth-century music. His work resists easy stylistic categorisation or containment, yet its melodic richness and harmonic vitality are immediately appealing and engaging. Nielsen’s symphonies, concertos, and operas are an increasingly prominent feature of the international repertoire, and his songs remain perennially popular at home in Denmark. But his work has only rarely attracted sustained critical attention within the musicological community. The reasons for this relative critical neglect are complex. Access to primary source material has previously been limited to Danish-speaking scholars, although strenuous efforts have been made (by the Carl Nielsen Edition, for example) to disseminate research more widely. With the completion of the Edition in March 2009, it is possible for the first time to perform and analyse Carl Nielsen’s work from reliable, scholarly editions, with accompanying notes and editorial addenda. A more serious obstacle to full critical appreciation of his work, however, perhaps lies in a wider unwillingness to engage with music which lies outside the mainstream modernist canon. Nielsen’s perceived peripheralised position, as a Nordic composer working on the historical and stylistic cusp of a full-blown continental musical modernism, has reinforced his marginalisation from much writing on twentieth-century European music. Though many scholars have sought to dismantle such received models of historical musical development, and stress the contested, multivalent nature of musical modernisms (in their plurality), such fixed patterns of geographical thought remain remarkably resistant to change. Nielsen’s proper place, at the forefront of historical and analytical accounts of twentieth-century music, has yet to be conclusively established in the wider scholarly field. A related problem is the extent to which Nielsen’s work challenges received models of musical analysis. Though the seemingly diatonic surface of his music positively invites a post-Schenkerian voice-leading approach, the lack of a stable diatonic middleground means that such readings ultimately remain provisional at best. Similarly, by Schoenbergian standards of motivic rigour, Nielsen’s more associative approach to motivic development can appear frustratingly casual. But neither of these qualities point to inherent weaknesses in Nielsen’s musical style. Rather, they are compositional strengths of his idiosyncratic musical language, and the starting point for contemplating deeper questions of musical meaning and value in his work, issues which this present volume seeks to address. Critical consideration of Nielsen’s music is therefore timely. It offers the chance to rediscover a vibrant body of work whose popular appeal among international audiences is widening rapidly. Simultaneously, it presents the opportunity to reflect critically ix

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

upon broader issues of identity and musical modernism, and to reassess our theoretical approaches to twentieth-century music as a consequence. Though I have argued that Nielsen’s music remains undeservedly neglected within the wider musicological community, this book is nevertheless indebted to previous scholarly research on his work. The most important discussion of Nielsen’s music in Anglo-American writing remains Robert Simpson’s ­pioneering monograph, Carl Nielsen: Symphonist (first published 1952, rev. 1979), a volume which has long served as a general introduction to the composer and has subsequently shaped his critical reception. This book often takes Simpson’s work as a point of departure (my original intention was to entitle the current volume Carl Nielsen: Modernist, in dialogue with Simpson’s discussion, as well as Jørgen I Jensen’s later account, Carl Nielsen: Danskeren). Even though I am often sceptical about core elements of his thesis, I have frequently found myself building upon, rather than simply resisting, Simpson’s readings as my own writing has progressed. Simpson’s sensitivity to the affective qualities of Nielsen’s music, and his sheer enthusiasm for works such as the Third Symphony, remains inspirational. Since the publication of Simpson’s book, a number of international scholars have sought to update and promote our understanding of the composer and his milieu, including Mina F. Miller’s early critical edition of the complete piano music and her edited anthology of essays, A Carl Nielsen Companion (London: Faber, 1994), and David Fanning’s outstanding guide to the Fifth Symphony (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). As this book goes to press, Anne-Marie Reynolds’ monograph on Carl Nielsen’s songs, the first study devoted exclusively to this central element in Nielsen’s output, will also have appeared (published by Royal Library’s Museum Tusculanum Press in Copenhagen), bringing new critical and analytical insights into his work as well as a fine sense of Nielsen’s Danish contexts. More significant still has been the series of landmark projects in Denmark that have laid the groundwork for a thorough critical reappraisal of Nielsen’s music and its historical environment. The publication (in 1983) of Nielsen’s diaries and correspondence with his wife, the sculptor Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, edited by Torben Schousboe, was the first stage in this process. The most important achievement, however, has been the completion of a complete scholarly edition of Carl Nielsen’s music, based at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, under the leadership (since 1997) of Niels Krabbe. The edition has not simply provided a reliable textual source for Carl Nielsen’s work; it has also prompted broader questions of genesis, performance, and interpretation. Completion of the edition has been paralleled by the inauguration (in 2002) of the Carl Nielsen Letters project, based at the Royal Library and pains­ takingly edited and annotated by John Fellow. John Fellow’s earlier edition of Carl Nielsen’s collected writings on music, Carl Nielsen til sin Samtid, further amplified our understanding of the composer and his musical development, and corrected a number of myths and misunderstandings that surrounded

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Preface

xi

his work. His subsequent discovery, in the Royal Library archives, of Emilie Demant Hatt’s vivid memoir of the composer, Foraarsbølger (‘Spring Waves’), has added immeasurably to our sense of Nielsen’s formative years as a student at the Royal Danish Conservatoire in the late 1880s. From John Fellow’s work, we have gained unique insights into Nielsen’s often strained and complex personal life, as well as into his rich cultural contexts, both in Denmark and abroad. The purpose of this book is fourfold: firstly, to offer a broad critical summary of Nielsen’s work through detailed analytical exegesis of his musical language, engaging substantially with Robert Simpson’s account of the symphonies and concertos as a preliminary step towards a deeper understanding of Nielsen’s music. The intention is not to present a standard life-and-works study (a task which would require a discussion many times the length of the current project), but rather to offer an insightful critical survey grouped around key critical themes or concepts from which broader interpretative categories (such as dialogue, character, and musical identity) emerge. Secondly, the book seeks to provide analytical readings of selected excerpts from major works (principally Symphonies 1, 3, and 6, as well as selected vocal and keyboard works), adopting a pragmatic and eclectic methodological approach that draws elements from contrapuntal voice-leading models, semiotic analysis, and post-Riemannian harmonic theory (borrowing from work by Harald Krebs, Patrick McCreless, Richard Cohn, and others). Thirdly, the book attempts to outline a critique of the notion of Danish identity in Nielsen’s work, building on the work of Jørgen I. Jensen, John Fellow, and Michael Fjeldsøe. The idea of Nielsen’s Danishness has become a particularly thorny category given recent political developments in Denmark (most notably the official formation of a restrictive ‘Cultural Canon’ [Kulturkanon] dedicated to the dissemination of key texts in Danish art, music, film, and literature [see the official canon website at http://www.kulturkanon.kum.dk/]: Nielsen is represented by his Fourth Symphony). As Danish scholars have readily acknowledged, such narrow notions of national identity are profoundly exclusive, and are poorly reflective of Nielsen’s more open and ambivalent musical outlook. Yet a central subtext in this book is a sense that Nielsen’s local context nevertheless remains a central component in his creative practice, and that the wider narrative of early twentieth-century Danish modernism remains largely unknown outside Denmark. Hence, one of the tasks of this book is to articulate and negotiate Nielsen’s shifting sense of musical place, both geographical and stylistic. Fourthly, as a result, it offers broader reflection on Nielsen’s relationship with a European modernist musical practice. Recent work by writers such as Richard Taruskin and James Hepokoski has greatly widened and enhanced our historical understanding of the category of modernism in music. Yet, while Nielsen’s work remains largely absent from their richly revisionist accounts, it can further promote such understanding,

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

and add a new theoretical perspective, for example, to our understandings of modernism and the early twentieth-century symphony. That is not to argue, necessarily, that Nielsen was himself a modernist: he would no doubt have resisted the term, especially given its local critical patterns of usage in contemporary music criticism. Rather, I suggest, his work is marked by its engagement with such notions of modernism, both within music and other media such as painting, sculpture, and literature, and that the idea of modernism itself becomes an interpretative framework or scheme for contemplating his work. Although chapters are organised principally by theme and topic, discussion proceeds along approximately chronological lines. The introduction, ‘Carl Nielsen at the Edge’, presents the twin ideas of Danishness and modernism in Nielsen’s music, and explores the ways in which they represent binary strands of his critical reception. Jørgen I. Jensen’s notion of Nielsen’s ‘bi-personality’ is useful here, as is John Fellow’s analyses of the way in which Nielsen’s work became associated with ideas of Danishness in the early years of the twentieth century (for example through the success of his song Jens Vejmand). The idea of the double-man will itself be dismantled as a modernist category, one that raises problematic issues of subjectivity, collective identity, and historical imagination in music historical writing more generally. The starting point of the discussion is two well-known photographs of the composer: the first taken from Nielsen’s childhood on the island of Funen; and the second a portrait taken shortly after the completion of his comic opera, Maskarade, when Nielsen had first established himself decisively as an artist of national, and international, significance. The second chapter, ‘Thresholds’, discusses Nielsen’s relationship with symbolism, and with the emergence of modernist discourses in fin-de-­siècle Danish culture. The idea of a ‘modernist breakthrough’ (gennembrud), first coined by Danish critic Georg Brandes in 1883, will be invoked both as an analytical and a historical category in Nielsen’s music, notably the First Symphony. As applied by Theodor W. Adorno in his later analysis of Mahler’s music, however, the term ‘breakthrough’ (Durchbruch) comes to refer to radical moments of destabilisation, usually introduced towards the reprise or recapitulation, which demand some kind of corrective response or resolution. This latter definition is highly relevant to Nielsen’s symphonic designs, but Nielsen’s formal innovation is to shift such moments of destabilisation towards the front of a work, so that the musical material is introduced in a seemingly unstable, fissile state. Images of breakthrough and destabilisation were prominent in early descriptive accounts of Nielsen’s music, not least in Danish music criticism. This chapter begins to consider some of the fundamental differences between Mahler’s and Nielsen’s approaches to symphonic form, and concludes that, while Mahler’s music (following Adorno) can frequently be heard as a mode of immanent critique, the trajectory of Nielsen’s

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Preface xiii music is essentially outwards, the projection of a more optimistic world view that ultimately embraces its own sense of contingency and openness. This sense of an expansive opening-out, and the idea of music as an affirmative energetic force, underpins the third and fourth chapters. In the third, ‘Hellenism’, I begin with an analysis of Nielsen’s overture Helios, inspired by his 1902 sojourn in Athens, and discuss his relationship with the vitalist wave in Danish art and literature in the early years of the twentieth century. Nielsen’s interest in Classical Greek culture marries with his emergent sense of a new musical idiom – one which drew its strength primarily from late eighteenth-century musical style. Building on Jørgen I. Jensen’s work, I assess the influence of Vilhelm Andersen’s discussion of Nordic myth on Nielsen’s neoclassical turn in his second opera, Maskarade, a work in which Nielsen arguably offers the vision of a modern democratic musical regime that simultaneously centres on his own Danish dramatic roots. In the fourth chapter, ‘Energetics’, I consider Nielsen’s Hellenism from another side, through the idea of Helios symbolising a pulsating stream of linear musical energy or kinetic force. This is a reading inspired by an early analysis of Nielsen’s music, Poul Hamburger’s article, ‘Formproblemet i vor tids music med analyse af Carl Nielsen’s Sinfonia Espansiva (1 Sats)’ (‘The Problem of Form in the Music of our Time with an Analysis of Carl Nielsen’s Sinfonia Espansiva (First Movement)’) Published only in the final year of Nielsen’s life, it was apparently regarded sceptically by the composer himself. Nevertheless, Hamburger’s analysis suggests some interesting parallels with trends in contemporary German music theory, particularly the work of Hans Mersmann. Like Mersmann, and other German energeticists including Ernst Kurth and August Halm, Hamburger heard music as the outward expression of a dynamic inner tension between linear horizontal and vertical elements. In Nielsen’s work, Hamburger wrote, ‘the expansive, the will to as free and unhindered an unfolding as possible of the powers of movement, which lies behind all music, has always found strongest expression in the horizontal dimension, in Melody.’ Rereading the first movement of the Sinfonia Espansiva in the light of Hamburger’s analysis offers vivid insights into Nielsen’s approach to symphonic structure, particularly his employment of energetic wave forms, and problematises his approach to the genre. If the impetus in the first movement of the Sinfonia Espansiva is energetically outwards, its second movement is a turning within, a powerful evocation of place. In the fifth chapter, ‘Funen Dreams’, I consider how this movement, and works such as Springtime on Funen (‘Fynsk foraar’), explicitly refer to sounds and images associated with Nielsen’s birthplace. This chapter deconstructs the idea of Funen in Nielsen’s music, and assesses its status and quality as a musical trope. The musical figures and textures that signify Funen in Nielsen’s music are identified, and the wider role performed by Funen in the Danish cultural imagination will also be analysed, particularly in the

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xiv Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism context of early twentieth-century debates about the nature of Danish identity, region, and its place within Europe, discussions which are ongoing today. Funen is better known internationally as the birthplace of H. C. Andersen (an association which has, to a limited extent, encouraged its commercial commodification), while the work of the Funen school of painters such as Peter Hansen, centred on Fåborg in the south and close to the artistic circles in which Nielsen and his wife moved, is particularly relevant for an understanding of Nielsen’s musical representation of the island. The promotion of a particular place or region whose sensibility supposedly represents a purified form of local identity is a familiar nationalist strategy. The tensions that this generates, particularly between ideas of nation and region in Denmark, will be addressed. For Nielsen, Funen appears to embody both a sense of groundedness or homeland, and also an exotic escape or refuge, a site of intense auditory awareness opposed to the cosmopolitan urban environment of the ­capital, Copenhagen. Nielsen’s ambivalent attitude towards the idea of modernism is reflected also in his concern with musical archaisms: from baroque organ music (Bach and Buxtehude) to sixteenth-century polyphony (Palestrina) and Classical Greek and Latin texts. This interest with older musics can be seen as part of a wider European concern with the ‘invention’ of musical tradition, and with the origins of the historical performance practice movement. In Nielsen’s work, this interest is embodied primarily through his development of linear contrapuntal structures in works such as the Chaconne and the Theme and Variations for solo piano, the 3 motets composed for Mogens Wöldike’s Palestrina Choir, and his final composition, the organ fantasy Commotio. It is also reflected in his reception of Knud Jeppesen’s thesis on Palestrina, and in his lectures on Greek music in Copenhagen in the 1920s. Building on an earlier essay on Nielsen’s piano music, I explore the aesthetic background and status of Nielsen’s interest in counterpoint by borrowing Martha Hyde’s notion of anachronistic allusion. ‘Counterpoint’ can be understood in a broad sense, referring both to musical texture and to the deliberate juxtaposition of opposed musical styles or historical periods as a form of dialogue or musical play. This wider ‘contrapuntal’ practice becomes a crucial component of Nielsen’s musical imagination. The final chapter, ‘Cosmic Variations’, is devoted to an analysis of a ­single work, the Sixth Symphony (1925–6). The Sinfonia semplice is arguably Nielsen’s most complex and challenging score, and it is the work that has generated the greatest controversy among Nielsen scholars and audiences alike. For some, the symphony is the expression of a tired creative imagination, and does not properly belong within the canon. Yet for others, it is a powerful and provocative testament to Nielsen’s engagement with a younger generation of avantgarde composers. As Jonathan Kramer has argued, it can even be heard (problematically) as a ‘postmodernist’ work. My reading deconstructs Kramer’s

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Preface / Acknowledgements

xv

account, and engages substantially with Robert Simpson’s two contradictory responses to the symphony, published in the first and second editions of his monograph respectively. In particular, the final movement (a set of theme and variations) builds out from the basic opposition between synchresis and diachresis which underpins all reiterative variation forms, and articulates a fundamental dualism between stability and disorder, closure and lack of containment. Tracing Nielsen’s attempt to negotiate such opposed states, and reach a point of equilibrium or balance, provides a dynamic model for reading his work, and raises important questions about the nature of Nielsen’s musical discourse and his critical reception. Far from being a flawed work, or the reflection of a compromised or spent creative force, the symphony emerges urgently as one of the most compelling encounters in early twentieth-century musical thought.

Acknowledgements Any single-author volume is more properly a collaborative effort, and I am indebted to the many scholars, colleagues, and friends who have generously shared their knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm. Where I have chosen not to adopt their suggestions or corrections, I can blame only my own stubbornness; errors in the text remain, of course, entirely my own responsibility. I wish to thank the Carl Nielsen Edition, especially Niels Krabbe. I have drawn extensively upon the edition’s research throughout my discussion. In return, they have been kind and generous hosts on my visits to the Royal Library in Copenhagen, and have been tireless in their support of overseas scholars working on Carl Nielsen’s music. Editors Michael Fjeldsøe, Claus Røllum-Larsen, Niels Bo Foltmann, Thomas Michelsen, and Peter Hauge have been of particular help at various stages of the book’s ten-year genesis. John Fellow has remained a continual source of inspiration and a salient guide to Nielsen’s life and work. I am deeply grateful also to Knud Ketting, Jens E Christensen, Bo Holten, Jens Rossel, and the staff of the much-missed Danish Music Information Centre. My doctoral supervisor in Cambridge, W. Dean Sutcliffe, oversaw my first critical writing on Nielsen with unfailing patience and critical rigour. David Fanning deserves special mention, for supporting my work on Nielsen ever since I was a final-year undergraduate student, and for his own work on the composer. And I would particularly like to thank Anne-Marie Reynolds, who has taught me so much about Danish music through her own writing for many years. I am further indebted to the following: Byron Adams, Robert Adlington, Eric Clarke, Jonathan Cross, Stephen Downes, Sarah Gutsche-Miller, J. P. E. Harper-Scott, Piers Hellawell, James Hepokoski, Sarah Hibberd, Brian Hyer,

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xvi Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Julian Johnson, Jeffrey Kallberg, Raymond Knapp, Elizabeth Eva Leach, David Matless, Patrick McCreless, James Munk, Nanette Nielsen, Anthony Pople†, Alexander Rehding, George Revill, Colin Roth, Julian Rushton, Julie Sanders, Robert Saxton, Tiffany Stern, Benjamin Walton, and Arnold Whittall. My students have been unfailing in their excitement discovering Nielsen’s music. The text was written during a period of AHRC matching leave; I am grateful to the University of Nottingham for granting me a semester of research leave, and to my friends and former colleagues in the Department of Music, who shouldered the teaching and administrative burden that my absence created. Completion of the manuscript coincided with my move to the University of Oxford, and I would like to thank my colleagues in the Faculty of Music for their inspiration and support. Bruce Phillips has been a staunch supporter of this project from an early stage of the book’s conception. Michael Middeke, Michael Richards, and Caroline Palmer at Boydell & Brewer have been patient in the extreme while this book developed. I am especially grateful to my copy editor, David Roberts, who oversaw preparation of the text with such care and expertise. I would like to thank the Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen, the Funen Art Museum in Faaborg, and the Royal Library, Copenhagen, for copyright permission to reproduce photographic images in the book, and to Edition Wilhelm Hansen for advice regarding music copyright issues. Finally, I wish to thank my wife, Ingrid Sykes; my parents and especially my uncle Terry Grimley, who was the original Nielsen fan in the family; and my sister Carla. Edward Rushton was my first comrade in Nordic music and is a true friend: his enthusiasm for Nielsen permeates every page of this book. The volume is dedicated to Svend Ravnkilde, who read every single word of my Danish translations and corrected much more besides with characteristic skill, determination, and precision. This book is a testament to his generosity of spirit and boundless enthusiasm for Danish art, music, and culture. Tak for alt, Svend!

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Abbreviations Breve

Carl Nielsens Breve, selected and with comments by Irmelin Eggert Møller and Torben Meyer (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1954)

CNA

Carl Nielsen Archive, Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen

CNB

Carl Nielsen Brevudgaven, ed. John Fellow, 5 vols (Copenhagen: Multivers, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), ongoing

CNS

Carl Nielsen Studies, ed. Niels Krabbe, David Fanning, Daniel Grimley, and Knud Ketting, 4 vols (Copenhagen: Royal Library, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2009)

CNU

Carl Nielsen Udgaven [Carl Nielsen Complete Works], multiple volumes (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, 1998–2009). Works are identified by the series and volume number, as well as their respective editor.

Dagbøger

Carl Nielsen, Dagbøger og Brevveksling med Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, ed. Torben Schousboe, 2 vols (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1983)

Danskeren Jørgen I. Jensen, Carl Nielsen: Danskeren (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1991) DMT

Dansk Musiktidsskrift [journal], Copenhagen

Samtid

Carl Nielsen til sin Samtid, ed. John Fellow, 3 vols (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1999)

Symphonist Robert Simpson, Carl Nielsen: Symphonist, 2nd edn (London: Kahn & Averill, 1979, repr. 1983). In Chapter 7 the first and second editions are shown as Symphonist1 and Symphonist2 respectively.

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Carl Nielsen Chronology The following is collated from sources in Schousboe (ed.), Dagbøger, and volumes in John Fellow’s Carl Nielsen Brevudgave. 1865

Carl August Nielsen born 9 June, Sortelung, Nørre Lyndelse, Funen, year after Danish defeat in second Prussian-Danish war. Seventh of twelve children. Father (Niels ‘Maler’ Jørgensen, 1835–1915) painter and part-time musician. Carl baptised 13 August. 1874–5 Joins local music society, ‘Braga’, takes part in village concerts and dances. 1879 Joins 16th battalion, Odense, as a cornet player. 1881 Earliest extant compositions, including Fantasy for clarinet and piano. 1883 May, travels to Copenhagen to sit entrance exam for Royal Danish Music Conservatory, December. 1884 January, joins conservatory, studies composition with Niels W. Gade, violin with Valdemar Tofte, theory with Orla Rosenhoff. 1886 Graduates from conservatory; joins Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra as second violinist (first full-time musical post). 1887 First summer on Limfjord with Demant Hatt family, Selde (Jutland). 17 September, Andante tranquillo e Scherzo for string orchestra played at Tivoli concert hall (first official public performance). 1888 Birth of first son, Carl August Hansen. September, Little Suite for Strings, op. 1, premiered at Tivoli. 1889 Joins Chapel Royal Orchestra as second violinist. Conducted by Johan Svendsen (1840–1911). 1890 Awarded travel grant (Anckerske Legat) to spend year abroad. Leaves for Germany in June. Meets Sibelius, Busoni, and Edvard Munch in Berlin. 1891 Travels to Paris. Meets wife, sculptress Anne Marie Brodersen (1863–1945). Marriage takes place on 10 May at English Church, Florence. First daughter (Irmelin) born, 9 December. 1892 Composes First Symphony. First composition concert (‘Soirée’) including premiere of Jacobsen Songs, op. 4. 1893 Premiere of single-movement Symfonisk Rhapsodi, 24 February. Birth of second daughter, Anne-Marie, 4 March. 1894 First Symphony premiered, 14 March. Autumn, travels to Vienna and Berlin and meet Richard Strauss and Johannes Brahms. 1895 Premiere of Symphonic Suite, Violin Sonata in A, 5 May. Second son, Hans Børge born, 5 September. 1897 Premiere of Hymnus Amoris, 27 April. 1902 First opera, Saul og David (libretto by Einar Christiansen) premiered, Royal Opera, cond. Nielsen, 28 November. Second Symphony, The Four Temperaments, premiered, Koncertforeningen cond. Nielsen, 1 December.

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Carl Nielsen Chronology 1903

1904 1906 1907 1908 1912

1914 1916 1917 1918 1922

1923

1924 1925

1926

1927

1928 1931

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Travels to Greece and writes Helios Overture (premiered 8 October, Chapel Royal cond. Svendsen). Conducts Second Symphony with Berlin Philharmonic as part of concert series arranged by Busoni, 5 November. Takes over as temporary conductor at Royal Theatre, but contract not renewed and resigns following year. Beginning of serious marital difficulties. Second opera, Maskarade (libretto: Vilhelm Andersen after Ludvig Holberg) premiered, Royal Theatre cond. Nielsen, 11 November. Sell-out success. Composes Jens Vejmand (text: Jeppe Aakjær), Nielsen’s most popular piece during his lifetime. Offered position as permanent conductor at Royal Theatre. Third Symphony, Sinfonia Espansiva, and Violin Concerto premiered, Royal Chapel cond. Nielsen, 28 February. Third symphony performed by Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 28 April, cond. Julius Röntgen. Resigns from Royal Theatre. Begins collaboration with educationalist Thomas Laub, En Snes danske Viser (A score of Danish songs) premiered 13 April 1915. Fourth Symphony, The Inextinguishable, premiered, Musikforeningen cond. Nielsen, 14 January. Carl and Anne Marie begin legal separation proceedings. Premiere of Chaconne and Theme and Variations for Piano. Appointed conductor of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra as replacement for Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871–1927); stays with Carl and Vera Michaelsen. Fifth Symphony premiered, Musikforeningen, cond. Nielsen, 24 January. Wind Quintet premiered in private performance, Gothenburg, 30 April. Publication of Folk High School Songbook. Beginning of serious heart problems. Visits Britain. Conducted Fourth Symphony at Queen’s Hall, 20 June. Prelude, theme and variations for solo violin premiered by Emil Telmányi, 27 June. Highly controversial performance of Fifth Symphony in Stockholm. Half the audience leave the building after the first movement. Probably hears Suite from Petrushka in Copenhagen, 7 January. Meets Schoenberg (1874–1951) in Nice, February. Sixtieth birthday celebrations in June. Publication of Living Music. Sixth Symphony, Sinfonia semplice, premiered, Chapel Royal cond. Nielsen, 11 December. Considered controversial (first movement played in Stockholm, 1 November). Flute Concerto premiered, Salle Gaveaux, Paris, 21 October, with provisional ending. Concert also includes performance of Fifth Symphony. Meets Ravel, Honegger and Milhaud. Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts a highly acclaimed performance of the Fifth Symphony as part of the ISCM festival, 1 July. Programme also includes premiere of Bartók’s First Piano Concerto. 3 Piano Pieces and Preludio e Presto for solo violin premiered, 14 April. Clarinet Concerto premiered, 14 September. Commotio for organ, last major work, premiered, 24 April. Dies 3 October.

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Fig. 1.1 (above)  Carl Nielsen, c. 1908: photograph by George Lindstrøm Fig. 1.2 (right)  Carl Nielsen, c. 1880?

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1  Introduction: Carl Nielsen at the Edge

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ritically contemplating  a composer’s iconography – the visual trace they leave in our collective imagination – can be a challenging but worthwhile task. Carl Nielsen is a compelling case study. Two photographs of the composer stick obstinately in my mind. The first is a portrait of an early middle-aged man, elegantly dressed in a pale linen suit with gold watch chain and walking cane, gazing nonchalantly towards the camera with a searching look in his eyes – an expression that suggests powerful, intense inner concentration. The second is a snapshot of the composer as a young boy in an almost comically oversized military uniform, carrying a cornet in his hand and a slide trumpet by his side (Figs. 1.1 and 1.2). It is difficult to try to reconcile the two sharply contrasting images with the same historical figure; both seem slightly unreal, and have the quality of dream pictures or memories from an uncertain or mythic past. The first, taken by portrait photographer Georg Lindström in summer 1908, midway between the composition of Nielsen’s Second and Third symphonies and two years after the unexpected popular success of his second opera, Maskarade, presents a cosmopolitan fin-de-siècle artist or bohème at the height of his powers, the consummate homme du monde like a character from a Thomas Mann novel. The second photograph, in contrast, taken c. 1880 of Nielsen as a fourteen-year old boy in the Odense town battalion, offers an image drawn from a predominantly agricultural society and the rural Danish working class. Even allowing for the thirty-year time difference between Nielsen as young boy and mature adult, the two images seem irreconcilable, pointing in opposite temporal directions: back towards the nineteenth-century world of provincial Denmark, and forwards towards a confident, modernist European artistic future. The composite picture of Nielsen that emerges seems strangely fractured, broken, and incomplete. In this introduction, and throughout this book, I will argue that such apparently conflicting or opposed images are in fact central to a proper understanding of Nielsen’s life and music, and that the twin ideas of Danishness and modernism which they support are a fundamental, but problematic, quality of his work. At the most basic level, they represent binary strands of his critical reception. In Denmark, Nielsen was widely regarded during his own lifetime as the greatest composer of his generation, and key works assumed the status of national classics: most notably Maskarade, the Third and Fourth symphonies, and songs such as ‘Jens Vejmand’. Through his collaborations with Thomas Laub in collections such as the Folkehøjskolens Melodibog (1922), Nielsen’s tunes entered schools, colleges, and parish halls across the country, and became an integral part of Denmark’s national

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2

Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

musical culture – so much so, in fact, that many Danes still grow up having learnt Nielsen’s tunes without consciously registering the identity of the composer. As Jørgen I. Jensen remarks at the start of his richly provocative cultural biography of the composer, ‘when he died, Nielsen had already, for many years, been regarded as unarguably the greatest composer Denmark had fostered for centuries, and today his name is such a self-evident idea in Danish culture that one can forget to marvel at him or his music.’ 1 But the canonic status of Nielsen’s Danishness is deeply ambivalent and contingent. As this introduction will demonstrate, the idea of Nielsen as a ‘Danish composer’ is a highly contested category, one which serves both to promote and to marginalise his work.2 Tracing Nielsen’s Danish identity can be both liberating and restrictive. It can serve as a hermeneutic window that opens up a new critical space for analysis and close reading of his music. If not critically framed, however, the image that results becomes an all-too-easy historical trope which peripheralises his work rather than locating it within wider narratives of early ­t wentieth-century European musical modernism. As John Fellow’s analyses of the often circumstantial processes through which Nielsen’s work became associated with ideas of Danishness reveal (for example, through the success of his patriotic song ‘Du danske Mand’),3 such patterns of identity are complex and often contradictory. Jørgen I. Jensen’s notion of Nielsen’s essential ‘bi-personality’ is useful here: the idea of the ‘double-man’ can itself be dismantled as a broader European modernist category (it is prominent, for example, in critical writing on Nielsen’s contemporaries such as Elgar and Mahler). This book will hence interrogate models of individual subjectivity, collective identity, and historical imagination in music historical writing generally, and consider issues of place and iconography in Nielsen reception. Closer examination of Nielsen’s early works from the late 1880s and early 1890s, particularly his songs, provides a rich starting point for problematising issues of place, identity, and musical modernism in Nielsen’s work. And in turn, this enquiry prompts deeper questions about the trajectory of much writing on twentiethcentury musical history and Nielsen’s proper place within broader histories of musical modernism. For Jensen, such questions point towards the profound





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1 ‘Da han døde, havde han allerede i mange år været betragtet som den ubestridt største komponist, Danmark havde fostret i århundreder, og i dag er hans navn et så selvfølgeligt begreb i dansk kultur, at man kan glemme at undre sig over ham og hans musik.’ Danskeren, 9. 2 A recent attempt to resist the idea of Danishness, or rather to demonstrate that it is not in any sense an inherent property of Nielsen’s music, can be found in Karen Vestergård and Ida-Marie Vørre, ‘Danishness in Nielsen’s Folkelige Songs’, CNS 3, 80–101, which summarises an argument developed more fully in their ‘Den danske Sang – en undersøgelse af danskheden i Carl Nielsens Sange’ (PhD dissertation, University of Aalborg, 2006). 3 John Fellow, ‘A Patriotic Song with Consequences: “Du Danske Mand” through Hundred Years’, CNS 3, 28–49.

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dualism at the heart of Nielsen’s music: ‘the composer who, unlike any other renewed the popular song and created a new, clarified and simple tone in the Danish language, is the same who led Danish concert music towards the abstract, difficult, inaccessible, advanced and dissonant zones – towards atonality and modernism, and beyond’.4 Understanding this dialectic provides a key to unlocking analytical and historical problems in Nielsen’s music. But it also prompts wider questions about the nature of musical modernism, and about the canons that such stylistic categories inevitably create. Strenuous efforts have been made in recent years to offer persuasive ‘modernist’ reinterpretations of composers (including Elgar, Sibelius, and Vaughan Williams)5 whose work has hitherto been regarded as essentially conservative or backward-looking, not least as means of unpacking familiar narrative readings of twentieth-century music. Such accounts have often dismantled the binary model of twentieth-century modernism focused on the twin figures of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, prevalent in academic writing ever since the publication of Adorno’s seminal Philosophy of Modern Music, and have energetically challenged the primacy of a particular avant-garde repertoire as the century’s progressive aesthetic mainstream. Other studies have enriched and widened our understanding of musical modernism by presenting contextual interdisciplinary accounts of cities that became centres of modernist cultural practice (Budapest, Vienna, Berlin, and Paris), diverting attention from the authority of a single authorial figure towards their broader historical milieu and place. It would be satisfying to locate the current book alongside these other studies, and make a strong case for ‘Carl Nielsen: Modernist’ within one of the categories (perhaps that of ‘indigenous modernisms’) identified, for example, by a commentator such as Leon Botstein in his entry on ‘Modernism’ for the revised New Grove Dictionary. Nielsen gains only a low profile or is unaccountably absent from many major music-historical surveys: his work appears only peripherally in the Cambridge History of NineteenthCentury Music, for instance, as a relatively minor player in a larger critical account of symphonic composition after Beethoven; his work does not figure



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4 ‘Den komponist, der som ingen anden fornyede den folkelige sang og satte en ny, afklaret og enkel tone til det danske sprog, er den samme, som førte den danske koncertsalsmusik ind i abstrakte, vanskeligt tilgængelige, avancerede og dissonerende zoner – mod atonalitet, mod modernisme, og endnu længere fremad.’ Danskeren, 14–15. 5 For recent vigorous interrogations of modernism as a canonising category in early twentieth-century music, see for example, J. P. E. Harper-Scott, Edward Elgar: Modernist (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006); Tomi Maekelae, Sibelius: Poesie in der Luft (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 2007), and Alain Frogley’s trenchant editorial introduction in his anthology, Vaughan Williams Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), ‘Constructing Englishness in music: national character and the reception of Ralph Vaughan Williams’, 1–22.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

at all in the companion Twentieth-Century Music volume, effectively aligning (and hence marginalising) his music within the historical trajectory of the previous century.6 On the basis of such startling neglect, the canonic impetus for a modernist reading of Nielsen’s work remains pressing. But this book in fact offers a more anxious reading of Nielsen’s modernism, one which draws its ambivalence from the idea of the ‘bi-person’ identified by Jensen as an essential character of Nielsen’s personality. This need for ambivalence is not simply the result of a desire to avoid the centralising thrust of the ‘grand narratives’ that have become increasingly unsustainable in recent historical and theoretical musicology: it is more properly a reflection of the tone of much of Nielsen’s life and work. But it also prompts questions about the way in which we understand and model musical modernism generally. And, in that sense, it concerns the ways in which modernism is itself defined. For many writers, the terms ‘modernism’ and ‘modernity’ are effectively synonymous. This, for instance is the thrust of Botstein’s proposition that ‘Modernism is a consequence of the fundamental conviction among successive generations of composers since 1900 that the means of musical expression in the 20th century must be adequate to the unique and radical character of the age’.7 The premise that a musical language must somehow be ‘adequate’ to its time, whether radical or not, is surely one that is potentially problematic for any particular historical period. But this notion of modernity nevertheless provides a fruitful and provocative angle for hearing Nielsen’s music. As John Fellow notes in the preface to the first volume of the monumental letters edition, for example, ‘Carl Nielsen lived in the years when modern Denmark and the modern world emerged, in the years when one section of the population after another found their voice, and the right to vote, and rose to honour and dignity, in the years when technological progress and material growth became the order of the day and when old moral and restrictive ties loosened themselves and thus set psychological growth and evolution on the programme. In a great many ways he translated this human expansion in musical terms.’ 8 Fellow’s vision of Danish modernity is interestingly conceived in terms of utterance and enfranchisement as much as scientific



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6 An obvious exception is Arnold Whittall’s survey, Musical Composition in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 52–9, which accords Nielsen a special place in discussions of early twentieth-century symphonic modernism alongside Sibelius and Vaughan Williams. 7 Leon Botstein, ‘Modernism’, Grove Music Online (accessed 14 October 2008). 8 ‘Carl Nielsen levede i de år da det moderne Danmark og den moderne verden blev til, i de år hvor den ene befolkningsgruppe efter den anden fik stemme, og stemmeret, og kom til ære og værdighed, i de år hvor teknologiske fremskridt og materiel vækst kom på dagsordenen og hvor gammel moral og snærende band løsnede sig og også satte en psykisk vækst og udvikling på programmet. Selv satte han i mangt og meget denne menneskelige ekspansion på musikalsk begreb.’ CNB 1, 9.

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progress or cultural change, an interpretation which grounds Nielsen’s music in its complex social contexts. Indeed, contemporary developments in infrastructure and the Danish built environment provide a telling backdrop: many of the architectural landmarks that now define Copenhagen’s townscape, for example, date from the time of Nielsen’s residence in the city and correspond, in more or less approximate ways, with particular phases of his compositional work: Martin Nyrop’s grand Italianate town hall at the heart of the city, for example, with its echoes of Siena and Venice, was completed in 1909,9 and the central railway station, with its carved stylised figures from Nordic mythology – still the gateway for most international visitors to the city – was opened in 1911, the years when Nielsen was working on his Third Symphony, the Sinfonia espansiva. Similarly, Kai Nielsen’s stunning sculpted granite relief around the perimeter of Blågårds Plads in the Copenhagen suburb of Nørrebro depicting various forms of human work (including construction, motherhood, and music), completed in 1912–14 in a suitably muscular style as part of the urban development of the quarter, provides a compelling counterpoint to the symphonic vision of a diverse social community confidently unfurled in the finale of Nielsen’s symphony – an image to which we will return in Chapters 4 and 5 below. Nielsen’s music is hence clearly ‘adequate’, in Botstein’s sense, to the spirit, and the stonework, of its own time. But as Astradur Eysteinsson remarks, such easy parallels between modernism and modernity can swiftly become overly reductive. In such circumstances, ‘modernism, and the social experience it utters, assumes the role of a reverberation and even reflection of social modernisation. Such an analogy can easily miss the sociocultural and ideological positioning of modernism with regard to social modernity, or can reduce it to a unilaterally reproductive or symbolic act.’ 10 In other words, the critical edge that defines modernism, the sense of mind that is somehow sharply fractured from its immediate cultural environment and hence alienated, can become flattened out and normative. One aspect of this process, as Eysteinsson concedes, is the tendency for modernism simply to become a form of affirmation through denial, where ‘modernism can be seen as the negative other of capitalist-bourgeois ideology and of the ideological space of social harmony demarcated for the bourgeois subject’.11 Modernism thus undermines its own premise, the ­ostensible

9 For an insightful discussion of the construction of the town hall, see Kristian Hvidt, ‘Københavns Rådhus – “et Gesamtkunstwerk”’, in Drømmetid: Fortællinger fra Det Sjælelige Gennembruds København, ed. Henrik Wivel (Copenhagen: Gads Forlag, 2004), 214–27. Nielsen’s wife, sculptor Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, was awarded the commission for the decoration of the main entrance in 1895 (CNB 1, 413). 10 Astradur Eysteinsson, The Concept of Modernism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), 21. 11 Ibid., 37.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

rejection of such bourgeois ideology, through its own mode of operation – a paradox which Peter Bürger, amongst others, has addressed through his theory of the avant-garde.12 It is not sufficient, in that case, for Nielsen’s music simply to reflect aspects of modernity or urban change in early twentiethcentury Copenhagen in order to be heard as ‘modernist’. But neither would the blanket rejection of such bourgeois forms of cultural consumption ultimately fulfil the modernist criteria outlined by Eysteinsson above. Clearly, a more nuanced definition of modernism is required, one which conceives such processes as part of a dialogue or exchange, before any such study can proceed. This need for critical reappraisal responds to Carlo Caballero’s recent call for a more cautious and historically contextualised approach to the use of modernism and modernity as descriptors in writing on music.13 As Caballero has suggested, it is all too easy for modernism to become a self-canonising category. The simple appellation ‘modernist’ can lend a deceptive veneer of innovation, progressiveness and aesthetic autonomy to a particular body of work – qualities which have been highly valued in much musicological writing, sometimes regardless of the extent to which such categories are historically justified. Fredric Jameson, for example, argues that ‘the trope of modernity bears a libidinal charge: that is, it is the operator of a unique kind of intellectual excitement not normally associated with other forms of conceptuality … to affirm the “modernity” of this or that historical phenomenon is to generate a kind of electrical charge: … to awaken a feeling of intensity and energy that is greatly in excess of the attention we generally bring to interesting events or monuments in the past.’ 14 It is hard to resist drawing upon the idea of the ‘libidinal/electrical charge’ of Nielsen’s modernity in hermeneutic readings of works such as the Third Symphony, as Chapter 4 will argue. But, as Jameson’s analysis suggests, attaching the label ‘modernist’ to a composer’s music, without proper regard to their actual aesthetic outlook, simply elevates their work into a particular academic museum or pantheon, and often reflects more the political state of the discipline than the actual status of their work. Caballero thus argues for more careful attention to the ways in which the terms were historically used (as opposed to other near-cognate terms such as ‘ultra­modernism’, the ‘avant-garde’, or ‘futurism’). As Caballero notes, documentary evidence suggests that the word ‘modernism’ itself was 12 Peter Bürger and Christa Bürger, The Institutions of Art, trans. Loren Kruger, with an introduction by Russel A. Berman (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992). 13 Unpublished contribution to evening panel discussion, ‘Early French Musical Modernism: its Sources and Idioms’, Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, Quebec City, 1–4 November 2007. 14 Fredric Jameson, A Singular Modernity: Essays on the Ontology of the Present (London: Verso, 2002), 34–5.

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employed relatively rarely, at least until the 1930s, and that it was initially as much a term of abuse as a modicum of praise. That was certainly the case in the reception of Nielsen’s music. Contemporary Danish writers used the words ‘modern’, ‘modernism’, and ‘modernity’ relatively freely, as we shall see below: often as pejorative terms, but sometimes as a more neutral description of his music’s perceived newness. But for many listeners, Nielsen’s ‘advanced modernism’ remained fundamentally problematic, up to and including a controversial performance of his Fifth Symphony in Stockholm in 1924.15 Later works, such as the Sixth Symphony and the Clarinet Concerto, are no less ‘modernist’ in outlook than earlier pieces, a quality which will be addressed in the final chapter below. But the danger remains that, without further critical scrutiny, the term simply becomes anachronistic, a way of canonising Nielsen’s work without fully accounting for its critical edge. Jameson’s writings suggest a deeper shift in the nature of modernism and modernity (significantly, he does not treat the two terms as equal), one 15 The Stockholm performance of the symphony was described in a number of newspaper reviews at the time. The Danish daily Berlingske Tidende, for example, recorded: ‘The now 60-year-old composer unleashed such advanced modernity here that the impression was too powerful for a large part of the audience. In the middle of the first part, with its thunderous drums and “cacophonic effects”, genuine panic broke out. Around a quarter of the listeners dashed towards the exits with horror and rage painted across their faces, and those, who stayed in their place, attempted to hiss down the “spectacle” while the conductor whipped the orchestra up into the greatest intensity. The whole of this intermezzo underlined the humoristically burlesque element in the symphony in a way that Carl Nielsen had never dreamt of. His description of modern life with all its confusion, brutality and struggle, all the uncontrolled cries of pain and ignorance – and behind it all, the hard rhythm of the side drum as the only discipline – gained, as the audience fled, a touch of almost diabolical humour.’ [Den snart 60-aarige Komponist afslører her en saa fremskreden Modernitet, at Indtrykket blev for kraftigt for en stor Del af Publikum. Midt i første Afdeling med dens skraldende Trommer og ,kakofoniske’ Effekter udbrød der en virkelig Panik. Omtrent en Fjerdepart at Tilhørerne styrtede til Udgangene med Rædsel og Vrede malede i deres Ansigt, og de, der blev paa deres Pladser, forsøgte at nedhysse ,Spektaklet’, medens Dirigenten satte Orkestret op til den yderste Styrkegrad. Hele dette Intermezzo understregede det humoristisk burleske Element i Symfonien paa en Maade som Carl Nielsen sikkert aldrig har drømt om. Hans Skildring af det moderne Liv med dets Forvirring, Raahed og Kamp, alle de ubeherskede Raab af Smerte og Uvidenhed – og bag det hele Marchetrommens haarde Rytme som det eneste disciplinerende – fik, da Publikum flygtede, et Anstrøg af næsten diabolisk Humor.] ‘Carl Nielsens 5te Symfoni vækker Panik i Stockholm – Publikum forlader Koncerten i Vrede men den,5te Symfoni’ besejrer Kritiken’ [‘Carl Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony awakes Panic in Stockholm – Audience Flees Concert in Anger while the Fifth Symphony Conquers the Critic’, article by ‘Pastel’, in Berlingske Tidende (Aften), 22 January 1924; Samtid, 304–6, at 304. It is interesting to note how Berlingske Tidende’s description of a ‘humoristically burlesque intermezzo’ in fact anticipates the second movement of the Sixth Symphony.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

that offers a stronger basis for reading Nielsen’s work. The first stage in this process is an acknowledgement of the dual temporal perspective of modernity, the sense that it looks both backwards and forwards simultaneously, what Jameson calls a ‘dialectic of the break and the period, which is itself a moment of some wider dialectic of continuity and rupture (or, in other words, of Identity and Difference)’.16 That is, the feeling or experience of modernity presupposes a sense of radical break or disjunction with the past, a category that in turn comes to shape and define a whole historical period rather than an isolated moment. This periodisation, however, implies a broadly cyclic view of time, one premised as much upon the notion of recurrence and return as rupture and disjunction (for the reason that earlier moments of modernist crisis invariably result in the creation of a new hegemony, which in turn prompts a further crisis and process of displacement). Hence, as Jameson concludes, ‘the trope of “modernity” is closely related to that other chronological or historicising, narrative, the trope of “for the first time”, which also reorganises our perceptions around the premise of a new kind of time line … the trope of “modernity” is always in one way or another a rewriting, a powerful displacement of previous narrative paradigms.’ 17 This narrativisation of modernity has significant implications for the idea of Carl Nielsen as exemplar of a Danish modernist cultural practice. The sense of rupture, or ‘breakthrough’ that characterises much of Nielsen’s work, analysed in greater depth in the following chapters, emerges here as a narrative category, as a mode of writing or composition. In other words, it becomes a rhetorical device or gesture, employed in order to evoke a particular sense of style, angle, or musical attitude.18 This is, arguably, a strongly Nordic trend; as two important earlier commentators on literary modernism, Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane, suggest, ‘in trying to pin Modernism down – tentatively and crudely – in terms of men, books, and years, attention is first drawn to Scandinavia: to the publication in 1883 of a series of critical essays by the Danish critic Georg Brandes with the significant title of Men of the Modern Breakthrough’. Nielsen’s relationship with Brandes will be explored more fully in the following chapter, but it is significant, in the light of Jameson’s essay, 16 Jameson, A Singular Modernity, 23. 17 Ibid., 35. 18 A similar critique has been advanced in a study by Ian Hunter, who observes the way in which the idea of the breakthrough becomes a philosophical trope in the history of critical theory, advanced by writers as diverse as Thomas Kuhn and Jacques Derrida, in response to a fear of empirical formalism; Ian Hunter, ‘The History of Theory’, Critical Inquiry 33 (Autumn 2006), 78–112. Hunter describes it as ‘a philosophical ascesis associated with the cultivation of a particular intellectual persona’ (p. 112). In this study, I use the term ‘breakthrough’ in a more focused historical sense, as a tool to analyse aspects of Nielsen’s musical style, although the parallels with early developments in phenomenological thinking are striking.

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that it is the idea of modernism as a narrative trope that is subsequently foregrounded by Bradbury and McFarlane, rather than a fixed or stable definition of modernism itself (and refreshing that, in spite of its later critical neglect in other accounts, Denmark emerges as the starting point for a European wave of modernism in the early 1880s). And, furthermore, that attention is paid to the binary nature of such categories – as simultaneously cycle and break – rather than as a monolithic unity. The next stage in Jameson’s reappraisal of modernism and modernity is more contentious. Having established that modernity is more properly a narrative category than a philosophical predicate, Jameson argues that ‘the narrative of modernity cannot be organised around categories of subjectivity (consciousness and subjectivity are unrepresentable; only situations of modernity can be narrated)’.19 For Jameson, this is because the idea of consciousness is itself already a representation rather than a transcendental (Kantian) category. Even Kant’s notion of synthetic apperception, for Jameson, merely reveals an attempt to try and bridge the distinction between the knowing subject and its conscious representation. Such distinctions therefore become unworkable, except through appeals to problematic mythic (e.g. Heideggerian) notions of being and becoming. This is relevant because, to some extent, it illustrates Jameson’s desire to escape from the paradoxical critique of the subject that ultimately reaffirms its bourgeois status, as Peter Bürger has argued. In other words, it seeks to clear a genuinely critical space within which an idea of modernism can intervene. But it is also significant because other scholars, for example J. P. E. Harper-Scott, have usefully invoked Heidegger’s work as an alternative model for the modernist musical subject, as a means of negotiating the complex status of representation and subjectivity in music analysis.20 A similar strategy will not be pursued here; rather, I will be concerned more immediately with Nielsen’s relationship with certain closely contemporary writers in German music theory (August Halm, Ernst Kurth, and Hans Mersmann). Nielsen’s music, I will argue in Chapter 4, is fundamentally bodily, and the task of musical analysis in this sense is to try and account for what we might call its choreography, the organisation of its corporeal gestures in time. Any attempt to describe this music’s referentiality, however, as in all forms of musical analysis, remains stubbornly metaphorical. But this metaphorical discourse itself reflects another aspect of the process of modernity, namely the apparent autonomy of the subject and hence of the modernist work of art – an autonomy that is ultimately deceptive. As Jameson suggests, ‘autoreferentiality is the very dynamic of this process, in which the work of art designates itself and supplies the criteria whereby it is supposed to be used 19 Jameson, A Singular Modernity, 57. 20 Harper-Scott, Edward Elgar: Modernist; and J. P. E. Harper-Scott, ‘“Our true north”: Walton’s First Symphony, Sibelianism, and the Nationalization of Modernism in England’, Music & Letters 89/4 (November 2008), 562–89.

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and evaluated. It is not necessary to see this level of the work’s meaning as an exclusive one; rather it constitutes one allegorical level – for the artists themselves, no doubt, the anagogical one – among many others.’ 21 In other words, the subject’s appearance of autonomy, the crucial fracturing of artist and society that provides the foundation for many familiar readings of musical modernism, in turn becomes another aspect of modernism’s narrative character. It is a disjunction that demands critical scrutiny and interpretation, in order to be properly heard, read, and understood. The two photographs which hang beside my desk, of Nielsen the cosmopolitan worldly composer and provincial military cadet, might therefore be interpreted as part of this modernist narrative, as emblematic of the split or fractured personality that shapes and alienates the modernist artist. But they also raise intriguing questions about the precise nature of Nielsen’s Danishness, and how such notions of national identity accommodate or deflect the problematic modernist trajectories discussed above. Interrogating such questions offers insight into the formation of Nielsen’s canonic status within Danish musical culture in the early years of the twentieth century. Evidence of his eminence is extensively demonstrated in his critical reception, not least from the tributes and obituaries that were penned in the months following his sudden death in 1931. The complex story of Nielsen’s legacy – and his influence on a younger generation of composers – will be addressed more fully below. But it is useful to register at this stage the almost universal degree to which Nielsen was hailed as a national figure in the final years of his life. This was partly a reflection of his institutional importance – in some senses, not least through his work with Thomas Laub on the Danish popular song, Nielsen’s legacy was as much pedagogical as compositional.22 Though his earlier career had been marked by profound disagreements and sudden breaks with other national institutions, most notably the Royal Theatre, in the final decade of his life Nielsen had become almost an establishment figure, actively engaged in the creation, regulation, and maintenance of a local Danish musical tradition. For some writers, it was the creation of this tradition alone which ensured his status as national composer. Otto Mortensen, for example, wrote: With Carl Nielsen we had the beginnings of an independent Danish musical culture. For too long we have made do with a ready-made, Germanicised musical life which, when it came to it, does not suit us. 21 Jameson, A Singular Modernity, 159. 22 On Nielsen and the popular song, see Anne-Marie Reynolds, Carl Nielsen’s Voice: his Songs in Context (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2010), 121–62. Nielsen was also active throughout his life as a teacher. He was first appointed on the teaching staff at the Royal Danish Conservatoire for a three-year period between 1 January 1916 and 31 December 1919, succeeding Otto Malling – he was followed in his turn by his pupil Knud Jeppesen (Dagbøger, 400); he later served as Head of the Conservatoire from January 1931 until his death later that year.

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It  is not romantic patriotism that we should desire our own Danish musical life, but because that is the only satisfactory one.23 Mortensen’s tribute reveals a profound cultural-political anxiety about the geographical integrity and stability of Danish musical culture, a fear of marginalisation. His sensitivity to the ‘Germanisation’ of Danish musical life can be understood on several levels – as a response to Denmark’s territorial border disputes with Prussia in 1848 and 1864 (the year before Nielsen’s birth) in southern Jutland, for example, to the domination of Leipzig-trained musicians such as Niels W. Gade in nineteenth-century Danish music and of German cultural imperialism, or to the perceived ‘threat’ of avant-garde European modernism represented by Arnold Schoenberg and Paul Hindemith, both of whom had visited Copenhagen in the 1920s. But it is significant in terms of his reception that Nielsen here becomes the representative for an insular, inwardlooking idea of Danishness, one which seems more content with the idea of Nielsen as ‘little Dane’ than as a challenging European modernist. Indeed, this tension between inward and outward notions of Danishness, between a narrow conservative provincialism and a more cosmopolitan European impulse, remains equally pervasive in current Danish political debates: it is a familiar strategy for small nations (such as Denmark) who feel threatened by larger, more energetic neighbours (in Mortensen’s case Germany, but less precisely defined in recent years). For many commentators, this attitude is encapsulated in the notion of the Jantelov (‘Law of Jante’), a term first coined by Aksel Sandemose to describe the peculiarly Danish combination of uncertainty, crippling self-doubt, and apparent self-sufficiency, the conformist idea that ‘you must never believe that you have become someone’.24 For Jørgen I. Jensen, this attitude is expressed in the figure of the ‘biperson’, a ‘bystander’ or subordinate character – someone who feels removed from the centre of the action, displaced, or marginalised.25 According to Jensen, the tension between this dual sense of centredness and displacement, characteristic of the Jantelov or ‘biperson’, runs through Nielsen’s music. But his insistence that ‘Nielsen’s life and art are typically Danish and must be maintained as typically Danish’ is a problematic starting point, one which points to an ambivalence in Nielsen’s work that demands further scrutiny.26 The extent to which Nielsen’s music 23 ‘Med Carl Nielsen gjorde vi en begyndelse til at nå en selvstænding, dansk musikkultur. I alt for lang tid har vi overtaget et færdigsyet, germaniseret musikliv, der jo, når alt kommer til alt, ikke rigtig passer os. Det er ikke romantisk patriotisme, når vi vil have vores eget, danske musikliv, – men kravet om det eneste tilfredsstillende.’ Otto Mortensen, ‘Musik og musikliv’, DMT 6/7 (September 1931), 172–5, at 172. 24 For a succinct definition of Janteloven, see Reynolds, Carl Nielsen’s Voice, 16. 25 Danskeren, 22. 26 ‘Carl Nielsens liv og kunst er typisk dansk og må fastholdes som typisk dansk.’ Danskeren, 21.

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can be heard as ‘typically Danish’ is itself a questionable premise, even while it appears as a prominent thread in his critical reception. And, as I will argue below, Jensen’s category of the ‘biperson’ suggests another, more provocative reading than the notion of the bystander alone suggests. A more complex example of Nielsen’s canonicisation as ‘great little Dane’ is offered by Gunnar Heerup, in an article pointedly entitled ‘The Way to the New Music’ published in 1929. Heerup’s title alludes to Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School, urgent topics of debate (and resistance) in Danish musical circles in the late 1920s. But Heerup begins by comparing Nielsen with an earlier generation of European composers – principally Strauss, Mahler, Wolf, Puccini, Sibelius and Debussy – a group subsequently described by James Hepokoski, following Carl Dahlhaus, as ‘early modernists’.27 For Heerup, ‘Carl Nielsen’s ability to sculpt, form and develop the new, the liberated musical materials, sets him in opposition to all these composers’,28 who, according to Heerup, have either lacked sufficient formal discipline (a composer’s ‘formsans’ or ‘sense of form’ is a recurring trope in writing on, or by, Nielsen, and goes back to his first encounter with Niels W. Gade),29 or who have failed to engage with genuinely progressive new musical resources. Heerup’s claim is of course contentious, and considerable musicological effort has been expended in recent years to demonstrating the extent to which such ‘early modernists’ were no less ‘progressive’ in their outlook than many of their younger, more obviously avant-garde colleagues (a process towards which this book will also contribute). But more interesting is the way in which Heerup attempts to demonstrate the inherent value and meaning of Nielsen’s work. According to Heerup, in an explicitly canonising gesture, Nielsen becomes the proper inheritor of European nineteenth-century music – in that sense he becomes a truly cosmopolitan figure. But set against that image of universality is a more strongly localist tendency that reinforces the inward impulse identified in Mortensen’s obituary note: Carl Nielsen collects together the force from the previous century’s two strongest musical streams, he has the same unbending formal will as the classical romantic (Brahms), and he has the same desire to liberate himself from all classical-romantic dogma as the radical 27 James Hepokoski, Sibelius: Symphony no. 5 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 3. 28 ‘[Carl Nielsens] evne til plastisk at forme og udvikle det ny, det frigjorte tonestof stiller ham i modsætning til alle disse komponister’. Gunnar Heerup, ‘Vejen til den ny musik’, DMT 4/2 (February 1929), 25. 29 Gade is supposed to have looked over the manuscript of Nielsen’s early Quartet in D minor, and said simply ‘You have a good sense of form’ [‘(De) har god formsans’]. Min Fynske Barndom, 215. But the idea of ‘god formsans’ subsequently becomes a Leitmotiv in much contemporary Danish music criticism – for example, in reviews by Charles Kjerulf and William Behrend.

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nationalists. How much of his own is derived from these two directions is difficult to discern; his father was a smallholder, who was additionally a musician at farmers’ parties, and Carl Nielsen has retained the farmer’s primitive ability to approach his material from an unprejudiced and practical standpoint[;] he has not been limited through his growth by musical traditions, he has therefore only taken precisely what he has use for, influence from outside needs not have been absolutely necessary, even if his music’s melodic kinship with Danish folksong is unmistakeable. Carl Nielsen is from the folk himself, in his works he has always retained some of folk music’s qualities, his music has therefore in some ways continued to remain folk music.30 Heerup’s discussion of folk music serves a powerfully ideological function – grounding Nielsen’s music, figuratively, in the Danish soil, and also presupposing a national audience or community for his work in a way that seeks to establish collective ownership and identity. It also offers, neatly enough, a historical model for the development of Nielsen’s compositional voice, although concrete evidence of his music’s ‘melodic kinship’ with Danish folksong in fact remains elusive. The very notion of a Danish folk tradition is ambivalent here, since it is unclear whether Heerup is referring to the ethnomusicological work undertaken by collectors such as Evald Tang Kristensen, of whom Nielsen was certainly aware even if he didn’t take part in such activities directly himself, or the more synthesised, modernised idea of a ‘renewed’ popular song to which Laub and Nielsen contributed extensively. More significant, perhaps, in the cultural and social political milieu of early twentieth-century Denmark, is Heerup’s invocation of the Grundtvigian figure of the smallholder, and of the ‘farmer’s primitive ability to approach his material from an unprejudiced and practical standpoint’.31 As Chapter 5 will argue below, the ­enfranchisement of 30 ‘Carl Nielsen samler i sig kraften fra det udgående århundredes to stærkeste Musikstrømme, han har den samme ubøjelige formvilje som den klassicerende romantik (Brahms), og han har den samme vilje til frigørelse fra alle klassiskromantiske dogmer som de radikale-nationale komponister. Hvor meget af hans egenart, der skyldes direkte påvirkning fra disse retninger er vanskeligt at afgøre; hans far var en husmand, der tillige var spillemand ved bøndernes gilder, og Carl Nielsen har bevaret bondens primitive evne til at betragte sit stof fra et uhildet og praktisk standpunkt, han er ikke gennem sin opvækst blevet bundet af musikalske traditioner, han har derfor kunnet gribe netop hvad han havde brug for, en indflydelse udefra har ikke behøvet at være det absolut afgørende, selv om hans musiks melodiske slægtskab med den danske folkevise er umiskendelig. Carl Nielsen er selv af folket, han har i sine værker altid bevaret en del af folkemusikkens egenskaber, hans musik er derfor på en vis måde vedblevet at være folkemusik.’ Heerup, ‘Vejen til den ny musik’, 25. 31 Theologian, philosopher, and educationalist N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783–1872) was one of the formative figures in Danish social and cultural life in the nineteenth century. Influenced by German Romanticism, he developed an early interest

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the smallholders’ block was simply one component part of a broader shift in Danish culture, which shifted cosmopolitan perceptions of the rural population – Heerup’s farmers – from that of a backward, pre-industrial community to one recognised as a dynamic political and cultural force: one of the most significant social changes identified by John Fellow. The ‘farmers’ attitude’ which Nielsen inherits, according to Heerup, is a radically anti-decadent movement, a modern wave in all but name, pointedly unbound by the weight of nineteenth-century musical tradition yet still tied to a more ancient notion of community and land. At this point, Mortensen’s and Heerup’s views effectively conjoin. The rural modernity which Heerup advocates points towards the same goal as Mortensen’s musical independence. In both cases, Nielsen serves as a symbol of Denmark’s musical self-determination, a canonic status that ultimately both elevates and also marginalises his work. It is a moment of rupture and discontinuity which is simultaneously a new beginning. This is a discourse in which Nielsen himself played an active part – indeed, certain works, pre-eminently the finale of the Third Symphony, might be heard in this context as a musical expression of Heerup’s drive towards a new Danish modernity. Nielsen’s richest and most explicit attempt to write himself within this strand of his own critical reception is of course his erindringsbog (memoir), Min fynske Barndom (‘My Childhood on Funen’, 1927), an account which, as John Fellow’s research has shown, is a selective retelling of his early years in rural Denmark.32 As Chapter 5 will demonstrate, Funen serves partly as a site of authentication, a place where Nielsen can construct (and perform) his own imagined musical identity, as well as a source for compositional inspiration. And through the eyes of contemporary painters such as Peter Hansen and Fritz Syberg, as well as through Nielsen’s music, the Funen landscape becomes the focal point for the creation of precisely the kind of modernism which Heerup articulates. Yet Funen also represents a more retrospective, arguably anti-modernist tendency, the construction of a specifically Danish tradition. Nielsen himself points in this direction in Min fynske Barndom, when he recalls his mother talking about an older, even more famous Fynbo, Hans Christian Andersen, ‘who had been just as abject as me, and that over in Brendekilde there was once a poor boy [the linguist Rasmus Rask], who had learnt over twenty languages and who became recognised throughout in Icelandic sagas and Anglo-Saxon and later became an educational reformer, founding the first Folk High School (Folkehøjskole) at Rødding in southern Jutland in 1844. Among his reforms included a new hymn book for the Danish church, a project which strongly influenced Thomas Laub. 32 See the account in Emilie Demant Hatt, Foraarsbølger: Erindring om Carl Nielsen, ed. John Fellow (Copenhagen: Multivers, 2002), 79–83, which describes the omission of two of Nielsen’s sponsors from his conservatoire years, Onkel Jens and Tante Marie, and illustrates the selectivity of Nielsen’s memoir.

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the world.’ 33 Funen hence becomes a microcosm, a world in miniature. But it also serves a metonymic function: Funen in turn becomes emblematic of a Danish national identity. Nielsen thus accommodates himself within what Jensen later calls the ‘dream of a Dane, the dream of the little-great person’,34 the embodiment of a specifically Danish myth of cultural self-determination, and of the category of the biperson which Jensen identifies as essentially Danish. Even here, however, the picture becomes more complex than it at first seems. As Jensen notes, Min fynske Barndom is written at the same time as some of Nielsen’s most complex and challenging music – the Sixth Symphony and the two Wind Concertos. There is no straightforward correspondence, in other words, between the memoir’s nostalgic, retrospective tone and Nielsen’s large-scale composition in this period – precisely the contrary. The modernism which Heerup identifies is therefore more complicated or contingent than even the contested category of the folk would suggest. Rather, it points towards a fundamental ambivalence in Nielsen’s compositional development. Nielsen again provides some insight into this aspect of his musical career, in a much earlier attempt to write his autobiography. In a note which John Fellow dates between 19 January and 24 February 1905, perhaps written for use by the Norwegian composer Knud Harder in an article for the German periodical Die Musik, Nielsen began: ‘I was born in the country town Nørre Lyndelse, mid-Funen, where my father was a country-town musician and had quite a wide field of activity’,35 establishing through patrilineage his bond with a highly localised region of central Denmark. Nielsen further recalls some of his earliest musical experiences, as retold twenty years later in Min fynske Barndom: When I was 10–12 years old, a music society was created in my home region, of which my father was a member. It consisted of farmers, school teachers, priests and others, who had an interest in music. The society’s single goal was to cultivate good music, and one even went as far as playing excerpts of Mozart’s and Beethoven’s symphonies. As a special favour I was permitted to attend these gatherings; every time I returned home after such a meeting, I was enchanted. I still remember how on the way home after these musical evenings through the beautiful landscape I used to dream and fantasise in music, 33 ‘… der havde været ligesaa ussel som jeg, og at ovre i Brendekilde var der engang en fattig Dreng, som havde lært over tyve Sprog og var blevet bekendt over hele Jorden.’ Danskeren, 34. 34 ‘Han var drømmen om en dansker, drømmen om det lille-store menneske.’ Danskeren, 32–3. 35 ‘Jeg er født i Landsbyen Nørre Lyndelse, Midt-Fyn, hvor min Fader var Landsbymusikant og havde et temmelig stort Virkefelt.’ Samtid, 48.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism and I am certain that it had an important influence on my artistic development.36

A number of characteristic themes from Nielsen reception are adumbrated in this autobiographical sketch: Jensen’s evocative ‘dream of the little-great Dane’; of the Funen landscape as the privileged site of a rich sonic imagination; and of Heerup’s homely image of the gathering of farmers and other country people as the true Danish folk, a modern community dedicated to self-improvement through cultivation, both artistic and practical. But the sketch also reveals a complex intermingling of different spheres and layers of musical thought. The activities of the musical group, named Braga after the mythic Norse god, to which Nielsen and his father belonged, strongly parallels the work of similar groups called glee clubs in nineteenth-century England. Nielsen’s upbringing, and his ‘homespun’ (to borrow Lewis Rowell’s phrase)37 upbringing and musical education resembles that of a close English contemporary, Edward Elgar. Indeed, the comparisons between the two composers are in many ways compelling: both were born in relatively modest social circumstances in the provinces, a significant distance, both geographically and culturally, from metropolitan centres of musical training and performance. Attempts (of varying degrees of success) to overcome this distance becomes a vital thread in their later biographies. Furthermore, both composers gained their initial practical training through informal gatherings of the kind described above – even the repertoire, a mix of popular dance tunes, opera numbers and ‘lighter’ classics, including individual movements from Mozart and Beethoven symphonies, is likely to have been similar, if not the same.38 More significant still is the tension in their work, and in its reception, between conservative and progressive tendencies, notions of centre and periphery, and between the sense of a classical tradition as something inherited and essential 36 ‘Da jeg var en halv Snes Aar gammel, blev der paa min Fødeegn dannet en Musikforening, hvoraf min fader var Medlem. Den bestod af Bønder, Skolelærere, Præster og andre, som havde Interesse for Musik. Foreningens eneste Formaal var at dyrke god Musik, og man drev endog saa vidt, at man spillede Brudstykker af Mozarts og Beethovens Symphonier. Som en særlig Begunstigelse fik jeg Lov til at komme med til disse Sammenkomster; hver Gang, jeg kom hjem efter et saadant Møde, var jeg aldeles betagen. Jeg mindes endnu, hvorledes jeg efter disse MusikAftener paa Hjemvejen gennem det smukke Landskab drømte og sværmede i Musik, og jeg er sikker paa, at det har haft en væsentlig Indflydelse paa min kunstneriske Udvikling.’ Samtid, 48–9. 37 Lewis Rowell, ‘Nielsen’s Homespun Philosophy of Music’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Mina F. Miller (London: Faber, 1994), 31–57. 38 It is interesting, for example, to compare the music Elgar wrote for inmates at the Powick Asylum in the late 1870s and early 1880s (published as vol. 22 in the Elgar Society Edition, ed. Andrew Lyle (Rickmansworth: Elgar Editions, 2008)), with the Nielsen’s description of Braga’s repertoire: they are often very similar in style and design.

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and of the desire to achieve genuine originality and discover their own individual compositional voice.39 This tension arguably becomes a creative stimulus for both composers. But most striking of all, perhaps, is the role played by sensibilities of place in writing on their music. For Elgar, this sense of place is configured primarily in terms of rural Worcestershire – the Malvern hills, the River Severn, and its local environments (the hills around Birchwood where he composed the Dream of Gerontius and the ‘Enigma’ Variations, or Longdon Marsh where he sketched The Apostles). Elgar’s association with this sense of place in turn serves as a marker of his musical identity.40 Funen sometimes plays a similar role in Nielsen reception. It becomes a way of framing and containing his work, packaging it as part of a process of commodification so that his work somehow seems more assimilable and less abstract than it might otherwise appear.41 It also legitimises his music, attaching it to a conspicuous site of performance and consumption that repeatedly forms a base layer or reference point in Nielsen’s reception and compositional development. For Hjalmar Bull, for example, writing in 1926 and anticipating that crucial passage in Min fynske Barndom, Nielsen ‘thus sprang from the same 39 Nielsen returned to the question of originality much later in his life, in a revealing interview for the regional newspaper Fyns Tidende on 31 October 1928. He is reported as saying: ‘I obviously regard originality as a necessity. But originality is a fundamental property, something one either has or one doesn’t. It is certainly possible to produce an ostensible originality by venturing out to the periphery and performing weird things there. That applies as much to the composer as to the draughtsman. Both can for a time obscure the issue’s real context with the help of diffuseness, but we can see in an instant from a single line drawing on a sheet whether there is talent or not, for sure. It strikes me as completely wrong to conceive me as adherent of an unrestrained freedom. If someone who would seem to master all the basic requirements should from time to time wish to allow himself some liberties for the sake of experiment and exploration – well, can you blame him? I think not.’ [Jeg anser selvsagt Originalitet for en Nødvendighed. Men Originalitetet er en fundamental Egenskab, noget man eller har eller ikke har. Dog er det jo muligt at fremkalde en tilsyneladende Originalitet ved at springe ud i Periferien og dér foretage sig sælsomme Ting. Det gælder saavel Komponisten som Tegneren. Begge kan for en Tid tilsløre Sagens rette Sammenhæng ved Hjælp af Vidtløftigheder, men ser vi et Øjeblik bare en enkelt Stregtegning paa et Papir, saa er vi klar over, om der er Talent eller ej, ikke sandt. Det er, forekommer det mig, ganske forkert at opfatte mig som Tilhænger af den tøjlesløse Frihed. At den Mand, der mener, han har det fundamentale nogenlunde i Orden, nu og da forsøgmæssigt tillader sig Friheder, det kan man ikke bebrejde ham, synes jeg.] Samtid, 496–8, at 497. 40 On the privileged status of Worcestershire and its ideological role in Elgar reception, see Matthew Riley, Elgar and the Nostalgic Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); also the opening section of my essay, ‘“The Spirit-Stirring Drum”: Elgar and Populism’, in Elgar and his World, ed. Byron Adams (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007). 41 See, for example, Karsten Eskildsen’s book, Carl Nielsen: Livet og Musikken (Odense: Odense Bys Museer, 1999). The first illustration (pp. 67) is a ripening rye field, an iconic image I will return to in chapter 5 below.

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rich soil and fertile Funen nature that over the course of time has given such a great contribution to Danish intellectual life; we need simply in this connection name such names as H. C. Andersen, Rasmus Rask, Kai Nielsen, and in painting the whole of the Funen School.’ 42 That both Elgar and Nielsen were themselves implicated at times in such localist patterns of thought (albeit in rather different ways) underlines the pervasiveness of such myths of origin. But it also points towards the dialectical nature of such critical models: what at first seems peripheral or marginalised, remote from mainstream centres of cultural consumption and production, in fact emerges as central or core. Nielsen’s ultra-localist ‘mid-Funen’ becomes one of the focal points of a particular vision of Danish culture, just as Elgar’s Worcestershire becomes the idealised embodiment of an essentialised Englishness. Fredric Jameson comments on this strategic play of localities, centres, and peripheries when he observes that modernism constructs a world that is still organised around two distinct temporalities: that of the new industrial big city and that of the peasant countryside … This simultaneity can no doubt for the moment be cast in terms of some distinction between the metropolis and the provinces; but it might better be imagined in terms of a situation in which individuals operate in a ‘pays’, a local village or region to which they periodically return, while pursuing their life work in the very different world of the big city.43 Nielsen’s peripheralism is accordingly double-edged, both exclusive and inclusive, conservative and modern. His journey across the Storebælt (the ‘great sound’ dividing Funen from the island of Zealand, where Copenhagen is located in Eastern Denmark) in January 1884 to attend the Royal Danish Conservatoire, from the rural landscape of his childhood to the urban townscape of his professional career, is in fact part of a continual shuttling backand-forth between different musical worlds or modes of thought and performance as much as a rite of passage.44 But Nielsen’s sketch also points to another kind of edginess. Braga’s activities on Funen provided primary access to a particular privileged body of musical works – the symphonies of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven here represent the heart of the Austro-German musical tradition, and not simply a neutral (value-free) repertoire. It therefore deconstructs the idea of an insular Danishness – the dream of the Funen myth – from 42 ‘Han er saaledes sprunget frem af den samme rige Muld og frodige fynske Natur, der i Tidernes Løb har ydet saa store Bidrag til dansk Aandsliv; vi behøver i denne Forbindelse blot at nævne Navne som H. C. Andersen, Rasmus Rask, Kai Nielsen og for Malerkunstens Vedkommende hele “Fynske Malerskole”.’ DMT 2/1 (October 1926), 2–7, at 2. 43 Jameson, A Singular Modernity, 142. 44 See John Fellow’s discussion in his preface to Demant Hatt, Foraarsbølger, ed. Fellow, 7–31.

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within, turning the microcosmic world created by Nielsen’s autobiography inside out. Nielsen’s peripheralism – his centredness in Funen  – in fact provides a means of articulating his universalism, his critical engagement with a musical mainstream. In that way, his attitude to modernism is more comparable with another of his contemporaries, Gustav Mahler. Like Mahler, Nielsen remained effectively an ‘outsider’, a composer born, as was Elgar, in a provincial setting, but whose later work was largely undertaken in a more cosmopolitan environment. Writers on Mahler have dwelt extensively on this extraterritoriality in his life and work – for many, it shapes and defines the character of his musical modernism, lending his work its particular edge or sense of immanent critique. Nielsen may not have faced precisely the same obstacles as Mahler in his career – he didn’t suffer, for instance, from the kind of institutionalised anti-semitism that confronted Mahler at the Vienna Opera and formed a persistent subtext in his critical reception. But in other ways the two composers are comparable: both, for example, brought the sound of stylised nature imagery and military bands from their early childhood experiences into their music as a means of widening (and destabilising) their symphonic vision. And to some extent, Nielsen’s experience was even more marginal than Mahler’s – provincial Denmark was arguably more remote from mainstream centres of cultural practice than Bohemia, located in at the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Throughout the early years of the twentieth century, Scandinavia maintained a strongly dialectical relationship with continental Europe, adopting both assimilationist and isolationist positions in response to a broader sense of cultural and geographical distance. In that sense, Nielsen’s modernist angle, his engagement with received musical traditions through his own compositional work, is no less critical than Mahler’s. And, as the following chapter will argue, the particularly Mahlerian experience of breakthrough (Durchbruch), the sudden incursion of material seemingly from outside the boundary of normal expectation which Adorno identifies as a key component of his modernist aesthetic, is no less relevant for a proper understanding of Nielsen’s own musical discourse. It therefore seems all the more striking that Mahler’s place in the modernist canon should have been relatively assured, and that critical coverage of his work has in recent years extended far beyond the realm of a small group of specialist scholars, whereas Nielsen remains effectively on the periphery of academic discourse. It is hard not to draw a direct line in such circumstances between geography, Denmark’s position on the edge of continental Europe, and scholarly coverage. Nielsen’s modernism, his ‘edginess’, is therefore intimately bound up with his Danishness, rather than simply opposed to it, but the two seemingly polarised points of reference are overlaid in a complex, critical way. His work is both highly localised and highly cosmopolitan – it operates (or speaks) on several levels simultaneously. There is a rich stylistic counterpoint within his work that resists easy categorisation or containment, another factor

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which has perhaps precluded deeper analytical engagement with his music for many years. An adaptation of Jensen’s ‘biperson’ syndrome might therefore be advanced, moving beyond the purely passive image of the Jantelov or subordinate character proposed above, which reads Nielsen’s work rather as exemplifying the characteristics of a ‘double-man’ or, more properly, a multiple personality. This figure itself can be understood as a modernist paradigm – the tendency to decentralise and diffuse the authority of the subject (often the composer themselves) through multiple modes of utterance or address. In Elgar, this image of the ‘double-man’ can be located in the tension between the outwardly confident, richly imperialist ceremony of the Pomp and Circumstance marches and the closing bars of the ‘Enigma’ Variations, on the one hand, and the more introverted, self-doubting Innigkeit of the quieter passages in the symphonic study Falstaff or the Second Symphony, on the other.45 In Mahler’s music, too, scholars have often dwelt on the sense of a multiple personality, the strains and anxieties that underpin the force of the artist-hero in works such as the Sixth Symphony and ultimately lead to crisis and collapse in the first movement of the Tenth.46 One task of a more nuanced analysis of Nielsen’s modernism is therefore to identify the different styles or musical voices that are present in his work, and to locate the moments of crisis where such voices fracture and collide. In the final chapter of this book, I will invoke Theodor W. Adorno’s notion of the novelistic character of music, and Mikhail Bakhtin’s analysis of the discourse of the comic novel, through a close reading of one of Nielsen’s most challenging and complex works, the Sixth Symphony. Close study of the Sixth offers vital insights into the nature of Nielsen’s modernism, and to the meanings of the multiple voices or instrumental characters that inhabit and animate his work. It also provides a provocative case study in patterns of Nielsen reception, both in Denmark and beyond. We can therefore return momentarily to the two photographs hanging alongside my office desk. Their seeming incompatibility no longer seems quite so puzzling: Nielsen’s musical cosmos embraces both the cosmopolitan artist and the Funen military cadet, and the comic force (in Bakhtin’s sense) of his work collapses the temporal and geographical distinctions between the two figures so that they become the play 45 Several recent studies address this duality in Elgar’s work. See, for example, James Hepokoski’s essay, ‘Edward Elgar’, in The Nineteenth-Century Symphony, ed. D. Kern Holoman (New York: Schirmer, 1997), 327–44; and Harper-Scott, Edward Elgar: Modernist. To my knowledge, the ‘double-man’ reading is first advanced in Michael Kennedy, Portrait of Elgar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968). 46 See, for example, Michael Kennedy’s reading in his Mahler (London: Dent, 1974), supported by Henri-Louis de la Grange in Gustav Mahler, vol. 3: Vienna: Triumph and Disillusion, 1904–1907 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 818–41 (on the Sixth), and Julian Johnson’s recent study, Mahler’s Voices: Expression and Irony in the Songs and Symphonies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

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of a single novelistic musical imagination. In this light, a third photograph begins to seem more appropriate (Fig. 1.3). Taken in the late 1880s on vacation in Nykøbing, north Jutland, the photograph is a series of vignettes of the young Nielsen, pulling a series of expressions for the camera: a grumpy troll, a drunken slob, an avuncular wink, and, at the bottom of the portrait, the figure of a mischievous boy, eyeing up the photographer’s audience with a wry smile. Nielsen’s early amour, Emilie Demant Hatt, described the origin of the photograph in her remarkable memoir, Foraarsbølger, recently rediscovered by John Fellow in the Royal Library, and wistfully recalled Nielsen’s talents as a character actor: And how Carl could narrate! Stories and anecdotes, witnessed, made up, or invited for the hour. He was a clown, when that aspect turned up – he illustrated it all with mimicry and gestures and sounds. He invented the figures which he represented: the monk, the jester, the idiot, the great lady, the bashful young boy, etc. – a whole gallery of caricatures.47 It is not difficult to project this image of the playful composer captured by camera and retold by one of his closest friends in the late 1880s onto Nielsen’s subsequent music, and on to the Sixth Symphony in particular. The symphony is just as much a play of caricatures, a theatre of mimicry and gesture, as his Nykøbing photograph. And the work’s comic tone need not detract from the music’s underlying seriousness – precisely the contrary, since it reinforces its ultimately affirmative force, the idea that music can (and, for Nielsen, must) successfully confront and overcome conflict, opposition and violence, and renew itself. This image from the 1880s thus adds a new dimension to Nielsen’s place within a more critically scrutinised idea of musical modernism. His peripheralisation is not so much a technical or aesthetic deficiency, an inability to meet the demands of a particular modernist musical agenda, but a challenge to received notions of musical development and authority. His edginess is properly a playful transgression, a non-conformism that is energising and uplifting. And here perhaps lies the essence of his Danishness, in its combination of the passive Jantelov (the bystander) and the dynamic split personality, whether real or imagined. It is a world vision in microcosm, a carnival that takes us full circle, from H. C. Andersen’s fairy-tale Funen, out to the modern city and beyond, and back again.

47 ‘Og som Carl kunde fortælle! Historier og Anekdoter, oplevede, opdigtede eller opfundne for Stunden. En Bajads var han, naar den Side vendte ud – han illustrerede det altsammen med Mimik og Fagter og Lyde. Han opfandt Figurer, som han fremstille: Munken, Narren, Idioten, Damen, den generte Dreng o. s. v. – et helt Galleri af Karikaturer.’ Demant Hatt, Foraarsbølger, ed. Fellow, 41.

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Fig. 1.3  Carl Nielsen, 1887

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2  Thresholds

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n the introduction I argued for a complex, ambivalent sense of   Nielsen’s modernism and its relationship with problematic notions of Danishness – one which embraces both Jørgen I. Jensen’s passive image of the ‘biperson’ and the more discursive modernist model of the ‘double man’. Fredric Jameson’s analysis of modernity pointed to the essentially dualist nature of such categories, the ‘dialectic of the break and the period’, which characterises the idea of modernity and introduced the idea of modernism as a narrative strategy, the ‘trope of “for the first time” which also reorganises our perceptions around the premise of a new kind of time line’.1 Yet it is important to try and move beyond such binary models. The modernist quality of Nielsen’s work, I proposed, often lies more in its tone of voice or mode of utterance as much as in the perceived progressiveness (or not) of its musical materials. Analysis of a late work, the Sixth Symphony, in the final chapter of this book will underscore the novelistic nature of his music – the sense, which often pervades his compositions, of individual musical characters or speaking roles that shape, fracture, and gather together the texture into a dramatic dialogue. And it is this novelistic quality, I will suggest, that defines Nielsen’s modernism best. It also offers insights into the complex status of his ‘Danishness’, an imaginary play between inward and outward impulses, drawing on H. C. Andersen’s myth of a fairy-tale Funen while simultaneously resisting, or exploding outwards from, purely insular localist notions of Danish identity. Nielsen’s later music commonly unfolds a multi-voiced counterpoint, like the twisting, intertwining threads of a literary narrative or plot, whose inner momentum drives the music’s expressive force. And it is precisely the Andersenesque, eventyrlig (‘fairy-tale’) tone, the sense of make-believe, allied to the dual temporal imagination of Jameson’s narrative, which is crucial to this sense of momentum. As Bradbury and McFarlane observe, ‘the act of fictionality thus becomes the crucial act of imagining; and Modernism thus tends to have to do with the intersection of an apocalyptic and modern time, and a timeless and transcendent symbol or a node of pure linguistic energy.’ 2 The current chapter returns to the idea of a ‘modernist breakthrough’ (gennembrud), introduced briefly in the introduction, both as an analytical and as a historical category in Nielsen’s music. The term ‘breakthrough’ (in German, Durchbruch), as coined by Theodor W. Adorno in his analysis of

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1 Jameson, A Singular Modernity, 35. 2 Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane (eds), Modernism, 1890–1930 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), 50.

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Mahler, refers to those radical moments of destabilisation or rupture, usually introduced towards the reprise or recapitulation, which demand some kind of corrective response or resolution, a impulse which is highly relevant to many of Nielsen’s symphonic designs.3 Nielsen’s innovation, however, is to shift such moments of destabilisation towards the front of a work, so that the musical material is introduced in a seemingly unstable or dynamic state. Images of breakthrough are similarly prominent in early descriptive accounts of Nielsen’s music, where they often serve as a marker of Nielsen’s perceived modernity. The first part of this chapter sketches a context for reading this sense of Nielsen’s disruptive modernity, drawing on material from contemporary journals which outline the emergence of an idiosyncratic Danish modernism in the 1890s. Analysis of two of Nielsen’s early songs, settings of poems by the Danish symbolist writer J. P. Jacobsen, and of the first movement of Nielsen’s First Symphony, itself a threshold in the sense that it represents his official entry into the symphonic canon, demonstrates ways in which this idea of breakthrough pervades and shapes his musical style. Other works, such as the Third and Sixth symphonies, discussed in later chapters below, offer very different kinds of thresholds which are no less problematic in terms of generic convention. Breakthrough emerges from such discussions as a particular early twentieth-century Nordic preoccupation, the trace of a wider existential angst. In that sense, my discussion parallels Arnold Weinstein’s recent attempt, in his survey of twentieth-century Scandinavian literature, to ‘illuminate the violence and reach of the concept’, which for Weinstein concerns ‘its entangled view of God and Patriarchy, its search for freedoms at once artistic and moral’. As Weinstein suggests, the problem is partly a question of technique, and partly also a crisis of generational authority, the question of ‘how to graph the flowing currents – neural, affective, cultural, electric – that animate and link subject and environment; how to annihilate the old forms of behaviour and expression that wall us in, so as to make something new; how to resist the father’s law so that the children might be free’.4 In other words, it returns to the dual notion of modernity proposed by Jameson, to the simultaneous sense of rupture and continuity upon which the whole basis of the modernist breakthrough relies.



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3 Adorno, Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992; first published Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1960), 5–6. 4 Arnold Weinstein, Northern Arts: The Breakthrough of Scandinavian Literature and Art, from Ibsen to Bergman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 1–2.

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ЙЙCarl Nielsen: Symbolist

Nielsen’s journey  across the Storebælt from Funen to Copenhagen in January 1884, later narrated in the (tantalisingly poised) final section of his Erindringsbog, Min Fynske Barndom, to study at the Royal Danish Conservatory, represented a breakthrough of different kinds. Nielsen’s voyage symbolised not simply a rite of passage or coming-of-age, but also signalled a state of alienation, the collision of radically different world views and cultural environments (rural Funen versus cosmopolitan urban Copenhagen): a collision that later played itself out in much of his musical work. It becomes, figuratively, the kernel of his later experiences as a modernist artist. Yet the timing of his arrival in the capital was crucial: barely a year earlier, in 1883 (the year that Richard Wagner died), Georg Morris Cohen Brandes’s ground­breaking collection of critical essays, Det moderne Gjennembruds Mænd (‘Men of the Modern Breakthrough’), was published in Copenhagen.5 Brandes’s book became a touchstone that gathered together a series of literary portraits with the ‘intention of characterising a group of men, who here in the North have led and promoted the modern literary movement.’ 6 Brandes’s list of modern writers included Norwegians Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Henrik Ibsen, as well as Danes Jens Peter Jacobsen, Holger Drachmann, Erik Skram, and his own brother, Edvard Brandes. The significance of Brandes’s book, which was based on his lectures at Copenhagen University, was not simply the insights it offered into the work of authors (including Jacobsen and Ibsen) who, at that stage, were relatively little known even within Scandinavia, but also the identification of a modernist wave in Nordic culture.7 As the symbolist writer Johannes Jørgensen later remarked, ‘it is from and with Georg Brandes that we date modern Danish literature, in the sense that it is consciously and





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5 For a survey, see Dansk Literatur Historie, vol 4: Fra Georg Brandes til Johannes V. Jensen (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1977); and also Henrik Wivel, Den Store Stil: Dansk symbolisme og impressionisme omkring år 1900 (Copenhagen: Fogtdal, 1995) and Henrik Wivel (ed.), Drømmetid: Fortællinger fra det sjælelige gennembruds København (Copenhagen: Gads Forlag, 2004). Brandes lived for a time in Berlin, but returned to Denmark partly because of anti-semitism in the Prussian capital. He later wrote a series of articles in strong support of Lieutenant Dreyfus. 6 ‘Hensigt at karakterisere en Gruppe af de Mænd, som her i Norden have hidført og fremmet den moderne literære Bevægelse.’ Georg Brandes, Det moderne Gjennembruds Mænd, revised 2nd edn (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1891) [first published November 1883], forord. 7 Brandes’s lectures were published in a series of six volumes entitled Hovedstrømninger i det 19de Aarhundredes Literatur [‘Principal Trends in Nineteenth-Century Literature’], 1872–90. A selection of his correspondence has been translated and published in English by W. Glyn Jones, 2 vols (Norwich: Norvik Press, 1990).

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deliberately aware of its own modernism’.8 In other words, it signalled both the sense of rupture, of a new beginning, and the process of periodisation, the definition and articulation of a modernist age, which Jameson describes as an integral stage in any modernist project. And for Nielsen, Brandes’s intervention in Danish cultural politics was a decisive and formative encounter. Brandes’s polemic proceeded in a number of directions at once. It sought both to disseminate a significant body of recent Scandinavian work, including the work of figures such as J. P. Jacobsen who would later (posthumously) become a significant influence on a whole generation of fin-de-siècle European artists, writers, and musicians, and it also sought to introduce Danish readers to the latest developments in European literature. Jacobsen’s major works included the poetic cycle Gurresange, which later became the source text for Schoenberg’s massive cantata for orchestra and orchestra, Gurrelieder, and the highly influential Bildungsroman Niels Lyhne, which inspired Thomas Mann and formed the basis of Delius’s opera Fennimore and Gerda. Brandes was largely responsible for the Ibsen craze which swept Germany and France in the early 1890s and which haunted dramatists such as Maurice Maeterlinck, and he was also the major proponent of Strindberg’s new work through his series of lectures in Copenhagen in the late 1880s.9 A further task was to try and achieve a professional level of literary criticism, and bring currents from European literature and philosophy, particularly the writings of Baudelaire and Nietzsche, into Danish cultural life for the first time. Brandes’s work included a volume entitled Mennesker og Værker i nyere europæiske Literatur (‘People and Works in Newer European Literature’, 1883), which contained essays on a range of prominent authors such as Goethe, John Stuart Mill, Ernest Renan, Gustave Flaubert, and the Goncourt brothers. His work thus served both an academic purpose and also presented a challenging aesthetic manifesto. His interest in symbolism, decadence, and in the emergent aesthetics of Nervenkunst, set him at odds with other leading contemporary thinkers in Danish cultural life, notably Harald Høffding, whose neo-Kantian thesis Psykologi i Omrids paa Grundlag af Erfaring (1882), a key text in latenineteeth-century materialism, preceded Det moderne Gjennembruds Mænd by barely a year. Yet Brandes remained a remarkably eclectic and politically committed writer throughout his life – later articles included prescient essays on the dangers of the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Brandes’s modernist project was amplified, promoted, and widely discussed in the pages of new artistic and literary periodicals that appeared in the years following the publication of Det moderne Gjennembruds Mænd. In that sense, modernism in Denmark broadly paralleled other trends in

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8 ‘Det er fra og med Georg Brandes vi daterer den modern dansk Literatur, den, der principielt er sig sin Modernisme bevidst.’ Johannes Jørgensen, ‘Romantikken i moderne dansk Literatur’, Tilskueren 22 (1905), 97–114, at 98. 9 Bradbury and McFarlane, Modernism, 43.

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late nineteenth-century Europe, notably Berlin and Paris, in that it became, at least in part, a self-perpetuating phenomenon, conducted through essays in specialist journals and the popular press.10 Significant modernist publications in Denmark included the appropriately titled journal Ny Jord (‘New Earth’), which carried articles by avant-garde Norwegian authors Arne Garborg and Knut Hamsun – including, for instance, the first part of Hamsun’s radical novella Sult (‘Hunger’), published anonymously, a work that became a key modernist text for later writers such as Franz Kafka. The journal also dedicated itself, like Brandes’s lectures, to disseminating trends in recent European literature. An essay by Gustav Hetsch which appeared in the first issue entitled ‘Lidt om Kunst’ (‘Art in Brief’), for example, principally concerned naturalism in Zola, yet also pointed towards the new modernist idea of stemning (‘mood’) in Nordic literature, the merging of atmosphere and emotional expression that became a defining feature of symbolism and which, for Hetsch, explicitly suggested a parallel with musical communication: By ‘mood’ we understand precisely the background from which reciprocally related articulated feelings emerge, and it is only a difference of degree which separates the conceptually determined feeling from the more general chaotic-dark mood, a difference of degree in the clarity and demarcation of perception, which is greater or lesser in the various branches of music.11 Other important articles in Ny Jord included A. G. Drachmann’s discussion of sexual equality and gender, ‘Det sædelige Lighedskrav’ (‘The Demand for Moral Equality’), influenced by Ibsen’s plays and which in turn anticipated the controversy caused by later discussions such as Otto Weininger’s notorious and widely read Geschlecht und Charakter (1903), Svend Hansen’s essays on Schopenhauer and art, Hetsch’s mythic analysis of Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk, ‘Om Gralsagnet og Richard Wagners Parsifal’ (‘On the Grail Saga and Richard Wagner’s Parsifal’), which sought to establish the properly Nordic origins of Wagner’s work, and Sophus Michaëlis’s translations from Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra, which appeared in Ny Jord 3 (1889), barely four years after the book’s publication in Germany and coincident with Brandes’s latest lectures on Nietzsche’s work. Both Ny Jord and other comparable journals, such as Ungt Blod (‘Young 10 Ibid. 37–9. 11 ‘Ved ‘Stemning’ forstaar vi netop den baggrund, hvoraf indbyrdes beslægtede artikulerede følelser træde frem, og det er kun en gradsforskel, der gør sig gældende mellem den begrebsbestemte følelse og den mere omfattende chaotiskdunkle stemming, en gradsforskel i forestillingernes tydelighed og afgrænsethed, der er stor eller mindre i de forskellige grene af musik.’ Gustav Hetsch, ‘Lidt om Kunst’, Ny Jord 1 (1888), 61–73, at 72.

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Blood’),12 were relatively short-lived, appearing for only a few years either side of the turn of the century – a mark, in fact, of the intensive role they played in the debates about modernism in Danish culture at the fin-de-­siècle. Among these contributions, the journal Taarnet (‘The Tower’), founded by Johannes Jørgensen in 1893, was especially prominent. The title of Jørgensen’s journal had a double meaning – it referred both to the poetic idea of the tower as artistic/philosophical refuge or elite chamber, after its use in Huysmans’s decadent novel À rebours (an image which would also appeal to W. B. Yeats), and, more prosaically, to Jørgensen’s own apartment at the corner of H. C. Ørstedsvej and Kastanievej in the elegant Copenhagen suburb of Frederiksberg.13 Though it was published for barely two years, Taarnet’s material included works by young decadent poet Sophus Claussen, essays on J. P. Jacobsen, and early drawings by the artist Svend Hammershøi, brother of the painter Vilhelm Hammershøi. Jørgensen’s own contributions included an essay entitled simply ‘Symbolisme’, in which he declared ‘all genuine art is and becomes symbolic. Throughout the great masters one finds Nature conceived as an outer sign of inner spiritual life. Therefore many of their products appear dark and obscure: their works are like those painted window panes with which Goethe compares his poetry: they must be seen from inside.’ 14 For Jørgensen, symbolism was ‘convinced of the identity of thought and being. That being which reveals itself in the outer phenomena of existence is (according to this philosophy) the same as that which dwells within men’s souls. Soul and World are one.’ 15 Quoting from Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra, Jørgensen concluded: ‘Actually, it is my firm conviction that a true view of the world must necessarily be mystic. The world is deep. And only the shallow minds fail to perceive that.’ 16 In a later polemical piece entitled ‘Nutidens ­danske Literatur’ (‘Contemporary Danish Literature’), he sought to build upon 12 As Jørgen I. Jensen notes, Carl Nielsen was among the names listed on the title page of the inaugural issue of Ungt Blod in 1894, alongside writers Sophus Claussen, Ludvig Holstein, Holger Drachmann, Sophus Michaëlis, and Johannes Jørgensen; Danskeren, 120. 13 Henrik Wivel, ‘Verden er Dyb’, in Drømmetid, ed. Wivel, 12–32, at 18–19 and 28. 14 ‘Al ægte Kunst er og bliver symbolsk. Overalt hos de store Mestre finder man Naturen opfattet som et ydre Tegn paa et indre sjæleligt Liv. Derfor synes saa mange af deres Frembringelser den Udenforstaaende dunkle og ufattelige; deres Værker er som hine gemalte Fensterscheiben, hvormed Goethe lignede sine Digte: de maa ses indenfra.’ Johannes Jørgensen, ‘Symbolisme’ (November 1893), in Taarnet: En Antologi af Tekster, ed. Carl Bergstrøm Nielsen (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1966), 58. 15 ‘[Symbolismen er] overbevist om Identiteten af Tænken og Væren. Det Væsen, som aabenbarer sig i Tilværelsens ydre Fænomener, er (ifølge denne Filosofi) det samme, som lever i Menneskets Sjæl. Sjæl og Verden er ét.’ Ibid., 57. 16 ‘Det er tilmed min faste Overbevisning, at en sand Verdensanskuelse nødvendigt maa være mystisk. Verden er dyb. Og kun de flade Aander fatter det ikke.’ Ibid., 59.

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Brandes’s model.17 Yet Jørgensen’s innovation was to perceive this new writing as a sign of cultural decay. In that sense, his work was more powerfully allied to a decadent aesthetic, to the sense of things falling apart. For Jørgensen, this downward trajectory was initiated partly by the legacy of Denmark’s political fortunes in the second half of the nineteenth century, especially the defeat in the 1864 border war with Prussia. Opposing the ‘high ideals’ of earlier Danish romantic writers such as Paludan-Müller and Kierkegaard, he juxtaposed the image of a terrifying mutilation (‘en frygtelig Lemlæstelse’) after the ‘amputation of southern Jutland’ (‘Sønderjyllands Amputation’); it was this morbid vision which prompted his call, inspired by Brandes, for a radical new realism in Danish writing: And it was a bitter cordial that Brandes wished to offer. The poetry that he called into being rested upon truthful and sober description of the harsh and cold reality. The Danish people, who recently fell heavily from their dreamy flight, should confront life’s pain and suffering face to face in a new literature as though in an uncompromising mirror. The dream, that dangerous dream, which conceals the real world, must be blown aside; one should see life as it is.18 It was precisely through this pessimistic vision, Jørgensen believed, that new Danish poetry came closest to contemporary Russian and French literature – to the works of Baudelaire and Zola, or Tolstoy and Turgenev, which were newly read and digested in Danish circles. In other words, it traced the same dialectic of inward and outward impulses, local and cosmopolitan trends, that forms a recurrent thread in fin-de-siècle Danish culture. Yet the descending thrust of Jørgensen’s critique in many ways seems opposed to the energetic upward impulse of much of Nielsen’s music, and this sharp divergence in expressive direction points to a deeper aesthetic shift in the years either side of the turn of the century. The wider philosophical and aesthetic background to this shift can be traced in a third influential periodical, one that substantially outlived other

17 It should be noted that Brandes felt that Jørgensen had partly misread his work, and objected in an article in the daily newspaper Politiken that his use of the Danish word ‘Naturalisme’, picked up by Jørgensen, referred not to Zola but to English literature from the early nineteenth-century and beyond (via authors such as Shelley, Herbert Spencer, and Charles Darwin). 18 ‘Og en bitter Styrkedrik var det, Georg Brandes vilde byde. Den Digtning, han kaldte til Liv, gik ud paa sanddru og nøgtern Skildring af den barske og kolde Virkelighed. Det danske Folk, der nylig var styrtet saa tungt fra sin Drømmeflugt, skulde i en ny Literatur som i et ubestikkeligt Spejl se Livets Jammer og Elende Ansigt til Ansigt. Drømmen, den farlige drøm, der dølger den virkelige Verden, skulde fare hen; man skulde se Livet som det var.’ Johannes Jørgensen, ‘Nutidens danske Literatur’, Taarnet, December 1893, reprinted in Taarnet (1893–4): en Antologi af Tekster, 150–63 at 152.

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late nineteenth-century Danish journals: Tilskueren (‘The Spectator’). First published in 1884, the year that Nielsen arrived in Copenhagen to begin his conservatory studies and twelve months after the appearance of Det moderne Gjennembruds Mænd, it was a publication to which both Brandes and later Nielsen himself became significant contributors. Early issues paralleled the content of other journals such as Ny Jord and Taarnet. Holger Mygind’s essay (‘On Memory and Fantasy: Aphoristic Remarks’) in the first volume, for example, developed a phenomenological model of Nervenkunst that anticipates the work of later writers such as Henri Bergson or Marcel Proust, a process through which ‘sense impressions call forth a transformed ordering of the mind’s inner impressions so that they begin to vibrate in a different way than before, without in any sense corresponding closely to the original conditions’; but it was with ‘the help of memory … that one becomes in a position to gather experience, and compare and deduce the results’.19 Mygind’s work thus argued for the collapsing of temporal boundaries, the essential simultaneity of memory and experience, which Bradbury and McFarlane maintain later became one of the defining features of modernism. Brandes contributed material from his groundbreaking lectures on Nietzsche at Copenhagen University in two articles, one on Zarathustrian ‘Aristokratisk Radikalisme’ (‘Aristocratic Radicalism’, 1889), and a second on ‘Det store Menneske, Kulturens Kilde’ (‘The Superman, the Source of Culture’, 1890), essays which prompted a substantial reply in Harald Høffding’s ‘Filosofi som Kunst’ in 1893.20 Yet equally significant were Jørgensen’s Brandes-inspired series of portraits of figures in contemporary literature, ‘En ny Digtning’, in the tenth anniversary volume (1893): on Edgar Allen Poe (May); Paul Verlaine (June/July); Stephane Mallarmé (August); and Joris-Karl Huysmans (October). In this latter essay, Jørgensen pondered Huysman’s synaesthesia comparison between different kinds of alcohol and the timbres of various instruments in an orchestra. But his essay on Poe is more remarkable for its nihilism. Here, Jørgensen developed the sense of pessimism which pervades his writing in 19 ‘Sanseindtryk fremkaldte en forandret Anordning af Hjærnens Indetryker [sic], saaledes at de kom til at vibrere paa en anden Maade end tidligere, uden nogen Sinde at vende nøiagtig til de oprindelige Forhold … [Det er ved] Hjælp af Erindringen … at man bliver i Stand til at samle Erfaring, til at sammenligne og uddrage Resultater.’ Holger Mygind, ‘Om Erindring og Fantasi, aforistiske Bemærkninger’, Tilskueren 1 (1884), 361–78, at 364–5. 20 Wivel, Den Store Stil, 17. Brandes’ lectures were later gathered together and published as a monograph, which was widely translated. In his 1889 ‘Essay on Aristocratic Radicalism’, Brandes declared: ‘With [Nietzsche] the beautiful, the good and the noble always have a sense of the aristocratic. The aristocratic moral valuation proceeds from a triumphant affirmation, a yea-saying, which we find in the Homeric heroes: We, the noble, beautiful and brave – we are the good, the beloved of the gods. These are strong men, charged with force, who delight in warlike deeds, to whom, in other words, happiness is activity.’ Georg Brandes, Friedrich Nietzsche, trans. A. G. Chater (New York: Macmillan, 1914), 29.

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31

Taarnet with an even greater sense of urgency. Modern poetry after Poe, he maintained, is ‘Menneskeaandens Protest mod Tiden og Verden’ (‘the human spirit’s protest against time and the world’). Yet for Jørgensen it offered only a picture of conflict, fear, and bloodshed: This world was won through a century’s struggle. Kings’ heads must fall, cities’ blood be spilt, before this modern society could arise. And now it stands before us – a travesty of all the noble dreams of the revolutionaries – hateful, unjust, and real.21 The only alternative, Jørgensen argued, was a spiritual revolution – he later converted to Catholicism – and a deliberate turning away from the world. It was here that true artists could find salvation ‘i en evig Skønheds Riger og paa Kysterne af en udødelig Drøm (‘in the realms of eternal beauty and on the shores of an immortal dream’), a Schopenhauerian vision of dissolution or Auflösung that undercuts the more objective, naturalist thrust of Brandes’s aesthetics. Jørgensen and Nielsen were later collaborators on a large-scale project, the cantata Søvnen (‘Sleep’, 1903), a work which at its apex grasps the dissonant pain of Jørgensen’s angst yet that ultimately ends in a calm, consonant, and more restful state.22 Nielsen properly approaches Jørgensen’s sense of nihilism in the final number of his Musik til fem Digte af J. P. Jacobsen, op. 4, ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’ (Ex. 2.1). Earlier songs in the set illustrate the diversity of Jacobsen’s writing: from the exoticism of ‘I Seraillets Have’ (In the Seraglio Garden) to the languorous yearning of ‘Til Asali’ and the playfulness of ‘Irmelin Rose’. Yet, as Niels Ingwersen has observed, Jacobsen’s work is frequently marked by a sense of bleak pessimism: encouraged by Brandes, he translated Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, but Darwin’s idea of evolution for Jacobsen quickly came to symbolise a futile struggle, rather than an energising life-force, and much of his later writing is marked by this mood of loneliness and decline.23 ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’ is exemplary in this 21 ‘Denne Verden er vunden gennem et Aarhundredes Kampe. Kongehoveder har maattet falde, Byers Blod udgydes, for at dette moderne Samfund kunde rejse sig. Og nu staar det der – et Vrængbillede af alt, hvad Revolutionernes ædleste Drømmere vilde – hæsligt, uretfærdigt og virkeligt.’ Johannes Jørgensen, ‘En ny Digtning: Edgar Allen Poe’, Tilskueren 10 (1893), 376. A similar spirit motivates Johannes V. Jensen’s great turn-of-the-century novel, Kongens Fald (‘The Fall of the King’). 22 On their correspondence, and Nielsen’s early drafts for the work’s text, see Elly Bruunshuus Petersen, ‘Carl Nielsen, Søvnen, opus 18, En musiktekst bliver til’, Fund og Forskning 43 (2004), 405–22. Significantly, the closing bars of Nielsen’s work echo the final moments of Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem. 23 Niels Ingwersen, ‘The Modern Breakthrough’, in A History of Danish Literature, ed. Sven H. Rossel, A History of Scandinavian Literature 1 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), 261–317, at 268–71.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

Ex. 2.1  Nielsen, ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’, Musik til fem Digte af J. P. Jacobsen, op. 4/5

b & b b 46

∑ Œ

b &b b ˙

Œ ˙. ˙.

pp

˙. ˙.

˙.. ˙

˙.. ˙

˙.. ˙

˙.. ˙

˙. n ˙.

˙.. ˙

˙.

œ i

˙

b˙. b ˙˙..

n˙˙ ˙

˙. ˙.

˙ ˙

n˙.

b & b b ˙˙.. ˙.

b˙. b ˙.

n ˙. n ˙. Œ Œ œ

og

œ

en

for

bœ œ b˙ b˙ bœ œ b ˙ b ˙˙

˙. w. n˙.

˙



˙

œ b˙

aab - ner Nat - ten Him - lens Borg

Œ

b˙. ˙.

˙. b ˙.

˙˙. .

b˙ ˙

Œ

˙˙..

˙˙..

˙. ˙.

˙˙..

œ bœ

tav

œ b˙.

˙

bœ œ bœ bœ œ b œ ˙. ˙.

? bœ

-

se

Sorg

Œ

og

Œ œ œ œ bœ



bœ œ ˙. œ œœ ˙.

˙ ˙ Œ&

œ ˙ nœ ˙ œ ˙ bœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ ˙˙ nnœ ˙ nœ ˙ œ. ˙. œ œ bœ œ œ œ

˙. ˙.

˙

œ

saa

œ bœ ˙ ˙ bœ b˙ œ œœ œ œ ˙.. ˙ bœ b ˙ œ

? bb b˙ œbœ ˙. b n˙. ˙.

Nielsen.indb 32

˙

b˙.

med e - vigt Tung - sinds

b &b b Ó Œ

œ bœ

Dug,

b ˙. & b b Œ Œ œ b˙ œ

14

sin Sorg

˙. ˙.

9

? b ˙. b b b˙.

al

œ

˙

˙. ˙.

b˙. b>˙.

b & b b ˙. ˙.

œ

˙. ˙.

n˙˙.. ˙. >

? bb b ˙. ˙.

˙

œ

˙

˙. ˙.

den ud

b & b b ˙. ˙.

œ

˙. ˙.

œ ˙

grædt

˙ œœ

˙. ˙. f

? b 46 Ó bb

5

Œ Œ Œ

Har Dag - gen san - ket

b & b b 46 Ó Piano

Ó

˙ Œ

Ó

en

œ bœ ˙ œ bœ ˙ œ œ

Œ

Œ Œ œ

og

b˙˙. b ˙.



œ

to

for

˙

to

bb œ bb

gaa

n˙˙ bbœœœ bn˙˙. œbœ ˙˙. bœ bb b ˙. œ b n ˙ b œ n ˙.

˙ bœ bœ ˙ bœ bœ ˙ bw . ˙.

dim.

œ œ ˙. ˙



b˙ b˙˙

œœ b œ b bb

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Thresholds 18

bb &b b ˙

fjer

œ œ œ œ -

ne

Verd - ners

Ex. 2.1 continued

œ œœ œ ˙ Ge

-

nier frem

œ œ œ œ

˙

œ

af

33

Him

-

mel - dy

-

bets

bb œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ &b b ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ˙ œ œ œ œ œ œ > > > > > poco animato . ˙ ˙. ? bb ˙. w. ˙ œ b b ˙. ˙. . . ˙ w ˙ œ 21

b & b bb œ œ œ œ ˙ dunk

-

œ

le Gjem.

og

˙.

˙

œœ ˙

højt

o - ver Jor

œœ ˙ -

œ œ

dens Lyst

og E-

b ‰ œœ œ ‰ œœ œ ‰ œœ œ ‰ œœ œ & b bb œ œ œ œ ˙ œœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ? bb b ˙. b ˙.

˙. ˙.

24

b & b bb b˙. -len

-

œ ˙ œ ˙

œ n˙ œ n˙

˙

œ

de

med



Stjer

nœ -



ne -

kjer

b˙. b ˙. #œ -

˙. ˙.





ter

højt

#œ #˙

i Hæn - de

# ˙. b œ œ œ œ nnœ˙ nœ#œ œ œ œ #œœ nœ n ? # ˙. ‰ n œ . & b bb ‰ œ œ œ n˙ . n œn œ # œ nnœœ #œœ nœ œœ n œ ? bb b b n˙. n ˙.

n˙. ˙.

j b & b bb nœ. œ #œ n˙

27

nœ #˙.

skri - de de lang - somt

? bb b #n˙˙.. b

nn˙˙..

? bb b œ #œ nœ œ #œ #œ b œ #œ nœ œ #œ #œ

Nielsen.indb 33

n˙ n˙

#˙. #˙.

hen

œ nœ ‹œ

o - ver

##˙˙..

mf

#œ #œ

#˙.



œ nœ #œ œ #œ nœ œ nœ #œ œ #œ nœ #˙.

Him

-

-

-

˙

b œ œ œbœbœ œbœbœ

nœ #œ œ œ œ œ #˙ #‹œœ b œœ b œ b œ œ b œ nœ # ˙. œ ‹œ œ œ œ œ œbœ &œ œbœ ˙ ˙

#œ n˙. # œ n ˙.

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34

Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

30

b b #˙. &b b

Ex. 2.1 continued

Œ Œ œ b˙

Ó.

len.

b b nœ &b b

? bb bb œ ‰ w. 33

b b˙. & b bb

Sorg

j œ. œ

j œ

œ bœ

œ

De Fod

-

trin

˙ ˙.



œ œ œ



œ

skif

i

sin

-

˙

œ bœ œ bœ

36

b & b b Ó. b &b b ˙ w.

œ œ œ œ

œ

˙

con espress.

40

b ˙ &b b

j œ œ. bœ œ

Nielsen.indb 34

œ œœ œ

˙˙ ˙ jfi ˙ œ ˙.

te

œ

˙

œœ œ œ

-

j œœ œœ œ- œ-

. nœœœ.. dim. - -j œœ. œœ œœ . fij œ w.

de

˙. ˙. dim.

nœ nœ

˙ ˙

˙ ˙

˙ nœ œ ˙ œ & bbb Œ œ

œ ˙ œ ˙

œ ˙

j œ œ. œ œ

for Rum - mets kold - de

Vin - de

nœ ˙w .

œ b˙

n˙ n w.

nœ œ. nœj w .

ken - de Flam

˙˙ ˙˙˙

bbb



œ

w. w. w.

˙. flak

med

˙. ˙.

molto cresc.

nw . w .. w

Stjer - ne - kjer - ter -nes

b &b b ˙ ˙f ˙ ? bb ˙ b fij œ ˙.

-

œ ˙ w.

∏∏∏∏∏∏∏

? b w. b b w. w.

vif

te

-

Ó.

nœ nœ

˙ ˙

œ œ

j œ. œ nœ œ. œJ œ Ó

un - der ligt

œ

˙. ˙.

- bœ œ b ˙ b œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ b b œ œ œ ? b b ˙ b œ . œ &b b ‰ J œ bœ œ œ œ b œ œ ˙‰ bœœ œœ œœ J ? bb b b œ œ



-œ -œ b œ b -œ œ b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œnœ œ œbœ bœ œ œ œ œ nœœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œœœœœ

œ œ œ œ œ œbœ œ œ œ œ j œ. œ

˙.

œ

˙

Ó.

œ ˙



#w . n w. w. œ

-

œ ˙˙ ˙

Œ Œ

Ó.

mer.

. ˙. ˙˙ œ ˙ ˙ nœ nœ

œœ œœœ #˙. ˙ ˙.

œ

bbb

mp

œ ˙. œ ˙.

œ œ ˙˙˙˙...

> œ

˙. ˙.

07/12/2010 12:01

Thresholds 44

b & b b ˙˙. ˙. ? b ˙. bb ˙

œ œ ˙˙˙˙... œ

˙. ˙.

> œ

Ex. 2.1 continued

˙˙. ˙. ˙. ˙

œ œ ˙˙˙˙... œ

˙. ˙.

> œ

œ˙. ˙ ˙.

dim. pp rit. ppp

˙. ˙.

U ˙. ˙. ˙˙.. ˙.

35

U ˙. ˙˙.. “‘

respect. The poem’s text unfolds an intense existential vision of the cosmos, from evening twilight to the bleak white stars of the sky: Har Dagen Sanket al sin Sorg Og grædt den ud i Dug Saa aabner Natten Himlens Borg Med evigt Tungsinds tavse Sorg. Og en for en Og to for to Gaa fjerne Verd’ners Genier frem Af Himmeldybets dunkle Gjem. Og højt over Jordens Lyst og Elende Med Stjernekjerter højt i Hænde Skride de langsomt hen over Himlen. De Fodtrin skifte Med Sorg i Sinde. Underligt vifte For Rummets kolde Vinde Stjernekjerternes flakkende Flammer.24 When Day has gathered all its sorrow And wept it out in dew Then Night opens Heaven’s castle With eternal melancholy’s silent sorrow. And one by one And two by two The spirits of distant worlds appear From the depths of heaven’s dark lair. And high above the World’s joy and misery With star-candles held aloft They stride slowly across the heavens. 24 Texts taken from J. P. Jacobsen, Digte og Udkast, ed. Edvard Brandes and Vilhelm Møller, 2nd edn (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1900). Jacobsen’s poems were first published posthumously only in 1886; Edvard Brandes was Georg Brandes’s brother.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Step by step they proceed With sorrowful minds. Strangely flutter In the cold winds of Space The Star-candles’ flickering flames.

Jacobsen’s poem invokes a mythic epiphany: the image of heaven’s castle is a powerfully symbolist trope, suggesting a distantly remote kingdom, whose mysterious lights (the star-candles) flicker in the cold winds of space, far above the mortal earthly sphere. Its mood of transience and mortality anticipates that of the Midnight Song, ‘O Mensch! Gib Acht!’, in part IV of Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra (§12), a text which appealed to other fin-de-siècle musicians such as Gustav Mahler. Both texts suggest a state of existential emptiness: a crippling sense of human frailty amid the vast darkness of the night. Jørgensen’s symbolist unity of thought and being have here become negation. Nielsen’s setting responds powerfully to the poem’s feeling of ambiguity and suspension. As Anne-Marie Reynolds has observed, the song outlines a remarkably compressed rounded binary structure: the relative terseness of the formal return conveys ‘both a sense of continual movement (through contrast) and stasis (through recurrence) appropriate to the image of spirits gliding across the heavens, as well as to the aimless tirelessness of their activity’.25 Yet the song achieves an even deeper sense of ambiguity at the level of tonal structure, as Reynolds carefully notes. The opening bars intone a solemn C minor, with a strongly triadic subject. Yet C minor is only very weakly established here, in spite of the music’s initial insistence on the tonic chord. As a voice-leading analysis of the song illustrates (Ex. 2:2a), the song might more reasonably be heard in Eb major – or, most persuasively, in Ab – given the music’s pattern of cadential articulation. Hence, as Reynolds suggests, ‘the tonic [C minor] is virtually superfluous in Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg, a sort of backdrop to the centre-stage interaction of iii and VI.’ 26 As early as b. 5, Nielsen moves towards the dominant of the relative major (Eb), only to shift modes deceptively (to Eb minor) at the last moment as ‘Night opens Heaven’s castle’ (‘Saa aabner Natten Himlens Borg’) in b. 6: a telling darkwards turn. This sombre Eb in turn becomes a dominant ‘with eternal melancholy’s silent sorrow’ (‘med evigt Tungsinds tavse Sorg’), though it only properly gains functional status at the interrupted cadence in bb. 17–18. Ab hence becomes the most strongly supported tonality in the song: approached via careful dominant preparation and with full cadential weight. What follows is the song’s most tonally stable music: an image in Ab of the spirits emerging from the depths of Heaven’s dark lair (‘Gaa fjerne Verd’ners Genier 25 Anne-Marie Reynolds, ‘The Early Song Collections: Carl Nielsen Finds his Voice’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller, 399–453 at 403. 26 Reynolds, ‘The Early Song Collections’, 412.

Nielsen.indb 36

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Ex. 2.2  Nielsen, ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’: (a) voice-leading chart;   (b) Schenker, Die freie Satz, fig. 15b; (c) Nielsen, ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’, background schematic

(a)

7

b &b b ˙

œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ

? bb œ˙ b

nœ œ

œJ

i?

œ bœ˙

V/iii 21

13

œ bœ œ œ œ œ nœ



œ bœ œ œ œ

15

bœ œ bœ œ bœ bœ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ nœ nœ œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ

bœœ

œ bœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œnœ œ

V/vi

iii

25

32

œ bœ nœ œ œ œ bœ

VI

V/vi i

˙œ˙

˙ ˙

bb˙œœ bœ nn˙œ œ ˙

˙ ˙

nœ œ #œ œ ˙ œ nœ œ nœ˙ V

˙ œœ bœ œœ nœœ œ ˙ J œ VI!

i

37

˙ bœ & œœ˙ bbœœ˙

V/VI

œ

œ

Thresholds

(c)

œ #œ˙œ

œ œ œJ

36

vi

˙ & œœ ˙

œ bœ

vi

b œ nœ œ & b b œ œ bœœ œœ bœnnœœ nœ #œ nœ##œœ ##œœ#nœœnnœœ #œ nœbnœœ b bœ nœ œœ bœ œ bœœ ˙ nœ ? bb bœ œ œ œ nœ #œ nœ #œ #œ n œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ nœ œ ˙ b œ n n œ b œ nœ #œ #œ

(b)

18

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

frem/Af Himmeldybets dunkle Gjem’). The registral transfer eb1–eb2 in b. 22 on the word ‘high’ (‘højt’) is an example of Nielsen’s word painting, and also opens up melodic space, suggesting a momentary sense of expansiveness and freedom. Yet as soon as the spirits begin to wander, the music drifts in new enharmonic directions (from b. 25), seemingly remote from their Ab startingpoint.27 The music begins to descend in b. 26, suggesting the slow procession of the star-candles across the night sky, returning towards Ab via its dominant in bb. 29–31. The prominent octave leap, d#1–d#2 (b. 29) on the word ‘Himlen’ (‘the heavens’) at the end of this descent is an enharmonic and gestural reference to the earlier moment of register transfer in b. 22. As the spirits step forwards ‘with sorrowful minds’ (‘med sorg i sinde’), the music closes in once more on Ab, so that bb. 31–5 correspond with bb. 9–17. But as it approaches the cadence, Nielsen once again deflects the song’s course, so that it turns back to a cadentially unprepared C minor (b. 36). Indeed, C minor never receives conclusive structural support. The coda oscillates instead between Ab and its dominant, and voice finishes ambivalently, like the final number in Schumann’s Dichterliebe, over an Ab sonority, even as the piano repeatedly intones the opening C minor arpeggio in the treble. As the background sketch in Ex. 2.2c suggests, the structure of ‘Har Dagen Sanket al sin Sorg’ can be heard as a chromatic variation of one of Schenker’s prototype background motions in Der freie Satz. But in reality, the effect is somewhat different: Nielsen creates a powerful sense of suspension, or weightlessness, through his lack of structural support for the C minor tonic. It is almost as though the song has been conceived inside-out: the true tonic, Ab, is revealed only as an illusion, tonicised by the emergence of its dominant, Eb, in the first half of the song, yet ultimately remaining elusive as it slips away again towards C minor in the bleak final bar. The idea of the tonic, in Nielsen’s setting, has become a symbolic presence: imagined, but intangible, like the spirits that stride across the chill night sky in Jacobsen’s poem. A similar sense of ambiguity pervades another of Nielsen’s settings, ‘Genrebillede’ (‘Genre Picture’), the first of the Viser og Vers af J. P. Jacobsen, op. 6 (Ex. 2.3). Jacobsen’s poem presents a Heine-esque scene in which a young 27 It is possible to hear this chord sequence in terms of a Neo-Riemannian operation. The underlying progression C minor – Ab major – (E major) implied in bb. 1–25 corresponds with the ‘Northern’ cycle of Terzverwandschaft (or third progression) identified by Richard Cohn in his ‘Maximally Smooth Cycles, Hexatonic Systems, and the Analysis of Late-Romantic Triadic Progressions’, Music Analysis 15/1 (1996), 9–40, at 17. The problem with this reading is that it arguably accords overly prominent structural status to the E chord in b. 25. Nielsen locally treats this chord functionally as a dominant, in fact, pivoting the music towards A§. He then returns towards the flat-side again by moving via leading-note exchange from A to C# minor (b. 28, reinterpreted as the subdominant of Ab), from which he then approaches V/Ab. Such complex triadic progression becomes axiomatic in much of Nielsen’s later music.

Nielsen.indb 38

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Thresholds

39

Ex. 2.3  Nielsen, ‘Genrebillede’, (a) Viser og Vers af J. P. Jacobsen, op. 6/1;

bb 6 &b b b 4

Piano

5

b & b bbb ˙

œœ œ œœ ˙. œ ˙.

˙.. ˙

mf



œ ˙

saa

vi

b & b bbb Œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ

9

b & b bbb n˙

om

Ó.

˙˙. .

œ ˙

Œ

˙

œ

stir - red’ ud

? bb b b˙. bb b ˙.

-

œ ˙

˙˙..

˙ ˙

œ ˙

-

˙

skovs - kvi

12

faa

det sam

? bb b ˙. bb ˙.

˙. ˙.

w w .. ˙

w w .. œ œ œ bœ

œ ˙

˙˙..

et

˙.

El - skovs - kvad

œœ ˙˙

-

let,

cresc.

˙˙..

œœ

bœ bœ ˙.



-

de,

kun

œ˙ bœ œ œ

nœ œ nœ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

œœ nœœ œœ



˙˙

œœ œœ œœ

un poco più mosso

œ bw . œ b w.

˙ ˙

b & b bbb œ nœ nœ ˙

paa taar - net sad

œœ œœ œœ œœ ˙˙.. ˙. ˙.

dig - ted’ paa

˙. ˙.

œ nœ œ œ El

p

œ œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ nœ œ bœœ œœ œœ œ œœ œ nœœ œœ œœ œ œ œ >œ œ œ >

b & b bbb œœ nœœ œœ nœœ œœ œœ ˙. ˙. ? bb bbb œ ˙ œ ˙

de,

b˙. b ˙.

˙. ˙.

sin

˙

Pa - gen højt

bb 6 & b b b 4 ˙˙.. ? bb b 46 bb





-

œ Œ nœ nœ

de

˙. ˙.



œ n˙

sad

og fam

n˙. n ˙.

n˙. n ˙.

nœ -

led’,

ik - ke

˙. ˙.

œ Œ nœ Œ nœ. sad

og

nœ J

fam - led’

b & b bbb #œ œ nœ œ œ œ #œ nœ nœ nœ#œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ #œ nœ nœ œ#œ œœ œ œ nœ œ nœ nœ #œ nœ nœ # œ n œ bœ n œ

Nielsen.indb 39

˙. ˙.

nœ #œ nœ nœ #œ nœ

07/12/2010 12:01

40

Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 2.3 continued

15

f

b b n˙ &b b b

nœ #œ œ nœ #œ œ œ #œ nœ #œ #œ nœ œ #œ ˙

nu

med

Stjer

-

-

-

-

Œ

ner,

bb #œ ˙. ˙. ˙ & b b b n#˙. œ nœ #œ nœ #œ #œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ #œ #œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ #œ œ f

? bb b nœ nœ #œ nœ #œ nœ #œ #œ œ œ œ œ #œ #œ nœ #œ œ œ œ œ nœ b b n ˙. #˙. ˙. ˙ 17

mf

b b˙ & b bbb

œ œ nœ œ œ nœ ˙

bœ nœ œ œ nœ œ œ nœ

> b b ˙. b b b œ & b bœ nœ bœ œ nœ ˙œ . œ œ œ œ œ nu

med

Ro

-

-

-

-

-

Œ

ser

˙. ˙. œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ nœ œ œ bœ œ

mf

? bb b bœ nœ œ bœ nœ bœ nœ nœ œ œ œ œ nœ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b b b ˙. n˙. w. nœ nœ œ nœ œ œ ˙

19

b œ nœ. œ œ. œ ˙. & b bbb œ. J R J R J R In - tet ri - med’ sig

b & b bbb nnœœ

œ

˙ œ œ

paa Ro

-

-

œ œ nœ

p

Ro

-

œ

œ

œ

bœ œ œ œ nœ œ œ nœ -

-

-

-

bœ œ nœ bœ nœ ˙. bbb bb ˙. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b & b pp

-

ser

nœ nœ œ œ œ nœ œ œ #œ nœ nœ n˙. œ nœ˙

œ œ nœ œ œ nœ ˙

Œ

> - > ser > œœ œœ œœ œ. œ œ œ œ œ Œ œ œ œ œ -

bœ nœ œ nœ œ bœ nœ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ ? bb b b ˙. ˙. ˙. œ bb

Nielsen.indb 40

Œ

mf

? bb b b b #˙ b & b bbb b˙

-

œ

Œ Œ n˙. œ œ #œ œ œ œ n œ n œ œ œ œ # œ n œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ

mp

21

#œ ‹œ

œ œ

nœ nœ

07/12/2010 12:01

23

r j j nœ nœ œ.

3

3

r œ œj œ. J

3

j nœ œ>



f

? bb b œ bb œ

> j nœ œ

3

b & b bbb Œ

j œœ



> j bœ œ

3



> j nœ œ

3

3 œ j r nœ. œ œJ bœ œJ

24

3

? bb b œ j #œ bb œ 26

b & b bbb ˙ El

˙

Œ

œ

b & b bbb œœ œœ-.. - ? b b œœ œœ.. bbb ˙. ˙. b & b bbb ˙

? bb b bb w w ..

ud

j œœ ˙. - ˙-. -j œœ ˙. ˙. œ ˙ œ ˙

o

-

œœ œœ ˙. ˙.

œœ.. œœ..

œ

˙

ver

al

-

j œœ ˙. - ˙-. -j œœ ˙. ˙. œ ˙ œ ˙

-

-

œœ

-

œœ œœ œ œ poco rit.

-

w w ..

œœ œœ œœ

ste

saa

sin

œœ.. œœ..

le

Bjær

j œœ -j œœ

-

œœ.. œœ..

œœ œœ ˙. ˙.

˙˙.. ˙˙. œ. œ

˙ ˙

-

j œœ ˙. - ˙-. -j œœ ˙. ˙. œ ˙ œ ˙

w w ..

˙˙..

-

U ∑

∑ ˙˙..

j œ œ

ge.

˙˙..

3

˙

w.

œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ Œ Œ Ó.

> j nœ œ

œ

œ

poco rit.

dim.

29

b & b bbb ˙˙

skov

blæ

œœ ff fz œ j nœ j j œ j œ œj œœ œ œ œ œ œ ˙. ÆœJ ˙. ˙

‰ 3

Largamente ff

j j j œ ‰ bœ ‰ œ ‰ bbœœœ œ œ œ œ-

œ b˙. -



j #œœ > j bœ œ

3

knu - ge - de vredt sit Vær - ge

j j b & b bbb œœ ‰ nœœ ‰

Nielsen.indb 41

j bœ œ>



molto cresc. 3

j nœœ

œ œj ˙. R

sat - te fort - viv - let saa Hor - net for Mund,

bb j & b b b œœ

41

Ex. 2.3 continued

Accellerando f cresc.

bb j & b b b nœ.

Thresholds

U w w .. w w .. w. u

07/12/2010 12:01

42

Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

page attempts to compose a poem to his beloved, yet gives up in frustration and instead blows his horn so that the sound echoes into the distance: Pagen højt paa Taarnet sad, Stirred’ ud saa vide, Digted’ paa et Elskovskvad Om sin Elskovskvide, Kunde ikke faa det samlet Sad og famled’, Nu med Stjærner, nu med Roser – Intet rimed’ sig paa Roser – Satte fortvivlet saa Hornet for Mund, Knugede vredt sit Værge, Blæste saa sin Elskov ud Over alle Bjærge. The page sat atop the tower, Staring out afar, Composing a love song About his love pangs, Couldn’t get it together, Sat and fumbled, Now with stars, now with roses – Nothing rhymed with roses – Disconsolately set his horn to his mouth, Angrily grasped his weapon, Then blew his love Out of sight. Jacobsen’s text is rich in poetic irony and self-reflexivity: the structure begins to fragment precisely at the point where the young poet begins to struggle with the lines of his verse. It only regains momentum in the final quatrain, where the horn becomes a magic token that gathers up and resolves his pain. As Reynolds notes, the poem can also be read metaphorically, as the search for an individual poetic voice: the page’s difficulties with his love poem reflect Jacobsen’s own attempts to shape and define his own sense of literary style.28 And the tower becomes a symbol of creative isolation and loneliness, as well as an elevated platform for the poet’s enunciation. Nielsen’s setting is appropriately saturated in the Romantic sound of the page’s echoing horn calls, which conventionally function here both as an opening and as a closing signal. The opening call is a cadential gesture that is immediately frustrated: the diminution of the initial 10–5 contrapuntal step in b. 2 (the first half of the familiar ‘Lebewohl’ figure) blurs the sense of tonic, so that the song begins, 28 Reynolds, ‘The Early Song Collections’, 428.

Nielsen.indb 42

07/12/2010 12:01

I V iii V/iii bIV! V/§IV §IV V (V/bV) §V! V/§V §IV V/§IV (III) V/III ii

œœ #œ œœ bœ œ nœœ bœ nœ J J bœ œ J

? bb b ˙œ bb

V/ii

#œ nœ n œ #œ ##œœ J J

nœj # œ nœ

nœ # œ nœ

œ

œ nœ

œœ b & b bbb ˙œ

œ œœ

7 Nielsen.indb 43

43

like ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’, in a state of suspension and ambiguity. The lack of closure and stability in the opening bars subsequently becomes an underlying structural dissonance – a reflection of the poet’s frustration – which the remainder of the song attempts to redress. As Ex. 2.4 shows, the song’s voice-leading is dominated by sequential transpositions of a single contrapuntal progression or paradigm, although there are several points of evasion: the first, and most significant, as Reynolds notes, is the elided F minor chord in bb. 11–12, the next expected step in the rising pattern of sequential repetition, which occurs precisely at the stage when the poet begins to struggle with his verse.29 This chord is delayed, in fact, until b. 23, where it marks the approach to the song’s final structural cadence: the moment where the opening gesture is at last regained and then resolved. The return of this opening gesture becomes a point of considerable musical release, when the poet’s tensions seemingly flood out in the fortissimo restatement of the horn call. But it is also a moment of breakthrough, similar to that identified by Adorno in Mahler’s music, where the unexpected return of familiar material destabilises and then redirects the formal course of the music. That is effectively what happens here: the delayed appearance of the F minor harmony in b. 23 is followed by a swift accumulation, but the opening otherwise returns seemingly unannounced. Having decisively instated the tonic as a stable structural key for the first time, the song can rapidly close, reflecting the text’s own narrative unfolding, the opening

I:I

˙œ

nœ bœ # œ nœ b œ bbœœ

n#œœ

17 15 11

Ex. 2.4  Nielsen, ‘Genrebillede’, voice-leading chart

20

nœ nœ

bn œœ œ nnœœ nœœ bbœœ œ nœ nœ J J

œ

œœ

˙

˙

˙œ

24

25

Thresholds

29 Ibid., 418–19. Other interesting features of the tonal design of the song include the whole-tone bass steps up to the apex in b. 15, and the way this creates another neo-Riemannian thirdcycle as an alternative reading of the song’s structural middleground: Db–A§–F–Db.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

gesture echoing in the piano part as the horn call dies away, its conventional syntactical purpose (closure) finally complete. ‘Genrebillede’ presents in highly compressed form a process of crystallisation, in which the structural tonic is first obscured or suspended and then dramatically ‘breaks through’ in order to articulate itself fully. Such goaldirected schemes in early twentieth-century music often have the character of self-realisation, a gradual process of discovery in which the music’s true identity is initially hidden and then miraculously revealed or attained, often at the work’s greatest point of tension. The tonic hence gains both a structural and symbolic importance: its delayed articulation is necessary for the work to achieve a proper sense of closure, just as the idea of the tonic becomes associated with a sense of subjective agency. A striking counter-example of this process, however, can be found in one of Nielsen’s early piano pieces, the ‘Humoreske’ from the Fem Klaverstykker (Five Piano Pieces), op. 3. The inspiration was once again a poem by J. P. Jacobsen. Nielsen prefaced the score with a couplet from Jacobsen’s poem ‘En arabesk’: ‘Har du faret vild i dunkle Skove?/ Kjender du Pan?’ (‘Have you become lost in the dark forests?/Do you know Pan?’). Nielsen was clearly aware of the work’s radical character, and noted in his diary on 27 October 1890: ‘Composed “The Devil” [the work’s original title] today. Fini [Henriques] believes it is something wholly new in Music.’ 30 To his friend, Emil B. Sachs, the following month, he wrote (using the piece’s final and definitive title): ‘The Arabesque is new and I had Jacobsen’s poem “Arabesque” in mind when I composed it. All musicians call the [five] pieces very original and [in German:] ‘enchanting’ and a young, gifted Finnish composer Jernfeldt [sic] even said today that the Arabesque is something completely new in music.’ 31 David Fanning has more recently downplayed the connection with Jacobsen’s text, noting that the work’s first title, ‘The Devil’, is perhaps a more accurate reflection of its character than the complex, shifting moods of Jacobsen’s poem. Indeed, the first stanza of Jacobsen’s text reads as follows: Har du faret vild i dunkle Skove? Kender du Pan? Jeg har følt ham, Ikke i de dunkle Skove, Medens alt tiende talte, Nej! Den Pan har jeg aldrig kendt, 30 ‘Componerede “Fanden” idag. Fini mener at det er noget helt Nyt i Musikken.’ CNB 1, 137. 31 ‘Arabesken er nyt og er komponeret med Jacobsens digt “Arabeske” for Øje. Alle Musikere kalder Stykkerne meget originale og ‘märchenhaft’ og en ung, begavet finsk Componist, Jernfeldt sagde en Dag at Arabesken var noget hèlt Nyt i Musiken.’ Letter dated 23 November 1890; CNB 1, 151. Armas Järnefelt was Sibelius’s future brother-in-law.

Nielsen.indb 44

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Thresholds

45

Men Kærlighedens Pan har jeg følt, Da tav alt talende. Have you become lost in the dark forests? Do you know Pan? I have felt him, Not in the dark forests, While all silence spoke, No! That Pan I have never known, But Love’s Pan I have felt, When all that spoke fell silent. Jacobsen’s notion of arabesque, borrowed from Friedrich Schlegel (who in turn took it from the Persian tradition), refers both to a particular poetic form, consisting of tight rhymes but irregular verse structures, and also to a specific mood or atmosphere, often of exoticism and suppressed erotic desire.32 In that sense, Nielsen’s piano piece may well be a more abstract response to aspects of Jacobsen’s work (Ex. 2.5), including its sense of frustrated longing and complex play with formal convention. The basic outline of Nielsen’s piece is a strongly rounded binary structure, with a contrasting middle section beginning in b. 13, and a reprise in b. 21. The outer sections are framed by a two-bar cadential tag, with which the piece opens and upon which all of its material is based. This tag presents a simple harmonic pun: the opening bar is a third-inversion dominant chord, but the following bar resolves the chord chromatically (to a sharpened mediant, F#) rather than diatonically (to the expected tonic, D). Nielsen reinforces the sense of ambiguity and suspension via the enharmonic reinterpretation of the opening bar’s Bb in b. 2 (A#, the mediant’s raised third), and also by the way in which the turn figure in b. 1 is mirrored by the bass voice-leading (circling either side of G§) in bb. 1–2. A broader inversion of this turn figure can be traced in diminution in the bass in bb. 5–8 (circling around D#),33 before the opening bars return to bring the first section to a close. Nielsen here may be responding to the poetic inversion in the opening stanza of Jacobsen’s text: the subtle shift from ‘While all silence spoke’ to ‘When all that spoke fell silent’. But Nielsen also suspends all sense of stable tonic harmony, similar to the opening of ‘Genrebillede’ and ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’. The tonic has once again become a symbolic 32 This may also have been the inspiration for Schumann’s use of the term, for example in his Arabeske, op. 18, a work which Nielsen surely knew. For a much deeper critical application of the Schlegelian Arabeske as hermeneutic tool, see John Daverio, ‘Schumann’s opus 17 Fantasie and the Arabeske’, in NineteenthCentury Music and the German Romantic Ideology (New York: Macmillan, 1993), 19–47. 33 Notice the way b. 7 projects the opening bar’s figure into a higher register, emphasising the melodic prominence of Bb/A#.

Nielsen.indb 45

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46

Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 2.5  Nielsen, ‘Arabesk’, Fem Klaverstykker, op. 3/3 Moderato q = 58

# & # 42 ‰ œ bœ œ#œ œ Piano

‰ œ ? ## 42 ˙ œ >-

# œ & # ‰ œ œ #œ œ

. œ #œœ ‰ ? j #œ fz fz .j œœ ‰ ##œœ œ #œ -

5

‰ œ ? ## ˙ #œ ># & # ‰ œ bœ œ #œ œ

.j œ œ

9

‰ œœ ? ## ˙ >-

œ #œœ. ‰ ? j œ fz fz. .j j œœ ‰œ œœ #œ œœ -

.j œœ

œ #œœ. ‰ ?œj fz fz. j œ œœ ‰ œ # œ œ -

#œ œ œ œ œ œ ## œ b œ œ œ œbœ & ‰ œ œ œœ ‰ . . ff 5 j pp œ œ ‰ œ. ? ## bbœœ.. œ œ. œJ J

13

# #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ & # ‰ nœ œœ

17

? ## œ. œ.

#œ #œ œ ‹œ -œ

‰ #œœ ‹˙ &

œ #œœ. ‰ ? j œ fz fz. .j j œœ œ‰ œœ #œ œœ œ #œ #œ œ #œ -œ

.j œœ ‰ #œ #˙ n œ

‰ œ bœ œ #œ œ ‰ œœ ˙ >-

j ‰ œœ

bœ. ‰ bœ.

&

.j œœ

œ #œœ. ‰ ?œj fz fz. j œœ ‰ œœ # œ œ -

œ œ bœ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œbœ

ff

œ œ J

.j œœ

5

œ œ œœ ‰ . . j pp œ ‰ œ. œ. œJ

&

j œœ ‰

r r r r ‰ j ‰ #œj œœ. ≈ ‰ œj œœ ≈ ‰ #œj #œœ ≈ ‰ œj œœ ≈ #œ nœ œ nœœ #œ . . . . # œ. . . #œ #œ . œ. #œ. j pp j . . . œ ‰ #œ ‰ #œ ≈ ≈#œ ≈ ≈ #œ ≈ ≈ œ ≈ ≈ œ. #œ

5

ff

# & # ‰ œ bœ œ #œ œ

j œ œ

21

‰ œ ? ## ˙ œ >-

Nielsen.indb 46

‰ œ ˙ œ >-



&

‰ œbœ œ#œ œ

&

.j œœ

œ #œœ. ‰ ?œj fz fz. j œ ‰ œ #œ œœ œ -

&

‰ œ bœ œ #œ œ ‰ œœ ˙ >-

.j œœ

œ #œœ. ‰ ?œj fz fz. j œ ‰ œ #œ œœ œ -

&

07/12/2010 12:01

Thresholds Ex. 2.4 continued

# & # ‰ œ œ œ #œ œ

25

.j œ œ

‰ œ ? ## ˙ #œ ># & # ‰ œ bœ œ #œ œ

29

‰ œœ ? ## ˙ ># & # ‰ œ bœ œ #œ œ

33

. ‰ œœ ? ## ˙

di

.j œœ

. œ #œœ ‰ ? j #œ fz fz. j œœ ‰ ##œœ œ #œ -

#œ #œ œ ‹œ -œ



&

œ #œœ. ‰ ? j œ fz fz .j œœ ‰ œœ #œ œ -

‰ œ bœ œ #œ œ

&

‰ œœ ˙ >-

œ œ bœ œ #œ œ

. j- - mi . œœ ‰ ##œœ ˙

-

-

nu

œ #œ #œ œ #œ -œ .j œœ ‰ n#œœ #˙

‰ #œœ ‹˙

.j œœ

œ œ bœ œ #œ œ

.j œœ

-

. ‰ œœ ˙ -

en

47

-

.j œœ

œ #œœ. ‰ ? j œ fz fz .j œœ ‰ œœ #œ œ -

&

U œ œ ‰? j œ

.-j œœ œ

do

j ‰ œœ U Œ

image or ideal, obscured so that it is only revealed at a later moment. In fact, the middle section scarcely provides any clarification: the opening bar’s Bb is transferred to the bass, where it suddenly assumes a much more disruptive presence. In sharp contrast, bb. 19–20 are a closed phrase in F# minor – an otherwise anomalous unit that reinforces the ‘deceptive’ resolution of the opening bar, which then returns in b. 23. Nielsen leaves resolution until the very last moment – the final quaver beat of the final bar. As a result, the tonic’s authority is completely undermined, any sense of balance offset by the provisional quality of the ending. Nielsen thus presents a characteristically thorny response to Jacobsen’s poem: the restlessness of the opening bar’s turn figure inflects the whole piece so that it is motivated by a sense of things constantly shifting and enigmatically turning back on themselves. It is difficult to imagine a more apt musical realisation of Jacobsen’s principle of arabesque.

ЙЙ‘Like watching a child play with dynamite’

Nielsen’s early piano miniatures and his Jacobsen songs prompt the question of precisely how closely his music can be associated in the 1890s with symbolism and with Brandes’s notion of the modern breakthrough. Even if, as seems likely, Nielsen attended few of Brandes’s university lectures himself, he

Nielsen.indb 47

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

evidently took an active interest in current critical debates concerning subjectivity and consciousness in the light of Brandes’s work. Emilie Demant Hatt recalled that Nielsen and his friends at the conservatory, especially Margrete Rosenborg, and brothers Albert and Emil B. Sachs, keenly discussed such matters in a cultural milieu that seems especially rich in the light of Nielsen’s essentially rural upbringing, barely a few years earlier: ‘They read both old and new literature. They were all musical’, she recalls, ‘they interested themselves in art, philosophy and religion. They practised “free thinking” in all domains.’ 34 Nielsen later recorded his own personal contact with Brandes in a diary entry dated 28 May 1893, the day after he finished a revised version of his setting of Jacobsen’s ‘Solnedgang’: ‘We talked for a long time together about Napoleon, Voltaire[,] Christ and the Evangelical Church. Brandes’s talent is of the most sparkling, incendiary kind. He is never less than totally aware.’ 35 Yet rather than drawing his imagination inwards, in the manner of Jørgensen’s nihilistic Nervenkunst, Brandes’s impact upon Nielsen was evidently more explosive, reaching-out in multiple directions simultaneously. By 1897, he could complain to Gustav Wied of ‘this symbolist nonsense!’ [Det Symbolistvrøvl!],36 stressing instead the masculine strength of his own work. The crystallisation of Nielsen’s anti-decadent stance gained impetus following a further stage of cultural and geographical alienation. His first application for the Anckerske Legat in 1888, a postgraduate scholarship that supported Danish musicians who wished to study abroad for a year, was unsuccessful.37 However, his second application, submitted a year later, was approved, and his study trip to Germany and particularly Paris in 1890–1, followed by a hastily 34 ‘Der læste man baade gammel og nyt Litteratur. Der var alle musikalske. Der interesserede man sig for Kunst, Filosofi og Religion. Der praktiseredes ‘fri Tænking’ paa alle Omraader.’ Demant Hatt, Foraarsbølger, ed. Fellow, 84. 35 ‘Vi talte længe sammen om Napoleon, Voltair, Christus og den Indre Mission. Brandes Begavelse er af den gnistrende, tændende Art. Han er bestandig lysvaagen.’ CNB 1, 297. 36 Letter dated 18 April 897, quoted in CNB 1, 501. 37 Nielsen’s letters of application to the Culture Ministry are reproduced in CNB 1, 64 and 101. In the first, Nielsen lists his teachers at the conservatory, most notably Orla Rosenhoff, and argues that ‘a stay abroad, at my current standpoint and age (23½), will have a developmental and enriching influence upon me’ [et Ophold i Udlandet, paa mit nuværende Standpunkt og Alder (23½ Aar), kunne have en udviklende og befrugtende Indflydelse paa mig]. In the second, he proposes a more detailed study plan: ‘I will spend the first two or three months in Berlin, to hear and study classical and modern opera, I would then like to stay a month in Leipzig, particularly to hear good performances of older and newer symphonic works and to study orchestration. Finally, it is my intention to spend three months in Paris and two months in Rome.’ [Første vil jeg opholde mig to eller tre Maaneder i Berlin, for at høre og studere klassisk og moderne Operamusik, dernæst ønsker jeg at opholde mig en Maaned i Leipzig for navnlig at høre gode Opførelser af ældre og nyere symfoniske Værker, samt studere Instrumentation. Endelig er det min Hensigt at tage et tre Maaneders Ophold i Paris og et Ophold paa to Maaneder i Rom.]

Nielsen.indb 48

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arranged honeymoon in Italy, was arguably the formative experience in his life. The pattern of periphery-centre established by his journey from Funen to Copenhagen in 1884 was therefore amplified a second time, reinforcing the idea of modernist artist as an extra-territorial which became one of the defining themes in Nielsen’s career. Nielsen’s stay in Paris was not only the venue where he met his future wife, sculptress Anne-Marie Brodersen, for the first time. It was also here, in the atelier of Danish artist Jens Ferdinand Willumsen, Jørgen I. Jensen has argued, that Nielsen’s modernism took its decisively energetic, vitalist turn. Nielsen’s Paris sojourn with Willumsen, after extended stops en route in Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin (already a significant centre for Nordic artists and intellectuals and later associated with the Strindberg circle at the Zum Schwarzen Ferkel inn), offered him first-hand experience of the latest developments in one of the major centres of contemporary European music. On 11 March 1891, for example, he attended a memorial concert for César Franck and admired his Piano Quintet, which he described as ‘a splendid work’ (‘et udmærket Arbejde’), and which may also have inspired his decision to explore cyclic forms in many of his large-scale works in the 1890s such as the Symphonic Suite.38 Nielsen later identified Franck as one of his few positive points of reference in a letter to Danish music critic William Behrend, albeit largely as an anti-Wagnerian stick, a view which itself reflects the tone of the Wagner polemics in Paris in the early 1890s: ‘of modern composers I am strongly tempted to place César Franck in the front rank. Wagner can no longer be called either new or modern, in any case most of his works strike me as terribly old-fashioned already, though I except the prelude to Tristan and Isolde and parts of Parsifal and The Mastersingers.’ 39 Nielsen’s Paris trip also served as a poetic awakening: a trip to the botanic gardens, for example, invoked distant images of Jacobsen’s verse and old Danish folk tunes: ‘Saw a pine for the first time and came to think of J. P. Jacobsen. What mystery in a pine against a dark blue sky! … Read some of Svend Grundtvig’s folk songs and revelled in the delightful poetry that resides in these naive, old Danish songs.’ 40 But Nielsen was equally strongly drawn to developments in contemporary European visual art, particularly the paintings of Van Gogh and Rodin’s sculpture. Two years later, after his return to Copenhagen, he was 38 CNB 1, 216. 39 ‘Af moderne Komponister er jeg stærkt tilbøjelig til at sætte Cesar Franck i første Række. Wagner kan jo ikke længere kaldes ny eller moderne, ihvertfald forekommer de fleste af hans Værker mig frygtelig forældede allerede, dog undtager jeg Forspillet til “Tristan und Isolde” og en Del af “Parcifal” og “Mestersangerne”.’ Letter dated 11 March 1895; CNB 1, 408. 40 ‘Saa for første Gang en Pinie og kom til at tænke paa J. P. Jacobsen. Hvilken Mystik over en Pinie mod en mørkeblaa Himmel! … Læste nogle af Svend Grundtvigs Folkeviser og henrykkedes over den dejlige Poesi der hviler over disse naive, gamle danske Viser.’ Diary entry dated 10 March 1891; CNB 1, 216.

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still an integral part of this avant-garde artistic circle. A diary entry dated 30 March 1893, for example, records: ‘At the Free Exhibition. The 25 pictures of van Goch [sic] beat Gaugain [sic] senseless. He is strong-willed and wild and in him one finds an, admittedly, often peculiar and baroque but nevertheless complete and original person. All the other paintings in the exhibition are pale and soft in comparison with his, a comparison one cannot help but make.’ 41 Willumsen was again the key figure: the Free Exhibition was a deliberately anti-establishment circle, comparable with the Impressionist group in Paris or the Viennese Secession, which had first opened in a gallery on Vesterbrogade in a working-class district of Copenhagen, but moved to its own space (designed by leading architect Thorvald Bindesbøll) in the town square for the first time in 1893. With its provocative selection of recent work by modern Danish artists such as Vilhelm Hammershøi and Willumsen himself, alongside Van Gogh and Gauguin, the controversy created by the Free Exhibition readily spilled over into journals such as Tilskueren and the popular press.42 But for Nielsen, it also pointed to his own individual aesthetic angle, a modernist edge that became increasingly prominent in his work as the 1890s progressed. Several of Nielsen’s pieces from the decade share this sense of a new tone, allied to Brandes’s image of the modern breakthrough. The first movement of the Symphonic Suite (1895), for example, is entitled ‘Intonation’, referring both to its placement as a prelude or ‘pre-sounding’ to a larger work, and also to the rhetorical adoption of a new voice or mode of utterance. The entire movement consists of a rigorously two-part contrapuntal texture that generates a physical mass of sound amplified by the unremitting fortissimo dynamic level. Though he pointedly distanced himself from explicitly programmatic associations, Nielsen likened the effect of the ‘Intonation’ to the sight of an ancient oak tree in Gjorslev park outside Copenhagen, and some sense of the tree’s massive girth and twisted, florid crown pervades Nielsen’s heavily stylised piano writing throughout.43 The movement’s prevailing flatwards harmonic 41 ‘Paa den Frie Udstilling. De 25 billeder af van Goch slaar Gaugain ihjel. Han er stærk og vild i sin Villie og hos ham finder man et ganske vidst ofte sært og barokt, men hèlt og originalt Menneske. Alle de andre Billeder paa Udstillingen bliver blege og bløde i Sammenligning med hans, og sammenligne kan man jo ikke godt lade være med.’ CNB 1, 297. 42 Henrik Wivel, Den Store Stil, 11–17. 43 In a revealing letter dated 3 March 1905 to Funen politician Klaus Berntsen, the man who had been one of the principal sponsors behind his studies at the conservatory, Nielsen wrote: ‘The greatest joy and pleasure for me is simply to compose and create. I work unusually intensively and when I am in the middle of a larger work it is so great that I almost cannot contain anything else inside my head. By seeing the sea, the woods or a single proud tree I can become so enchanted that it is as though everything sings to me and reveals its inner character in sound. Many times I have tried to express one or other impression (a large oak tree in Gjorslev park, for example) in notes. Not the tree’s sighing or

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drift is offset through a series of sudden, electrifying shifts to the sharp side such as at b. 10. This process is not merely a local phenomenon but also a large-scale feature that motivates the harmonic design of the whole work; the finale closes in A major, rather than the modally inflected D minor of the first movement, articulating a glowing ‘sharp-side’ resolution of the work’s underlying harmonic tensions. As in many of Nielsen’s works, however, the sense of definitive tonal resolution is withheld until the very last minute, so that momentum is maintained for as long as possible. The effect of the very final bars is of a sudden propulsive rush towards a conclusion that is as unexpected, and inherently unstable, as it is final. For some writers, this tendency toward constant change and forward propulsion, allied to the opening movement’s sheer volume, was clearly difficult to assimilate. Politiken, for example, described the Suite as ‘a work from which sparks fly as though from a chiselling hammer, which reveals the composer’s erudition and skill in unfolding it, but which is surely a much too purposeful intellectual work. One longs for a spot of atmosphere in the powerful masses of sound taken on by the Suite.’ 44 Nielsen here becomes a modernist Nordic smith, a steel-hard contrapuntal craftsman who forges the individual voices through the mechanical hammer-action of the instrument like a figure from the great Nordiske Industri-, Landbrugs- og Kunstudstilling (Nordic Industry, Agriculture and Art Exhibition) that captivated visitors in Copenhagen in 1888.45 In this image, the machine noise of the modern world joins together with an older, imaginary Nordic tradition – precisely the quality of the breakthrough that Brandes had so vividly described in 1883. Yet, for other listeners, such as Willumsen, Nielsen’s music in the mid1890s suggested an altogether different kind of modernism – the notion of a life-force, flowing through and animating the living musical work. Willumsen and Nielsen were especially close in the years following Nielsen’s first visit to Paris. For a brief time, Nielsen attempted to teach Willumsen music theory creaking (for that is something purely external) but its inner proud and strong character. Yet this is something highly individual and is not recommended for others.’ [Den største Glæde og Lykke er det dog for mig til at komponere og skabe. Jeg arbejder umaadelig intensivt og naar jeg er midt i et større Værk gaar jeg i den Grad op i det at jeg næsten ikke kan rumme andet i mit Hoved. Ved at se Havet, Skoven eller et enkelt stolt mægtigt Træ kan jeg komme i en saadan Betagelse at det hele ligesom synger for mig og giver sit indre Væsen tilkjende for mig i Toner. Flere Gange har jeg direkte forsøgt at give en og anden Tilsyneladelse (et stort Egetræ i Gjorslev Skov f: Expl:) Udtryk i Toner. Ikke Træets Susen eller Knagen (thi det er noget rent ydre) men dets Indre stolte og stærke Karakter. Dog dette er jo meget individuelt og ikke at tilraade andre.] CNB 2, 475–82, at 480–2. 44 ‘… et Arbejde, af hvilket der staar gnister som af den mejslende Hammer, der vidner om Komponistens Kundskabsfylde og Sans for at udfolde den, men vistnok for meget et Viljesarbejde. Noget savner man Stemning i de vældige Tonemasser, hvormed Suiten tumler. Politiken, 5 May 1895; quoted in CNB 2, 416. 45 Danskeren, 84, 104.

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via correspondence, and the composer sat as a model for the artist on several occasions. Though they drifted apart as Willumsen’s marriage began to fail in the late 1890s, the two men’s artistic preoccupations continued to run in parallel and, as Jørgen I. Jensen suggests, Willumsen’s ‘aristocratic radicalism’ (to apply Brandes’s description of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra) remained one of the formative influences on Nielsen’s compositional development in the years immediately either side of the turn of the century. Following the premiere of Nielsen’s First Violin Sonata in 1896, for example, Willumsen wrote: ‘from the first movement of your Sonata I received an unusually strong and positive impression, it was the part of the concert that moved me the most, for an instant it seemed to me as though I became a more fiery man, the blood flowed more strongly through my veins.’ 46 Yet less open-minded critics, such as Angul Hammerich, complained that Nielsen had ‘increasingly followed an alternative path. Is it Willumsen’s laurels in the symbolist camp that has tempted the young man? … Like Willumsen’s pictures, this sonata should then be equipped with an introduction to the mysteries of higher Symbolism requiring explanation for the uninitiated.’ 47 The thrust of Hammerich’s review, and his pejorative references to symbolism, can be understood partly in light of the polemics surrounding the Den frie Udstilling just a few years before – it certainly does not correspond with Nielsen’s own sympathies, as we have seen. But it also points to Nielsen’s essentially modernist character, his sense of opening new musical ground just as the men of Brandes’s modern breakthrough had done ten years before. This modern musical breakthrough took place most decisively in Nielsen’s First Symphony, composed in 1892 on his return from continental Europe but premiered only in 1894. Nielsen reception has tended to hear this as a strongly Brahmsian work – Nielsen met Brahms in Vienna in 1894, and sent him the score of the work.48 But the symphony can also be heard as a more markedly Jugendstil work, its strong gestures and confident rhythm suggesting the life, loves, struggles, and ultimately the triumph of a Byronesque artist-hero in search of his own modernist voice. Some support for this reading can be gleaned from the critical reviews following the work’s first performance, by the Royal Danish Orchestra conducted by Johan Svendsen, in Copenhagen on 46 ‘… af første Del af Deres Sonate fik jeg et sjældent stærk og godt Indtryk det var den Del af Konserten som berørte mig personlig mest, det fik mig et Øjeblik til at blive et Ildfuldere Menneske Blodet rullede stærkere gennem mine Aarer[.]’ CNB 1, 428. 47 ‘… i sine senere Arbeider mere og mere er kommen ind paa andre Veie. Er det Willumsens Laurbær i Symbolismens Leir, som have fristet den unge Musiker? … Som de Willumsenske Billeder burde da denne Sonate være forsynet med den til Indførelse i den høie Symbolismens Mysterier hørende Forklaring for Uindviede.’ Nationaltidende, 17 January 1896; quoted in CNB 1, 429. 48 The meeting took place at Brahms’s apartment on 7 November 1894. Nielsen’s diary entries and letters are published in CNB 1, 377–81.

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14 March. Among the most significant accounts of the performance is that by Charles Kjerulf, in Politiken, who was often critical of much of Nielsen’s early music. Kjerulf wrote: From the first to the last note this work captures the attention of both ear and mind to an equally high degree. And yet – not in the manner of a breakthrough – all of Carl Nielsen’s abilities are here at a stroke crystallised in disciplined forms, blocks and ashlars of sound, which with a sure hand and architectural confidence raise themselves into a lasting edifice. What this symphony or simply the music should ‘represent’ or ‘mean’ no-one can say, least of all Carl Nielsen himself. In any case, ‘represent’ is little more than a painting with sea and air alone, but this is more than enough for its own sake. The finest effects of light are found in this music – cloud shadows scurrying over flowing water. The sun breaks through and conceals itself. Waves tower up and subside again. There is an easily moved, perpetually shifting series of human moods, from tears to smiles, from weeping to laughter. The eyes sparkle and become moist, the heart beats with joy and groans with pain. And everything finds a charming expression in sound, bold and yet gentle, glaring and yet refined. The symphony is a wonderful and enchanting series of moods, so airy and effortless that one almost believes that the simple generic categorisation weighs it down. A work, from which already emerges a summer lightening of talent, and which seems to predict an approaching storm of genius. Restless and reckless in harmony and modulation, yet altogether so wonderfully innocent and unknowing, like watching a child play with dynamite. And most important of all: noble and without any affectation whatsoever from first till last, an accurate and honest expression for the completely unique and extraordinary young artistic personality.49 49 ‘Fra første til sidste Node fanger dette Arbejde i lige høj Grad Øre og Sind. Og dog – ikke paa den Maade, at der finder et Gennembrud Sted – at alle Carl Nielsens Ævner her med et Slag krystalliseres i faste Former, Tone-Blokke og Kvadre, hvoraf der med fast Haand og arkitektonisk sikkert rejser sig en varig Bygning. ¶ Hvad denne Symfoni eller blot denne Musik ‘forestiller’ eller ‘skal betyde’ sige næppe Nogen, maaske aller mindst Carl Nielsen selv. I hvert Fald ‘forestiller’ den ikke mere end et Maleri med Hav og Luft alene, men dette er for dens Sags Skyld jo ogsaa mere end nok. ¶ Der er i denne Musik de fineste Lysvirkninger – ilende Skygger af Skyer over glidende vand. Sol bryder frem og Sol skjuler sig. Bølger taarner sig og glatter sig atter ud. Der er et let bevægeligt Menneskesinds evindeligt skiftende Stemninger, fra Taarer til Smil, fra Graad til Latter. Øjne tindrer og Øjne dugges, Hjærtet banker i fryd og knuges i Vaande. Og alt faar det et henrivende Udtryk i Toner, dristigt og dog stilfærdigt, grelt og dog fint. ¶ En hel forunderlig og betagende Stemningsrække er denne Symfoni, saa luftig og

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Kjerulf’s review is remarkable, not least for its many contradictory themes and ideas. Anxious perhaps to rescue Nielsen from the potential charge of being merely an enfant terrible, Kjerulf pointedly does not hear the symphony as a breakthrough in the Brandesian sense – to do so might have seemed provocative given the work’s evident popular success – and he stresses instead the work’s strong formal architecture (a reading that locates it within a particularly Danish tradition of musical structure, Niels W. Gade’s ‘good sense of form’). Yet later portions of the review become more breathless, and strongly point in the direction of Brandes’s modernism – the ‘summer lightening of talent’, the music’s noble, unaffected tone, and its captivating restlessness. Above all, it is hard not to imagine Kjerulf’s image of the ‘child playing with dynamite’ as a supercharged modernist version of the mythic notion of the provincial farm-lad or Funen country boy with which Nielsen was later so closely associated. It is at this point that Kjerulf begins to sense the tensions in Nielsen’s modernism, between its apparent innocence and its challenging recklessness, which later became defining features of his musical style. A cursory glance at the first movement of the symphony strengthens this impression. The formal layout is indeed exemplary in its clarity: a rounded binary structure is easily perceived, with an exposition repeat at b. 92, an energetically prepared return to the opening material at b. 185 marking a precise and unambiguous formal boundary, and an expanded second subject space in the reprise that assumes the quality of a secondary development section – a familiar late Classical device, leading to a coda with stretto (Allegro molto). In Schenkerian terms, the movement happily supports interpretation as an interrupted structure: a descent from 5ˆ through a prolonged 4, ˆ initially over a tonicised bass F (originally V/III) in the development, then over V with a rapid 3ˆ–ˆ2 descent at the divider before the reprise and an orthodox completed descent through 3ˆ–ˆ2–ˆ1 providing Essential Structural Closure (ESC)50 in the coda (Ex. 2.6). The thematic material is similarly compact: the triadic lethedglidende, at man næsten synes den blotte Artsbetegnelse tynger den. Et Arbejde, fra hvilket der allerede udgaar en Kjornmodsglans af talent, og som synes at forjætte et kommende Uvejr af Geni. Uroligt og hensynsløst i harmoni og Modulation, men altsammen dog saa forunderlig uskyldigt og ubevidst, som saa man et barn lege med Dynamit. Og det allervigtigste: ægte og uden nogetsomhelst Skaberi fra først til sidst, et nøjagtig og fuldtro Udtryk for denne Ganske egne, usædvanlige unge Kunsterpersonlighed.’ Carl Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, ed. Peter Hauge (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, 2001), xiii. 50 Analytical terms such as Essential Expositional Closure (EEC), Essential Structural Closure (ESC), and Medial Caesura are adopted from James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy, Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations in the Late-Eighteenth-Century Sonata (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). I am especially concerned with adapting Darcy and Hepokoski’s model of sonata theory as determined by a hierarchical series of tonal energies, articulated cadentially, which motivate and underpin nineteenth-century sonata structures. Further discussion of this energetic model takes place in Chapter 4.

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Ex. 2.6  Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: background schematic

b & b ˙œœ 1

?b b ˙

œœ œœ n˙œ bœ nœ œ #œ

69 85

115

œ œ

œ bœ

161

˙

˙œ 181

˙

#˙œ

184

˙

˙œ œ 185

235

œœ œœ ˙ œ #œ !

261

˙ #œ œ

285

˙

˙œ 293

˙

#˙œ

331

˙

˙ 343

˙

quaver idea in the first bar serves as a Beethovenian motto figure that remains obstinately present throughout, despite lending itself to various rhythmic augmentations and harmonic recontextualisations (good examples include its sequential development as a falling chromatic idea in bb. 6 and 8; the muttering fragments or residue with which the development begins; and the augmented contrary motion treatment of the motive that prefigures the reprise in bb. 181–4; the motto returns cyclically in the woodwind figuration at the finale reprise, IV: b. 279). Such highly concentrated musical thought suggests Franck or Fauré as much as Johan Svendsen or Brahms. Despite such strong formal architecture, however, the musical details are characteristically more complex and ambivalent. Much has been made of the opening chord – a gambit which could be explained in Schenkerian terms as an auxiliary cadence, approaching the tonic from the ‘wrong side’ (i.e. the subdominant), though this arguably threatens to rob the gesture of its striking rhetorical force (Ex. 2.7). David Fanning has more helpfully pointed to the brigands scene in Berlioz’s Harold in Italy as a possible model for the opening paragraph, although it lacks Nielsen’s strong subdominant orientation and sheer momentum; the idea of Nielsen as a musical brigand certainly seems appropriate to the music’s tone (for Nielsen, Berlioz was among those artists who ‘throw the best fist’).51 For Robert Simpson, the opening is explained by Nielsen’s ‘long and close proximity with folk music’ – a more problematic assertion, coupled with a swipe at the ‘English “pastoral” school’ which is similarly reductive.52 Simpson reads the opening rather as indicative of the symphony’s ‘tendency to move away from G minor to C major’, despite the fact that the music rarely touches C major as a structural key until the finale: it certainly plays little role at any structural level in the first movement, and even in the fourth it remains contingent until the last possible moment. The opening could be better heard as a vivid evocation of a modernist instability

51 David Fanning, ‘Nielsen under the Influence: Some New Sources for the First Symphony’, CNS 3 (2008), 9–27 at 13–15. As Fanning notes, there is no concrete evidence that Nielsen had heard Harold in Italy at this point, though he had recently heard both The Damnation of Faust and the Symphonie fantastique. But the parallels are persuasive, not least given Nielsen’s often prominent writing for the viola section (for instance, at the start of the development). 52 Simpson, Symphonist2, 24–5.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 2.7  Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: voice-leading sketch, bb. 1–5 1

b & b nœœ

3

œ

? b œœ b IV

m

œœ

œ



5

œœ

œ

œ bœ



œ nœ

œ œ

#œœ

œ œ

4 D

6

§VII

V

i

– a stormy burst of creative imagination that is inherently unstable, prone to unexpected shifts of modal colour that have significant implications for middleground events despite the seemingly confident diatonic surface. And, contra Simpson, it is far from clear that G minor is firmly established as the tonic even at the end of this opening twenty-bar paragraph – arguably it is only with the exposition repeat that G’s status as tonic is confirmed; G here remains more a statement of potential than an a priori tonal base. More significant is the early intrusion of B§ in b. 3, an attempt perhaps to ‘correct’ the flat-side orientation of the opening bar: this same pitch class intrudes again barely six bars later, following the music’s prematurely strong push towards the relative major and once again raising the harmonic pressure. Such flat versus sharp-side tensions are a particularly powerful element of Nielsen’s structural harmonic syntax and often serve to direct substantial passages of music either towards or away from a middleground harmonic goal. This is the case here. The chromatically troubled cadence, or medial caesura, on V/III in bb. 39ff (a motivic reference to the falling chromatic idea in bb. 6 and 8) seemingly prepares a conventional statement of the second subject group in the relative major. Yet Nielsen substitutes a third prominent B§, b. 43 sforzando, as substitute for the expected bˆ3. (Simpson simply describes it as ‘strange’ without, at this stage, linking it to events in the opening bars. A more incisive reading is offered by David Fanning, who notices the correspondence with similar tonally expansive procedures in Schubert.)53 The second subject emerges, via enharmonic change, in the wonderfully remote key of Db major – as though massively overcompensating for the sharp-side intrusion of B§ in b. 43. (Simpson’s comment, that ‘the B natural was, in reality, a C flat’ [p. 26] entirely misses the structural implications of Nielsen’s enharmonism – it can be heard more meaningfully as an early attempt to accommodate and resolve the movement’s divergent sharpward and flatwards tendencies.) After a further enharmonic shift (back to the sharp side), it is only through a process of leading-note exchange, rather than via straightforward Schenkerian prolongation, that the music winds its way back towards V/III (Ex. 2.8) and achieves 53 Fanning, ‘Progressive Thematicism in Nielsen’s Symphonies’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller, 167–203, at 174. Compare, for example, the first movement of Schubert’s late G major String Quartet, d887.

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Ex. 2.8  Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: harmonic reduction   (Exposition), bb. 39–85 39

46

47

F

4 C

Db

55

bœ & nœœœ nœ nœ b bœœœœ bœ bbœœœ b œ###œœœ J

(db = c#)

57

59

B!

G

nœœ # #œœ ##nœœœ n œ nœ n œœ œ

63

85

œ œ œ bbœœ nœœ nnnnœœœ bœ bœœ bœ œ J Eb

C7

V/Bb

Bb

Essential Expositional Closure (EEC) in b. 85. Although the exposition ostensibly finishes in the ‘right place’ (the relative major), therefore, it is without the expected statement of the second subject group in the appropriate tonal area. The exposition thus sets up a complex structural imbalance: the tonic is systematically undermined by early subdominant inflection and a tendency to drift towards its flat side, and by the apparent absence of a second subject statement in the normative key area. The movement’s formal progress, in other words, rests upon the tension between cadential concision and chromatic waywardness which subsequently becomes one of Nielsen’s most pervasive musical characteristics. This precarious balance between flat and sharp side impulses, and the failure to announce the second subject group in the expected key (relative major) is the primary motivating factor behind the development, and the principal reason for the extended secondary development section in the recapitulation. As Simpson notes, the development is dominated by its steady cumulative preparation for the return to the tonic: this is achieved through a process of Terzenverwandschaft, rather than straightforward prolongation, which incrementally raises the chromatic pressure while simultaneously passing through similar enharmonic shifts to those that coloured the second half of the exposition (Ex. 2.9).54 It is significant for the movement’s harmonic plot that B minor is given especial prominence, delaying the climatic return of G minor until just before the stormy articulation of the structural divide at b. 184 and once again referring back to the intrusion of the problematic B§ in b. 43. But flat-side tendencies continue to threaten the progress of the recapitulation – the intrusion of bass Db in b. 205, for example, pushes the music towards the Neapolitan, and threatens to replay the strategy of the exposition, thereby short-circuiting the current of the movement’s whole tonal design. The music’s response is again to push through enharmonic shifts in attempt to rebalance the tonal weight, but this only reaches an impasse at letter G – arguably the movement’s greatest moment of structural crisis. Simpson rightly identifies the trumpet’s B§ signal seven bars later as a reference to the earlier interruptive appearance of this problematic pitch class in

54 See David Fanning’s more complex Schenkerian reading of this passage and compare with my chart of the third progression (‘Progressive Thematicism’, 176).

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 2.9  Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: harmonic reduction   (Development), bb. 133–49 133

139

bœ & b œœ

Ab

b nnœœœ relative minor

f

141

œ #nœœœ

D modal change/relative

149

#œ #n œœœ n

b modal change/relative

b. 43.55 But here the pitch is harmonically and expressively recontextualised, pointing the movement forwards towards the eventual full close via the structural dominant in b. 285 rather than serving to disrupt the music’s trajectory. Progression from here (b. 241) is predominantly via more orthodox fifth steps, although with two exceptions. The first is bb. 261–2, where the second subject group returns via modal change and a leading note progression: F# minor leads enharmonically (through Gb) to Bb – the relative major, precisely the tonal domain that had been withheld at the corresponding point in the exposition (Ex. 2.10). The sense of relief is palpable: Nielsen adds the direction ‘a tempo ma un poco sostenuto’, allowing the music a little time to dwell in its proper (but crucially delayed) structural resting place and contemplate the feeling of balance restored. But a further, final shift in b. 280 allows the tail of the second subject to slip from its pastoral idyll back towards more dogged prosaic harmonic realms, and the movement closes brusquely with little sense of definitive tonal closure – it remains for the second movement (a highly concentrated, lyrical Andante in G major), and ultimately the finale, to try and sew up the unfinished structural business. In retrospect, it becomes apparent that the first movement’s dynamic instability, its sense of restlessness and of things potentially falling apart, allied to its tight formal boundaries, is an inevitable result of its opening bars – more particularly, of the disruptive, destabilising effect of the opening chord. This is not to imply an overarching unity or single sense of purpose to the movement, in the way that Simpson’s progressive tonal model encourages us to hear local events as inextricably bound to the attainment of large-scale structural goals, most notably the establishment of a tonic key as the end-product of a process of organic growth and evolution.56 Precisely the contrary. The impetus behind Nielsen’s musical imagination is rather its unpredictability and sense of constant motion. A more helpful model for contextualising Nielsen’s work can be taken from Adorno’s model of the breakthrough. For Adorno, the principle of breakthrough describes the sudden rupturing of both the musical texture and its apparent autonomy or wholeness – the entrance 55 Simpson, Symphonist2, 29. 56 Simpson writes that Nielsen’s works ‘treat a chosen key as a goal to be achieved or an order to be evolved, and his final establishment of the key has all the organic inevitability and apparently miraculous beauty with which the flower appears at a plant’s point of full growth’. Symphonist2, 21.

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Ex. 2.10  Nielsen, Symphony no. 1, first movement: harmonic reduction   (Reprise), bb. 241–93 241

255

& #nnœœœ ##œœœ ##œœ bbbœœœ œ œ E

B

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of material from ­seemingly beyond the boundaries of the individual musical work. In the reprise of Mahler’s First Symphony, Adorno explains, the dramatic transformed reappearance, fortississimo, of the distant trumpet fanfare figure from the slow introduction ‘affects the entire form. The recapitulation to which it leads cannot restore the balance demanded by sonata form.’ 57 In other words, the reappearance of familiar material in an unfamiliar, or alienated state, fractures the movement’s illusion of self-containedness, fatally destabilising the symmetrical balance of the recapitulation and revealing the unsustainability of the music’s urge towards formal and expressive unity. Yet at the same time, it also serves to reinforce the closural function of the reprise. Hence, as Adorno suggests: The recapitulation after the breakthrough cannot be the simple recapitulation formally required. The return that the breakthrough evokes must be its result: something new. … [In the First Symphony] it no less meets the obligation, enjoined by the fanfare, to be something new than it provides the secret source throughout the music’s protracted evolution, at once in the spirit of the sonata and against it, of the entire piece.58 The breakthrough thereby becomes a mode of immanent critique, exploding the musical form from within while simultaneously energising its formal processes so that they no longer appear empty, routine and conventional – in Mahler’s music, for Adorno, it signals his drive towards the new. It is tempting to apply a similar reading to Nielsen’s First Symphony – not least given the dramatic C major conclusion of the finale, which surges irresistibly towards its closing bars from the Allegro Molto at b. 377, transforming en route the problematic Bb/B§ tension from the opening bars of the first movement so that they finally gain proper cadential resolution at virtually the last possible moment. This is a synthesis towards which, according to Simpson, the whole symphony is directed. Yet a more provocative hearing might build more substantially on Adorno’s notion of the breakthrough, and hear the crucial moment of destabilisation as being located in the first movement’s opening bars. The crucial difference from Mahler’s practice is that Nielsen has shifted the balance of struc 57 Adorno, Mahler, 5. 58 Adorno, Mahler, 13.

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tural weight away from the symphony’s conclusion towards its initial gesture, which consequently becomes a point of lift-off or release. The complex chromatic voice leading of the movement’s middleground progressions, explored above, is an expression of the momentum generated by this opening gambit, the material presented not as a deceptively smooth or stable whole, but rather in a more fissile and dynamic state. And hence the end of the finale is not so much an inevitable preordained goal, as Simpson suggests,59 but rather one possible solution to a large-scale structural problem drawn from an array of potential resolutions. Its closural strength is as much rhetorical as the result of a long-range tonal process. In its vivid polarisation between different states of musical material, the static and the powerfully active, Nielsen’s symphony is similarly dialectical in spirit to Mahler’s. The principle of breakthrough, for both composers, acts as a catalyst rather than as an obstructive barrier. But the basic principle of Nielsen’s work arises not from a deep fracturing within the musical material, as, according to Adorno, was the case for Mahler, but rather from the outward realisation of its dynamic instability, in its impulse towards change. The idea of the breakthrough in the First Symphony can also be understood in a more figurative sense, as a sign of Nielsen’s extra-territorial, outsider status: the disturbing image of the child innocently playing with dynamite evoked by Kjerulf. At this point, Adorno’s Durchbruch and Brandes’s notion of the gennembrud begin to coalesce. The unstable, dynamic quality of the symphony is representative of a wider stream in Nordic culture which parallels the modernist wave first identified by Brandes in his 1883 book and promulgated widely through Danish periodicals in the 1890s. In this context, the symphony gains an uneasy and more anxious edge: on the one hand, it announces Nielsen’s entry into an arena that was dominated by a strongly Austro-German musical tradition; on the other, it announces the ‘intonation’ of his own individual and transgressive musical voice. The self-consciously Nordic tone of Nielsen’s symphony, and the idea of the aesthetic and musical breakthrough with which it was allied, is hence a mirror of its own particular local context. But it also marks his engagement with a wider European modernist musical practice, a trajectory which his sojourn in Paris in 1891 had so powerfully traced. And in its shift from the obscure, dusky realm of Johannes Jørgensen’s symbolism towards a steelier, harder-edged modernist musical style, the symphony anticipated the more striking change of direction which Nielsen’s work was to undertake at the start of the new century. It was in the brilliant light of a Hellenic sun that these works were to emerge.

59 Simpson, Symphonist, 36.

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3  Hellenics

T

he opening page  of Nielsen’s concert overture Helios (1903) is one of the most magical dawn sequences in music (Ex. 3.1). Long pedal notes in the lower strings suggest a seemingly infinite sense of musical time and space, of floating weightlessly in the musical ether: the pause over each second bar momentarily suspends the perception of regular clock time before the work has properly begun, so that the piece literally begins in a state of timelessness. The hairpin dynamics, rising almost imperceptibly from pianississimo and falling back again, reflect the vibrating amplitude of the bowed open string: it is as much a description of the sound object or ‘Klang’ as a performance direction. The horn calls that then gradually rise above the bass pedal sound almost impossibly distant, gently arching upwards first through the octave and then to the flat seventh, as though sounding the upper partials of a single glowing harmonic spectrum.1 As this sound slowly echoes and peals, the resonance gaining strength through its waxing reiteration, the upper strings begin to weave a gently flowing quaver figure, gradually filling in the gaps between the widely spaced intervals of the horn calls and bass, so that the orchestral texture emerges as if from a clearing morning mist. As this slowly shifting curtain of sound (or ‘Klangfläche’)2 grows, the harmonic palette also widens and enriches itself, the rocking fifth steps in the bass (a horizontalisation of the earlier vertical chord structures) followed eventually by the first chromatic descent (b. 30), tilting the music momentarily towards the flat side and casting aside the drowsy somnolent sevenths of the opening page.



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1 According to Thomas Michelsen, ‘Carl Nielsen og den græske musik’, Fund & Forskning 37 (1998), 219–31, this modal inflection is a reference to the so-called Song of Seikilos, an ancient Greek melody which Nielsen transcribed during his stay in Athens. Though he concedes that the metre and melodic profile of the song and the opening horn passage are obviously different, Michelsen argues that the two share the same modal structure (major scale with flattened seventh). To my ears, the resemblance is too approximate to be convincing, and the flattened seventh inflection is already a well-established feature of Nielsen’s melodic and harmonic syntax well before Helios – rather, it is the evocation of a harmonic spectrum as birth/nature metaphor that I would argue is the crucial affective gesture here. Michelsen is nevertheless right to draw attention to Nielsen’s close engagement with the melodic structure of ancient Greek music as a key component of his aesthetic sympathies in the first decade of the twentieth century. I return to his discussion below. 2 The term is borrowed from Carl Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. Bradford Robinson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 306, 309. Dahlhaus derived the term following Monika Lichtenfeld, ‘Zur Klangflächentechnik bei Mahler’, in Mahler – eine Herausforderung: Ein Symposion, ed. Peter Ruzicka (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1977), 121–34.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 3.1  Nielsen, Helios Overture (opening)

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The return to the opening white-note C major gains a greater sense of clarification or focus, prefiguring the arrival of the first fully fledged melodic statement, the striding chorale entry of the horns with a transfigured version of their opening call at b. 54, supported by a blaze of string tremolandos and organ-like woodwind writing. The final shadows of the night in which the piece figuratively began have melted away and the music surges irresistibly forwards to the start of the main section, an energetic Allegro ma non troppo in the bright, super-charged key of E major.

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Formerly broadcast every 1 January by Danish Radio, Helios has gained a deeply symbolic place in Danish musical culture. It has become a ‘Morgensang’ (‘morning song’ or aubade), sounded optimistically at the threshold of each New Year. Yet the richly associative gestures with which the music begins invite a range of critical and historical interpretations. For example, the horn’s striding chorale belongs to a local tradition of Danish dawn hymns, a musical subgenre headed by Niels W. Gade’s setting of B. S. Ingemann’s ‘I Østen stiger Solen op’ (‘The sun rises in the east’) in his cantata Elverskud (1851–4), a ­pivotal reference work in the creation of a distinctively Danish musical romanticism in the mid-nineteenth century. The confident new dawn which Helios evokes, with its rising horn octaves and sonorous diatonicism, is at least in part a warm afterglow of this national romantic awakening, and also an affectionate tribute to Nielsen’s former teacher at the Danish Conservatory. Yet the music delves even deeper into imaginary ideas of Danishness in its opening bars. The horn calls at the start evoke the sound of Lurs, curved Bronze Age brass instruments excavated (usually in pairs) from barrow mounds across Denmark and southern Sweden throughout the nineteenth century with discshaped bells that represent stylised sun symbols whose ritual function, it was believed, was to herald the passage into the afterlife. Pairs of Lurs were displayed in the Danish national museum, and in 1910 Nielsen even composed a Lur prelude as part of his incidental music for the Viking play Hagbarth og Signe, performed outside at Friluft Teatret in Dyrehaven (the open-air theatre at the deer park north of Copenhagen), one of his most atmospheric and evocative dramatic scores. Yet, as Svend Ravnkilde has revealed, Helios simultaneously evoked an even more startling archaeological discovery, now displayed in the antiquities collection at the National Museum. In 1902, the year before composition of the overture, a ploughed field at Trundholm bog in Zealand unearthed a precious miniature model of a solvogn (sun chariot), a golden disc pulled by a stylised divine horse (equipped with spoked wheels) that was believed to represent the journey of the sun across the heavens: a metaphor, in the Bronze Age Nordic mind, for the course of human life and its relationship with the cosmos and the seasonal cycles of the natural world.3 The structure of Nielsen’s overture, waxing and waning from near silence to full strength and back to silence, traces the same circular trajectory as the imaginary path of the solvogn. Nielsen thus responded to this complex mythic notion of Danishness on different levels, both through the highly localised evocation of an antique Nordic sun cult as embodied in the archaeological treasures at the National museum, and also in its reimagining through the prism of the nineteenth-century national romantic imagination in Gade’s Elverskud.

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3 Svend Ravnkilde, ‘Himmel og hav og jord og sol: musik er liv’, DMT 59 (1984–5), 48–54. Images of the Solvogn, and of some of the Lurs, can be seen on the National Museum website, www.nationalmuseet.dk. The chariot was included in the Danish government’s controversial Cultural Canon.

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Yet Helios also breaks out from such local associations and embraces a wider musical patrilineage. The musical representation of apparently organic, self-determined growth from a kernel cell points to a whole range of nineteenth-century evocations of nature – the opening of Wagner’s Rheingold is the most obvious and paradigmatic example. Such evocations conventionally serve as thresholds to an imaginary Arcadian landscape or enchanted nature realm, and signal displacement (or removal) from the modern world. Helios is similarly concerned with a sense of the mythic past, the temporal suspension and circularity of its opening bars a way of manipulating time so as to create the impression of reaching back into an imagined antiquity. Yet its re-creation of a lost golden age serves a double function, casting expectation optimistically forwards towards the reattainment of previous greatness and cultural renewal. The music’s growth, evolution and fulfilment thus begin to gain a more pointed ideological focus. The chorale-like treatment of the morning song at b. 54, with its shades of the finale from Brahms’s First Symphony and the Academic Festival Overture, becomes the apotheosis of a broader Northern European cultural vision, a stylised synthesis of Hellenic and Nordic streams with elements of the early eighteenth-century German Baroque. The manner in which the music sheds the mythic Wagnerian gloom of the opening page for a brighter, leaner and more athletic musical discourse at the work’s heart reveals a great deal about Nielsen’s stylistic orientation. The overture’s Hellenism becomes a musical realisation of Nietzsche’s decisive anti-Romantic turn and famous call for the ‘Mediterraneanisation of music’ in The Case of Wagner, promoted energetically in Copenhagen in the 1890s by Georg Brandes. The ritualistic dawn evoked by Helios’s opening pages thus gives way to a consciously modern, neo-classical, and ultimately comedic vision – its closest musical counterpart, in that sense, might be Richard Strauss’s tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra, a work which likewise opens with a dramatic musical sunrise and unveils the birth of a new Nordic-Hellenic superman. Just as his First Symphony had sounded a dramatic modernist breakthrough in 1894, therefore, Nielsen’s Helios became a further threshold to a new expressive and musical domain, a gateway that is as much the symbolic adoption of a particular aesthetic tone or vision as the literal depiction of the sun rising above the wine-dark waters of the Aegean Sea.

ЙЙCarl Nielsen: Vitalist

Nielsen famously resisted explicitly programmatic readings of his works. In a letter to Hother Ploug dated 24 April 1903, the day after he finished drafting the overture, Nielsen wrote: ‘Stuff and nonsense with programmes! Something has gone awry if a thing cannot stand on its own two feet. I think

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however that a title, a fingerpost, may be sufficient.’ 4 But Helios is in many ways an exception: the music was clearly deeply inspired by the surroundings in which it was conceived. Nielsen composed the work in an office at the Athens Conservatoire (Odeion Athinon) while he was staying in Greece with his wife, who had won the same scholarship (the Anckerske Legat) that had earlier funded Nielsen’s formative trip to Berlin, Paris, and Italy in 1890–1. Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen departed Copenhagen on 1 January 1903, with the intention of working at the Acropolis Museum. Her interest in copying works from antique Greek sculpture may have been prompted by her contemporary Niels Skovgaard, a fellow member of Den frie Udstilling (‘The Free Exhibition’), though Knud Ketting has recently suggested that it may have actually been her student, Ingrid Kjær, who first brought Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen’s attention to the three-headed marble statue of the Typhon that became the principal subject for her study.5 The work evidently created a considerable stir in Copenhagen on their return. Nielsen joined his wife in Greece a month later, travelling via Berlin and Brindisi and sailing to Patras before arriving together in Athens on 20 February where, Nielsen wrote, the ancient ruins ‘surpassed my great expectations’ (‘overtruffet mine store Forventninger’).6 Here they attended lectures by German archaeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld, and took trips to major historical sites such as Olympia, Delphi, and Colonos. In his diary on 10 March 1903, Nielsen noted: ‘Morning from 8.30 till 11 at the conservatoire and began the overture Helios. In the afternoon to Colonnos (King Oedipus). Weather unsettled; hence the most captivating light effects over the mountains. In the west for a moment it was as though the most distant mountains lay in a haze; in-between the sun shone through a cloud so that it resembled a great pile of wheat, transparent, golden. Meanwhile the mountains that lay nearest were a deep dark blue.’ 7 It was evidently from this Homeric vision of a classical spring landscape, haunted by the ghosts of Greek tragedy, that the structure and shape of Helios began to grow. Nielsen’s diary entries and letters during his stay in Athens provide glimpses of Helios’s genesis. Writing to his former pupil Svend GodskeNielsen on 27 March, Nielsen reported on progress: ‘Now it is sensationally warm here, Helios burns all day and I am writing freely in my new solar

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4 ‘Men Sludder og Vrøvl med Program! Kan Tingen ikke staa paa egne Ben er det galt fat. Dog synes jeg kun, at en Tittel, et Fingerpeg er berettiget.’ CNB 2, 303. 5 Knud Ketting, ‘Helios og Typhonen: om Carl Nielsens og Anne Marie CarlNielsens ophold i Athen 1903’, Fund & Forskning 40 (2001), 168–98, at 170. 6 Carl Nielsen to Svend Godske-Nielsen, CNB 2, 275. 7 ‘Formiddagen fra 8½ til 11 i Odejion og begyndte paa ouverture ‘Helios’. Om Eftermiddagen paa Kolonos. (Kong Ødipus) Vejret uroligt; derfor de mest henrivende Belysninger over Bjergene. I Vesten var det et Øjeblik saaledes at de fjerneste Bjerge laa i en Dis; paa de mellemste skinnede Solen gjennem en Sky saa de lignede store Hvededynger der skinnede transparent, gyldent. Men de Bjerge der laa nærmest var dybt mørkblaa.’ CNB 2, 284.

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system; a long introduction with sunrise and morning song are finished and I have begun the Allegro.’ 8 This creative heat sustained him for over a month, so that the work was completed by the end of April. At this point he could write to Julius Lehmann that the work ‘describes the sun from its ascent over the dark mountains here in the east until it crackles and shines in its fullest brilliance at midday and finally sinks slowly back behind the beautiful Aegean gulf and the darkening blue mountains in the west and evening and silence fall.’ 9 Accordingly, the work traces a broad dynamic arc,10 ascending from its pianississimo opening through the first initial burst of musical energy at the start of the Allegro ma non troppo in b. 75, with a warmly lyrical second subject group in b. 127 (initially in Eb, intensifying the flat-side tendencies from the work’s opening page), and a vigorous Presto fugato (on B) at the height of midday in b. 215. From here on, the structure is roughly symmetrical (albeit compressed): the fugato includes a sturdy antiphonal exchange between the brass with augmented versions of the fugue subject (bb. 241–54) before being swept along into a reprise of the Allegro at Tempo I (b. 265) and a brief restatement of the second subject group in E. At this point, the sun rapidly sinks once more into the waves: a remarkable transition passage, proceeding largely in alla breve semibreves and minims, liquidates both the Allegro tempo and the work’s primary motivic material, modulating from E back to C via an extended chain of Leittonwechsel progressions and modal shifts (Ex. 3.2). Indeed, one of the most striking features of Helios’s design is the periheletic nature of its tonal structure, revolving (or rather orbiting) around the double-tonic complex C–E, tonal centres which exist, not in a polarised opposition in the conventional sense, but rather as intensified reflections of each other. One of Nielsen’s correspondents, Hother Ploug, misunderstood the purpose of this structure when he wrote, disparagingly, ‘C major – E major – C major, that is rather a National Liberal [i.e. conservative] form for such an advanced man as you’.11 The innovative quality of the transition in bb. 285–319, for example, lies precisely in the way it negotiates this ­periheletic

8 ‘Nu er her knaldende varmt, Helios brænder den hele Dag og jeg skriver løs paa mit nye Solsystem; en lang Inledning med Solopgang og Morgensang er færdig og jeg har begyndt paa Allegro.’ Breve 2, 290. 9 ‘… skildrer Solen fra dens Opgang over de mørke Fjelde her i Østen indtil den knitrer og straaler i sin fuldeste Glans ved Middag og endelig lidt efter lidt synker ned bag den skjønne Ægine-Golf og de blaanende Bjerge i Vesten og Aftenen og Stilhed falder paa.’ Letter dated 21 April 1904; Breve 2, 296. 10 Nielsen himself alluded to this structure in a brief note for the premiere in Copenhagen on 8 October 1903: ‘Silence and Darkness – then the sun rises with a joyous hymn of praise – wanders its golden path – sinks quietly into the sea.’ [Stilhed og Mørke – saa stiger Sol under frydefuld Lovsang – vandrer sin gyldne Vej – sænker sig stille i Hav.] Samtid 1, 45. 11 ‘Cdur – Edur – Cdur, det er jo en forholdvis nationaliberal Form for en saa fremskreden Mand som Dig.’ Letter dated 30 April 1903; CNB 2, 314.

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Ex. 3.2  Nielsen, Helios Overture: voice-leading, bb. 285–310

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complex, revealing Nielsen’s acute sensitivity (as his letters above suggest) to the varied graduations of enharmonic light and shade. As the shadows lengthen across the western mountains, the horns intone a solemn Abgesang, combining elements of their initial entry with the second subject. A final chromatic sequence in bb. 329–30 resolves the music’s earlier flat-side tendencies, as though slowly stripping away the spectral layers of the overture’s opening Klang, and the music finishes with a single pitch, the swelling pianississimo hairpin dying away to nothingness. Despite such satisfying formal clarity and balance, however, Helios has not enjoyed universal acclaim. Robert Simpson, for example, complained of the music’s ‘unpoetic as well as unscientific haste as the sun approaches its zenith’, which for him ‘robs the whole conception of majesty’.12 Yet Simpson’s reservations misconceive the point of work: the focus shifts as the work progresses from a simple representation of the sun as it charts its course across the heavens to a musical embodiment of the vigorous, athletic activity inspired by the sun’s rays and life-giving power. In a characteristic gesture, Nielsen’s attention thus shifts from the revelation of divine force (as mythic symbol) at the work’s start to rugged contemplation of its earthly affects in the enthusiastic passagework of the central fugato. It is precisely this shift which locates Helios within a wider Hellenistic wave that swept across Denmark, and Northern Europe more widely, around the turn of the century – a cultural context which Simpson’s study largely ignores, even though, as Jørgen I. Jensen and others have since shown, it has important implications for understanding Nielsen’s work. This new Hellenism in Denmark was strongly inspired by Brandes’s image of the modern breakthrough, as described in the previous chapter, particularly his discussion of Nietzsche, Strindberg, and other contemporary writers in the late 1880s. It shaped itself, in this context, as an anti-decadent movement – Brandes’s articles, in journals such as Tilskueren, appeared shortly after the first publication of Nietzsche’s late works such as Zarathustra and Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, and shared their sense of a radical break with the pessimistic trends of late romanticism. It also expressed itself as a sense of crisis, a reaction to a feeling of the world in decline, which prompted the 12 Simpson, Symphonist, 151.

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demand for a fresh start or reinvigorisation of culture and society. Foremost among artistic movements in Denmark dedicated to reviving the spirit of Greek antiquity as an antidote to the perceived moral and aesthetic decay of modern society was a group called Hellenerne (‘The Hellenists’), centred on the figure of Gunnar Sadolin (1874–1955).13 Taking their inspiration partly from Nietzsche’s work, partly from a cursory knowledge of Greek sources, and also from the aesthetics of the plein air school in French (and later in Danish) painting, the Hellenists met on the coast at Kalundborg in north-west Zealand for a few years around the mid-1890s, where they practised naturism, field sports, and cold-water bathing, as well as assuming simple antique dress. Members of the group included artists such as Svend Hammershøi, who had been associated with Den frie Udstilling a few years before. Like members of the exhibition, the group was essentially an anti-establishment movement, and its advocacy of an invigorating open-air regime was both a rejection of Copenhagen’s urban institutionalism and a celebration of the Nordic natural environment. In their so-called ‘Hellener-Mappen’ (‘Hellenist Manifesto’), a document penned on parchment in beautifully stylised gothic script, the group outlined their aims and objectives in evocative terms: Out at Refsnæs a couple of miles from Kallundborg [sic] along the fjord lie the mighty, wild and uncultivated dunes. A place raises itself high, overgrown with thorn trees on 3 three sides, a level expanse of about an acre of land; the fourth side falls steeply to the shore. The site resembles an old Roman amphitheatre, and the surroundings are not unlike an Italian hill landscape overgrown with laurel bushes. We intend to shape the place so that it can be both a meeting point and a place to stay in the summer months.14 The site itself was therefore deeply significant, a pagan Nordic counterpart 13 See Gertrud Oelsner, ‘Den sunde Natur’, in Livslyst: Sundhed, Skønhed, Styrke i Dansk Kunst 1890–1940, ed. Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen and Gertrud Oelsner (Fuglsang Kunstmuseum and Fyns Kunstmuseum, 2008), 159–97. The anthology of essays was written to accompany a major exhibition of vitalist art in Denmark, displayed at Fuglsang (Lolland) and the Funen Art Museum (Odense) in summer 2009. Important vitalist pieces are also held in other permanent collections in Denmark, including the Willumsen Museum (Frederiksværk), Rudolph Tegners Museum and Statue Park, and the Faaborg Museum. 14 ‘Ude paa Refsnæs et paa mil fra Kallundborg ligger langs fjorden de vældige Bakker uopdyrkede og vilde. Et Sted hæve de sig højt og bevoksede med Tjörn paa de 3 Sider en jævn Flade paa omtrent en Tönde Land; den fjerde falder stejlt med mod Stranden. Stedet ligner et gammelt romersk Amfiteater og Omgivelserne ogsaa noget et lavt italienisk Bjærglandskab bevokset med Laurbærbuske. Den Plads har vi isinde at omforme saa den kan blive Samlingsplads og Opholdsted i Sommermaaneder.’ The Hellener-mappe is on display at the Hirschprungs Samling, Copenhagen. It is reproduced in Oelsner, ‘Den sunde Natur’, 161, together with contemporary photographs of the group.

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to the Arcadian ideal of Classical scenery with antique ruins that had been widely promulgated in earlier nineteenth-century painting. This location in turn became the venue for a complex combination of antique and modernist impulses, driven by the Hellenists’ dedication to an anti-romantic programme: ‘fin-de-siècle decadence has spent itself within us’, they declared. ‘That evil sickness, which like influenza infects everything, attacking the spirit and sapping the will, has once more departed, and the youth herein are receptive in reconvalescence to renaissance.’ 15 Despite this sense of cultic withdrawal, the Hellenists promoted an image of (male) youth, strength, and vigorous physical activity as an idealised model, not merely for their art (which ultimately retained its sense of individual diversity and character, despite commitment to a shared manifesto), but also for contemporary society more broadly. In that sense, the Hellenists at Refsnæs embodied a wider culture of athleticism in Denmark and Northern Europe at the turn of the century. Though it similarly inspired Pierre de Courbertin’s revival of the Olympic Movement in 1894, this trend has conventionally been regarded in much Art History largely as principally a German phenomenon – not least through the publication of periodicals such as Körper Kultur founded in 1906 as the house journal of the Freie Körper Kultur Society.16 It also enjoyed considerable popularity in the Nordic countries, and gained the support of artists and writers such as Edvard Munch, Knut Hamsun, and August Strindberg. Though it was later associated strongly with militarism and extreme right-wing tendencies in Germany – not least through the National Socialist appropriation of Greek and Nordic myth and the distorted notions of health, hygiene, and racial purity promulgated by the Third Reich – its initial orientation was less explicitly politicised.17 Indeed, one of the most successful exemplars of this new Hellenistic modernism was Danish gymnast and fitness instructor J. P. Müller’s phenomenally popular manual Mit System – 15 minutters dagligt Arbejde for Sundhedens Skyld (‘My System – 15 Minutes Daily Work for Better Health’) published in 1904, the year after Nielsen returned from Greece and the composition of Helios. Later, in 1924, Müller published an edition specifically for women. Translated into twenty-four languages, his work became the original model for many later health plans and fitness routines. The ascetic 15 ‘Fin-de-siècle dekadencen har raset ud hos os. Denne onde Syge, der som en Influenza trænger sig ind over alt, kvalte Modet og lammede Viljen, den er atter draget bort, og Ungdommen herinde er i Rekonvalescens modtagelig for renæssancer.’ Oelsner, ‘Den sunde Natur’, 161. 16 Ibid., 188. 17 On the complex and problematic history of Hellenism in the Nordic countries and its relationship with National Socialism, see Hans Bonde, ‘Den vitalistiske sport’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner, 88–105; and Sven Halse’s useful introductory discussion, ‘Den vidtfavnende vitalisme’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner, 46–57 (esp. 17–25), which reprises and develops his arguments in ‘Vitalisme – fænomen og begreb’, Kritik 37/171 (2004), 1–9.

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elitism of the Hellenists had thus given way to a much broader popularisation of Nietzschean ideals, one whose impulse was essentially democratic despite its subsequent extreme right-wing shift. As Gertrud Oelsner concludes, Müller’s book was part of the health wave that swept across Denmark with full power in the years immediately after 1900. A shift was taking place away from nature as a stylised spiritual symbol towards an understanding and recognition of the health-bringing potential nature also contained. Nature became a source of life, an opportunity for the intensification of life’s intoxicating and curative moments.18 Nielsen was evidently sympathetic to elements of this earlier democratic Hellenism even before the composition of Helios and the popular success of Müller’s work. In a diary entry dated 2 October 1893 he noted, ‘the greatest joy in the world is simply to feel one’s own strength, both physically and intellectually, but especially intellectually’,19 promoting the idea of music as a physical and mental discipline which he was to try and maintain throughout his working career. Nielsen even adopted Müller’s system himself, though with a characteristic sense of scepticism and (occasionally bawdy) humour. In a letter from 1905 to his wife, who was then working again in Athens, he wrote: How are you, my little fellow, you little devil, ah, my little angel? You write that your backside is waxing smaller! I declare, that is good news, dear. So you obviously use ‘Mit System’, don’t you? … I do, and have faithfully followed the whole system with bathing, towelling and everything, and my muscles and limbs have become so beautiful and strong, even though I say it myself. But I am still such a ‘wee Car-l’.20 Among Nielsen’s final compositions in 1930 was a commission for a cantata to celebrate the opening of a new swimming pool in Østerbro on 1 November, to a text by Hans Hartvig Seedorff Pedersen with the suitably vitalist text ‘Vendt imod den friske Sø’ (‘Turned towards the Bracing Sea’), suggesting that he 18 ‘Müllers bog var del af den sundhedsbølge, der med fuld kraft rullede ind over Danmark i årene umiddelbart efter år 1900. Et skred var i gang væk fra naturen som stiliseret sjæleligt symbol mod en forståelse og erkendelse af det helsebringende potentiale, nature også rummede. Naturen blev en kilde til liv, en mulighed for potensering af livets berusende og lægende øjeblikke.’ Oelsner, ‘Den sunde Natur’, 163. 19 ‘Det største Lykke i Verden er dog den at føle sin egen Kraft, baade legemligt og aandeligt men dog især aandeligt.’ CNB 1, 308. 20 ‘Hvordan gaar det saa Dig, min lille Svend, Du lille Satan, aa, min lille Engel? Du skriver at Din bagdel bliver mindre! Gud, hvor det glæder mig Fru Nielsen. Du gjør altsaa rimeligvis “Mit System”. Ikke sandt? … Jeg gjør, og har hele Tiden gjort Systemet med Bad, Frottering og det hele og mine Muskler og Legemsforhold er blevne saa smukke og kraftige, naar jeg selv skal sige det. Men jeg er jo kun en “bitte Kaa’el”.’ Letter dated 6 February; CNB 2, 453.

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hadn’t lost his sympathy for Müller’s method even though his own health by this time was extremely fragile.21 And Nielsen’s enthusiasm for rural outdoor activities – horseriding, rambling, sailing, and cycle touring – was evidently a strong expression of his sense of Fynsk identity. Like Nielsen, Müller himself was from one of the islands (Falster) rather than Copenhagen, and for both men awareness of their provincial roots may have intensified their commitment to energetic physical routines, the cosmopolitan city perceived as a symbol of decadent indulgence as opposed to the more authentic, open-air environment of the country. In that sense, Nielsen’s Hellenism was tightly bound up with his own sense of origins, a curious mapping of Nordic and Classical landscapes that swept across Denmark in the early 1900s. Like the Hellenists, Nielsen imaginatively transposed an idealised notion of an antique Classical landscape onto his home soil. Nielsen was otherwise less interested in Hellenism as an Olympian ideal and more concerned with creative exploitation of its intellectual and aesthetic possibilities. As Thomas Michelsen has discussed,22 Nielsen and his wife were among the founding members of Copenhagen’s Græsk Selskab (‘Greek Society’), an initiative founded in 1905 by leading writers and philosophers including Georg Brandes, Harald Høffding, and Johan Ludvig Heiberg, and Nielsen’s interest in Greek music was evidently stimulated by this wider intellectual circle. Høffding’s opening address to the society, on Plato’s Symposium, was published the following year (1906) in Tilskueren.23 Nielsen himself read a lecture on Greek music at the society on 22 October 1907, and his text offers a vivid insight into his musical preoccupations in the years following the composition of Helios.24 The lecture in fact begins with a disclaimer about musical meaning, one which simultaneously locates Nielsen’s discussion within wider philosophical debates about the origin of music: To talk about music and convey any kind of impression of it verbally is entirely impossible. A smart lecturer can offer his listeners a certain impression of a temple or another building, or a painting or piece of sculpture, or a landscape or scene, or at least can take them so far that 21 Dagbøger 2, 578; Danskeren, 440. Nielsen was too unwell, in fact, to attend the premiere, and the work has since slipped into neglect; for example, it was not included in the first version of Fog and Schouboe’s systematic catalogue of Nielsen’s works. 22 Michelsen, ‘Nielsen og den græske musik’. My discussion in this section is indebted to much of Michelsen’s essay. 23 Harald Høffding, ‘Platos Symposion: Foredrag ved det første Møde i Græsk Selskab’, Tilskueren 23 (1906), 143–52. In his conclusion Høffding noted the influence of Platonic thought on contemporary developments in science and mental health (p. 152), referring perhaps to Freud’s work on archetypes and the Oedipal complex. 24 The lecture is reproduced in Samtid 1, 99–110.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism they ‘see something’ for themselves. But to explain in words a musical work’s sounding content for an audience so that they ‘hear something’ for themselves is – as I said – impossible. The art of music occupies in many respects a privileged position. It resembles architecture in that it creates something from nothing, but distinguishes itself from that art because it does not unfold in space, but freely in time. The same is true for poetry as well. But poetry is linked to language, and language’s fundamental aim was not to speak beautifully and poetically, rather it had the purely practical goal of facilitating understanding between people. If music ever has ever had such an exclusively practical goal, it very swiftly departed from it, and thus created a unique position for itself and is actually the only genuinely free and liberating art.25

Nielsen’s remarks, and his apparent insistence on musical autonomy, are perhaps surprising. Yet, understood in the context of his cultural Hellenism, they begin to make more sense. His introduction carefully distances his thoughts from Hanslick’s idea of music as frozen architecture, promulgated famously in Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (‘On the Beautiful in Music’). Yet Nielsen here also prefigures his remarks contra Herbert Spencer in ‘Ord, Musik og Programmusik’ (‘Words, Music and Programme Music’), an essay which he began to sketch around the same time as his lecture on Greek music but which only appeared in Tilskueren in January 1909.26 Spencer had offered an alternative reading of music’s meaning in his widely read account, ‘On the Origin and Function of Music’ (1857; Danish trans. Thomas Sachs, 1882),27 directed primarily against Darwin’s account of music in The Origin of 25 ‘At tale om Musik og give nogetsomhelst Indtryk deraf gjennem Ord er ganske umuligt. Om et Tempel eller en anden Bygning om et Maleri eller plastisk Værk om et Landskab eller en Egn kan en dygtig Foredragsholder give sine Tilhørere et ret bestemt Indtryk eller dog ihvertfald bringe dem saa vidt at de “ser noget” for sig. Men at forklare ved Ordets Hjælp et Musikstykkes klingende Indhold saaledes at Tilhørerne synes at “høre noget” for sig er – som sagt – umuligt. Musikens Kunst har i flere Henseendeer en Særstilling. Den ligner dog deri Arkitekturen at den skaber noget af intet, men adskiller sig fra denne Kunst ved ikke at udfolde sig i Rummet men frit i Tiden. Det gjør jo Digtekunsten ogsaa. Men den er knyttet til Sproget, og Sprogets elementære Bestemmelse var ikke at tale skjønt og digte, men havde det rent praktiske Formaal at bringe Forstaaelse mellem Mennesker. Ifald Musikken nogensinde har haft et saadant udelukkende praktisk Formaal, har den tidligt gjort sig fri derfra, og derfor indtager den en Stilling for sig og er egentlig den eneste virkelig frie og befriende Kunst.’ Samtid 1, 99. 26 Michelsen, ‘Carl Nielsen og den græske musik’, 223. ‘Ord, Musik og Programmusik’ is reproduced in Samtid 1, 125–36. 27 Herbert Spencer, ‘The Origin and Function of Music’, reprinted in Literary Style and Music (London: Watts & Co., 1950), 45–106; first published Fraser’s Magazine, 1857. Harald Høffding translated many of Spencer’s works into Danish and was an early advocate of Darwin’s work.

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Species. Darwin had proposed that the original origins of music lay in mating calls, the need to attract a partner in order for the species to reproduce and perpetuate itself – it was entirely separate from the origin of language. But for Spencer, the origins of music and language were intimately connected. To a certain extent, Spencer’s and Nielsen’s views coincided. For Spencer, language and music shared a common physical property, since they were both essentially vocal forms of expression. ‘All vocal sounds are produced by the agency of certain muscles’, Spencer explained. ‘These muscles, in common with those of the body at large, are excited to contraction by pleasurable and painful feelings. And therefore it is that feelings demonstrate themselves in sounds as well as in movements.’ 28 As the following chapter will explore, Nielsen similarly subscribed to the vitalist idea of music as a form of nervous excitation, albeit usually in more figurative terms (as a force or impulse flowing through his body). And both Nielsen and Spencer likewise laid emphasis on the affective quality of such excitation. As Spencer maintained, ‘each inflection or modulation is the natural outcome of some passing emotion or sensation; and it follows that the explanation of all kinds of vocal expression must be sought in this general relation between mental and muscular excitements.’ 29 Spencer even extended this idea to the quality of different intervals, anticipating Nielsen’s own frequently quoted comments on the primacy of intervals in music in a further study entitled ‘Musikalske Problemer’ (‘Musical Problems’) from Tilskueren in 1922.30 For Spencer, ‘to make large intervals requires more muscular action than to make small ones. But not only is the extent of vocal intervals thus explicable as due to the relation between nervous and muscular excitement, but also in some degree their direction, as ascending or descending’. The greater the extent of muscular extension, in Spencer’s model, the greater the sense of tension and strain and hence the greater the feeling of emotional urgency. For this reason, Spencer concluded, ‘These vocal peculiarities which indicate excited feeling are those which especially distinguish song from ordinary speech’,31 explaining (so he believed) the emergence of polyphonic instrumental music from monophony and recitative in Western Europe. So-called ‘primitive cultures’, 28 Spencer, ‘The Origin and Function of Music’, 49. 29 Ibid., 49–50. 30 Reproduced in Samtid 1, 262–72. The discussion of intervals (p. 265) runs as follows: ‘One should advise the stuffed and weary that the melodic leap of a third should be treated as a gift from God, a fourth as a wonderful experience, and a fifth as the supreme joy. Thoughtless gluttony undermines good health. We can therefore see that it is necessary to maintain some relationship with the original.’ [Man maa vise de overmætte, at et melodisk Terzspring bør betragtes som en Guds Gave, en Kvart som en Oplevelse og en Kvint som den højeste Lykke. Tankeløst Fraadseri undergraver Sundheden. Vi ser altsaa, at det er nødvendigt at vedligeholde Forbindelsen med det oprindelige.] 31 Spencer, ‘The Origin and Function of Music’, 54 and 57.

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­ eanwhile, according to Spencer were unable to grasp the affective potenm tial of such heightened speech-recitative, and were consequently unable to develop beyond the most rudimentary notion of music. This is precisely the point at which Nielsen and Spencer part company. Though music, for Nielsen, was also a profoundly embodied experience, it was by definition distinct from language: Music neither cannot nor will not bind itself to any concrete idea, that is entirely against its nature. It will be free, and even if it serves and listens, it is only because it also enjoys itself in that way and revels in its character’s flexibility like a sea-lion in water or a swallow’s flight. And the less one tries to restrict it, and the more one allows it to follow its own nature and its own strange laws, the better it will serve, and the richer it will reveal itself; and though – like architecture – it cannot express anything certain or cannot, like poetry, painting, or sculpture, reveal anything about what we call nature and reality, it can nevertheless, better than any of the other arts, enlighten, emphasise, anticipate and with the swiftest assurance clarify the most elemental feelings or intense emotions.32 In other words, for Nielsen, music existed solely as a vitalist current, entirely for and of its self: and, furthermore, it presupposed no evolutionary line of development from speech through monody to polyphony. On the contrary, as Nielsen remarked in his lecture to the Greek Society, ‘it is in reality completely childish to regard polyphony as necessarily higher and finer than homophony. The single-voiced song has, on the contrary, greater power and purity.’ 33 Rather, his interest in Greek music lay primarily in the emotive power of the melodic line, in its sounding force. And here Nielsen returned to an Aristotelian idea of music’s affect, to the principle that ‘it is the notes’ mutual relationship with each other, the grouping, the succession, and thus the spirit in music that interested the ancient Greeks and made an ­impression 32 ‘Imidlertid hverken kan eller vil Musiken binde sig til noget konkret Tankeindhold, det er dens natur fuldkomment imod. Den vil være fri, og selv om den tjener og lyder, er det kun, fordi den ogsaa paa denne Maade nyder sig selv og fryder sig over sit Væsens Bøjelighed, som Søløven i Vandet eller Svalen under sin Flugt. Og jo mindre man forsøger at binde den, og jo mere man lader den følge sin Natur og sine egne mærkelige Love, desto bedre tjener den, og desto rigere viser den sig; og kan den – ligesom ogsaa Arkitekturen – ikke udsige noget bestemt eller som Digter-, Maler- og Billedhuggerkunsten give Oplysning om det, vi kalder Natur og Virkelighed, saa kan den til Gengæld, frem for de andre Kunster, belyse, understrege, forudgribe og med lynsnar Sikkerhed klarlægge de elementæreste Følelser eller mest højtspændte Situationer.’ Samtid 1, 130–1. 33 ‘Det er i virkeligheden et ganske barnligt Standpunkt at tro at Polyfoni er noget højere og finere end Homofoni. Den enstemmige Sang har tvertimod større Kraft og Renhed[.]’ Samtid 1, 105.

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upon them. – A time such as the one in which we live could benefit from contemplating this’.34 As for the Hellenists at Refsnæs, ancient Greek culture became for Nielsen a source of renewal, a means of accessing a purer, more originary discourse in response to the perceived decadence of contemporary music, and also a means of restoring its true affective properties. Nielsen thus wrote with disdain about an unnamed composer (possibly Strauss or Mahler) who ‘sets a melodic stump for 16 trombones and thereby gains a certificate of grandiosity’,35 and criticised Wagner’s notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk as a false and pedantic misreading of the spirit of Greek tragedy. Such sympathies seem to have predated even Nielsen’s trip to Greece. Crucial in this respect was his early association with Thomas Laub, the church musician, philologist, and fellow Fynbo, who later accepted Nielsen as one of his most important collaborators on the popular song revival including collections such as En Snes danske Viser (‘A Dozen Danish Songs’, vol. 1, 1915). Laub had been with the Nielsens among a group of Danish artists in Rome between December 1899 and the end of June 1900, as Nielsen was working on his first opera, Saul og David. In a circular letter to friends and family on 18 January, Laub wrote how: In truth, we must in this way clarify our art – and thereby also our outlook on life (the two belong together); we have great art around us en masse, which compels us towards comparison, and which raises our conceptions and demands of our own art – for me, at any rate, and I think also for him [i.e. Nielsen] – they ascend, and that must surely be good. [emphasis original]36 For Laub, the proper role of music was to serve poetry – he thus sought to restore the balance of words and music as witnessed in Classical (and Renaissance) sources. As Michelsen suggests, it is as much from Laub as from antique Greek texts themselves that Nielsen gained his idea of the Zprimacy of monody or single-voiced music over contemporary polyphony.37 In Laub’s work we also witness a similar mapping of Classical aesthetics onto a specifically Nordic tone or identity, hence the whole of Laub’s popular song project 34 ‘Det var Tonernes indbyrdes Forhold til hinanden, Sammenstillingen, Rækkefølgen altsaa: Aanden i Musikken, der interesserede de gamle Grækere og gjorde Indtryk paa dem. – En Tid som den vi lever kunde have godt af at tænke over dette[.]’ Samtid 1, 100. 35 ‘[en Komponist] nutildags udsætter en Melodistump for 16 Basuner saa faar han Testemonium for Storstilethed.’ Samtid 1, 100 and 104 [on Wagner]. 36 ‘Vi bliver sandelig på denne måde nødt til at klare vor kunst – og også vore livsanskuelser (de hænger dog sammen); rundt om os har vi stor kunst i masse, som tvinger os til sammenligning, og som opper vore forestillinger om og fordringer til vor egen kunst, – for mit vedkommende idetmindste – jeg tror også for hans [CNs] – stiger de, og det må vist være godt[.]’ CNB 2, 160–1. 37 Michelsen, ‘Carl Nielsen og den græske musik’, 226–7.

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was dedicated towards what he conceived to be a melding of Classical (Greek) and Nordic aesthetic principles. Laub’s first Folkeviseaften (‘Popular Song Evening’) was held at the Odd Fellows Palace in Copenhagen (the venue for many of Nielsen’s premieres) on 22 October 1902, barely three months before Nielsen’s trip to Greece. The critical reception was mixed, especially among the newspaper critics, and Laub wrote in exasperation to Nielsen on 1 November: ‘if you could just tell people that not only are the verses our best poetry, and [Peter Jerndorff] the best interpreter we have had for many years, but it is also worth paying attention to the musical side of things: the melodies themselves stand level with the words, the union with the notes is needed to give the words their full value.’ 38 Nielsen had already anticipated the strikingly simple, declamatory style of Laub’s popular songs in his own ‘Song behind the Plough’ (‘Sang bag Ploven’) from his Holstein Sange, op. 10 (texts by Ludvig Holstein, 1894), and he began his series of Strofiske Sange, op. 21 (‘Strophic Songs’), later including his hit setting of Jeppe Aakjær’s Jens Vejmand (‘Jens the Roadmender’), a song to which we shall return in chapter 5, in the same year as Laub’s first concert.39 Laub’s neoclassicism may therefore have been one of several contributory elements which led towards Nielsen’s later formulation of his conception of the renewal of Danish popular song. Allied to Nielsen’s Hellenism, Laub’s concern with a return to musical and poetic origins stimulated Nielsen’s own optimistic view of a fresh musical idiom for the new century – the dawning of which the opening bars of Helios might be heard to portend. Nielsen was clearly pondering the urgency of this need for renewal shortly before he left Denmark for Athens. In a letter to the writer L. C. Nielsen dated 3 December 1902, for example, following the premieres of his first opera Saul og David at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen and the Second Symphony, De fire Temperamenter (‘The Four Temperaments’) at the Dansk KoncertForening, Nielsen wrote: If it is indeed as you wrote to me, that my music may be able to expel some of the musical sentimentality that one now swiftly finds everywhere, I will feel fortunate and proud. For so deep have we now sunk, that for not only most of the public but also many of its performers, music is conceived and cultivated as a stimulant, under whose effects one sinks into a blissful sensual state of idleness of a similar 38 ‘Kunde du ikke fortælle folk, at ikke blot er viserne vor bedste poesi, og J[erndorff] den bedste fortolker, vi i mange tider har haft, men musiksiden er også nok værd at lægge mærke til: melodierne selv står på højde med ordene, først foreningen med Tonerne giver ordene deres fulde værdi.’ CNB 2, 251. 39 The first number of the Strofiske Sange to be published was in fact ‘Skal Blomsterne da visne’, to a text by the symbolist poet Helge Rode, which appeared in the periodical Illustreret Tidende 9 (30 November 1902). The page is reproduced by John Fellow in Samtid 1, 44.

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kind to that which opium and morphine transport people towards. I would much rather listeners fortified themselves and remained alert and healthy even in the greatest ecstasy; but that is still a long way off. But then I am doubly pleased that there is someone who has the same desire and wish as me and particularly that it should come from an artist in another medium. I wonder if there is something in the air?40 Nielsen’s polemic was pointedly directed against a stream of decadent postWagnerian aesthetics (which explains the reference to contemporary music’s intoxicating opiate qualities), a trend which he perceived particularly strongly in much recent Austro-German music.41 Nielsen advocated instead a NordicHellenistic model based on vigour and physical health. And on this point, his views were indeed in accordance with many of his contemporaries including Ferruccio Busoni, who arranged an early performance of the Second Symphony with the Blüthner Orchestra in Berlin, and whose influential formulation of an aesthetics of Junge Klassizität in his later Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst paralleled the development of Nielsen’s Hellenism.42 For both composers, the conjunction of North and South pointed in a ­similar 40 ‘Hvis der er saaledes som De skrev til mig, at min Musik muligvis vil kunne udrydde noget af den Musiksentimentalitet som man nu snart finder overalt, saa vil jeg føle mig lykkelig og stolt. This saa dybt er vi nu sunkne, at Musiken ikke alene af den største Del af Publikum men snart ogsaa af dens Udøvere opfattes og dyrkes som en Nydelsesmiddel under hvis Indvirkning man hensynker i en sanselig-salig Uvirksomhedstilstand af lignende Art som den Opium og Morfin maa hensætte Mennesket i. Jeg vilde saa gjerne at Tilhørerne ligesom skulde stramme sig op og være vaagne og sunde selv under den største Extase; men i saa Henseende er der langt igjen. Men saa glæder det mig dobbelt at der er nogen som har den samme Trang og det samme Ønske som jeg og især at det kommer fra en Kunstner i en anden Kunst. Mon der skulde ligge noget i Luften?’ CNB 2, 255–6. 41 It is worth noting, in this context, Nielsen’s early reaction to meeting Richard Strauss, as recorded in his diary on 1 November 1894: ‘Was at Richard Strauss’s at 2.30 and found him at home. He strikes me as a deeply unsympathetic person; an upstart who already plays the great man. His whole manner was extremely stupid and affected, his handshake effeminate and flabby as though it were merely cartilage and when it turned out that his face was plebeian and ordinary and my antipathy was fully justified. He treated me very patronisingly, and I swiftly left. I don’t believe I have ever met a man who was more different from me.’ [Var hos Richard Strauzs Kl 2½ og traf ham hjemme. Han er mig et højst usympatisk Menneske; en Opkomling der allerede vil spille den store Mand. Hans hele Væsen var i høj Grad dumt og skabagtigt, hans Haandtryk kvindagtigt og ledeløst som om det kun var Brusk og naar dertil kommer at hans Ansigt er plebeisk og almindeligt er min Ant[i]pathi vel berettiget. Han behandlede mig i højeste Grad fraoven, og jeg gik strax igjen. Jeg vèd ikke at jeg nogensinde har truffet et Menneske der er mig mere modsat.] CNB 1, 374. 42 Busoni’s and Nielsen’s correspondence has been annotated and published by Michael Fjeldsøe, ‘Ferruccio Busoni og Carl Nielsen – brevveksling gennem tre årtier’, Musik og Forskning 25 (1999–2000), 18–40.

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musical direction, towards the adoption of a strongly linear contrapuntal style and an intensified concern with the shape and force of the melodic line as the primary structural element in music. Significantly, the music-historical implications of this shift for both Busoni and Nielsen was projected back towards earlier eighteenth-century sources, specifically Bach and Mozart, as ideal models for emulation, even if their end results were markedly different. Busoni’s large-scale Piano Concerto (1902–4), for example, is in many respects comparable to Helios, with which it is broadly contemporary, in its exploitation of stylised elements of Greek, Egyptian, and Byzantine culture in combination with a text (in German translation) drawn from Danish Romantic Adam Oehlenschläger’s play Aladdin, for which Nielsen would later provide incidental music in 1919. The frontispiece for the published score of the concerto, apparently inspired by Busoni’s description of the work, is an imaginative symbolist fantasy, with a Hellenic sun rising over a Parthenon-like temple and shedding light upon mysterious figures drawn from Egyptian and Persian mythology – a combination that would likewise inspire contemporary Danish artists and friends of Nielsen such as Willumsen in works including his Store Relief (Great Relief, 1893–1928), which similarly juxtaposes references to classical mythic sources and strikingly modernist elements.43 Yet this strongly retrospective tendency for Nielsen and Busoni also served as a stimulus to the exploration and development of more advanced trends in their music. In his Entwurf, Busoni famously proposed the adoption of a microtonal system, combining elements of Greek modal theory with the perceived exhaustion of purely diatonic-chromatic resources. Nielsen himself had suggested a similar innovation in a biographical note that he wrote in 1905, which, like Busoni’s sketch, took its roots in a deeply historicist reading of musical culture: As regards my musical standpoint, it is my opinion that Palestrina, Sebastian Bach and Mozart are the composers who are greatest of all. It seems to me that for us today, the two latter masters seem to mark the outer limits of music’s expressive abilities. Bach sets and then maintains a simple mood throughout a whole piece, in spite of the many strange and interesting details he generates, whereas Mozart is surely the one to whom we owe the ultimate deepening and fulfilment of that style in which contrast and shifting moods find expression. Naturally, I do not mean by this that these masters should in each and every respect be our ideal; I believe that music has far from reached its culmination in the ability to express human feelings and moods; but in which direction evolution will lead us is impossible to say at the moment. So much is clear to me, that there are many unused possibilities in the harmonic 43 The frontispiece is reproduced in, for example, Michael Spring’s programme notes for the splendid recording by Marc-André Hamelin and Mark Elder with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Hyperion cda 67143, 1999).

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and modulatory domains, and I would be very wrong if, in future, our major and minor tonalities are not abandoned as insufficient to express a modern person’s thought and feelings. The idea of quartertones, which has been proposed in Germany, interests me greatly, and I have many times, for instance in a passage from my First Symphony, similarly felt the need of a more finely nuanced tonal system.44 Unlike other contemporaries such Charles Ives, Alois Hába, and (Busoni’s pupil) Percy Grainger, Nielsen never pursued this apparent interest in microtonal tuning compositionally, though he did speak warmly of Joseph Matthias Hauer’s system of twelve-note tropes when the two composers met at the meeting of the International Society for Contemporary Music in Frankfurt in 1927.45 Rather, Nielsen chose to follow a different, less overtly radical (though no less challenging) path, one in which the idea or possibility of tonal thought as a structural and expressive resource remained open, even if the precise nature of that tonality was very different from what had gone before. The basis for this alternative trajectory – another example of Nielsen’s modernism as both passive ‘biperson’ and double-man – can again be followed through his correspondence with Thomas Laub. Laub was fiercely critical of certain aspects of Nielsen’s music. In a letter written to Nielsen just a month before he left for Athens, Laub confessed: 44 ‘Hvad mit musikalske Standpunkt angaar, saa er det min Overbevisning, at Palestrina, Sebastian Bach og Mozart er de Komponister, der er naaet højest af alle. Det forekommer mig, at de 2 sidste Mestre for os Nutidsmennekser ligesom danne Yderpunkterne af Musikens Udtryksevne. Bach fastholder jo den een Gang anslaaede, enkle Stemning hele Stykket igennem, trods de mange mærkelige og interessante Enkeltheder, han udvikler, hvorimod Mozart vel nok er den, som man skylder den endelige Uddybelse og Fuldendelse af den Stil, hvori Kontrastvirkninger og vexlende Stemninger finder Udtryk. Naturligvis mener jeg ikke hermed, at disse Mestre i eet og alt bør være vore Idealer; jeg tror, at Musiken endnu langt fra har naaet sit Kulminationspunkt i Evnen til at udtrykke menneskelige Følelser og Stemninger; men i hvilken Retning, Udviklingen vil bære hen, er i Øjeblikket umuligt at sige. Saa meget staar mig dog klart, at der ligger uhyre mange Muligheder skjulte i det harmoniske og modulatoriske, og jeg skulde tage meget fejl, om ikke Fremtiden vil forkaste vore moderne tonearter, Moll og Dur, som utilsktrækkelige til at udtrykke et moderne menneskes Tankeog Følelses-Liv. Tanken om Kvart-Toner, som skal være oppe i Tyskland, tiltaler mig i høj Grad, og jeg har flere Gange, bl. a. et sted i min første Symphonie, ligefrem følt Savnet af et finere nuanceret Tonesystem.’ As John Fellow suggests, the note may have been intended for use either by Knut Harder, in preparation for an essay on Nielsen in the German periodical Die Musik 5/15 (1905/6), or by Gerhard Lynge, for use in his article in his early survey, Danske Komponister i det 20. Aarhundredes Begyndelse (Århus, 1917). Samtid 1, 50–1. 45 Nielsen discussed Hauer’s work in an interview with Finn Hoffmann published in Politiken, 11 July 1927; reproduced in Samtid 2, 434–6. See also John Fellow’s essay, ‘Carl Nielsen, Wien und die europäische Wende: Von psychischer Expansion bis Wertezerfall’, Österreichisches Musikzeitschrift 51 (1996), 11–62, at 52.

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Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism My soul is so full of conflicting impressions, which your music has made upon me, that I need to unburden myself a little. … Of a good deal of other music, one can say: that piece is good, that bad, that mediocre, etc. So other people may indeed say about your music. But for me it isn’t like that: the whole of your music seems to me seen from two sides simultaneously, splendid and all wrong, compelling and contrary to common sense (in any case mine). The excellent side, as I have said before, is the rhythmic, when by that one understands not just the actual rhythm (in the themes themselves) but also the rhythm of the voice leading and the voices in the polyphony interplay. The troubling side is the tonal, also understood in three ways: the tonal organisation of the melodies, the modulation, and the notes’ harmonic coherence. It speaks a language I cannot understand, and what is worse, it is one that I cannot believe in.46

As an admittedly crude example, Laub compared a simple tonal setting of a psalm tune (‘Jesu, dine dybe vunder’) with a distorted version of the melody in whole tone steps: ‘the musical construction seen from one side [i.e. in terms of contour] is splendid, as it was before, for it is completely unchanged; but the other aspect [i.e. intervallic content] contradicts all good sense, cannot convince, even though mathematically it is as logically consistent and thorough as possible.’ 47 Nielsen evidently did not reply until he was in Greece, after Laub had sent him a volume of his own tunes, and he chose to respond to the spirit rather than the letter of Laub’s complaint: Now we turn to me, poor man, who you have truly mistreated and toyed with. What is it you actually want? A fresh and completely new shoot without any connection or kinship with all other music? Or would you rather have a consciously archaic music that simplifies and 46 ‘Min sjæl er så fuld af modstridende indtryk, som din musik har gjort på mig, at jeg bliver nødt til at lette mig en smule. … Om adskillig anden musik siger man: det stykke er godt, det slet, det middelmådigt o. s. v. Sådan siger måske også andre om din musik. Men for mig er det ikke sådan: hele din musik synes på mig éngang, på samme tid, sét fra to sider, udmærket og aldeles forkert, gribende og stridende mod sund sans (ialfald min). ¶ Den udmærkede side er, som jeg før har sagt, det rytmiske, når man derved forstår ikke blot den egentlige musikrytme (i selve temaerne) men også rytmen i leddeling og i stemmerne polyfone sammenspil. Den pinlige side er den tonale, også opfattet på tre måder: tonesystemet i melodierne, modulationerne, tonernes harmoniske sammensætning. Den taler et sprog jeg ikke forstår, og hvad værre er, som jeg ikke tror på.’ Letter dated 6 December 1902, CNB 2, 258–9. 47 ‘… musikbygningen, set fra den ene side er udmærket, som den var, for den er aldeles uforandret; men den anden side strider mod al sund sans, kan ikke overbevise, endda den logisk-matematisk er så konsekvent og gennemført som vel mulig.’ CNB 2, 259.

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holds in check the red human blood and severs the sinews and muscles every time it shows any sign of tension in life and passion? You are assuredly right that our time has reached the boundary limit of sentimentality and so-called passion in Art: but the rebound will surely emerge not as a little new shoot which the sun will burn up if it stood entirely alone, but as a powerful root rising up through the manure, nourished by it, beaten by nettles in the breeze, minding itself from all the weeds around it but nevertheless sucking the same stuff from the earth, instructed and enriched by the weeds which it could not do without and then finally becoming a good and proficient tree – neither new nor remarkable – and eventually bearing a little fruit and feeling fortunate if it takes root itself.48 It is significant that Nielsen turned to the metaphor of the garden, to the cultivation of roots from fertilised soil, as his means of explaining and justifying his own musical development to Laub – reading his letter, the image of the oak tree in Gjorslev Park that supposedly inspired the opening movement (‘Intonation’) of the Symphonic Suite comes to mind once again. It is a metaphor that simultaneously points back towards his Funen childhood, an origin which he shared with Laub, subtly reinforcing the double image of Nielsen as modernist/country lad which he was to construct more forcefully in his later writings and music. Yet the complete lack of sentimentality is equally striking – there is no sense here of the garden as an edenic paradise or nostalgic Arcadia, or of musical works as stylised flowers or fragrant blossoms, images which may have appealed more readily to other kinds of modernist imaginations. Rather, the emphasis is placed on a more Darwinian notion of musical evolution as a rugged struggle for survival, the process of organic growth beaten and nourished by the elements of the natural world – wind, sun, and rain. And it is this vitalist world view, of music as a dynamic life-force, flowing through and strengthening the sinews and muscles of the musical body,

48 ‘Nu gaar vi over til mig, stakkels Mand, som Du virkelig har mishandlet og tumlet med. Hvad er det egentlig Du vil have? En frisk og helt ny Spire uden nogensomhelst Sammenhæng eller Naboskab med al anden Musik? Eller vil Du en Musik som bevidst arkaiserer og forenkler og holder det røde Menneskeblod i Tømme og skærer Sener og Muskler over hvergang de gjør Tegn til Spænding i Liv og Lidenskab? Du har visselig Ret i at vor Tid er kommen til Grænsen af Føleri og saakaldt Lidenskabelighed i Kunsten; men Tilbageslaget kommer sikkert ikke som en lille ny Spire som Solen vilde brænde af hvis den stod helt ene men som et kraftigt Rodskud op igjennem Gjødningen, næret af denne, pisket af Nælder i Blæst, hyttende sig for alt Skidtet omkring sig og alligevel sugende de samme Stoffer af Jorden, belært og beriget af Ukrudtet som den ikke kunde undvære for saa tilsidst at blive et godt og dygtigt Træ – slet ikke et nyt eller mærkeligt – og endelig maaske kaste en liden Frugt og føle sig lykkelig hvis den maatte slaa Rod.’ Letter dated 25 April 1903, CNB 2, 305.

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which continued to underpin and expand Nielsen’s musical development as his career progressed.49

ЙЙCarl Nielsen’s Carnival

Nielsen’s Hellenism represents a philological, antiquarian interest – inspired in part by his wife’s work with classical sculpture, and by the rich intellectual circle into which he was drawn in Copenhagen – and simultaneously an aesthetic project, a pressing concern with a perceived return to more authentic musical origins, with the idea of music as a bodily expressive force. It hence embodies Nielsen’s commitment to an ideological notion of modernism as a complex, diverse synthesis of different strands of thought and artistic practice: distinctively Nordic in its preoccupation with nature, health, and physical well-being, perhaps, but also drawing on wider strands in European art and literature. The Helios Overture can be heard, in that context, as the dawn of a new European modernist age – not without a degree of irony, given its subsequent radio association with the start of the Danish new year. But the overture also points to Nielsen’s characteristic feeling for the materiality of the sound object itself. Writing contra Spencer in his 1909 essay ‘Ord, Musik og Programmusik’, and definitively rejecting his argument for the common origins of music and language, Nielsen asked: But what then is the relationship between music and words? We have to concede that the relationship is purely decorative; and yet not in the general sense, but rather in the same way as the sun’s relationship with things, it illuminates them and provides colour; it shines upon them and gives sheen; it even warms and animates them, so that all possibilities come to fruition.50

49 See also Luise Gomard’s essay, ‘Rudolph Tegner og Livskraften’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner, 126–33. Gomard considers the case of Jakob Knudsen, whose psalm tune ‘Se, nu stiger Solen af Havets Skød’ (‘See, now the sun rises from the Ocean’s lap’, 1891) offers a useful parallel with Nielsen’s overture, and also with the opening of his great cantata, Hymnus Amoris (1896). As Gomard notes (p. 131), ‘Here the light is not merely redemptive in the evangelical sense, or healing in the continuation of scientist Niels Finsen’s (1860–1904) epochal discovery in 1892–3 of light’s medicinal power. Rather, light appears in the psalm as the victorious unfolding of Nature’s power and is thereby life-affirming.’ [Her er lyset heller ikke kun frelsende i evangelisk forstand eller helbredende i forlængelse af videnskabsmanden Niels Finsens (1860–1904) epokegørende opdagelser i 1892–93 af lysets lægende kraft. Nej, lyset ses i salmen som en sejrende udfoldelse af naturens kræfter og dermed livsbesættende.] 50 ‘Men i hvilket Forhold staar da Musiken til Ordet? ¶ Vi nødes til at indrømme det: Forholdet er et rent dekorativt; dog rigtignok ikke i almindelig Forstand, men paa samme Maade som Solens forhold til Tingene, som den belyser og giver Farve, bestraaler og giver Glans og tillige varmer og giver Liv, saa alle Muligheder kommer til Udfoldelse.’ Samtid 1, 129.

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The sun in Helios hence becomes a symbol of the music’s energy, of the creative stream which flows through the artist and animates his inner vision – an idea that maps a notion of inspiration as an unconscious force onto an older, mythic image of art as sacred ritual or epiphany. Music’s expressive power, as Nietzsche believed, thus becomes transformative. But for Nielsen, such moments of transformation became akin to a form of spiritual breakthrough. Anticipating the impetus for the first movement of his Third Symphony, which he would complete barely two years later (see the following chapter), Nielsen explained: At such moments music can encircle and assail words or emotions with such an expansive force, that one thinks it speaks, which of course it does, but in its own tongue, which is not a language, but rather a continual drifting in and out, up and down between the words, soon remote from them and then suddenly close to them, without ever touching them; quickly pressing forwards and then drawing back, yet continually in a vital motion. Thus music can rush in, enflaming and vitalising the word, so that it vibrates, circling in long, calm paths around it so that it slumbers, urging and exciting it so that it hurts, warming and illuminating it so that it swells and bursts with infinite delight. But to imagine ideas, shine in colours, or show pictures with metaphorical allusions, that it cannot do. Here it resembles architecture. That art tells us nothing about reality, but rests on the same distinguished principles of mathematical certainty. Strange that music – even the most banal and hysterical – has such a regulated and inviolable foundation.51 Nielsen thus returns to the ideas initially expressed at the start of his lecture on Greek music – that music’s value ultimately does not lie in its representational qualities, even while it superficially resembles architecture in its semblance of structure and of geometrically divided space. Rather, it can be more truthfully imaged as a form of energy transfer, a vitalist stream (the monodic line) that animates, nourishes, and ultimately consumes all living

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51 ‘Musiken kan nemlig i saadanne Øjeblikke omringe og bestorme Ordet eller Situationen med en saa ekspansiv Kraft, at man synes, den taler, og det gør den selvfølgelig ogsaa, dog i sit eget Sprog, som intet Sprog er, men en bestandig Svæven ud og ind, op og ned mellem Ordene, snart helt fjernt fra dem og snart tæt ind til dem, dog uden at røre dem; snart fremskyndende og snart dvælende, dog bestandig i levende Svingning. Saaledes kan Musik komme farende, opflamme og levendegøre Ordet, saa det dirrer, kredse i lange, rolige Baner om det, saa det blunder, ægge og hidse det, saa det smerter, eller varme det og lyse for det, saa det svulmer og brister i uendeligt Velbehag. Men tænke Tanker, straale i Farver eller vise Billeder med Allusioner, det kan den ikke. Her ligner den Arkitekturen. Denne Kunst fortæller os heller intet om Realiteter, men hviler paa det samme fornemme Grundlag af matematisk Usvigelighed. – Forunderligt, at Musiken – selv den banaleste og mest hysteriske – har en saa lovbunden og uforfalskelig Undergrund.’ Samtid 1, 131.

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things. And the dialectical play between its different forms of energy, between its constructive and destructive impulses or active and dormant states, became the fundamental principle of much of Nielsen’s subsequent musical work. But a different, equally Nietzschean manifestation of this Hellenism can be found in the work of one of Nielsen’s closest colleagues, the literary historian (and Maskarade’s librettist), Vilhelm Andersen. As Jørgen I. Jensen has discussed at length, among Andersen’s scholarly works was a treatise entitled Bacchustoget i Norden (‘The Bacchus Procession in the North’): an account of the Dionysian power of comedy as a Nordic counterpart to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Wagner-inspired discussion of the birth of tragedy from the spirit of Classical drama, a thesis which Andersen further developed in a series of articles for Tilskueren and which, Jensen argues, provided the foundation of his libretto for Nielsen’s opera.52 For Andersen, the spirit of Ludvig Holberg’s plays, and hence the whole of the Nordic dramatic tradition, could be traced to its roots in Greek drama and popular ritual: Just as antique comedy developed itself out of the Bacchic procession and the modern from the Shrovetide fair and the like, so one can see in many of Holberg’s pieces how Danish comedy emerged on the foundation of these popular, half-dramatic games. Hence ‘Maskarade’ and ‘Julestuen’ [titles of two Holberg plays], whose local conditions in the city and the country mean the same for Holbergian comedy as the Bacchus festivities outside Athens did for Greek drama.53 Maskarade could therefore be heard as a positive response to Nietzsche’s call, in his later work, The Case of Wagner, for the Mediterraneanisation of opera – an escape from the damp Teutonic gloom of Wagner’s work in favour of a lighter, supposedly healthier clarity, and the return to number opera. It certainly seems significant that Nielsen should have looked towards operatic models where the distinction between high art and popular music, if not entirely erased, could at least exist on a more equal and less ideologically driven footing than in the rarefied domain of Wagnerian music drama. Here 52 Danskeren, 227–41. Andersen’s book was published in Copenhagen by the Shubotheske Forlag in 1904, and is divided into two broad halves: a discussion of the origins of the Bacchus cult in Greek civilisation, and its dissemination throughout the Nordic lands from early Romantics such as Oehlenschläger to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. 53 ‘Ligesom den antikke Komedie udviklede sig af det bacchiske Optog og den moderne af Fastelavnslege o. lign., saaledes ser man i flere af Holbergs Stykker den danske Komedie blive til paa Grundlag af disse folkelige, halvt dramatiske Løjer. Saaledes ‘Maskarade’ og ‘Julestuen’, hvis locale Forudsætningen i Staden og paa Landet betyder det samme for den holbergske Komedie som Bacchusfesterne i og uden Athen for det græske Drama.’ Vilhelm Andersen, ‘Teatrene’, Tilskueren 22 (1905), 84–94, at 85.

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at least, his earliest professional experience as second violinist in the Tivoli orchestra, with its combination of vaudeville, opéra-comique, ballet and classical chamber works, must have seemed a more natural starting-point than Bayreuth, even if it risked offending critical sensibilities in the Royal Theatre at the time of the opera’s premiere.54 At the same time, however, Andersen’s libretto, precisely because of its anachronistic qualities, mythologised Holberg’s play, so that the masquerade itself became a symbolic ritual ultimately independent of a particular time and place – a process to which Nielsen’s music would respond at the very end of the work. This ritualistic quality provides a deeper context for reading the work’s Hellenist orientation. Maskarade, as Andersen’s book suggests, is fundamentally concerned with the spectacle of carnival as Bacchic procession. It is therefore both a mythic drama, and also a modern ritual, centred on the tension between liberty, freedom, and social convention. As Mikhail Bakhtin has argued, ‘carnival celebrates temporary liberation from the prevailing truth of the established order; it marks the suspension of all hierarchical rank, privileges, norms and prohibitions. Carnival was the true feast of time, the feast of becoming, change and renewal. It was hostile to all that was immortalised and complete.’ 55 The opera’s pointed destabilising of the established rule is therefore a necessary step in the evocation of a seasonal cycle of collapse and rebirth, a mythic procedure whose comic surface conceals only partially an underlying anxiety about the fragility of social order itself. Yet, as Peter Stallybrass and Allon White have argued, carnival and masquerade are not merely ‘ritual features of European culture’, but more properly ‘a mode of understanding, a positivity, a cultural analytic’.56 In other words, the masquerade itself becomes a critical text, one which both invites interpretation and is in itself interpretative of its own subject. Indeed, it is this sense of ambiguity and ambivalence, which Stallybrass and White identify as one of the defining features of the masquerade, that challenges the opera’s apparently innocent, liberal representation of Danishness. This quality has

54 The complex reception history of Maskarade is traced in the editorial preface to the critical edition, Carl Nielsen, Maskarade, ed. Michael Fjeldsøe et al., CNU series 1:1 (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, 2001), xi–xxvii. Early reports expressed serious reservations about the use of Holberg’s text as the basis for the libretto – the music’s subsequent success managed to allay many, but not all, of these fears. Andersen’s misgivings were expressed in a spoken prologue written shortly before the premiere, but which was not heard until a revival in 1937. 55 Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Hélène Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 109; quoted in Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (London: Oxford University Press, 1986), 7. 56 Stallybrass and White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression, 6 (emphasis original).

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been identified by other writers. Jensen, for instance, has suggested that the opera was unusual, since: the Danish sense of nationhood had previously been expressed in praising the Danish landscape or – as is the case with the majority of important Danish operas prior to Nielsen – in Danish medieval history. But Maskarade takes place in the eighteenth century, in a city, and it is a comedy – a world away from national romantic landscapes.57 Maskarade, Jensen argues, locates itself squarely within the rational democratic world of enlightenment thought, far removed from more Romantic insecurities of myth and mock medieval romance associated with earlier nineteenth-century Danish operas such as J. P. E. Hartmann’s Liden Kirsten (with its libretto by H. C. Andersen). Certainly, Holberg’s play was originally written as a polemical contribution to the political controversy surrounding the status of public entertainments in central Copenhagen, in particular the weekly assemblies or street fairs where class distinctions between different social groups were temporarily suspended. According to the authorities, these assemblies were associated with gambling and other forms of vice, and needed to be controlled or banned outright. But the popular will (and the spirit of Holberg’s play) swiftly prevailed, and the street fairs or masquerades were allowed to continue. At one level, Nielsen’s opera can be heard as an attempt to promote an early twentieth-century equivalent of such enlightened egalitarianism: the Kehraus or round-dance which closes the work could be understood as the Danish equivalent of the kind of popular celebration of community evoked in earlier nineteenth-century opera and ballet.58 But the opera can also be heard, more broadly, as an aesthetic manifesto: a declaration of the belief that art is an essential part of our everyday existence, and that it is relevant to everyone, not just the wealthy aristocratic elite. Nielsen was perhaps thinking of himself, and remembering his rural working-class roots. In an interview in the newspaper Politiken on 15 October 1905, he suggested: ‘It was rather the intermezzo, the sense of masque comedy, which interested me. And then Maskarade’s Henrik! I think he is terrific. And he is completely modern in his feelings, after all: he even says socialistic things’.59 57 Jørgen I. Jensen, ‘Carl Nielsen and Maskarade’, liner notes for Decca cd 460 227–2 (1998), 10. 58 For instance, the closing sequence in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride or August Bournonville’s ballet Napoli. Such scenes are often associated, in earlier nineteenth-century works, with the assertion and ritual celebration of a collective national consciousness. 59 ‘Det var vel nærmest Intermediet, det maskekomedieagtige, der interesserede mig. Og saa ‘Maskaradens’ Henrik! Jeg synes, han er saa storartet. Og saa er han jo i Grunden ganske moderne i sine Følelser; han siger ligefrem socialistiske Ting.’ Samtid 1, 55.

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As Torben Schousboe has observed, one of the pivotal points in the whole work is the juxtaposition in Act 1 of Jeronimus’s staid conservatism, ‘Fordum var her Fred paa Gaden’ (‘Once there was peace on the street here’) and his fear that ‘Nu er alle lige’ (‘now everyone is equal’), with Henrik’s summons, quoted by Nielsen in his letter of 6 February 1905: ‘Hvad kan en ung Kavalier gjøre bedre end glemme for en Stund den Sump, hvor vi vade, og gjøre Hjærtet lyst og Himlen mild ved sig at bade i den Kaskade af Dans og Sang og Lys og Ild, som hedder Maskarade’ ‘What could a young cavalier better do Than to forget for a moment The mire in which we wade And cheer his heart And soothe the heavens By bathing in that cascade Of dance and song and light and fire Which we call the masquerade.’ Elsewhere in Act 1, Henrik is no less explicit in his call for social change: ‘Da hvirvler det brogede Masketog / med Frihed og Lighed af Sted, / med den rigeste Drot og det fattigste Drog – / hvad Under, om vi vil med?’ (‘When the colourful masked parade whirls past / with freedom and equality / with the richest lord and the poorest wretch / little wonder that we want to join in too?’) Nielsen’s music reinforces these polarised positions: Jeronimus’s aria is a closed hymn-like number in C major, and is strikingly free from the chromatic elements which pervade much of the opera’s musical discourse elsewhere. The immediate effect is of dignified restraint. But the status, and ultimately the meaning of Jeronimus’s diatonicism in the opera is more complex: it hardly reflects an underlying stability or sense of confidence. Rather, such moments of diatonicism are more frequently fragile, and vulnerable to rapid chromaticisation and transformation. Henrik’s music, in contrast, is much more tonally fluid, suggesting a far greater freedom of musical tone and imagination, as well as a sense of restlessness that underpins his desire for social revolution, as well as his origins in a more antique dramatic tradition. As Andersen argues, Henrik is not a fixed, but a variable type. He is in no respects himself like Peder Paars. And neither is he in that respect a completely freely invented character, but rather an old comedic figure, whom Holberg

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For Andersen, ‘When one goes back into this type’s history, it can be said that it stems from no-one less than the Homeric Odysseus, with whom Holberg’s slaves are more closely related than his heroes.’ 61 Henrik, in other words, is defined by his instability, his sense of liberating freedom that is both energising and also destabilising. ‘Henrik is something else. He is the movement that stirs within the unrest that may upset a society … And he is Holberg’s own Henrik in the innermost sense. Henrik is like a wolf, a vagrant, a desperate rogue, who has no explicit goal in his life, in the deepest sense a free figure.’ 62 Henrik’s response to Jeronimus in Act 1, ‘I dette Land, hvor Solskin er saa kummerligt beskaaret’ (‘In this country, where sunshine is so miserly distributed’), begins in C minor, shifting the key of Jeronimus’s aria into the chromatically unstable minor mode. And though it swiftly returns to Jeronimus’s earlier major key, the modulation is achieved via an expressively enriched transition on the word ‘Maskarade’ through the flat mediant, a key centre which will become more dramatically significant later in the opera. This opposition of musical languages in turn suggests a tension between young and old, and between different time periods: an artistic struggle for freedom that is symbolised by Act 1’s closing buffa showdown between Jeronimus, Leander and Henrik. Such moments of historical disjunction are an integral feature of the opera. At a later point in Act II, for example, Leander reflects respectfully on the difference between the older houses in the city, ‘hvor mine Fædre / gik til deres Dont’ (‘where my forefathers / attended to their duties’), and the ‘det nye hus med Glans i sin Blik / – Hør, hvor dets Vægge toner med Musik’ (‘new house with radiance in its eyes / – Listen, how its walls resound with music’). In a strikingly reflective gesture, he calls: 60 ‘Henrik er ikke en fast, men en varierende Type. Han er i ingen Henseende sig selv lige som Peder Paars. Og han er eller ikke som denne en frit opfunden Skikkelse, men en gammel Komedie-figur, som Holberg har fornyet, og som før ham findes ikke blot hos Molière og Italienerne, men allerede i de gamle latinske og græske Komedier.’ Andersen, ‘Holbergs Henrik’, Tilskueren 23 (1906), 59–74, and 132–42; at 66. 61 ‘Saa langt tilbage gaar denne Types Historie, at man kan ikke sige, den stammer fra ingen mindre end den homeriske Odysseus, med hvem da ogsaa Holbergs Slaver er mere beslægtet end hans Helte.’ Andersen, ‘Holbergs Henrik’, 67. 62 ‘Henrik er et andet. Han er Bevægelsen i uroen i et Samfund … og han er Holbergs egen Henrik i den inderligste Forstand. Han er Holbergs Genius … Henrik er som Ulven, en Løsgænger, en fortvivlet Skælm, som slet ingen ydre Formaal har for sit Liv, i dybeste Forstand en fri Figur.’ Andersen, ‘Holbergs Henrik’, 74.

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Hil dig, nye hus Hvor Folk forundret slog Øjet op Til Fest, til Skuespil, Du klare frie attende Aarhundred! Dig jeg vælge, dig jeg hører til! Hail, you new house Where people opened their eyes in surprise To celebrations and to plays, You bright free eighteenth century! You I choose, to you I belong! Though the aria is essentially based in C, recalling the key of Jeronimus’s earlier moment of nostalgic reflection in Act 1, Leander’s music again ranges much more widely, moving not through the parallel minor and Eb (as Henrik’s response had done), but through the submediant – A major – the ultimate destination of the whole work, and a key centre which Anne-Marie Reynolds aligns in the opera with elevated notions of liberalism, freedom, and the masquerade itself.63 For Jørgen I. Jensen, ‘the masquerade becomes a symbol of the Danish soul, of the new democratic thinking of the eighteenth century and of the music itself.’ 64 The opera thus suggests, through such heightened moments of performativity, the dawn of an optimistic new artistic age, and the arrival of a younger, more hopeful generation. This conflict between progressive and conservative tendencies further points towards the work’s preoccupation with time and space. At one level, this reflects an innovation in the libretto. Unlike Holberg’s play, which takes place almost exclusively in daylight, the opera’s action takes place within an intense twelve-hour overnight span. The overture begins at sundown, with hungover residues of the burlesque high spirits of the party the night before, through a series of bold triadic fanfares that serve as the symbol of the masquerade throughout the opera (often, as Reynolds notes, in sharp keys: initially D, then G, and more often elsewhere A major). As the bustling music 63 Anne-Marie Reynolds, ‘Carl Nielsen Unmasked: Art and Popular Musical Styles in Maskarade’, CNS 1, 137–55, at 151–4. The first instance of A major and its association with freedom and the masquerade is Leander’s arietta in Act 1, ‘Se, hvor bag min vindueslem Aftensolen pipper frem’ (‘Look, how the evening sun peeps through my window’ (bb. 93–108); as Henrik draws back the curtain, the sun appears in E (bb. 119–21), reinforcing the sharp-side associations with liberty and freedom identified by Reynolds. It is interesting to speculate whether such key characteristics extend beyond the opera into other Nielsen works: the Third Symphony, for example, modulates tonally from the dusky Eb domain of the end of the second movement towards an ultra-bright, diatonically saturated A major in the closing bars of the finale, while Nielsen’s most sustained and intense evocation of the power of liberty and young love, the Hymnus Amoris (1896), is in a richly glowing A major. 64 Jensen, ‘Carl Nielsen and Maskarade’ (liner notes), 10.

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of the overture fades away, in a neatly dovetailed transition (first pizzicato strings and then glockenspiel), its final notes become the ticking of a clock in Leander’s study, striking five o’clock in the afternoon, and illustrating the shift from idyllic dream-filled slumber to rude awakening.65 The opening exchanges between Leander and Henrik establish the prevailing model of dialogue and exchange that predominates throughout the remainder of the act. The first chromatic intrusion takes place in b. 12, and pivots the music into a contrasting flat key area (initially Bb, although the emphasis in the remainder of the scene is more heavily on Eb), before Leander attempts to re-establish the propriety of the overture’s original D major in b. 24. In part, the chromatic instability in this opening exchange serves simply to portray Henrik’s hazy memories of the previous evening: poignant horn calls, again in Eb, signal a brief recollection of Henrik’s carousing at the party (b. 30). Leander’s increasingly ill-tempered prompt kicks the music back into a clear-headed sharp key area, but Henrik’s hallucinatory vision of the carnival’s cotillion slips inevitably from D (‘Det er ikke den!’; ‘No, that’s not it!’) into his more soporific Eb (‘Ja, der er Tonen.’; ‘Yes, that’s the key.’) (Ex. 3.3.). Only a more violent chromatic break, in bb. 70–1, succeeds in bringing Henrik back to his senses. These opening exchanges also, however, serve to articulate the music’s underlying harmonic instability: though the music often sounds straightforwardly diatonic, its actual progress, as has been demonstrated in the later exchange between Jeronimus and Henrik, is often highly chromaticised and tonally fragile. The brave new artistic world that the masquerade celebrates, therefore, sounds provisional at best. And at the heart of the opera’s musical language lies a powerful inversion: the transformation of the triad from a symbol of permanence and tonal security, to a symbol of the potential for disorder, instability, and harmonic freedom. If the symmetrical temporal structure of the opera’s plot, beginning in the late afternoon and ending with a sunrise (inverting the trajectory traced by the Helios Overture), implies an underlying, albeit highly disrupted, circularity, the work’s wider concern with various aspects of time and place is reinforced by the music’s patterns of stylistic allusion. Nielsen’s music at times adopts a consciously archaic tone, for instance in Magdelone’s ‘Folie d’Espagne’ in Act 1, and the mask-seller’s musette in Act 2. Numbers such as Jeronimus’s aria assume the quality of a character piece, more like a vaudeville song than a genuine attempt to recreate the actual sound of early eighteenth-century Copenhagen. Indeed, there is little stylistic distance between ‘Fordum var her Fred paa Gaden’ and Nielsen’s hit tune ‘Du danske Mand’ – which, as John Fellow has recently discussed in a penetrating analysis,66 65 As several commentators have noted, this gesture is recalled in the opening bars of Nielsen’s Sixth Symphony, the Sinfonia semplice (1925), discussed further in chapter 7 below. 66 Fellow, ‘A Patriotic Song with Consequences’, 28–45.

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Ex. 3.3  Nielsen, Maskarade: Act 1, bb. 18–48 18

rall.

œ œ. œ œ. œ œ œ ‰ œJ œ. J R J R J R J J

HENRIK

?# Œ

Saa er det alt for tid ligt at gaa

&

#





j > ? # Œ bbœœfib˙˙

œœ J

fp

# & bRœ œR œJ ‰ œJ lig - ger han

fp

# j j & œ œ Œ

25

Œ

or - ker.

? # œœœœ

œ ‰ œ œJ . œr œ.j R J og

so - ver, ret

fij > bbœœ b˙ ˙

œ œœ

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r œ

saa fast

han

mfp

j j œ œ

Hør,

hvor han

œ œ Œ J J

Œ

Œ

snor - ker!

œœ œ J



‰ #œj œ

Min Gud!

Ÿ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ gliss. œœ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œ œ # œ n œ . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ#œ œ œ œ #œœ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ‰ ≈ ‰ j‰ ‰ ≈ #œJ œ p f f j j . œœ œ . œ n # œ # œ œ ˙ > œ # œœ #œœ œœœ ‰ ‰ œ œœ œœ ‰ ‰ œœ ˙˙ Œ j J J‰Œ œfiœ J bÆœ ˙. J mfp >

# gliss. & œ Œ ?# Œ

r j œ œ.

œ œœ ‰ J



a tempo

Œ

Jeg gi - der ik - ke rørt et Lem!

f

Dèr

3

œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ œ nœ œ œ

# ‰ œ œ œ œ œ rall. œ œ b˙ & J J J J J J J

29

sen!

3

œ

Œ

-

fp

he - le Ma - ske stad - sen

œ œ œ b œ œ b œ. œ bœ œ bœ. > fij > œ b œœ ‰ ‰b œ b˙˙ J

Det A

3

‰ -œ J



b œ nœ œ œ œ b œ. œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ ‰ bœ œ œ bœ. > mf j > j fi œ œœ ‰ bbœœfib>˙˙ ‰ bbœ b˙˙ J

3

# b œ. & bœ. > ? # œœ J

# & ‰

&

œ. bœ bœJ . bœ œ. J R R J

i

‰ bJœ bœ

LEANDER

hjem.

Œ

˙˙..

22

a tempo

j gliss. œfi b˙

p

œ

f

j #œ ‰ Œ

Πp

j‰ #œ

œ

œ

Hen - rik,

bœ . b>œ > œ œ b œ œ œ œ b œ nœ b œ œbœ b œ œ œ œ. œ. n>œ >œ œ œ Œ ‰ ≈‰

> b ˙˙

mp

bnœœ

bœ œ

f

fz

fz

>œ >œ œ œ œ. œ. Œ n>œ >œ œ œ ‰

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# & ‰

33

œ J



Ex. 3.3 continued

œ ‰ J

˙



kom frem!

Hen

> b>œb>œ nœ . . b œ. œ. >œ œ >œ œ b>œ œ b œ œ nœ # œ. œ. ‰ ‰ nœœœ nœ ‰ ‰ & J

U bœ ‰ J

-

rik!

U b œœœ U Œ

37

?#

bœ. ‰ œJ J

Œ

Ja

vel,

3

& &

#

j b œfi

j bœ ‰

Œ

rit. ? # œR œR œR œR Œ

41

fij œ

Œ

œ. ‰ œ Œ J

& Œ

ppp

?#





j œ ‰

Œ

Œ?

∑ œ œ œ. œ. œ. ≈ œ. œ. -œ œœ

œ



Œ

œœ

œ œ

Œ

œ œ ‰ R J

‰.

Œ

œ œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ J dim. œ J ‰ Œ œJ ‰ ∑



poco meno (q = 100)

mf

j

& j bœ b fi

Spil op

œ b œ bœ œ œ b œ b œ œ bœ bœ œ bœ .

Œ

3

Mam - sel!

Ko - til - lo -nen!

#

Œ

3

œ b œ bœ œ œ b œ b œ œ bœ bœ œ bœ .

#

œ œ R

HENRIK

Œ

?

b œ bœ œ œ b œ b œ œ bœ bœ ‰ bœ . pp

ff

> U œ . > > b>œ b œ nœ b>œ > nœ ? # œ. œ. ‰ ‰ bœ nœœ.œ. ‰ bœ œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ bœœ b œœ U Œ j #œfi œ > fz



j #œfi



œ œ. œ. -œ #œfij œ œ. œ. œ. ≈ ≈ J ‰ Œ Œ œœ

œœ œœ

œ. ‰ œ J

bb bb

p

œœ J ‰ Œ Œ

bb

Tempo I (q = 104)

3 . . 3 . . œ b œ. œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ œ. . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ. œ œ b œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ &b ‰ J œ Œ ‰ œJ œ Œ . . cresc. p ˙˙ -œœ œœ œœœ œœ . œ . ? bb ‰ œj œœ œ œ Œ ‰ œJ Œ ‰ œœJ ‰ J œ .

45

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was composed for a performance of Anton Melbye and Johannes Dam’s musical Sommerrejsen, en Kjøbenhavner-Vaudeville (‘The Summer Journey: a Copenhagen Vaudeville’) at the Tivoli theatre on 26 June 1906, the same year in which Maskarade was later premiered. Both numbers are essentially selfconsciously staged, patriotic ‘Fatherland songs’, and the sense of nostalgic retrospection is no less pervasive in the vaudeville number than in the opera.67 Similarly, the polkas, marches and dance numbers of the Act 3 nod towards the music of Hans Christian Lumbye, musical director at Tivoli from its inauguration in 1843 until 1872, and whose wider historical reception has tended to stereotype him as a Danish Johann Strauss.68 Lumbye’s achievement, like that of his Austrian contemporary, was to capture and preserve an essentially early nineteenth-century musical idiom in an idealised form, and repackage it for later nineteenth-century popular consumption. From this perspective, Nielsen’s music in Act 3 becomes doubly allusive, evoking a musical discourse that is itself already historically referential. Like Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, or Richard Strauss’s Elektra, Nielsen’s Maskarade thus operates within several independent historical periods:69 in this case, the carnivalesque realm of Greek comedy, invoked by Andersen’s literary scholarship on the origins of modern Nordic drama; Holberg’s early eighteenth-century Copenhagen, with its mood of enlightenment fraternity and deliberate destabilising of the existing social order; the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of early nineteenth-century Romantic Copenhagen, idealised in the paintings of Christen Købke and C. W. Eckersberg and remembered nostalgically in the music of Lumbye and (to the present day) in the peacock theatre in Tivoli; and finally, the contemporary early twentieth-century Denmark of the opera’s composition and first performance, and Nielsen’s self-conscious sense of his status as an agent of generational change within Danish musical culture. The opera’s true identity, insofar as it can be neatly categorised at all, relies precisely on these multiple levels of historical imagination: retrospective, current and prospective. Contra Jørgen I. Jensen, however, who argued for the opera’s occupation of an essentially rational urban space, images of a more pastoral landscape can be located at the heart of the opera’s complex concern with shifting identities. The F# major prelude to Act 2, for instance, which prefigures the night-watchman’s song, is a wistful nocturne, a moment 67 Fellow concludes: ‘“Du danske Mand” came into being as a result of the Maskarade pranks; it could have been sung by Henrik in the opera!’ (p. 39). The fact that Fellow accords the song to the progressive Henrik, rather than the conservative Jeronimus, is indicative perhaps of the extent to which the two characters are not so much opposite poles as complementary aspects of the same more complex vision. 68 For a remarkably useful and concise summary of Lumbye’s career, which explores his relationship with the Viennese tradition, see Peter Willemoës’s liner notes for Chandos cd chan 9202 (1993), 3–6. 69 Reynolds, ‘Carl Nielsen Unmasked’, 140–2.

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of repose after the frenetic energy and chaos of the Act 1 finale. Yet it also foreshadows tonally some of the most modern-sounding music in the whole work: Leander’s and Leonora’s surging love duet (which likewise heads towards a radiant F# climax at b. 643). The prelude’s trio, in Eb major, marked molto tranquillo, is even more intense, and is the means through which Nielsen is able to create the sense of suspended temporality that becomes increasingly important as the opera progresses. This landscape music re-emerges transfigured, again in Eb, at the very climax of the work towards the end of Act 3. The passage that Nielsen composed for the unmasking scene following the entry of Corporal Mors (another innovation in the libretto who does not appear in Holberg’s play) is perhaps the most poignant in the whole opera: a harmonically stationary, glowing sequence, in which fragments of melodies from earlier in the work are recalled and then gently left behind (or forgotten) as each character slowly turns and recognises the figures on stage around them. At this point, the work’s multiple historical dimensions are dissolved, and the opera suddenly gains access to a deeper and more elemental mode of existence, the ritual enactment of a mythic rebirth: Andersen’s sense of the drama’s groundedness in a more antique ritual. Musically, the passage anticipates Nielsen’s later evocation, through the wordless voices in the slow movement from his Third Symphony, the Sinfonia espansiva (1911), of the landscape of his childhood, the rolling fields of the island of Funen, discussed in Chapter 5 below. But here in the opera, the music seems to signify something more abstract, a draining-out of meaning or remystification. The unmasking scene becomes a space in which the carnival’s complex tensions, problems and debates are finally liquidated or dissolved.70 And in the process, it becomes the work’s most powerfully carnivalesque gesture. As Stallybrass and White observe in their critical gloss on Bakhtin’s analysis: By forcing the threshold and interrogating the liminal position, bourgeois romanticism and its modernist inheritors stage a festival of the political unconscious and reveal the repressions and social rejections which formed it. Transgression becomes a kind of reverse or countersublimation, undoing the discursive hierarchies and stratifications of bodies and cultures which bourgeois society has produced as the mechanism of its symbolic dominance.71 The unmasking sequence therefore points to the essential vulnerability which underlies Nielsen’s vision of community in the opera, and which pervades his Hellenism more generally. It suggests the endless recycling of 70 Similar moments of dissolution, and the collapsing of historical boundaries, have been identified in earlier nineteenth-century French Grand Opera by Sarah Hibberd. See Sarah Hibberd, French Grand Opera and the Historical Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). 71 Stallybrass and White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression, 200.

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social identity, both within the masquerade and without, and underlines the performative nature of all human interaction: the characters on stage remove their masks only to remask themselves in another guise, before they are dissolved within the anonymous celebrations of the closing Kehraus, a cyclical process symbolised musically by the tritone opposition Eb–A major. And while the carnival, at one level, does offer a critique of the established order, with its anxieties, nostalgic sentimentality, and other ‘mechanisms of symbolic dominance’, it suggests ultimately that such structures are essentially reiterative, and can only be reinscribed rather than definitively resolved. Hence, the unmasking sequence becomes one of the defining moments in all of Nielsen’s works – and a passage to which we will return in the final chapter of this book. But it also completes a Hellenic circle, the journey from Helios’s radiant sunrise, through the physical athleticism of J. P. Müller’s System and Nordic Körperkultur, with its vision of a brave new democratic world (one which all too soon would become overshadowed), through the image of the masquerade, the rotating carnival procession that dissolves and renews all established social ties and conventions. And it is the figure of Henrik that ultimately emerges as Nielsen’s modernist musical alter ego: as lone wolf, comedic vagrant, and, as Vilhelm Andersen suggests, Homeric wanderer.

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4  Energetics

I

n a note  for a performance of his Third Symphony, the Sinfonia espansiva, in Stockholm in the final year of his life (1931), Nielsen sketched a brief outline of the work that Swedish listeners were about to hear. ‘The symphony is a result of many kinds of forces’, Nielsen explained. ‘The first movement is intended to be a burst of energy and acceptance of life out into the wider world, which we humans not only want to know in its diverse activity, but also wish to conquer and appropriate.’ The finale, meanwhile, is a ‘hymn to work and to the healthy unfolding of everyday life.’ 1 Contemplating the symphony from his hospital bed, Nielsen was surely struck by the work’s strength and physicality. Yet two decades earlier, when the symphony first received its premiere, such notions of energy and bodily health were part of a wider cultural shift in early twentieth-century Danish art. As Jørgen I. Jensen has suggested, the symbolic emblem of this Nordic-Hellenist vision was the sun: the radiating globe whose presence is generative and potentially destructive.2 Yet this symbolic breakthrough also reflected a broader philosophical turn, one which concerned a fundamental shift of world view.3 In an article entitled ‘Energie og Materie’ (‘Energy and Material’) published, auspiciously, in the 1900 volume of Tilskueren, Emil Petersen introduced Danish readers to the work of German scientist (and later Nobel Prize winner) Wilhelm Ostwald.4







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1 ‘Værket er et Udslag af mange slags Kræfter. Første Sats er tænkt som et Kast af Energi og Livsbejaelse ud i den vide Verden, som vi Mennesker ikke blot vilde lære at kende i dens brogede Virksomhed, men også gerne erobre og tilegne os. … En Hymne til Arbejdet og det daglige Livs sunde Udfoldelse.’ Programme note (undated) for Espaniva, Stockholm Konsertföreningen, 11 March 1931; Samtid 2, 595. 2 Jensen writes: ‘[Nielsen’s] symbol is the sun, which illuminates and gives clarity and warmth; his element is fire, which purifies and gives energy and light.’ [‘Hans symbol er solen, der lyser op og giver klarhed og varme; hans element er ilden, det lutrer og giver energi og lys.’ Danskeren, 11.] 3 See John Fellow, ‘Carl Nielsen, Wien und die europäisches Wende: Von psychischer Expansion bis Wertezerfall’, Österreichisches Musikzeitschrift 51 (1996), 11–62; repr. in Danish as ‘Carl Nielsen, Wien og det europæiske Vendepunkt: fra psykisk ekspansion til værdisammenbrud’, Fund og Forskning, 36 (1997), 193–251. 4 Emil Petersen, ‘Energie og materie’, Tilskueren 17 (1900), 309–22. Wilhelm Ostwald was born in Latvia (Riga) in 1853, but spent most of his professional career in Leipzig, where he died in 1932; he was author of, among other works, Energetische Grundlagen der Kulturwissenschaft (1909); Der energetische Imperativ (1912); and Die Energie (1912). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1909 and remained a committed pacifist throughout his life. Ostwald’s contribution to energetics is summarised in Wolfgang Krebs, Innere Dynamik und Energetik in Ernst Kurths Musiktheorie (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1998), 49–55.

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Oswald’s innovation, Petersen claimed, was to perceive and comprehend the world through the exchange and transfer of energetic forces. ‘Whereas material is the imagined, a hypothetical concept’, according to Ostwald, Petersen explained, ‘energy is the actual reality, that which causes effects everywhere’. Hence, for Petersen, Oswald’s kinetic model of energetic motion offered a new way of understanding the nature of being, as well as shaping the condition of the modern world: ‘the reality of this energy, which in its different forms as heat and electricity is frequently employed in industry and used for the creation of mechanical movement, emerges particularly clearly today. Energy is a commodity that can be bought and sold, yes, can even be stolen.’ 5 By merging the antique Aristotelian notion of energeia (ένέργεια) with the industrial processes of early twentieth-century capitalism, Oswald’s theories thus proposed a startling new model of the world in continual flux. The impression of an unbroken continuity, of historical material in a naturally ‘steady state’, was replaced by a dynamic vision of transformation, radiation, and energetic change. This was a vision to which Nielsen was vividly attracted. Petersen’s article summarised in a nutshell the vigorous philosophical debate in the natural sciences between a positivist empirical materialism on the one hand, and an idealist, vitalist metaphysics on the other. ‘Even if the new concept, the “energetic”, has not yet revealed itself adequately for the explanation and understanding of all circumstances’, Petersen proclaimed, ‘so much is certain, that the old view, the mechanistically materialistic conception of nature, must be abandoned as unsustainable and replaced by a better one.’ 6 This was a debate that raged widely across Europe at the end of the century, and which concerned nothing less than understanding of the nature and meaning of existence itself: the scientific turn from a primarily instrumental view of the world solely in terms of observable causes and effects, to one which perceived the world in a more complex, unstable way – a dynamic play of forces and temporal-spatial relations. In part, this turn involved a return to a previous, early nineteenth-century Romantic notion of subjectivity as an unresolved longing for some kind of synthesis, a rejection of fixed Kantian categories or of the certainties of Cartesian thought. But it also thrived on the latest developments in philosophy and the physical ­sciences – with the notion of time and space as relative concepts rather than fixed discrete blocks



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5 ‘Netop Materien er det tænkte, et konstrueret Begreb, medens Energie er det egentlig virkelige, det, der overalt fremkalder Virkning. Denne Energiens Virkelighed træder i vore Dage, hvori dens forskellige Former som Varme og Elektricitet hyppigt anvendes i Industrien og benyttes ved Omdannelse til mekanisk Bevægkraft, særdeles tydelig frem. Energien er en Ting, der købes og sælges, ja, endogsaa kan stjæles.’ Petersen, ‘Energie og materie’, 319. 6 ‘Selv om den ny Opfattelse, den ‘energetiske’ endnu ikke har vist sig tilstrækkelig til Forklaring og Forstaaelse af alle Forhold – saa meget er vist, at den gamle Anskuelse, den mekanisk-materialistiske Naturopfattelse maa opgives som uholdbar og erstattes af en bedre.’ Petersen, ‘Energie og materie’, 316.

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or entities. One of the most influential figures in this philosophical turn was Henri Bergson.7 Bergson proposed his seminal thesis Matter and Memory (1896) as a response to the problems of representation posed by the Kantian model, arguing that the excitations caused by human perception in the nervous system (which Bergson understood as a form of molecular, or atomic motion), were melded with the subject’s memory, the recollection of previous events, in order to induce affective change within the body. Perception without such recollection was not properly subjective experience, only a mechanical reflection of images (like a photograph) that lacked temporal depth and hence failed to produce the necessary affective shift. Bergson famously likened the role of the brain in this process as ‘a kind of central telephonic exchange: its office is to allow communication or delay it’.8 Past, present, and future were thus conjoined in a complex play of moments and durations, a constant motion towards the transformation of sensation into perception which understood the body dynamically as a ‘centre of action’. Hence, Bergson concluded, ‘perception as a whole has its true and final explanation in the tendency of body to movement’.9 Yet if Bergson’s idea of consciousness as the irresistible flowing together of perception, memory, and nervous excitation, a process which, he later suggested, was guided by an inner force (the élan vital), seems in some senses strikingly anachronistic, a nostalgic throwback to an earlier idealist philosophical system, his notion of the world as a complex interplay of hidden causes and effects was nevertheless widely paralleled in other areas of early twentieth-century thought, not least by Danish scientist Niels Bohr, who first proposed the orbital model of atomic structure in 1913 and identified the radiation of photons (light particles) that later formed the basis for quantum mechanics.10 Bohr’s theories, with their notions

7 Bergson’s work was widely read in Denmark, as in other European countries in the early years of the century, and parallels with his thought can be found in contemporary Danish literature. Holger Mygind, for example, in his essay ‘Om Erindring og Fantasi, aforistiske Bemærkninger’ (‘On Memory and Fantasy, aphoristic remarks), Tilskueren 1 (1894), 361–78, wrote that ‘sensory impressions brought forth a transformed ordering of the mind’s impressions, so that they began to vibrate in a different mode than before without ever returning to their original condition’ [Sanseindtryk fremkaldte en forandret Anordning af Hjærnens Indtryk, saaledes de kom til at vibrere paa en anden Maade end tidligere, uden nogensinde at vende nøiagtig til de oprindelige Forhold], p. 361. 8 Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (New York: Zone Books, 1991; originally published as Matière et Mémoire (Paris: Universitaires de France, 1896)), 30. 9 Bergson, Matter and Memory, 45. 10 Bohr was born in Copenhagen in 1885 and died there in 1962. He worked with Rutherford in Manchester, and at the Los Alamos Research Institute in the USA during the Second World War. He fled Denmark in 1941 to escape from the German occupation, and later advocated the use of atomic energy for exclusively civilian needs.

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of radiation, decay, and half-life, similarly collapsed conventional ideas of linear clock-time, and substituted a more complex sense of duration and flux. It also found a powerful resonance in Ostwald’s work. For Ostwald, ‘all events consist of energy transformations’:11 the apparent binary dualism of cause and effect was in fact part of a more continuously evolving process of transformation and change. In a model that recalls Bergson’s telephonic network of nervous excitation and affective shift, Ostwald claimed: ‘we experience the external world only through energy relationships, and therefore everything we know about the external world can be expressed in the form of energyrelations’.12 Communication, according to Bergson and Ostwald, becomes an electrical current, human perception transmitted via the buzzing wires of the nervous system. Even if, for Ostwald, the precise nature of this energy remained uncertain, or at least variable, it nevertheless provided the dynamic basis for all forms of understanding: ‘everything that happens occurs through and in relation to energy’.13 But the overriding impression of Ostwald’s model, even as it shifted perception firmly away from fixed notions of materiality, is of instability and uncertainty. Hence, at the end of his essay, Petersen asked: Will the contemplation of energy’s eternal transformation and creation – that ‘play of forces’ – as the cause of all changes, of everything that happens and exists within the phenomenal world, give us a higher and clearer understanding of that? Perhaps; but it appears in any case to be the only possible way to proceed, when the former path now reveals itself to have been a diversion.14 In spite of this apocalyptic tone, the sense of things hanging on the brink, Petersen’s article hinges on its own sense of contingency. The breakthrough that it heralds is ultimately only provisional, each new paradigm open to further challenge, opposition, and change. Ostwald’s model, like Bergson’s and Bohr’s, fulfils the modernist demand, identified by Jameson, for self-­ reflexivity: the immediate rupture and discontinuity that it brings is in constant dialogue with a higher-order cyclism and periodicity. 11 ‘Alles Geschehen besteht in Energieumwandlungen.’ Ostwald, Energetische Grundlagen, 23; quoted in Krebs, Innere Dynamik, 52–3. 12 ‘Wir erfahren von der Außenwelt nur ihre Energieverhältnisse, und daher können wir auch alles, was wir von ihr wissen, in Gestalt von Energie-Beziehungen ausdrücken.’ Ostwald, Energetische Grundlagen, 9, quoted in Krebs, Innere Dynamik, 50. 13 ‘Alles, was geschieht, geschieht durch die Energie und an der Energie.’ Ostwald, Die Energie, 5, quoted in Krebs, Innere Dynamik, 50. 14 ‘Vil Betragtningen af Energiens evige Vekslen og Omdannelser – dette ‘Spil af Kræfter’ – som Aarsag til alle Forandringer, til alt, hvad der sker og er i Fænomenernes Verden, give os en højere og klarere Opfattelse af denne? Maaske; det synes i alt Fald at være den eneste mulige Vej at gaa, naar den hidtil betraadte viser sig at være en Afvej.’ Petersen, ‘Energie og materie’, 321.

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100 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism The explosive opening bars of Nielsen’s Third Symphony (1910–11), the Sinfonia espansiva, seem powerfully emblematic of this modernist paradigm shift. If the Helios Overture can be heard as the optimistic dawn of a new Hellenistic age, as the previous chapter has argued, the Third Symphony can be understood as the zenith of Nielsen’s modernist Nordic-Hellenic sun-cult, the work around which his music for the next decade arguably revolved. As Nielsen’s 1931 note suggested, the symphony represented a broadening and deepening of his preoccupation since the start of the new century with notions of energy, vigour, and physical well-being, and with music as the (unconscious) creative expression of bodily force. The work traces a broad expressive arch that can be heard as a single intensively purposive span spread over the conventional four-movement division: in that sense, the Espansiva anticipates the design of the Fourth Symphony (1914–16), a work which is likewise concerned with the fundamental energetic opposition of stability and instability. The first movement of the Third is a sustained burst of musical light and energy, an immense concentrated breakthrough. The second movement, to which we shall return in Chapter 5 below, is a massive counterbalance that suspends all sense of dynamic temporal progression and grounds the symphony in a vision of earthly paradise. In contrast again, the third movement is not so much a conventional scherzo as a vigorously developmental passage, which attempts to work through the tensions generated by the polarised trajectories of the preceding movements. Though based on C# minor, the third movement is tonally unstable; at its heart, however, lies a crucial moment of structural orientation – a large-scale cadence in D major which prefigures the opening tonality of the finale. Both gesturally and structurally, therefore, the third movement serves as a giant upbeat to the fourth, which in turn reprises the harmonic trajectory of the first movement, from D to A, transformed so that its musical drama takes place within a major modal domain, radiantly completing an energised per ardua ad astra ascent. The symphony’s essential structural problems are articulated in its initial paragraphs. The first movement therefore deserves particularly close attention. Indeed, the opening bars of the Allegro espansivo, with their overwhelming sense of radical harmonic and formal upheaval, have become emblematic in later readings of Nielsen’s work, most notably in Poul Hamburger’s essay ‘The Problem of Form in the Music of Our Time’.15 Hamburger’s analysis may have been greeted sceptically by Nielsen himself, who was suspicious of formal academic analysis, but an earlier account of the work, by Nielsen’s assistant Henrik Knudsen, was clearly authorised by the composer, and provides an insightful starting-point for critical comparison.16 The movement has 15 Poul Hamburger, ‘Formproblemet i vor tids musik med analyse af Carl Nielsens Sinfonia Espansiva (1 Sats)’, DMT 6/5 (May 1931), 89–100. 16 Henrik Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’ [Analytical Guide] (Leipzig: C. F. Kahnt, 1913).

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continued to attract analytical attention from writers such as Robert Simpson and, more recently, Harald Krebs, who have drawn attention primarily to its role within the symphony’s progressive tonal scheme – the large-scale structural and expressive shift from an unstable D minor at the start to the blazing A major coda of the finale. Yet the course of the first movement, as earlier analyses demonstrate, is more complex and contingent than this progressive tonal model suggests. Indeed, the very notion of a progressive or directional tonal model is problematic, as in the First Symphony, since it is far from clear that the music ever operates for a sustained period with a single sense of direction or with a particular goal in mind – anticipations of the final tonality of the kind seized upon by Simpson, for example, are arguably more like Mahlerian windows, moments of suspension which offer a glimpse of future potential that might (or, crucially, might not) be fulfilled. And, if the music can indeed be heard to be as evolutionary as Simpson would have us believe, the model to which it corresponds is a faithfully Darwinian one in which the work’s final destination is only attained through a process of continual struggle and tonal survival against often formidable harmonic odds. The outcome of such s­ truggle is rarely, if ever, preordained. It is rather the music’s sense of its own inner life-force, embodied in the first movement through a process of triadic progression animated by constant chromatic displacement, which motivates the large-scale design of the symphony. Yet this energetic mode of musical imagination poses a pressing analytical question. As Simpson breathlessly notes after the end of his reading of the first movement, ‘one can imagine what a nightmarish problem Nielsen would have posed to a theorist like Schenker, with his static conception of musical form’,17 and indeed the mechanics of Nielsen’s musical design, not least his idiosyncratic voice-leading, have remained elusive. Of course, much attention has been paid since Simpson first wrote, demonstrating the extent to which Schenker’s notion of form is anything but static – in fact, in many senses it is strikingly close in its insistence upon the organic dynamically unfolding nature of the musical work to Nielsen’s sense of musical line. But, as closer reading reveals, Nielsen’s music is not prolongational in any orthodox Schenkerian sense. The chromatic progressions in the first movement cannot ultimately be heard as diminutions of underlying diatonic structures, and it is difficult to construct models of voice-leading that demonstrate complete coherence between foreground and upper middleground levels. Nielsen’s music thus invites a different kind of response, one which owes its basic principles to notions of progression as defined by neo-Riemannian theory: of modal change, Leitton-shift, and relative motion. But even here, other analytical approaches can be usefully invoked: the idea of energetic wave form developed in early twentieth-century German theoretical writing on music,

17 Simpson, Symphonist, 65.

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102 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism for example, offers a pertinent model for reading the basic morphology of the first movement, and arguably becomes fundamental to Nielsen’s understanding of symphonic structure. The work’s title thus assumes an extra layer of significance, referring specifically to the way in which Nielsen attempts to collapse the distinction between what Patrick McCreless, after Fred Lerdahl, has termed ‘event space’ (the perception of music unfolding chronologically in live performance – ‘event time’ might thus be a more accurate term) and chromatic tonal space (the abstract system or framework that conditions and organises such perception within the domain of late nineteenth-century harmonic syntax).18 The process of energetic expansion, to which the title refers, describes a means of navigating or expanding this new musical space, and, more importantly, of dramatising and foregrounding the ways in which, for McCreless, music becomes ‘a composer’s hypothesis … of how chromatic tonal space can be distributed coherently in event space’.19 For Nielsen, I would argue, the two exist simultaneously: it is the symphony’s pulsing energetic wave forms, bending, curving, and breaking through an imaginary multi-dimensional musical plane, that generate the music’s vivid sense of immediacy. And it is this dynamic process that the remainder of the current chapter seeks to address. Aspects of this innovative design can be perceived by reading Knudsen’s and Hamburger’s analyses alongside other more recent accounts and approaches to sonata theory. As Knudsen suggests, the form of the first movement is essentially organised on classical principles, but is ‘continually vital and to the highest degree determined from within, as it is intimately connected to its content’.20 The movement thus corresponds to James Hepokoski’s notion of content-based form, one of the Sonata Deformation categories which he identifies as a common strategy in early twentieth-century modernist music.21 Elements of Hepokoski and Warren Darcy’s deformational model might be productively applied to clarify Nielsen’s complex engagement with a normative sonata framework, and as a means of contextualising other analytical accounts of the music (Table 4.1). This chart suggests that the movement breaks down into the expected three-part schematic structure, of strophes, or rotations, that correspond to exposition, development, and recapitulation 18 Patrick McCreless, ‘An Evolutionary Perspective on Nineteenth-Century Semitonal Relations’, in The Second Practice of Nineteenth-Century Tonality, ed. William Kinderman and Harald Krebs (Lincoln: Nebraska, 1996), 87–113, at 96. 19 McCreless, ‘An Evolutionary Perspective’, 103. 20 ‘… stets lebensvoll und in hohem Grade von innen heraus bestimmt, da sie sich innig an den Inhalt anschlieβt.’ Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’, 3. 21 The idea of content-based form is defined in Hepokoski, Sibelius: Symphony no. 5; the theory of sonata deformation is then developed in a series of publications, such as James Hepokoski, ‘Beyond the Sonata Principle’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 55 (2002), 91–154, culminating in Elements of Sonata Theory, with Warren Darcy (2006).

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respectively. This structure is supported both by highly contrasting thematic statements (labelled with lower case Greek letters, α – θ, Ex. 4.1) and by major cadential points of articulation, including the moment of essential expositional closure (in C, bb. 258–9) in the first rotation’s coda, and the corresponding full structural close (on A, bb. 709–10) at the end of the third. A number of interesting features emerge immediately: firstly, the impact of the parageneric introduction, the symphony’s famous unison opening, which Simpson compares to a ‘series of huge hammer blows, rapidly accelerated into a tattoo’, recalling Charles Kjerulf’s earlier image (in his review of the First Symphony) of Nielsen as mythic Nordic smith, igniting the symphony explosively with sparks from his modernist harmonic anvil. Simpson later pursues this metaphor, describing the movement as ‘a tonal forge; everything is as fluid as molten metal’, encouraging us to hear the smaller motivic units as molecules or particles caught up in a larger process of catalysis or chemical change.22 Secondly, although the exposition proceeds thematically as expected, with an energetic transition, pastoral second group, and re-energising coda, its harmonic trajectory is far from normative, and begs deeper questions regarding the music’s relationship with its underlying sonata paradigm – the structure is closer to the kind of open, end-oriented design characteristic of programmatic early nineteenth-century works such as Beethoven’s Egmont Overture than to a closed classical symphonic form. Thirdly, as a consequence, the reprise clearly ‘fails’ both to address the earlier tonal problems created by the exposition, and to obey the rule of symmetrical resolution – the crucial moment of double return, by which the first subject returns in the tonic at the start of the reprise, is here delayed (after an abortive start) so that it takes place only in b. 584, after the restatement of the second group (which also evades symmetrical tonic resolution). If the movement can indeed be understood as a deformational structure, as this chart suggests, it is only by suspending basic generic laws and conventions governing the category. Of course, this is hardly unique for a symphonic structure designed in 1910–11: many other symphonists developed similarly challenging formal models, often far more remote from any received sonata paradigm. In many ways, it would be more remarkable and noteworthy if the symphony clung closely to an anachronistically orthodox model. More compelling, therefore, is the way in which Nielsen achieves his powerful sense of harmonic and expressive growth, from an explosive start to the radiant white-heat of the symphony’s concluding bars. And here, the asymmetrical quality of Nielsen’s design offers significant insights into the symphony’s energetic musical vision. For Knudsen, one of the most immediately striking attributes of the symphony, and of Nielsen’s music as a whole, is its harmonic syntax. What makes

22 Simpson, Symphonist, 58 and 61.

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104 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Table 4.1 Symphony no. 3, first movement: formal chart Bar Section

Theme

Key centre

Character/Texture

Intro

n/a

a? V/d?

fortissimo unison attack

14

P

α–α1

d?–F–V/g#

fortissimo, linear

61

1

exposition (EET) TR

β, α2

g#–V/Ab (MC)

fortissimo, linear

138

S

γ–γ1, δ, ε, ζ

Ab–V/C

mezzo piano, circular

226

C

γx

C (PAC: EEC)

cadential

development 284

P

η–η4, α3–5, θ, αx–αx2

a–V/c#

fugato/waltz apotheosis

424 C

γx

c#

fortissimo, circular

452

α6–α7

f–V/Eb (MC)

solo, linear, unstable)

[P aborted!]

reprise (R-Zone) 483

S

γ2–γ3, δ1, ε1, ζ1

562

C

γx1

A–V7/d

Eb–V/A

mezzo piano, circular

584

P

α8

d–V/f#!

fortissimo, interrupted!

613

TR

β1

f#–V/a

fortissimo, linear

710

P

α9

cadential

coda a–A! (PAC: ESC) fortissimo, circular

P = Primary Theme; TR = Transition; S = Second Subject; C = Coda; EEC = Essential Expositional Closure; ESC = Essential Structural Closure; MC = Medial Caesura; PAC = Perfect Authentic Cadence

Nielsen’s music distinctive, Knudsen argues, is its tonal freedom. ‘Carl Nielsen has strongly sensed the boundaries of his territory’, Knudsen suggests, one therefore notes throughout his works the compulsion to break through them. Often in his music it is as though the twelve major and twelve minor tonalities or church modes do not really exist, rather as though they are bound together in a mortar and become processed into a single tonality. Hence one often finds whole periods to which no distinct tonality can be attributed. So they do not retain the usual tonal relationships, neither within the progressions themselves, nor between the different phrases. This analysis will bring a closer approach to this subject, and we will observe that the composer allows nothing but inner, intuitive grounds to guide him in his creative work.23 23 ‘Carl Nielsen hat die Schränken ihrer Begrenzung stark empfunden; man merkt daher überall in seinen Werken den Drang, sich zu durchbrechen. Es ist manchmal in seiner Musik, als ob die zwölf Dur- und die zwölf Molltonarten

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Ex. 4.1  Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: thematic table

66

&b

β

nœ œ œ bœ ˙ œ œ œ

15

&b

α

œ

œ ‹-œ -œ #œ #œ #˙. nœ #œ #œ #œ

#˙.

138

b˙. &b

γ

& b b˙˙ 175

&b

δ

œ˙

j œfi˙. b & œ ˙.

?b Œ

199

ζ

γx

&b

nœ.

˙.

bnœœ b˙˙

˙. bnœœ b˙.

œœœ œ˙

j œfi œ

˙. ˙.

191

ε

˙.

j œfi œ

˙. ˙.

bb˙˙..

œ bœbœ œ œ bœfij b˙. œ bœ b˙.

nœ. -˙ &b Œ Œ J ‰

j œfi

˙.

b˙˙

bnœœ b˙˙ œ œ bœ bœ œ œ œœœ œœ j bœfi bœ

b˙. b˙.

> œ nœ ‰ œ. J

m . œ. m . œ. m . œ. ˙ œ œ œ œ œ œ

j #œfi

η

œ œ œb œ œ œ b˙

œœœ œ˙

œ bœ œ. œ. bœ. bœ. . . bœ.

#˙ #œ

j bœfi bœ

b˙. b˙.

œ. bœ. œ.

bnœœ

>œ ˙

œœœ

œ œ œbœ œ œ nœ ˙ œ

œ

œ. bœ. . œ

œ œ œ

œ

œ ˙

œ ˙

œ

œ ˙

œ. b œ b œ œ b œ œ œ #œ nœ ˙ J ‰ -˙

Œ

œ #œ nœ nœ #œ #œ nœ#œœ#œ ‹œ. #˙ #œ #œ nœ nœ #œ œ œ œ œ#œ #œ. #œ. # œ # œ n œ α #œ #œ 3 3 . œ. 339 œ. . . œ . #œ nœ œ. #œ.‹œ. œ. nœ #œœ nœ œœ #œœ #œœ. #nœœ #œœ œœ #œœ #œœ. # œ θ &b x

&b

330

3

3

oder Kirchtonarten überhaupt nicht existieren, sondern als ob sie in einen Mörser gekommen und zu einer einzigen Tonart verarbeitet worden wären. Daher wird man oft Perioden finden, die sich auf keine bestimmte Tonart zurückführen lassen. So behält er auch durchaus nicht das übliche Tonartverhältnis bei, weder innerhalb eines Satzes, noch zwischen den verschiedenen Sätzen. Ein näheres Eingehen auf diesen Gegenstand wird die Analyse des Werkes mit sich bringen, und wir werden sehen, daβ sich der Komponist durch nichts als durch innere, intuitive Gründe in seinem Schaffen bestimmen läβt.’ Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’, 4.

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106 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Knudsen invokes familiar images from Nielsen’s early reception of the composer as modernist, laying emphasis both on the idea of breakthrough (Brandes’s idea of Gjennembrud and Adorno’s category of Durchbruch), the radical destabilising and energising of the musical form from seemingly outside the boundaries of the work itself, and also on the notion of the musical idea as an inner impulse, conceived from within. This intuitive creativity is simultaneously a form of legitimisation and also a way of establishing from the outset Nielsen’s stylistic autonomy – essential steps in the formation of a modernist aesthetic presence. Yet Knudsen’s analysis also carries a strongly anti-decadent tone, comparing Nielsen’s musical language favourably with the more authentic harmonic resources of an earlier musical age as opposed to the ‘characterless’ superfluity of late-Romantic chromaticism: A characteristic feature of his tonal language is the great fondness for powerful diatonic effects, which, as far as possible, avoid chromaticisation. That also applies to the character of the modulations. One often notes here a greater freedom, furthermore often a greater severity. The smoothing, characterless modulation is never found in his works; his modulations are short, powerful, convincing, and achieved frequently by means of pure triads alone.24 Closer examination of the movement’s opening paragraphs, from the initial P-space (or first subject group) through the Transition to the start of the second group in b. 138, illustrates how much of this striking triadic quality pervades the foreground thematic material. The first subject, for instance is a strongly arpeggiated D minor triad, and there are other similarly confident moments of triadic articulation in the Transition zone (e.g. bb. 65ff, thematic incipit β, initially oriented around G#) and a glowing 4–3 suspension at the end of the passage, prefiguring the entry of the second subject group. Such radiant triadic gestures have a massively affirmative affective quality, contributing to the music’s pervading sense of harmonic power and tonal strength. Yet contra Knudsen, the individual harmonic progressions themselves suggest a much less stable process of constant chromatic displacement: even a ‘maximally smooth’ reduction (Ex. 4.2) illustrates the degree to which middleground progressions are governed by linear voice-leading processes and neo-Riemannian operations (modal shifts, enharmonic transformations, and Leitton exchanges). The opening paragraph, for example, initially aims from 24 ‘Charakteristisch für seine tonale Sprache ist die groβe Vorliebe für kräftige Diatonik, während sie soweit wie möglich die Chromatik vermeidet. Das gibt natürlich auch dem Modulatorischen sein Gepräge. Man wird hier oft eine gröβere Freiheit, oft wiederum eine gröβere Strenge bemerken. Die glättende, charakterlose Modulation findet sich überhaupt nicht in seinen Werken; seine Modulation ist kurz, kräftig, überzeugend und geschieht häufig nur mittelst reiner Dreiklänge.’ Ibid., 4.

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Ex. 4.2  Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: harmonic reduction   (Exposition), bb. 1–138  1

28

& œœœ d minor?

œœ œ 6

59

bœœ b œœ 61

#œ & ##œœœ #‹##œœœœ n # œœ #œ u

7 z

30

nœœ œ œ

œœ œœ

œœ œ

bbœœœ

38

#œ # œœ

n

73

88

œœ œ

99

45

n#nœœœœ y T

F major! V

nnnœœœœ n nœœœ nœ u

35

109

114

œ bbœœ n nnœ#œœœ bbœbœœ

6

a minor (overshoots!)

6 5

46

bœœœ

œ #nœœ 6 r # 138

bœ nœ n b œœ

PAC: Ab major!

the weak D minor of the triadic motto (α) in b. 14 towards the relative major via a harmonically supported Bb in b. 28 (itself clearly a reference to the prominent play between B§ and Bb in the opening motto, bb. 16–17). But this flatside drift is offset by a sudden enharmonic jolt at b. 38 (Db=C#; a leading note exchange plus parallel mode shift), initiating a rising chromatic sequence via a restatement of the opening motif on G in b. 46 that ascends towards A minor ( fortississimo) in b. 74 before ‘overshooting’ its apparent goal – the unstable F major chord in bb. 88–90 – and hitting Bb in b. 99. Despite the music’s apparently triadic foreground (in other words, the precise nature of its tonality) the manner in which it navigates its pitch space remains rather more elusive. Nielsen himself alluded to this triadic instability in a well-known letter dated 19 August 1913 to Knudsen concerning the first draft of his analysis. Turning to Knudsen’s discussion of his harmonic language, Nielsen remarked: On page 5 you talk about diatonic relations. Isn’t there a contradiction between this expression and all the tonalities in a mortar (good!), do you think? Does not diatonicism precisely mean a fixed tonality or rather scale-specific relations? Isn’t there something wrong here. For a scale is usually considered a tonality’s ordered sequence of ascending or descending notes. What?? But what do I know? We need to get away from the keys and yet still work with diatonic conviction. That is the issue. I feel within myself a struggle for freedom.25 Though Nielsen’s letter has frequently been cited by later musicologists, its precise meaning has often remained unclear: what does Nielsen mean by moving away from key and yet retaining a sense of ‘diatonic conviction’? 25 ‘Pag 5 taler Du om diatonisk Forhold. Er der ikke en Modsigelse mellem dette Udtryk og alle Tonearterne i en Morter (godt!) synes Du? Betyder diatonisk ikke netop en fastslaaet Toneart, eller dog skalaegne Forhold? Er der noget ikke galt her. Thi en Skala plejer jo at betragtes som en Tonearts Rækkefølge af op eller nedadgaaende Toner. Hvad?? Men hvad vèd jeg? Vi skulde paa engang se at komme bort fra Tonearterne og alligevel virke diatonisk overbevisende. Dette er Sagen; og her føler jeg i mig en Stræben efter Frihed[.]’ CNB 4, 472.

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108 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism This apparently contradictory notion becomes rather more explicable in the context of the first movement of the Sinfonia espansiva. Nielsen’s desire to remain diatonically convincing is exemplified precisely by the triadic content of the music’s foreground, and in particular by the presence of large-scale cadential points of arrival. But his urge to escape from a notion of tonality as limited purely to a fixed scale ordering, i.e. to a strict hierarchical system of key relations, here results in a more innovative and multi-dimensional notion of diatonic harmonic geometry: precisely the distinction between McCreless’s chromatic tonal space and event space. This inevitably creates problems for issues of large-scale structural organisation and tonal symmetry within the sonata framework established above. Knudsen, for example, abruptly stops at the choice of Ab as key centre for the second subject group, and asks: why A flat major, when the first subject is written in D minor? The most natural thing would be to modulate to the relative major or dominant and follow the general tradition. But the composer couldn’t care less about tradition if it fails to satisfy the inner demands of the work. For him, the only thing that matters is that the ear must be satisfied and the musical thought must reach its proper conclusion.26 Various explanations have been offered for this strategy. It could be argued, as Simpson does, that the movement begins by heading strongly towards the relative major (F) as early as b. 35, but that the rising chromatic sequence in bb. 38–97 pushes the music through and beyond this goal so that the Allegro swiftly ends up in a more remote chromatic domain. For Knudsen, the simple avoidance of this obvious tonal plan is further evidence of Nielsen’s individualist imagination, of his vitalist desire to be led by an inner intuitive musical thought whose teleological motion towards its ‘proper conclusion’ becomes its own form of structural legitimisation. For Harald Krebs, however, following Simpson’s argument, Ab is more significant for its sense of remoteness, a tritone away from the opening key – D minor. Simpson hence comments both on the movement’s ‘strong tendency to produce rising “terraces” of keys’ (the semitonal ascent from b. 38 noted above), and ‘the frequent tendency to move to the remotest possible distance from a given key’, as expressive of the symphony’s expansive tonal force.27 Yet even this oversimplifies the process. As Krebs notes, it is not clear that the opening tonality is D minor after all – in 26 ‘… warum As-dur, wenn das Hauptthema in D-moll geschrieben ist? Das Natürlichste wäre es doch gewesen, nach der Parallel oder Dominanttonart zu modulieren und so der allgemeinen Traditionen zu folgen. Dem Komponisten aber ist die Tradition ganz gleichgültig, wenn durch sie der inneren Anforderung des Werkes nicht Genüge geschehen kann. Für ihn ist allein der Umstand maßgebend, daβ das Ohr zufriedengestellt werden und der musikalische Gedanke seinen gehörigen Abschluβ finden muβ.’ Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’, 7–8. 27 Simpson, Symphonist, 57.

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Energetics 109 fact, A minor might be a more persuasive candidate given the events of the opening page. Indeed, Krebs offers a more radical reading of the structure, arguing instead for two independent sonata structures dovetailed together, one based in A and one based in D. For Krebs, the ending of the second subject space, on C in b. 259, is resolved by restating material in A in the reprise (fig. 25, b. 529), corresponding, as he suggests, to the principle of mediant transposition characteristic of orthodox Classical minor-key sonata forms. But the exposition’s unstable D minor is established with much greater certainty in the reprise (albeit at a late stage, b. 584), and passages initially stated in F (b. 86) are later restated in D minor (b. 630), fulfilling the same principle of mediant transposition observed by the C major material from the end of exposition. In Krebs’s reading, the coda is essentially parageneric, the sense of A major insufficiently strong to offer a convincing resolution either way. And the Ab beginning of the second subject group is itself deceptive – a characteristic off-tonic colouring, similar to that adopted in the first movement of the First Symphony, which intensifies the flat side of the tonic (a gesture consonant with the conventional pastoral character of the second subject space), before leading to the music’s ‘proper conclusion’ at the end of the exposition. It is only in the finale, in fact, that these harmonic tensions are conclusively resolved. Krebs’s image of two spliced sonata forms, spinning in opposite directions against each other like spiralling gyres, is a particularly attractive metaphorical model given the music’s marked tendency to juxtapose strongly directional passages (such as the rising chromatic ascent in bb. 38–74) with other, more circular and reflective phrases (for instance, the second subject group). Indeed, one of the movement’s basic tensions is this fundamental opposition of different kinds of motion – the linear/dynamic and static/circular. It is precisely this property that forms the basis for Poul Hamburger’s account of the movement. Like Krebs, Hamburger understands the structure as inherently unstable – if there is a governing tonic at all, Hamburger suggests, it is more likely an emergent A rather than the weakly articulated opening D proposed by Knudsen. But for Hamburger this instability points to a deeper philosophical issue in the Nielsen’s music, namely the distinction between organic and architectonic formal principles. The basis for Hamburger’s discussion was a lecture by Nielsen himself, titled ‘Form og Indhold i Musik’ (‘Form and Content in Music’),28 in which Nielsen proposed two basic principles of form – the vertical and horizontal: ‘the one kind strides continually forwards towards a definite goal in a steady stream, the other has sharply 28 The lecture was read at the Musikpædagogisk Forening on 16 December 1926, and repeated following Thorvald Aagard’s invitation at Ryslinge Højskole, 19 September 1930. It is not clear which event Hamburger attended, since his opening paragraph refers to the Studenter-samfundet. The lecture is reprinted in Samtid 1, 411–23.

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110 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism defined sections, which stand in deliberate contrast with each other’.29 For Nielsen, the two principles correspond to different periods in musical history: the linear-polyphonic principle more characteristic of a Palestrina motet or Bach fugue, and the vertical-harmonic principle of a Haydn or Mozart Rondo. Sonata form, he suggests, offers a more complex synthesis: though essentially vertical in design, parts of the development section (or ‘Modulationsdelen’) can assume a more obviously horizontal character. Hamburger’s essay builds upon and amplifies this distinction, assigning similar structural and historical profiles to the two different kinds of form identified by Nielsen. Hence, while architectonic form tends strongly towards periodisation, the more linear-polyphonic form ‘is not built up through the gathering together of groups into a whole, that is to say in an additive way, but rather as if from within through an organic growth process. The division of periods here is more latent, the divisions have the character of “respiration”, the approach to a new upswing, rather than genuine points of rest, and overall an unbroken stream reigns, which does not allow genuine contrasts or the repetition of formal units.’ 30 Hamburger thus distinguishes between two types of structural trajectory, one based on the idea of similarity, equalisation, balance, and closure, and the other on the idea of flowering or growth, an outward expansion or ‘Stigningsform’ (ascending form) which is heavily end-oriented, evolutionary, and open. Like Nielsen, Hamburger identifies a shift in recent music towards a new linearity, one which is naturally of ‘an entirely different order to that of Bach’s time.’ There is a danger of redundancy, he suggests, in the unprocessed return to the dead skeleton of older forms without proper attention to the music’s living content – hence, all the more reason to admire the ‘strong linear activity’ of Nielsen’s work. But Hamburger’s principal innovation is to extend Nielsen’s model of formal principles to the domain of music psychology. ‘The connection between polyphony and the organic form principle on the one hand and between homophony and the architectonic form principle on the other is easy to define’, he explains: The expansive, the will to as free and unhindered an unfolding as possible of the powers of movement, which lies behind all music, has always found strongest expression in the horizontal dimension, in Melody, while the vertical dimension, Harmony, has been rather of an 29 ‘Den ene art skrider bestandig fremad mod et bestemt Maal i en rolig Strøm, den anden har skærpt afgrænsede Afsatser, der bevidst staar i Modsætning til hinanden.’ Samtid 1, 414. 30 [‘Formen] bygges her ikke op ved Sammenstilling af Grupper til et Hele, saa at sige en additiv Vej, men ligesom indefra ved en organisk Vækstprocess. Perioddeinddelingen er her mere latent, indsnittene har mere Karakter af ‘Vejrtrækninger’, Tilløb til fornyet Opsving, end af virkelig Hvilepunkter, overalt hersker en ubrudt Strømmen, der ikke tillader umiddelbare Kontrastvirkninger eller Gentagelse af Formled.’ Hamburger, ‘Formproblemet’, 90.

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organising and binding nature, in which the force of the tonic triad’s central importance has had a more centripetally directed function. Instead of the organic and the architectonic, one can therefore talk in the meantime – in a more psychological sense – of dynamic and static principles of form.31 Nielsen’s two principles of musical form thus gain their true affective properties as contrasting forms, or Gestalt models, of embodiment: the metaphorical projection of bodily experience into embodied perception. And it is through close reading of the Sinfonia espansiva’s first movement, Hamburger claims, that this process of projection can be best observed. Hamburger owes the basis from which he understands such processes of music-analytical perception not solely to Nielsen’s work, however, but also to currents in contemporary (early twentieth-century) German music theory, particularly to the work of August Halm, Ernst Kurth, and, especially, Hans Mersmann. Kurth’s work has received a good deal of attention in recent music theory and analysis. It is from Halm, however, that Nielsen and Hamburger originally may have borrowed their basic distinction between vertical and horizontal principles of musical form. Halm’s Von zwei Kulturen der Musik (1919), for example, argues for a strongly evolutionary view of historical musical development, presenting Bach and Beethoven as ultimate representatives of the linear-polyphonic (fugal) and horizontal-harmonic (sonata) styles respectively.32 Yet this distinction rests upon a fundamentally dynamic view of the musical work, one which presupposes an idea of music as the melodic expression of an inner organic life-force or unconscious will. Superficially, this corresponds to Heinrich Schenker’s principle of the Ursatz. As Halm explains in his influential Harmonielehre (1905), all music is essentially a form of melodic motion or growth, whose purpose is to elaborate simple underlying cadential progressions: ‘The melody, music, is essentially the flower and 31 ‘Sammenhængen mellem Polyfoni og organisk formprincip paa den ene Side og mellem Homofoni og arkitektonisk Formprincip paa den anden Side er let at begrunde. Det expansive, Viljen til saa fri og uhæmmet Udfoldelse som muligt af de Bevægelseskræfter, der ligger bagved al Musik, har altid fundet stærkest Udtryk i den horisontale Dimension, i Melodien, medens den vertikale Dimension, Harmonien, mere har været af ordnende og bindede Natur, i Kraft af Tonikatreklangens central Betydning har haft en mere centipetalt rettet Funktion. I Stedet for organisk og arkitektonisk taler man derfor ogsaa undertiden – i mere psykologisk Betydning – om dynamisk og statisk Formprincip.’ Ibid., 90n. 32 August Halm, Von zwei Kulturen der Musik, 3rd edn (Stuttgart: Klett, 1947; originally published 1919). For criticial discussion of Halm’s work, see Alexander Rehding, ‘August Halm’s Two Cultures as Nature’, in Music Theory and Natural Order from the Renaissance to the Early Twentieth Century, ed. Suzannah Clark and Alexander Rehding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 142–60; and Lee Rothfarb, ‘August Halm on Body and Spirit in Music’, 19th Century Music 29/2 (Fall, 2005), 121–41.

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112 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism fruit of the germinal seed, is harmony in motion … The whole of music is nothing less than a vast expanded variation upon the original musical form, namely the cadence.’ 33 Here, however, Halm and Schenker begin to diverge. While they are both content to understand the triad as the basis for all tonal musical events, based on the overtone laws of the harmonic series, Schenker hears the tonic triad alone as the most basic and fundamental expression of musical life. The tonic, for Schenker, is the image of perfect consonance that gathers up and resolves the descent of the Urlinie, and from whose sounding, resonating tones the Ursatz in turn organically emerges. For Halm, however, it is the dominant with its tendency or inner (leading note) motion towards the tonic that is the catalysing element. The true nature of music, Halm claims, is precisely the state of dissonance rather than consonance, of the urge towards change or transformation: ‘life and movement, free movement which leads towards rest, but not dwelling in rest!’ Hence, for Halm, ‘without dissonance there is no music.’ 34 Even the tonic triad itself, in Halm’s model, is inherently unstable. Just as the dominant chord moves towards the tonic via the upward motion of its third degree (the leading note), so the third degree becomes dissonant again in the chord of resolution, pulling the music forwards once more in an endless cycle of tension, relaxation, and intensification. Through this constant dynamic motion from dissonance to consonance and (implicitly) to dissonance again, the cadence is ‘much more than a simple temporal progression of notes’; rather, it exhibits a more complex play of musical vectors, ‘to and fro, forwards and backwards’,35 traversing musical time and space in multiple directions simultaneously. Hence, as Lee Rothfarb has argued, Halm conceives of the corporeal foreground as the thematic material, its manipulations and changing harmonic environment over the course of an integrated, dynamic whole, and considers it an end in itself, not an outgrowth of a spiritual protostructure in a seed-shell relationship [Kern-Schale]. Schenker, by contrast, conceives of the foreground as ‘figuration’ [Figur], elaboration of deeper lying structural patterns, and those patterns figurations of yet deeper ones, leading ultimately to a governing background, which he considers the definitive source of unity.36 33 ‘Die Melodie, die Musik überhaupt ist Blume und Frucht von dem Urkeim, ist bewegte Harmonie; diese aber ist das Gesetz des sprossenden Lebens. … Die ganze Musik aber ist auch nicht anderes al seine ungeheuer erweiterte Variation der musikalischen Urform, d. i. der Kadenz[.]’ August Halm, Harmonielehre, 2nd edn (Leipzig: Sammlung Göschen, 1905), 5. 34 ‘Leben und Bewegung, freilich Bewegung, die zur Ruhe führt, nicht aber das Berharren [sic] in der Ruhe! … ohne Dissonanz gibt es keine Musik.’ Ibid., 14 and 30. 35 ‘Die Kadenz ist weit mehr als eine bloß zeitliche Folge von Tönen; … hin und wieder, nach vor- und ruckwärts.’ Ibid., 32. 36 Rothfarb, ‘August Halm on Body and Spirit in Music’, 128.

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It is this unstable, dynamic model of musical motion, and also his admiration for the symphonic music of Anton Bruckner, which Ernst Kurth inherited and developed from his teacher. For Kurth, such motion is even more explicitly energetic; yet Kurth also insists upon the principle of different musical dimensions, the horizontal and the vertical, outlined in Halm’s work and subsequently adopted by Nielsen and Hamburger. As McCreless explains, this results in different forms of musical energy. Melody, for Kurth, ‘involves kinetic energy, for it arises from tension-processes that externalise the movement of the musical will through tones. Harmony, however, involves potential energy, for a chord in a sense ‘freezes’ the kinetic or melodic possibilities of each of its tones, so that there is, on the one hand, an identifiable structure of pitches, and on the other, a sea of contexts and possibilities for motion that the chord can realise once it is activated.’ 37 Thus, music can be understood as a play of opposed forces or streams of energy, kinetic and potential, as different manifestations of the musical will, which in turn produces a complex, higher-level counterpoint. Nielsen was also attracted to this idea of music as the play of opposed forces, which for him represented not simply a textural or compositional principle but a fundamental law of musical perception: an idea which we shall return to in Chapter 6 below. In his Harmonielehre, Halm had similarly written: ‘Unity must be achieved through opposition, it must be a result; untransformed “unity and rest in itself” are of no interest. The “harmony” may satisfy our ears, but it cannot move our emotions if nothing happens, if victory is not gained through struggle and conflict.’ 38 This vitalist struggle was an essential sign of musical life. Hence for Halm, as for Kurth and (by implication) Nielsen, ‘Nature gives us not a tonic, but rather a dominant in double form: not simply goal and rest, rather the movement towards the goal, in other words, not the consonance, but the dissonance.’ 39 And in the first movement of the Sinfonia espansiva, this higher-level counterpoint can be understood, not simply in terms of the chromatic voice-leading and displacement that activates and sustains the Allegro’s middleground progressions, but rather as the tension or flux between the music’s triadic foreground and its chromatic background or pitch space. For Kurth, this cyclic pattern of tension and relaxation, of dissonance moving towards consonance and forwards towards dissonance once again 37 Patrick McCreless, ‘Ernst Kurth and the Analysis of the Chromatic Music of the Late Nineteenth Century’, Music Theory Spectrum 5 (1983), 56–75 at 59. 38 ‘Die Einheit muβ durch Gegensätze gewonnen warden, sie muß Resultat sein; die unveränderliche ‘Einheit und Ruhe in sich selbst’ interessiert nicht. Die ‘Harmonie’ kann unseren Ohr angenehm sein: unser Gemüt rührt sie nicht, wenn sie nicht ‘geschieht’, durch Kampf und Reibung hindurch zu Sieg kommt.’ Halm, Harmonielehre, 14. 39 ‘Die Natur gibt uns nicht eine Tonika, sondern die Dominant[e] in doppelter Form: nicht Ziel und Ruhe, sondern die Bewegung zum Ziel: d. H. nicht die Konsonanz, sondern die Dissonanz.’ Ibid., 128.

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114 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism through the kinetic energy of the melodic line, could be expressed analytically through the metaphor of the energetic wave form. As Lee Rothfarb has described, Kurth establishes first, in his seminal text Romantische Harmonik und ihre Krise nach Tristan, the principle that music can be heard as a ‘symphony of energetic currents’.40 He then proposes, in the first volume of his Bruckner monograph, that musical form can be understood as the control or expansion of ‘force through space and time’.41 Bruckner’s symphonic structures, according to Kurth, can be analysed in terms of their gradual increase in tension and amplitude, building through what Kurth terms apex waves (Gipfelwellen), forms whose principal impulse is towards accumulation and growth; such cumulative structures are followed by reverberatory waves (Nachwellen, Nachbebungen), which gradually decrease in tension and amplitude, returning towards a calmer, more restful state; or they result in discharge waves (Entladung), the moment at which the apex waves crest and break, releasing musical energy in a sudden, radiant and barely controlled burst. Like an open body of water, Bruckner’s symphonic movements can in fact be animated through a complex series of interlocking wave structures, rising and falling at different rates of intensification and decay. Hence, larger undulations can underpin smaller ‘component wave forms’, generating the impression of layered depth. This sense of a constantly shifting stratification helps Kurth to distinguish Bruckner’s linear polyphony from that of Bach’s, since, as he explains: Bruckner does not shape his sonic material into a uniformly spread transparence, as for example Bach does with his ethereal metaphysical lines, but rather projects sonic formations of multi-tiered depth. Bruckner creates a sonic abundance full of luminescence and ambiguity, and its dispersal into the void – the world and vast background, purely in the view of the mystic.42 The idea of depth and luminescence are equally vital for Nielsen, particularly given the energetic forward thrust of much of the Sinfonia espansiva’s musical material. But Nielsen’s symphonic waves do not disperse into a mystic void or ether, as Kurth suggests of Bruckner. Rather, they are firmly grounded and corporeal, radiating outwards through their sheer bodily physicality. The year after Kurth published his monumental Bruckner study, and the year before Nielsen read his lecture ‘Form and Content in Music’ at the 40 Ernst Kurth, Romantische Harmonik und ihre Krise nach Tristan, 3rd edn (Berlin: Max Hesse, 1923 [originally published 1919]), 2; quoted in Ernst Kurth, Selected Writings, ed. and trans. Lee A. Rothfarb (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1991), 28. 41 Ernst Kurth, Bruckner, 2 vols (Berlin: Hesse, 1925 [repr. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1971]), vol. 1, 239; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 30. 42 Kurth, Bruckner, vol. 1, 294; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 165.

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Musikpædagogisk Forening, Hans Mersmann published a theoretical treatise entitled Angewandte Musikästhetik (‘Applied Music Aesthetics’, 1926) whose discussion lends a new angle to analytical readings of Nielsen’s Third Symphony.43 Though Mersmann’s work has attracted a good deal less attention than Kurth’s, or even Halm’s, he presents a similar model of kinetic musical motion and potential harmonic energy, and develops Kurth’s model of the energetic wave form as a means of representing the play of forces that motivates musical structure. For Mersmann, music is similarly defined in terms of two dimensions – the horizontal and the vertical – which he equates with space and force. Form, according to Mersmann, ‘is the projection of force in space’, an axiom to which he returns throughout his book.44 Mersmann’s chief analytical innovation is his argument that the principle of organic growth which underpins all musical works depends upon the degree of tension (Spannung) created between these two opposed elements. Mersmann hence adopts Kurth’s notion of potential and kinetic energy (referring to chord and melodic line respectively), and develops a model of centrifugal and expansive force: curves of musical tension which expand and contract according to the mysterious inner life-force of the music’s germinal cell. Mersmann thus offers a powerfully biological metaphor for the musical work, one whose tension, he explains, is essentially dialectical: Tension has two components: the urging forwards of force from its origin and the necessity of its return. The first part of this force-process is positive: in the force (a note, a sound, a motive, a theme, a phrase) lies the principle of its growth. This force has the power of a germinal cell, it has the urge to penetrate above and beyond itself into tonal space: the note into the interval, the interval into a greater melodic unity, the triad into a cadence, the motive into development. Its power is its expansive nature. It is unbounded and aimless, its tendency is indeterminate. Here simultaneously is the opposing force that binds it. This opposing force is centripetal. It unifies, orders, it works back towards the root and drives the synthesis of oppositions into a higher unity. The opposition of expansive and centripetal forces is one of the concepts through which all musical events can be characterised. It works at every level and in all dimensions. In the simultaneity of both forces, the expansive growth in space and the centripetal relations to the origin is 43 Mersmann was born on 6 August 1891 and studied music in Munich and Berlin. He was editor of the music journal Melos and taught at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin until 1933, when the National Socialist regime forced him to resign from his post. After the war, he was head of the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne between 1947 and 1957. 44 ‘Form ist, so könnte man es definieren, die Projektion der Kraft in den Raum.’ Hans Mersmannn, Angewandte Musikästhetik (Berlin: Max Hesse Verlag, 1926), 99.

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116 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism based the concept of tension. The expansive and the centripetal are the two forces of the wave, the swinging out and flowing back, they are the two components of the greater drawing of breath, perceptible behind all appearances of musical growth.45 Mersmann’s definition of tension offers one of the best models for interpreting the play of musical forces in the first movement of Nielsen’s Sinfonia espansiva. It is particularly significant in this context that Mersmann describes his wave forms as swinging between expansive and centripetal forces in a cyclic manner: Nielsen’s Allegro espansivo might be profitably heard in a similar way, as a constant ‘swinging out and flowing back’, driving the music restlessly forwards towards without ever conclusively attaining the final synthesis of its oppositions in a higher symphonic unity. And it is also from Mersmann that Hamburger is most likely to have borrowed his idea of dynamic and static principles of musical form, expounded in his analysis of Nielsen’s work, of music’s ‘expansive’ force, and of the centripetal function of the tonic triad and the linear motion of the melodic line. Mersmann’s theoretical model proceeds by identifying and describing the different kinds of wave forms that generate all musical events (Fig. 4.1). The most basic type is the Ablaufsform (Fig. 4.1a), a simple cyclic rise and fall whose reflective symmetry creates a closed form. It is this type which Mersmann proposes as the default model for all musical cadences following a I–IV–V–I pattern; the progression from tonic to subdominant (Unterdominant) initiates tension (by opening harmonic space), widened and intensified by movement to the dominant, and then dissipated via return to the tonic. A second, more complex wave type (Fig. 4.1b) corresponds to the image of a pendulum swing. Here, the force of the wave rests in its antithesis, in ‘a splitting of planes’. 45 ‘Spannung hat zwei Komponenten: das Fortdrängen einer Kraft von ihrer Basis und die Notwendigkeit ihrer Rückkehr zu ihr. Der erste Teil dieses Kräftevorgangs ist positiv; er lebt in der Kraft, sei es ein Ton, ein Klang, ein Motiv, ein Thema, ein Satz, das Gesetz ihres Wachstums. Sie hat die Triebkraft des Keimes, sie drängt über sich hinaus in den Tonraum: der Ton in das Intervall, das Intervall in die größere melodische Einheit, der Dreiklang in die Kadenz, das Motiv in die Entwicklung. Diese Kraft ist ihrem Wesen nach expansiv. Sie ist grenzenlos und ziellos, sie drängt ins Unbestimmte. Hier setzt gleichzeitig die Gegenkraft ein, welche sie bindet. Diese Gegenkraft ist zentripetal. Sie eint, ordnet, bezieht, sie wirkt auf die Wurzel zurück und führt die Verschmelzung der Gegensätze auf einer höhere Einheit herbei. Der Gegensatz expansiver und zentripetaler Kräfte ist einer der Begriffe, unter dem man das Wesen alles musikalischen Geschehens erfassen kann. Er wirkt in allen Graden und Dimensionen. In der Gleichzeitigkeit beider kräfte: des expansiven Wachstums in den Raum und der zentripetalen Beziehungen auf die Basis wurzelt der Spannungsbegriff. Expansiv und zentripetal sind die beiden Kräfte der Wellen, das Ausschwingen und Zurückfluten, sie sind die Komponenten des großen Atmungsvorgangs, welcher durch alle Erscheinungen musikalischen Wachstums hindurchleuchtet.’ Ibid., 22.

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(b)

(c)

(d)

Fig. 4.1  Hans Mersmann’s wave types, modelling various musical forms (from Angewändte Musikästhetik, 1926)

Fig. 4.2  Hans Mersmann, models of complex wave form structures (from Angewändte Musikästhetik, 1926)

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118 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism For Mersmann, this play of oppositions is a more vital form of wave structure: ‘the forces pull away from each other in two directions; the wholeness and life-force of the music, its vitality, is increased.’ 46 Like Halm, Mersmann thus accords the principle of contrast and opposition a higher structural status in musical form. It is this model of the pendulum swing amplified in greater dimensions, according to Mersmann, that generates large-scale forms including complete thematic sentences, sonatas, fugues, and ‘freie Formen’ (‘free forms’). But Mersmann also proposes a third model, which combines elements of the two preceding types (Fig. 4.1c), a compound oscillating wave form that expands and contracts through antithesis while growing or declining in overall amplitude, and whose structure can be either closed or open. This shape in turn can be characterised by different forms of motion (Fig. 4.1d): an intense initial pulse or burst of energy can be succeeded by a more gradual, curving return to the starting point, so that the wave discharge is strongly asymmetrical although the overall periodicity remains constant. From this basic taxonomy of wave forms, Mersmann develops a more complex higher-level theory of musical wave shapes corresponding to different kinds of Formverlauf (formal trajectories) as models of large-scale musical structures. The most important of these are arguably the seventh and eight categories: antithetische (zweidimensionale) Entwicklung (antithetical [twodimensional] development) and zentrale mehrdimensionale Entwicklung (Aus­ strahl­ung) (centripetal multidimensional development [radiation]) (Fig. 4.2). The first projects the basic sine-wave oscillation outwards in a series of pulses, producing a stepped outline from the complex interplay of component waves and their respective growth and decay. The second is more complex, generating growth through a series of cycles that expand and contract in a similar manner, generating larger patterns of expansion and contraction from the shifting phase rhythm of component cycles. The basic principle underlying these two formal types, Mersmann explains, is that force produces counterforce: the theme a countertheme, the antecedent phrase a consequent. The expansion of both forces, however, works from a single point outwards in which they meet themselves. All oppositions are relative, a current swings between the poles, action by one force produces reaction in the other. That is the state of conflict between two forces in sonata form and in the larger dramatic forms of instrumental music, the state of sections in all cyclic forms.47 46 ‘… einer Spaltung der Ebene. Die Kräfte drängen nach zwei Richtungen auseinander; die Fülle und Lebenskraft der Musik, ihre Vitalität, ist gesteigert.’ Ibid., 72. 47 ‘Kraft zeugt Gegenkraft: das Thema ein Gegenthema, der Vordersatz einen Nachsatz. Das Auseinanderstreben beider Kräfte aber wirkt von einem Punkt aus, in dem sie einander treffen. Alle Gegensätze sind relativ, ein Strom schwingt zwischen den Polen, Aktion einer Kraft bedingt Reaktion einer andern. Das

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Fig. 4.3  Hans Mersmann’s energetic model of four-movement classical structure (from Angewändte Musikästhetik, 1926)

From this hierarchical model, Mersmann’s diagrammatic representation of complex wave forms can offer a Gestalt map of a complete four-movement classical structure, conceived, like the Sinfonia espansiva, as a single prolonged burst of musical energy (Fig. 4.3). The first movement is characterised by its strong initial contrast or pendulum swing between first and second subject groups, and by its tonal polarisation (labelled A and B in his model), an opposition intensified by the development. The second movement is almost completely restful, in effect an expansion of the first movement’s second subject space, while maintaining an underlying forward momentum. The third movement is developmental once more, regaining the opening movement’s dynamic pendulum swing, while the finale’s trajectory points insistently upwards, a striving ascent that climbs to the work’s greatest apex before resolving its tensions by returning to its initial starting point in a single downward plunge in the concluding bars. Even allowing for the highly abstract and figurative quality of Mersmann’s model, it offers intriguing possibilities for retracing the trajectory of Nielsen’s Third Symphony as summarised by the composer’s own programme note in 1931. Mersmann’s idea of radiation furthermore is an elegant way of recontextualising the work’s apparently progressive tonal plan – the structural shift from an unstable D minor at the start of the opening Allegro to a glowing, affirmative A major at the end of the Finale as the flowering of a transformative inner energy. Yet it is important at an early stage to acknowledge the obvious limitations of Mersmann’s theory – his diagrams are too schematic to be of detailed use in the way that a Schenkerian chart can describe complex multiple structural layers simultaneously. And the parameters according to which Mersmann maps his energetic wave curves are too subjective to support rigorous critical comparison between different works – or even between different analytical readings of the same work. Rather, their strength ist die Konfliktstellung zweier Kräfte in der Sonatenform und den großen dramatischen Formen der Instrumentalmusik, ist die Stellung der Sätze in den zyklischen Formen überhaupt.’ Ibid., 628.

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120 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism lies in the way in which they are able to map our psychological experience of the music – Mersmann deliberately intended his charts to be informal in this sense, so that they appeal to different listener’s own individual responses while capturing the music’s essential structural and expressive profile. In this way, Mersmann’s charts constitute a powerful analytical Gestalt, a metaphorical visual representation or image schema. That is to say, Mersmann’s wave forms could be added to the family of standard patterns or cross-domain mappings that Candace Brower has recently described as cognitive projections of embodied experience.48 Hence, Mersmann’s waves become the trace of a process of psychological transformation, a Bergsonian synthesis of perception, experience, and imagination whose swinging motion describes a constant shifting back and forwards between processes of remembrance, mapping, and anticipation. Kurth proposed a similar process in his study of Bach’s linear counterpoint. For Kurth, the whole aural phenomenon form in music, with which the laws of physical sound and physiological perception of tones begins, is already the conclusion of a primal process of interior psychic growth. … The forces activated in us are projected from within onto the surface, where they take shape. The sonic impressions are nothing but the intermediary form in which psychological processes manifest themselves.49 As Rothfarb states, for Kurth, and also for Mersmann, music becomes merely a ‘final stage, the last reverberation’, of a deeper progenerative psychic process. For Nielsen, however, music, or rather its realisation, the sounding surface, remains more elemental. The symphony’s concrete corporeal presence breaks through the metaphorical distance evoked by Kurth and Mersmann, shattering in its dramatic opening bars the hazy mythic realm of the psychic imagination from which music, according to German theory, is conjured and evoked. Mersmann’s imagined waves, his projections of the mind’s inner psycho­ logical workings in sounding form, therefore assume a hard-edged bodily presence in Nielsen’s music: the vitalist struggle with the raw musical material is brought thrillingly into the symphony’s foreground so that the continual surging forwards and backwards, the oscillation between peaks and troughs of musical activity, becomes the primary generator of symphonic form. We can read Hamburger’s analysis in the light of this more vitalist, wave-based model. The symphony’s opening gesture, Simpson’s ‘tonal forge’, is more 48 Candace Brower, ‘Paradoxes of Pitch Space’, Music Analysis 27/1 (March 2008), 51–106. 49 Ernst Kurth, Grundlagen des linearen Kontrapunkts: Bachs melodischen Polyphonie (Berne: Drechsel, 1917, repr. Hildesheim: Olms, 1977), 3, 4 and 7; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 23.

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properly a particle accelerator.50 The rapid bursts of energy or impulses that dramatically shatter the work’s silence are like a series of shock waves or sound barriers that rapidly gain momentum and seemingly begin to revolve, like charged particles orbiting a nucleus in Niels Bohr’s periheletic model of atomic structure.51 This rotating body of sound generates its own sense of gravitational energy or current, a sharp modernist reimagining of the creation ex nihilo that became the post-Beethovenian paradigm for Bruckner’s symphonic thresholds, seemingly bending time itself so that we move from an entirely static, inert state towards a streamlined sense of things shifting constantly forwards into an expectant future tense. Hamburger dwells on the music’s conscious sense of its own newness, and on the generative, electrifying nature of the opening bars. Already, the aforementioned purely rhythmic introductory episode, from which the first subject is literally cast out with an almost explosive power, orients the listener in this direction: what then follows is not a series of harmonically closed periods, but organically unfolded movement. … Expansive force lies in the sharply ascending intervals, and in the syncopated ending lies a tension, which insistently drives movement onwards. This four-bar motive is, so to speak, the power source for the whole movement.52 As Hamburger suggests, the sense of growth is as much registral as rhythmic, the music expanding through intervallic space as it develops, transforming the vertical span of the opening bars (four octaves) into a linear melodic curve or vector, initially in unison and then branching out in contrary motion and diversifying. Hamburger rightly identifies this as the movement’s catalysing ‘power source’ – both through its tendency to evolve and expand, and also because of the process of chromatic displacement, the leading note tensions that immediately begin to augment and transform the opening triadic motto 50 Meyer and Petersen record, more prosaically, that the idea of the opening headmotive occurred to Nielsen while riding on a tram. Torben Meyer and Frede Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen: Kunsteren og Mennesket, 2 vols (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag – Arnold Busck, 1948), vol. 2, 9. 51 Jørgen I. Jensen makes a similar observation (Danskeren, 194), except that for him the first movement of the Espansiva corresponds more closely to Rutherford’s atomic model, whereas the Fourth Symphony, Det Uudslukkelige (‘The Inextinguishable’) is closer to Bohr’s more dynamic vision. At the level of analogy, I think both interpretations are equally valid. 52 ‘Allerede den ovenfor omtalte rent rytmiske Indledningsepisode, af hvilken Hovedmotivet bogstavelig talt udslynges med næsten eksplosiv Kraft, indstiller Tilhøreren i denne Retning: hvad der følger, er ikke en Række harmonisk afrundede Perioder, men organisk udfoldet Bevægelse. … Ekspansiv Kraft ligger i de stejlt opstigende Intervaller, og i den synkopiske Endelse ligger en Spændkraft, der uimodstaaeligt tvinger Bevægelsen viderer. Dette fire Takters Motiv er saa at sige Kraftkilden for hele Satsen.’ Hamburger, ‘Formproblemet’, 97.

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122 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 4.3  Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: harmonic reduction   (Exposition), bb. 138–259

bœ & b œœ

159

174

nœ ## œœ

nœ n n œœ

y 4

6

Ab major

175

bbœœœ

N!

202

œ bœœ 6

225

œ nœœ J

7ü 3ü

257

bœœ

nnœœ

nü rü

5 e

259

œ n œœœ

C major!

(bb. 15–17). Indeed, the kinetic tension between B§ and Bb, characteristic also of the first movement of the First Symphony and a recurring motivic idea in later Nielsen’s symphonies, becomes the Allegro’s key molecular fingerprint, the essential element of instability, tonal impurity or decay that acts as a continual agent of change throughout the movement. The first time in which this B§–Bb tension becomes active, as noted above, is the sudden shift towards the subdominant in b. 28, rapidly corrected by the start of the ascending chromatic sequence in bb. 38–99. This ascent itself reaches a local point of crisis as the P-space approaches its apex: the syncopated hemiolas in bb. 93–8 grind together like badly tuned gears trying to mesh, the woodwind passing painfully through B§ and Bb as the music ultimately ‘overshoots’ its obvious harmonic goal (the dominant minor). Only after this knot has been loosened can the wave energy of the P-Space reach its apex with the return of the opening head motive in a ‘staalhaard’ (‘steel-hard’) Ab minor,53 and subsequently discharge its cumulative harmonic tension through the powerful 4–3 suspended cadence in bb. 116–37. Even as this earlier wave subsides, however, a ‘new upswing begins with the following thematic group’, generating a complex overlapping of smaller component wave forms; as Hamburger notes, ‘the timpani maintains a vague rhythmic unrest – an echo of the introductory episode with decreasing energy.’ 54 The second subject group or S-space thus begins as a Nachwelle, or reverbatory wave, an afterglow of the energy already expended from the massive climb and breaking plunge of the P-space’s preceding musical force. For Hamburger, the S-space is defined more by the relative intensity of its energy (in comparison with the preceding phase) than by the choice of tonal area. He barely comments on the choice of key. Rather, the shift of intensity signals a change of musical (energetic) behaviour from linear to circular, intensifying the sense of contrast between first and second subject groups demanded by the dynamic symphonic framework. ‘Whereas the first 53 Ibid., 95. Hamburger notes that, in conventional symphonic terms, the return of the head motive in bb. 106–7 should properly be in F, rather than Ab minor; Nielsen thus approaches the cadence via a relative parallel modal shift (F minor → Ab major → Ab minor). 54 ‘et nyt Opsving begynder med den følgende Temagruppe: i Pauken fastholdes en svag rytmisk Uro – en Efterklang af Indledningsepisoden med aftagende Energi.’ Ibid., 97.

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theme was a single-voiced, linearly conceived motive, charged with expansive power, this is a 16-bar enclosed harmonic complex, whose melodic line curls loosely around the pitch class eb.’ Yet, as Hamburger also notes, the sense of complete polar opposition is only illusory: ‘beneath the gentle surface, the forces are tightened, and energy flows continually from the head motive (the syncopation!)’.55 Nielsen’s waves thus exemplify precisely the sense of kinetic motion described by Kurth and Mersmann, and discussed at length by Kurth in his Bruckner analyses: the constant play of opposed forces and intensities, which bend and curve with a growing or decreasing force without ever quite becoming completely static. The S-space accordingly begins to regain some of the earlier energy, the enharmonic shift ab → V/c# before fig. 8 (b. 154; Ex. 4.3) signalling a hardening tone and the start of a new surge, intensified through the fugato episode at b. 200. The cumulative energy of this second wave is discharged through the ‘calmly flowing curves’ (‘roligt glidende Kurver’, p. 98) of the C major authentic cadence at b. 259, for Hamburger one of the movement’s principal architectonic pauses – a remnant of diatonic practice that alludes, as Krebs notes, to the orthodox mediant modulation of an A minor sonata exposition. The exposition can be imagined, therefore, as two contrasting but interlocking waves of energy: the first is unstable and dynamic, reaching a stormy apex and discharging heavily via the V/Ab cadence in bb. 116–37, and the second is a reverbatory echo that initially dissipates the energy of the first in circular rotatory fashion, before regaining its own momentum and discharging once more in the C major cadence at b. 259. The development offers a more complex play of lines, circles, waves and breaks. But, ‘as with the preceding section,’ Hamburger notes, ‘this one also forms, as far as the force of expression is concerned, a curving movement: with irresistible rhythmic and dynamic energy the movement leads towards a culmination with the [principal] theme’s second [sic] entry (in Bb minor) [fig. 18, b. 388]’,56 a moment that briefly tonicises one of the problematic chromatic pitch elements from the opening head-motif (the B§–Bb tension) before shifting emphasis decisively towards the sharp side. The development begins with further echoes of the opening motto, pizzicato in the strings, and a new waltz idea (b. 288; thematic index η) in the woodwind in counterpoint with thinly scored statements of the opening triadic motif. The C major close of the exposition is reheard as V/a, a modulation that combines leading note change and parallel modal shift. This 55 ‘Medens første “Tema” var et enstemmigt, linært undfanget Motiv, ladet med ekspansiv Kraft, er dette et 16 Takter omfattende harmonisk Kompleks, hvis Melodilinje snor sig vagt om Tonen es … under den rolige Overflade er Kræfterne spændte, og der strømmer stadig Kraft fra Hovedmotivet (synkopen!).’ Ibid., 98. 56 ‘Som det foregaaende Afsnit danner ogsaa dette, hvad Udtrykkets Kraft angaar, en Kurvebevægelse: under tiltagende rytmisk og dynamisk Energi føres Bevægelsen til Kulmination ved Temaets anden Indtræden (i b Moll).’ Ibid., 99.

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124 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 4.4  Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: harmonic reduction   (Development), bb. 259–424 259

288

& œœ #œœ œ œ

297

325

328

6

c

n

331

335

343

357

359

6 4

H C#minor f 3

œœ bnœœ b bœœ b nœœ # #œ n #œœ ##œ nn nœœœ n#œœœ œœ # #œ n #œœ # #œœœ # nœœœ œ œ b œ b œ n œœ # # œœ œœ # œ # œ # œœ # œ # œ #

C

H

364

366

372

Eminor

6 b

6ü V/Bb 4ü

& œœœ bœœœœ œœœ

6 v

384

œœ bœ œœ œJ n ü

5 3

h

h 5

388

391

Bb

V C

6 5

395

396

410

6 5

E

h 5

412

422

y

424

#œ œœ b bœœœ bbœœœ#n nœœœ #œœ ##œœœ n##œœœ n œœ ##nœœœ ##œœ n##œœ b œ n œ œ #œ # œœ J bb œœ N

H

y ü f ü

g C#minor d

in turn prompts an elegant new waltz idea (b. 331; thematic index αx), based on an extension of the opening motif, which once again begins to modulate freely (Ex. 4.4). The modulatory process unfolded by the waltz theme starts to replay the cumulative ascent of the exposition’s second wave, but on a much broader and more impressive scale. The fugato passage beginning at b. 343, for example, develops a much greater sense of pressure than previously, becoming caught in an increasingly tight gyre on V/bb in bb. 372–87 (with flutter­ tonguing trumpets), as Hamburger notes, before finally initiating the apotheosis of the waltz at b. 388. Here, at last, the symphony’s energies feel as though they are riding the crest of a wave. The waltz idea first presented in b. 288 at the start of the development is transformed in an ecstatic vision of the world in flux, whirling around in a modernist dance that anticipates the spiralling vortex of Ravel’s La Valse (1920). For Simpson, the melody grows and expands ‘with bounding vim … the whole world seems to be singing and dancing’. Yet the passage also serves a structural purpose, one which constitutes ‘a real development: the thematic material continually grows into new shapes, the whole is in effect a long crescendo, and it gravitates tonally from the region of C major to the region of F sharp (another opposition of poles)’.57 Closer examination again suggests a more complex reality. Simpson’s F# never really receives unequivocal harmonic support, but is merely suggested by emphasis on its dominant – in fact, the whole of the central section, including the waltz apotheosis, is more strongly a prolongation of C# minor, a tonal area which the music seems pulled towards irresistibly. And Simpson’s notion of a long crescendo could more properly be heard as a series of cumulative apex waves, gradually increasing in amplitude and expressive force until the next peak of cadential discharge in b. 424, where the waltz fragments and dissipates into empty musical space (Ex. 4.5). Like Ravel’s more apocalyptic vision, Nielsen’s waltz appears intent on its own self-destruction, the energies unleashed in the opening bars finally realising their true, terrifying potential as agents of 57 Simpson, Symphonist, 62.

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Ex. 4.5  Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, first movement: harmonic reduction   (Reprise), bb. 424–end

bœ bœ bœœ bœ & #œœœ nbœœœ nnœœœ nœœœœ œœœbbbœœœ bbœœœ nbbœœœ bœœœ nnœœœbnnœœœ œœœ #nœœœœ #nœœœ œœœ #œ bnœœ b œœ b œbb œœ # 424 451

C#min 2

n

468 480

r 3

613

6

n v

620

483

n b

520

n v

Eb

y

Fmin

639

y

f 2

647

562 584

597

600

Y

#

n

D(min)

668

Interruption!

682 689 706

nœ œ œ bœ & #n##œœœœ ##œœœn#nœœœ n#œœœ #œœ nbœœ bnœœ##nœœœœ œœœ # œœœ nnœœœn nœœœ #œœœ #nœœœ bœœœ nœœœ bœœœ œœœ #œœ # n nœ h 5

7

h 4

6

n v

6 5

6

Dmin

6

6

m

6 r

n

6

h

6

œ # œœœ PAC:Amaj!

collapse and decay. The burden of achieving some kind of balance or formal symmetry placed on the reprise thus becomes all the more intense – one of the reasons, it now appears, why the movement’s final bars inevitably sound provisional. This cyclic model of wave forms, rising, breaking, and drawing back, provides an insightful explanation for events at the beginning of the R-zone. Simpson moves swiftly at this point, attempting to account for the music’s unstable modulatory course and fixing his attention firmly on the return of the second subject group (via a ‘superb modulation’ to Eb) in b. 483. Hamburger’s account, however, offers an equally satisfying reading, hearing bb. 452–82, and the second subject which follows, as a further Nachwelle or reverberation wave, an echo of the energy expended during the development. In that sense, Nielsen creates a complex formal rhyme between the two waves of the Exposition and those of the development and the first part of the reprise, which likewise suggest apex and echo. Parsing the movement into the normative discrete three-part model of classical sonata form hence becomes problematic, even while the idea of a large-scale formal symmetry remains intact. A two-part model divided at the start of the development, similar to that proposed by Krebs’s notion of concentric interlocking structures, is equally plausible. Despite Nielsen’s placement of a double line at the end of b. 451 and the abortive return of P-space material, suggesting a major formal break between development and reprise, bb. 452–82 are as much part of the larger developmental space as the R-zone, and the reprise only properly begins at b. 483. Indeed, it may be easier to hear development and reprise as a combined space of larger musical activity, amplifying and reflecting upon the exposition. Closer attention to details of local harmonic progression supports this reading. The sharpened leading note (B#) from the development’s C# minor cadential tail is enharmonically reinterpreted as C§, becoming the anacrusis of the abortive restatement of the opening head motive (α6) and creating a strong sense of elision between bb. 451 and 2. This subsequent turn towards the flat side (F minor) is again an affective change, signalling a marked slackening of

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126 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism musical energy, a shading off after the drama of the preceding waltz discharge. The return to the second subject group is then approached more methodically via a series of neighbour-note shifts suggesting a diatonic iv–V–I cadential progression in Eb, reflecting symmetrically the previous statement of S-space material on Ab in the exposition. But as before, Nielsen’s chromatic spelling of the modal mixture in the bassoon parts at b. 483 indicates the first upswelling of a new apex wave. The complex overlapping of component wave forms thus generates an overarching sense of continuity and forward motion, one which transcends the boundaries of individual formal sections. The crux of the R-zone, the crucial moment at which the reprise departs from its exposition model in order to achieve some sense of formal balance, occurs around b. 562. As Simpson notes, following the pattern of the exposition, the return of coda material should properly be in G major (corresponding to the C-close in b. 226). However, the vigorous heroic string and horn pick-up in b. 558 is wrenched upwards by a tone (it begins on D rather than the expected C), so that b. 562 instead enters on A major. For Simpson, this is a decisive blow. The return of previous coda material, in its new key, means that ‘A major is now, at a stroke, wedded to the idea of a full close. … The symphony is surely finding its direction.’ 58 Yet Hamburger hardly comments on this shift, noting merely that it is ‘transposed to A major’ and according such long-range harmonic goals relatively little significance.59 More important for him is the continuing drama of the music’s ongoing energetic development: the way in which A major is swiftly reinterpreted as the dominant of D minor, in preparation for the definitive return of the opening motto at fig. 26 (b. 584). This is the focal point of Krebs’s reading, the delayed first articulation of D minor as a stable tonic, and one of the pivotal moments in his model of the movement as a pair of spliced sonata structures spiralling in opposite directions. As Hamburger notes, the restatement of the primary subject is rapidly joined by the swinging horn fifths from the second subject accompaniment, and then the second subject’s head motive itself. It is as though, Hamburger suggests, in one single moment ‘the whole movement’s motivic material is contrapuntally unified, an enormous tension.’ 60 The movement’s complex interlocking wave forms have thus crossed and combined, fusing at their moment of maximal formal strain. Far from achieving stability, in other words, the forceful assertion of D minor as tonic at fig. 26 actually intensifies the feeling of instability and tension, of tonal energies bound uneasily together in a potentially explosive compound. The sudden break in b. 600 is an attempt at sudden recalibration – the 58 Ibid., 64. 59 Hamburger, ‘Formproblemet’, 99. 60 ‘… her hele Satsens Motivstof er forenet kontrapunktisk, en uhyre Spænding’. Ibid., 99.

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sound of strained formal curves finally snapping under the weight of intense structural pressure. As Simpson notes, the rhythm and tutti articulation recalls the opening, but harmonically the gesture jumps radically back to the flat side, as though short-circuiting the progress of the reprise. Much of the remaining music in the coda attempts to redress the balance. The return of the exposition’s TR-space begins in F# but swiftly directs its attention towards the instatement of A as the movement’s closing tonic via a momentary return of the opening motto on D in b. 647. In that sense, the coda becomes more directionalised as it proceeds, as though the movement begins to assert a stronger sense of gravitational pull as it approaches its closing bars (a common feature of Nielsen’s sonata structures).61 Simpson comments on the strange interruption on C# at the tranquillo in b. 656 (fig. 31), and the music’s subsequent emphasis on F at fig. 32 (which Krebs hears as belonging to his reverse telescoped sonata exposition in D minor), proposing that they form ‘contradictory keys, each annihilating the other’, a major third either side of A. Closer attention to local progressions suggests that C# serves rather as a chromatic deflection, designed to undermine the authority of D as tonic, whereas the F can be heard as part of a bVI–bII–V cadential approach to the movement’s final C-zone (beginning b. 710). Equally significant in these closing pages, however, is the way Nielsen carefully resolves the problematic B§/ Bb tension from the movement’s opening head motive. The oscillating bb–a quavers in 673–81, for example, insistently resolve the figure downwards, reaffirming the melodic primacy of the pitch class (a) while the music edges towards affirming A as default tonic. And even in the C-zone, once the principal structural harmonic business has been completed, the remaining bbs are enharmonically reinterpreted as a#s after fig. 34 (b. 720), pushing the music effortfully upwards towards the raised third degree (c#) and finally resolving the movement’s troubled harmonic tensions in a brief but radiantly uplifting sunrise. The closing bars do not so much represent a rounding off as an expectant looking forwards: a final energetic projection of the movement’s energies into a wider musical sphere and beyond into the void. According to Hamburger’s analysis, Nielsen’s drama of linear melodic energies and musical waves offers a profoundly new way of conceiving symphonic time and pitch space, one which successfully balances the often conflicting demands of modernist musical syntax and classical formal architecture. ‘What is decisive for the relationship of the individual sections – in spite of the remnants of functional harmony’, Hamburger argues, ‘is not as in classical Sonata form the harmonic-modulatory tensions, but the shifting intensity in the linear forces (melody and rhythm)’. Hence, he concludes:



61 This is also an important idea for Kurth. See the discussion in Krebs, Innere Dynamik, 182–97.

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128 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism The formal principle is – in spite of the fact that the classical architectonic is still discernible in the outline – predominantly organic, since the motion only once in the course of the entire movement is brought to a standstill (by tonal cadence and tectonic pause) and the design of the periods is to a marked degree asymmetrical. Moreover in contrast with classical sonata form, the culmination does not occur in the development but in the coda with the incorporated main theme (rising form!).62 This innovative solution to the problems of musical form prompts wider questions regarding Nielsen’s relationship with his European symphonic contemporaries and immediate forerunners, an issue left tantalisingly unaddressed at the end of Hamburger’s essay. A cursory comparison with Bruckner’s symphonic structures, for example, suggests that Nielsen’s sense of form is more highly compressed and physical (bodily), the wave forms more tautly stretched and curved even as the music expands energetically outwards. Yet there are also substantial points of contact and correspondence between the two composers. As Kurth suggests, Bruckner’s dynamic evolutionary sense of symphonic design cannot be understood through reference to a single theme or group of melodic ideas, ‘but rather by illustrating how basic symphonic motions appear in developmental waves, as energetic events, in light of which themes and, likewise, the further expansion up through the formal design as a whole first become understandable’,63 a process which is no less applicable to the first movement of the Sinfonia espansiva. The same also applies to aspects of Bruckner’s tonal thinking, according to Kurth, which is less restricted to the idea of keys as fixed hierarchical pillars or Stufen, and more the manifestation of energies latent within the music’s melodic flux. ‘What one describes as form’, Kurth writes of Bruckner, ‘is in reality the transfer of force in form (just as in the harmonic transformation of sonic tension in chords, the melodic transfer of psychic energetic motion in the image suggested by a sounding series of points). Form is not that from which the stream of creation runs, but rather that into which it flows’.64 Formal space, 62 ‘Bestemmende for de enkelte Formleds indbyrdes Forhold er – trods alle rester af Funktionsharmonik – ikke som i den klassiske Sonateform harmoniskmodulatorisk Spændinger, men den vekslende Intensitet i de linæere Kræfter (Melodi og Rytme). Formprincippiet er – til Trods for at den klassiske Arkitektonik endnu skimtes i de ydre Omrids – overvejende organisk, idet Bevægelsen kun een Gang i Løbet af hele Satsen bringes til Standsning (ved tonal Kadence og tektonisk Pavse), og Periodebygningen desuden i fremtrædende Grad er assymetrisk. Vidermere ligger modsat den klassiske Sonateform Kulminationen ikke i Gennemførelsen, men i Kodaen med det indarbejdede Hovedthema (Stigningsform!).’ Hamburger, ‘Formproblemet’, 100. 63 Kurth, Bruckner, vol. 1, 279; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 151–2. 64 ‘… was man als Form bezeichnet hat, ist in Wirklichkeit Übergang von Kraft in Form (ebenso wie die Harmonik Übergang von Klangspannung in Klangbild,

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for Bruckner and also for Nielsen, hence becomes merely a secondary characteristic of music, a metaphorical category or expression of the creative will’s expansive force or coming-into-being. It serves, in that sense, as an abstract trace of music’s kinetic potential: its capacity, seemingly from within, to grow, evolve, transform, and resonate. Nielsen sensed this same process in his lecture on ‘Form and Content in Music’ to the Musikpædagogisk Forening, the text upon which Hamburger’s whole essay was based. Stressing the importance of musical motion, he wrote: ‘we must remember that music – from the smallest song to the mightiest symphony – is something which proceeds and has a certain particular goal, understood in two ways, namely: a measure with its own length, and that goal which, through its movement, it seemingly strives towards.’ 65 For Nielsen, like Mersmann and Halm, music’s basic state is this motion towards change; music without such transformative motion is cold and lifeless. Hence, in a passage which is especially close to Halm’s writing, Nielsen argued that ‘if we sit beside a brook or a stream, it is its course which interests us, its meandering round obstacles and its many other movements en route, and not so much that, as we know, it flows into the sea.’ 66 In other words, as for Halm, Nielsen’s notion of music as an energetic melodic Fortspinnung, an evolutionary line that grows and transforms as it develops, looks back beyond Bruckner’s symphonic waves to an earlier German fatherfigure, J. S. Bach: In his preludes and fugues it is this simultaneously peaceful and murmuring, animated stream that refreshes and enraptures us, but those who know these things will surely have noted that often, towards the ending of his fugues at the right psychological moment, which we have now often dwelt upon, there suddenly appears a diminished seventh chord or a fermata, which for a moment stops the whole flow, as the theme completely ducks underneath and disappears, and everything tumbles towards the conclusion like a cascade.67 das Melodische Übergang psychischer Kraftbewegung ins andeutende Bild der tönenden Punktreihe). Form ist nicht das, wovon der Strom des Schaffens ausgeht, sondern worein er mündet.’ Kurth, Bruckner, vol. 1, 233; quoted in Krebs, Innere Dynamik, 252. 65 ‘Vi maa jo huske paa, at Musik – fra den mindste Sang til den største symfoni – er noget, der skrider frem og har et ganske bestemt Maal, forstaaet paa to Maader, nemlig: eet Maal i sin egen Længde og det Maal, den ved sin Bevægelse ligesom stræber hen imod.’ Samtid 2, 417. 66 ‘Hvis vi sidder ved en Bæk eller en Strøm, saa er det dens Løb, er interesserer os, dens Krusninger paa grund af Forhindringer og dens mange andre Bevægelser undervejs, og ikke saa meget det, at vi ved, den løber ud I havet.’ Samtid 2, 422. 67 ‘I hans Præludier og Fugaer er det jo denne paa een Gang rolige og rislende, bevægelige Strøm, der forfrisker og henrykker os, men hvem der kender disse Ting, vil sikkert have lagt mærke til, at der ofte henimod Slutningen af hans Fugaer i det rette psykologiske Øjeblik, som vi nu flere Gange har opholdt os ved,

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130 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Nielsen’s sense of tradition and inheritance, and his feeling for musical form and process, are thus synthesised together in a vitalist image of the creative stream (or élan vital), flowing from its source and branching into innumerable tributaries as it meanders and curves through musical time and space. Analysis of the first movement of Sinfonia espansiva, however, has suggested a more fissile or unstable state of musical material. The waves that propel the musical stream of consciousness in the Allegro espansivo constantly rise and break through the spiralling gyres of Harald Krebs’s spliced sonata structures so that the music carries its own potentially destructive current within its energetic motion, constantly threatening to fracture and pull the symphonic texture apart even as it explodes outwards in its opening bars. In that sense, Nielsen’s symphonic vision is in some ways closer to Elgar’s (for instance, in the binary tonal structure of the first movement of his First Symphony)68 or to Mahler’s (in the complex, multi-layered tiers of the first movement of his Seventh) than to Bruckner’s: Nielsen’s sense of musical structure and formal balance is similarly contested and contingent. The complex, interlocking wave structures that flex within the first movement of the Espansiva powerfully realise the potential energy, described by Mersmann, created by the tension between expansive melodic lines and binding centripetal harmonic forces – the strain generated between these two often opposed impulses generates a higher level structural counterpoint, namely the struggle to achieve a definitive point of harmonic rest and articulate a clear two- or three-phase form. Mersmann’s Gestalt image of the pulsating sine wave, developed from Kurth’s model, with its pendulum swing back and forth, growing and diminishing with constantly shifting amplitude, vividly illustrates the music’s energetic path against continual friction and resistance. Indeed, this process of opposition becomes the governing law of both Mahler’s and Nielsen’s music. For Adorno, confrontation with such opposition is itself a sign of Mahler’s authenticity or truth. ‘Mahler’s symphonies plead anew against the world’s course [Weltlauf ]’, Adorno suggests. ‘They imitate it in order to accuse; the moments when they breach it are also moments of protest.’ 69 Nielsen’s music, from the Sinfonia espansiva onwards, is similarly dialectical in spirit – but the idea of contrast, the basic principle of his work, arises not, like Adorno’s Mahler, from a deep fracturing within the musical material, but rather is an expression of its dynamic instability, of its impulse towards change. Like pludselig indtræder en formindsket Septimakkord eller en Fermat, som et Øjeblik stan[d]ser hele Strømmen, saa themaet helt dukker under og forsvinder, og det hele ligesom en Kaskade styrter hen imod Slutningen.’ Samtid 2, 422. 68 See J. P. E. Harper-Scott, ‘Immuring and immured tonalities: tonal malaise in the First Symphony, op. 55’, in Edward Elgar: Modernist, 65–106; and ‘“A nice sub-acid feeling”: Schenker, Heidegger, and Elgar’s First Symphony, Music Analysis 24/3 (October 2005), 349–82. 69 Adorno, Mahler, 6.

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Mahler, I would suggest, Nielsen’s symphonies can be heard, at least in part, as immanent critique. They seek to puncture and break through the existing bourgeois conception of art which the symphony as an institution had historically seemed to represent, embody or uphold, and uncover a purer, more energised musical truth. But the crucial difference between the two modernists is one of direction – whereas the prevailing trajectory in Mahler, following Adorno’s negative dialectics, is a slow, irrevocable descent or letting-go, a melancholic departure from the world, for Nielsen, in the Sinfonia espansiva the structural and expressive impulse is insistently upwards. This upward trajectory points in turn to Nielsen’s relationship with his Danish contemporaries, in particular with the Hellenist vitalism that had animated the work of Jens Ferdinand Willumsen, Thomas Laub, Vilhelm Andersen, and others. But perhaps the most compelling analogy for Nielsen’s work can be found, as I have already hinted in the introduction, in Kai Nielsen’s sculpted figures lining the perimeter of Blågårds Plads in central Copenhagen, created in 1912–16 in the years immediately following the premiere of the symphony.70 Like the Espansiva, Kai Nielsen’s reliefs concern human diversity, the elemental forces that underpin and animate all life (the stylised figures include a mother, a baker, and an accordion player). They serve as a boundary marker, framing in hard granite the passage from birth to death and its continuous cycle of destruction and renewal. But they also celebrate daily routine and physical work in a way that suggests an energetic choreography: the figures characteristically possess their own particular sense of muscular grace and bodily force. Nielsen’s Third Symphony, as I have argued above, is no less a threshold or gateway, its sounding span framing a similarly cyclic view of music’s evolution, resonance, and renewal. And, despite the confident gestures of the finale’s closing pages, I would argue that the Sinfonia espansiva reveals a similarly anxious attitude to its new musical horizons: the work’s progressive tonal plan, as so often in Nielsen’s music, is a sign of its own contingency as much as an intensification of the work’s basic trajectory (upwards). But such openness is never an aesthetic weakness, a critical failure of the musical structure to contain and resolve its underlying tensions. Rather, in the way that it bends and stretches musical time and space, and in the taut linear energy of its symphonic waves, the Sinfonia espansiva has its finger firmly on the pulse of musical modernism.

70 For further discussion of the Blågårds Plads figures, see Gertrud HvidbergHansen and Gertrud Oelsner, ‘Livets triumf’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner, 10–45, esp. 41–4 (including illustrations of selected reliefs).

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5  Funen Dreams

O

ne of the recurring tropes  in Nielsen reception, both at home and abroad, is his association with the Danish landscape. Repeatedly presented as a true and faithful son of the soil, Nielsen is held to have captured some elemental quality of the Danish landscape in sound, just as the landscape seems somehow to have determined the texture and grain of much of his musical work. The pastoral cantata, Fynsk Foraar (‘Springtime on Funen’), is emblematic in this respect. It is here that Nielsen’s evocation of the Danish countryside, and the island of Funen where he was born, appears most powerful and explicit. But Nielsen’s response to the idea of landscape, and to the construction of Funen as specific place and sensibility in music, is more ambiguous than it first seems. In a brief, illuminating moment towards its closing bars, the whirling round dance with which Springtime on Funen concludes unexpectedly gives way to a hushed cadenza for tremolo violins, solo voices, horns, and bassoons. Marked molto adagio, the seven-bar passage is canonic: the soprano’s ornamental melodic arabesque is imitated first by the tenor and then by the baritone (doubled by the woodwind), beneath a shimmering inverted pedal in the upper strings (Ex. 5.1). Texturally, dynamically, and harmonically, the cadenza is an exceptional and striking event: its Ab minor orientation is a sharp diversion from the round dance’s final tonal goal, a radiant E major (the transition pivots on the enharmonic transformation Eb/D#), and the sudden drop in dynamic level and textural weight is in sharp contrast to the finale’s prevailing fortissimo tutti. The cadenza marks an abrupt change of direction that seemingly brings the whole work momentarily to a stop at the line: ‘Se, Æbleblomster drysser over vejen’ (‘Look, apple blossom scatters down upon the road’). The three soloists repeat the words hypnotically, as though held in rapt attention as they watch the white petals slowly falling to the ground, until the chorus re-enter in the final bar, whispering ‘Natten er vor egen, Æbleblomster drysser’ (‘The night is ours, apple blossom scatters down’). As the words slip silently away, the round dance returns, swiftly cranking up speed and volume once again so that the poignant memory of the spring night, and its associations of vernal love, are breezily blown away as the cantata spirals towards its celebratory final cadence. On closer inspection, the cadenza might be heard simply as a moment of modest reflection, the brief calm before the uplifting storm of the cantata’s energetic final pages. It can also be understood generically as a closing curtain call for the three soloists who appear, partly in character, earlier in the work, alongside a children’s choir and an adult chorus. Springtime on Funen opens with a gentle sunrise heralding the turning of the season. The soft contours of the landscape are feminised, the spring blossom flowering upon ‘the

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Ex. 5.1  Nielsen, Springtime on Funen: 'Dansevisen', bb. 105–11

° b b b œ œ œœœ œ œ Soprano b œ Solo & b b b R nœ Molto adagio (e = 72)

Se,

bb & b b bbb Ó ‹ ? Baritone bbbbbbb Solo ¢ ˙ ° bb b b ˙ & b b b ææ ?b ¢ b bbbbb

Æb

-

le - blom

œ

Tenor Solo

° bb b b j j j & b b b œ œ œ.

Se,

Æb le -blom

-

ster

r œœ J œ œ œ.

-

le- blom

-

ster drys

-

ser

5

se,

œ. se,

œ œ.

se,

nœ œ.

se,

bœ œ

Æb

œ ? bb b b œ œ nœ œ nœ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ. Œ ¢ bbb

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-



o - ver Ve

-

-

œ œ J œ

ser,

˙ ˙ ææ

Se,

ser

-

œ J

se,

œ œ œ œ nœ R -

-

r r œ œ œr œr

œœœœœ o

œœ R

˙ ˙ ææ

jen, o

le -

œ œ œ œ nœ

le-blom -ster drys

œ J

jen,

Æb

r r œ œ œr nœr œ

b œ œ nœ bœ œ œœœ œ j & b bbbbb J J œ ‹ Æb le - blom ster drys œ œ œ œ œR œJ . ? bb b b œ n œ œ œ œ œ n œ œ n œ œ œ ¢ bbb blom ster drys ser o - ver Ve ˙ ˙ ˙ ° bb b b ˙ ˙ ˙ & b b b ææ ææ ææ

jen, se

j j bœ nœj œ œ œ. œ œ

nœ b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ & b bbbbb J œJ œ bœ œR œ R J R R ‹ - ver Ve - jen, se, Æb le blom - ster drys ? bb b b Œ ∑ Œ ¢ bbb ˙ ˙ str ˙ ° bbb ˙ ˙ ˙ & b b b b ææ ææ ææ bns ˙ ? bb b b Œ ∑ ¢ bbb ° bbb & b b b b nœ

-



˙ ˙ ææ

j œ œ œ œJ -

-

ster drys - ser o

˙ ˙ ææ

nœ nœ œ œ œ

r r nœ nœ

œ œ r r r r œ nœ œ œ œ œ

drys - ser o - ver Ve

œ œœœ œ œ œ nœ. R Æb

∑ ˙ ˙ ææ ∑

3

-

j œ.

j nœ

-

ser o - ver

ver

œ nœ œ œ

-

ver

œ œœ œ œ œ œœ nœ œ œ

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134 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

° bbb &b b b b ˙

Ex. 5.1 continued

7

Ve

b b ˙. & b b bbb ‹ Ve ˙ ?b ¢ b bbbbb ° bb b b & bbb ‰

Ve

Chorus

? bb ¢ b b bbb ‰

˙ ° bb b b ˙ & b b b ææ

˙. ? bb b b w ¢ bbb

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

œ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ ‰ RÔ RÔ ÔR RÔ ÔR RÔ

Nat- ten er vor e - gen,

jen,

-

Kr rK Kr rK Kr rK œ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ ‰

Nat- ten er vor e - gen,

˙

-

nœ -

-

-

jen,

˙

jen,

‰ ‰ ˙ ææ˙

Kr Kr Kr

Kr Kr rK ≈ ‰

Æb - le - blom - ster drys - ser

RÔ RÔ RÔ

‰ RÔ RÔ RÔ ≈

Æb - le - blom - ster drys - ser



gnarled apple tree/behind hills as rounded as young girl’s knees’ [det knortede Æbletræ/bag Bakker, der rundes som Pigeknæ]. The soprano solo enters as a spring goddess – Demeter or Persephone, or perhaps a local Nordic deity (Freya) – followed by the tenor, a young sap-filled hero, who greets ‘the gentle day, so mild and long/and full of sun and birdsong’ (‘den milde Dag [så] lys og lang/og fuld af Sol og Fuglesang’). The baritone appears twice: first as the earthy voice of experience, an ‘old bachelor’ whose dark lower register grounds the passage in the rich tilth of the Funen fields, and then later as the melancholy blind musician, ‘Blind Anders’ in Nielsen’s autobiographical account of his childhood, whose mournful clarinet solo provides the cantata’s greatest moment of pathos: ‘small hands seek my old hand/it is as if I touched the spirit of spring (små Hænder søger min gamle Hånd/ det er, som rørte jeg Vårens Ånd’). In contrast, the cadenza has the feeling of withdrawal and abstraction, a liquefaction or draining away of meaning, as though the characters who enter elsewhere in the work suddenly lose their individual identity and drift from view. The cadenza’s haziness thus assumes the quality of a dream sequence, a hallucinatory episode that seems in some ways emblematic of the act of remembrance itself: the sudden unexpected lighting upon a forgotten image that is simultaneously familiar and strange. The shimmering string tremolo suggests the acute tingling of nerve endings, of a state of heightened awareness, the soprano arabesque appearing almost imperceptibly and then reproducing itself canonically as each stage in the process of recollection generates a further image in turn. The falling apple

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blossom hence becomes a Proustian key that momentarily unlocks a privileged domain of sensory experience and temporal projection backwards, or rather inwards, towards a hitherto inaccessible level of imagination. And, as swiftly as it emerged, the vision vanishes once more, swept aside by the inevitable return of the closing Dansevise. Memory, the cadenza reveals, is as much about letting go as about recollection; landscape here is more concerned with erasure than with recording the permanent mark of dwelling and occupation. Nielsen’s springtime is a festival of celebration and rebirth, but it is also merely a seasonal stage in a larger cycle of growth and decay, of flowering and dissolution – it is the trace of landscape’s mutability and constant capacity for change and renewal. This fluctuating sense of Springtime on Funen as a seasonal cycle points towards Nielsen’s relationship with a much broader tradition of Danish landscape representation. Nielsen composed Springtime on Funen in summer 1921, as he was working on the Fifth Symphony: his contemporary correspondence suggests that the symphony had reached a creative block, so work on the cantata, which he christened a ‘lyrical humoresque’, became a form of musical therapy or release.1 The text, by Funen doctor and poet Aage Berntsen (1885– 1952, son of the politician Klaus Berntsen, who had been one of the prime movers in Nielsen’s early career as a musician and had sponsored his studies at the Royal Danish Conservatoire), had been the winning entry in a competition run by the Dansk Korforening (Danish Choral Society) for a choral work to celebrate Danish history or landscape.2 The competition judges included Einar Christiansen, director of the Royal Theatre and formerly the librettist of Nielsen’s first opera, the biblical epic Saul og David, Viggo Bierring (chair of the Korforening), and the Funen-born poet Sophus Michaëlis, with whom Nielsen later collaborated on another Funen commission, the H. C. Andersen festival play Amor og Digteren. Nielsen delegated the orchestration (with extensive instructions for completion) to his pupil Nancy Dalberg – a pattern



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1 In a letter to his wife, dated 3 September 1921, Nielsen wrote: ‘My new choral work has become a really big piece (42 sides in piano score) and is now delivered punctually. But then I have indeed been working hard and with a certain easiness. Although it’s called “Springtime on Funen” by the poet, I’ve given it an additional subtitle, namely “lyrical humoresque”, which indicates that the style is easy and lively. I spent a couple of days on Funen after I finished. … Now I will continue with my interrupted symphony.’ [Mit nye Korværk er blevet et helt stort Arbejde (42 sider i Klaver Udtog) og er nu virkelig rettidigt afleveret. Men jeg har ogsaa arbejdet meget og med vis Lethed. Det hedder jo fra digterens haand: Fynsk Foraar men jeg giver det en Undertitel tillige, nemlig ‘lyrisk Humoreske’ der antyder at Stilen er let og livfuld. Jeg har været et Par Dage paa Fyn efter at jeg blev færdig … Nu skal jeg til at fortsætte paa min afbrudte Symfoni.] Dagbøger, 446. 2 Information on the genesis and reception of Springtime on Funen is taken from the commentary in the critical edition, ed. Niels Krabbe, CNU series 3:1 (Copenhagen, 2002), xxvii–xxxiv.

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136 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism of work which he had already partly initiated with his incidental music for Adam Oehlenschläger’s fairy-tale play Aladdin, composed a few years previously (1917–18), which similarly fed into his thoughts on the symphony.3 The first performance of Springtime on Funen, appropriately, took place on 8 July 1922 at the 3die Landssangstævne (third national song meeting or eisteddfod) in a large-scale production conducted by Georg Høeberg in the agricultural surroundings of the Odense Kvæghal (Cattle Hall, rechristened ‘The Market Hall’ for the festival) and attended by members of the Danish royal family. The programme also included Peter Lange-Müller’s fairy-tale cantata Agnete og Havmanden (‘Agnete and the Merman’) and a Palestrina motet, Sicut cervus, performed, according to tastes of the time, by massed chorus with full orchestra. Despite the obvious shortcomings in the premiere  – Nielsen had conceived the piece as essentially a ­chamber work for small forces, suitable for realisation in provincial venues where larger resources might not be available, rather than a full-scale pageant – the local press were enthusiastic. The review in Fyens Stiftstidende, for example, acclaimed ‘rarely have a poet and composer had such success in finding the appropriate expression for the unique mood and emotional life of a Danish region’, praising the work’s ability to capture the authentic tone of the Funen character: The residents of Funen utterly lack the capacity to take themselves too seriously. As genuine sons of Funen descent, Berntsen and Carl Nielsen have therefore made Springtime on Funen into a humoresque; but no less uniquely the humoresque carries the stamp of lyricism, for Funen residents are and remain the Danes who abandon themselves most easily to the shifting play of the moods.4 When Nielsen himself conducted the first metropolitan performance in Copenhagen, on 21 November 1922, the national papers were no less complimentary about the music. Axel Kjerulf, for example, described the piece as ‘enchantingly formed, so easy and light, so full and rich, so simple and intimate. Carl Nielsen’s Danish tone can be recognised in every strophe, but here more



Nielsen.indb 136

3 On some of the the correspondences between Aladdin and the Fifth Symphony, see David Fanning, Nielsen: Symphony no. 5 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 22–3 and 25–7. In the context of the present discussion, it is significant that both works open with the evocation of enchanted musical nature realms. 4 ‘Sjældent har en Digter og en Komponist haft saa meget Held for at finde det fuldgyldige Udtryk for en dansk Landsdels ejendommelige Stemnings- og Følelsesliv. Fyenboerne savner absolut Evnen til at tage sig selv med stor Højtidelighed. Som ægte Sønner af fyenske Slægter har Berntsen og Carl Nielsen derfor gjort “Fyensk Foraar” til en Humoreske; men ikke mindre ejendommeligt er det at Humoresken bærer Lyrikens Præg, for Fyenboerne er og bliver de danskere, der lettest hengiver sig til Stemningernes vekslende Spil.’ Unsigned review in Fyens Stiftstidende, 10 July 1922; quoted in the editorial commentary, Springtime on Funen (CNU 3:1), xxxii.

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sweetly and truly than before. He is on personal terms with everything  … and we others approach this often so inaccessible man as closely as possible – and become fond of him’.5 Springtime on Funen thus became a means of valorising Nielsen’s critical status as national composer, his attention to local detail, and perceived faithfulness to his regional roots, offered further evidence to contemporary critics of the veracity and depth of his music’s characteristically ‘Danish tone’. In Nielsen’s cantata, province, nation, landscape and song were symbolically united in a lyrical celebration of Danish musical identity and national character.

ЙЙThe Songs of the Rye

As its cadenza reveals, however, the idea of landscape to which Springtime on Funen appeals is more complex than these early reviews suggest. The alignment of landscape and song is contingent upon a rich local network of associations, traditions, and representations. In his critical study of the historical emergence and formation of this Danish landscape tradition, cultural geographer Kenneth Olwig has argued that, for many artists and writers, the physical character and terrain of the landscape itself suggests a sense of fluidity and change. The interlocking lines of land, water and sky created by Denmark’s intricate post-glacial coastline and prevailing low topography often results in a feeling of impermanence and transparency. Geologically, as Olwig notes, Denmark is already in some senses already a memory or an after-thought of a larger event, the morainic trace of retreating glaciers resulting in a complex, flat or gently undulating chain of islands, peninsulas, inlets, shallow fjords, lakes, and drumlins. Only the desolate infertile heathland of west and central Jutland, now mostly given over to conifer plantations and improved arable farmland, and the granite cliffs of Bornholm in the Baltic to the east, suggest a different kind of scenery, both of which were ultimately subsumed within a broader Danish landscape sensibility: the interplay of coast and farm, land and sea.6 As Patricia G. Berman has suggested, the frequent proximity of water not only intensifies the sense of liminality, of dwelling on



Nielsen.indb 137

5 ‘Bedaarende er der formet, saa let og lyst, saa fuldt og frodigt, saa enkelt og inderligt. Man kender i hver Strofe Carl Nielsens danske Tone, her blot sødere og sandere end før. Han er dus med det hele … og vi andre kommer denne ofte saa utilnærmelige Mand paa allernærmeste Hold – og kommer til at holde af ham.’ Quoted in editorial commentary, Springtime on Funen, xxxiii. 6 Kenneth Olwig, Nature’s Ideological Landscape (London: Allen & Unwin, 1984), and ‘Danish Landscapes’, in Nordic Landscapes: Region and Belonging on the Northern Edge of Europe, ed. Michael Jones and Kenneth Olwig (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 3–11. As Olwig’s 1984 study shows, the cultivation of the Jutland heaths was a deeply politicised project that prompted the emergence of a new landscape sensibility in Danish art and literature – and which also led to the formation of the first environmental movement in Danish political life.

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138 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

Fig. 5.1  Johan Thomas Lundbye, Landskab ved Arresø, 1836

the edge, but also fostered the characteristic quality of the light captured by early nineteenth-­century Golden Age painters such as Christoph Wilhelm Eckersberg, Christen Købke, Dankvart Dreyer, and Johan Thomas Lundbye, whose work created a canon of visual imagery through which the idea of the Danish landscape was subsequently reflected, analysed and imagined.7 Lundbye’s landscapes in particular are often concerned with a sense of edginess: the preference for long, flat horizons, gentle hills, fields, hedges, and seascapes an attempt to render the Danish landscape scenically within a broader romantic tradition of prospect and melancholic contemplation. Landskab ved Arresø (1836; Fig. 5.1), for example, is prototypical in its sense of an almost timeless space created by the low layered planes of foreground, water, and dunes beyond, under a vast westering sky: only the figures scenically but unobtrusively placed in the centre middleground serve to provide any sense

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7 Patricia G. Berman, In Another Light: Danish Painting in the Nineteenth Century (London: Thames & Hudson, 2007), 106–19.

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of contemporary human presence, but they are overshadowed by the barrow placed more prominently in the foreground to the left, which evokes a vivid sense of Denmark’s distant archaeological past. Købke’s paintings are marked by their tendency towards abstraction, the desire to reduce landscapes to a geometrical play of lines, colour planes, and textures. Collectively, their work provided a framework, and a set of symbolic contents, for later nineteenthcentury artists and writers concerned with interpreting the Danish landscape. As Olwig notes, the emergence of this particular Danish landscape tradition was intimately linked with a wider national romantic project. In his seminal 1803 lectures on geology and national culture at Copenhagen University, natural philosopher Henrik Steffens elided the idea of landscape within a broader modernist narrative of flux and self-determination: Through this interaction of the whole upon the individual, and the individual upon the whole, is generated an identical picture-history, which presupposes the entirety of nature as the foundation for all existence, and all of humanity as the expression of this interaction itself. The expression of the coexistence of all these individuals’ interactions in history and nature is space – eternity’s continually recumbent picture. But the whole is only an eternal chain of changing events. Yes it is this constant alternating exchange, this eternal succession of transformations itself. The constant type of these changes is time – eternity’s constant moving, flowing, and changing picture.8 Steffens’s model proved influential not only for the Golden Age painters, but also for a generation of Romantic writers, including Adam Oehlenschläger and Steen Steensen Blicher, whose work similarly strove to capture the essence of the Danish landscape as a symbolic system of representation and as a mode of dwelling or perception. Landscape was thus defined not simply as a series of physical characteristics alone, through its topography, geology, or horizon, but also as a dynamic site of cultural memory, as a zone of transformation or social space shaped by its own history of laws, practices, and customs.9 Nielsen was evidently strongly attracted to this richer, transformative idea of landscape as cultural memory. In the opening paragraph of his 1909 essay ‘Words, Music, and Programme Music’, later reprinted in the collection Levende Musik (‘Living Music’, 1925), he approached Steffens’s sense of the Danish landscape as a symbolic process of self-realisation and sensory perception:



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8 Henrich Steffens, Indledning til Philosophiske Forelæsninger i København, (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1905), 91, quoted in Kenneth Olwig, ‘The Jutland Cipher: Unlocking the Meaning and Power of a Contested Landscape’, in Nordic Landscapes, 12–49, at 22–3. 9 Olwig, ‘The Jutland Cipher’, 31.

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140 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism A farmer walks one morning across his freshly harrowed field. He bends down, picks up an unusually formed stone from the earth, turns it in his hand, weighs it and examines it from all sides. He then proceeds with his find, which he intends to place with the other unusual stones in his garden. – As long as the man is not too imaginative and sees in the stone a dog, cat, bird, or other creation, here we have the original sense for plastic art, which is promising, and upon which all sculptural understanding depends. In that simple condition, whereby an object needn’t mean or represent anything at all and yet still awakens our interest and surprise simply through the honest organic play of forms and lines, lie the primeval formations in what we call our spiritual life, like chalk, moraines, and soil in geology. It is from these layers that Art will grow and become personal and unique.10 For Nielsen, landscape becomes a form of archaeology or agriculture. Echoing the Romantic poet Oehlenschläger, for whom the Danish soil held treasured remnants of its lost historical past as a form of popular cultural imagination,11 Nielsen argues for a mode of creative landscape perception that is excavated or unearthed from the worked soil, and which results in the farmer’s sense of the abstract ‘organic play of lines and forms’. Landscape is here concerned both with shape and colour, and also with texture, mood or grain. It is this feeling for surface, as well as space, which underpins Nielsen’s coupling of music and sculpture as complementary forms of plastic imagination. But it is only through a process of spiritual growth, Nielsen believes, that these forms can flower or evolve and realise their true potential. The organic forms and lines themselves are little more than a geological foundation, a 10 ‘Landmanden gaar en Morgenstund over sin friskharvede Pløjemark. Han bøjer sig, tager en ejendommelig formet Natursten op fra Jorden, drejer den i sin Haand, føler paa paa den og betragter den nøje fra alle Sider. Saa gaar han videre medbringende sit Fund, som han har i Sinde at lægge hen til de andre mærkelige Sten i sin Have. – I Fald Manden ikke er alt for fantasirig og ikke i den fundne Sten ser en Hund, en Kat, en Fugl eller en anden Skabning, saa har vi her den oprindelige Sans for Plastik, som er saa lovende, og hvorpaa i Virkeligheden al plastisk Forstaaelse beror. Dette enkle Forhold, at Tingen ikke skal betyde eller forestille noget som helst, men alligevel vækker vor Opmærksomhed og Forundring blot ved det sanddru, organiske Spil af Former og Linier, det er Urdannelser i det, vi kalder vort Sjæleliv, som Kridt, Moræneler og Muldjord er det i Geologien. Det er fra disse lag, Kunsten skal vokse op og blive personlig og særegen.’ Samtid 1, 125–36, at 125. 11 In his famous poem ‘Guldhornene’ (The Golden Horns), Oehlenschläger narrated the story of one of Denmark’s greatest archaeological treasures, the discovery of two Bronze Age horn goblets, which were subsequently stolen from the National Museum and lost. For Oehlenschläger, the theft served as a poignant metaphor for the perceived weakening of Denmark’s cultural and political spirit, and as a symbol for its urgent regeneration.

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basis for growth that demands cultivation. The landscape’s physical form is ultimately subordinate to the practice of dwelling or work that shapes such objects into art. Landscape, according to Nielsen, is properly ground that is occupied and worked: the grooves created by the path of the plough through the soil throws up the raw materials for art, which in turn awakens the farmer’s plastic creative impulse and prompts his spiritual development, yet that also marks his presence upon the land. Ploughing effectively becomes a form of writing or inscription, of tracing a line through the earth. But this mark is one that can readily be erased or reploughed. Hence, the sense of presence itself becomes highly contingent, as fleeting and unstable as the creative spirit that animates such artistic imagination. The flint which the farmer picks up and carries to his garden, in Nielsen’s essay, doubly serves as an object of curiosity and also as a mindesmærke or memorial (literally, a ‘memory marker’). Its attractiveness lies not only in its strangeness – the fact that it doesn’t really resemble anything at all – but also, paradoxically, in its familiarity, in its uncanny ability to suggest or evoke images from the recent or distant past. It is this sense of strange recognition, according to Michael Jones and Kenneth Olwig, which defines our feeling for a particular landscape as a place, rather than merely a bounded or enclosed space, ‘with the sense of familiarity and a perception that the place one is attached to is different from other places’,12 and which in turn becomes a source of collective memory and reimagination. Runestones13 and other archaeological sites, such as the barrow mound illustrated in Lundbye’s painting, conventionally marked boundaries and ownership: they identified a location not through its physical characteristics but rather through its dominion or governance, with the social acts of gathering and inhabitation. As Olwig and Jones suggest, the landscape was defined not as ‘a monolithic unity of environment and culture determined by nature, but rather the place of a polity constituted through human law and custom’.14 Runestones, for example, strongly lent themselves in the early nineteenth-century imagination to the idea of a shared national heritage or common cultural property. But they also literally set in stone the act of inscription itself, the process by which the earth was scratched or grooved. The feeling for place hence becomes tactile – the organic trace, as Nielsen suggests, of forms, lines, and shapes marked upon 12 Michael Jones and Kenneth Olwig, ‘Thinking Landscape and Regional Belonging on the Northern Edge of Europe’, Nordic Landscapes, ed. Jones and Olwig, ix– xxix, at x. 13 The most important runestones in Danish archaeological history are the pair at Jelling, near Vejle in eastern Jutland. For an introduction to discussion of the Jelling Stones, see Ejnar Dyggve, Mindesmærke i Jelling: Form og Tydning (Copenhagen: Nationalmuseet, 1964); and Klaus Ebbesen, Jelling: historie og arkæologi (Copenhagen: Fremad, 1990). 14 Jones and Olwig, ‘Thinking Landscape’, xii.

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142 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism the surface of the landscape. But the runestones are also concerned with the faded memory of past events, with customs and laws that are forgotten or only half-remembered. Their original meaning remains shrouded or obscure, the full significance of the strokes upon the rock’s face only partly recoverable. In that sense, runestones and barrows, like Nielsen’s flint, remain stubbornly abstract, their oblique non-referential quality simultaneously evocative and incomplete. An equally striking evocation of the Danish landscape as a site of cultural memory, however, is presented in Emilie Demant Hatt’s remarkable account of her teenage romance with Nielsen during his student years at the Royal Danish Conservatoire in the late 1880s, Foraarsbølger (‘Spring Waves’). Demant Hatt’s memoir, written in the 1940s but only recently rediscovered by John Fellow in the Royal Library, is important partly as an authentic record of Nielsen’s early encounter with the intellectual circle surrounding Georg Brandes’s lectures on Nietzsche and contemporary European literature and his interest in the work of symbolist writers such as Jens Peter Jacobsen. But her narrative is also punctuated by evocative descriptions of the Danish landscape. Describing a summer sailing trip on the Limfjord in northern Jutland, for example, Denmant Hatt experiences a nature epiphany, a moment of ecstatic stillness upon the water that liquidates any fixed sense of time or space: There was abundant time to enjoy the surroundings – floating silently upon the broad blue fjord. We were in a heaven of beauty. To the left lay the island of Fur with its dark, undulating heather knolls, and the high clay slopes down towards the water. Behind us Salling’s fertile land with churches, farms and green fields – topped by burial mounds. To the right was brooding Himmerland, where ‘the Sun always shines upon Bjørnholm’s white gables’. Thus we sang in my childhood. It was, in spite of the white stepped gables, a gloomy farm, the venerable abbey of White Friars – as it was known in the middle ages. Right beside the beach, beneath the old farm, shone the great Ertebølle cliff and not much farther on lay the kitchen midden from ancient times. Much farther out Hanherred was faintly visible like a thin stripe of blue land. Slowly – infinitely slowly – we rowed right past Livø where there then still stood a remnant of the wood from the beginning of time. Mighty oaks raised themselves like dark monuments up above wild, scrubby undergrowth. Yes, land and fjord were unchanged from their grey past, when Vikings and simple fishermen sailed upon the fjord. Their eyes saw the same as we saw. Water and land with islands and coasts lay now as then in a warm flickering haze. Viewed from a certain distance, nothing had changed up there on the Limfjord in a thousand years. As an

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area, my childhood world had slid slowly and evenly from the past into the present. Now everything is changed.15 Demant Hatt’s description is characterised partly by its careful attention to local detail: familiar landmarks are ordered and identified according to their relative positions, and described with an almost anthropological precision – Demant Hatt’s later career as a painter and ethnologist clearly sensitised her eye to such fluid, fluctuating patterns of land usage and environmental change. But more compelling is the apparent suspension of temporal perception. Various historical periods are conflated and superimposed so that the landscape becomes a palimpsest: bronze-age middens and burial mounds seemingly coexist alongside Viking skiffs upon the fjord, medieval churches and religious houses, and ageless woods that suggest a primeval geological past. On the one hand, the passage of time seems immeasurable: the various landmarks and historical events float past ‘slowly – infinitely slowly’, as Demant Hatt suggests. On the other hand, time seems to dissolve into the waters of the fjord itself. This sudden sense of temporal fluidity becomes fully apparent only in the last two sentences, as the world of her childhood slides ‘slowly and evenly from the past into the present’, and now ‘everything is changed’. Demant Hatt’s vision can be interpreted as a nostalgic reframing of the mid-nineteenth-century Golden Age pictorial idea of the Danish landscape as imagined by painters Thomas Lundbye and Dankvart Dreyer. It shares their concern for topographic accuracy and regional knowledge, and supports Olwig’s definition of the Danish landscape as a site of social practice, shaped by its history of occupation, gathering, and dwelling – the remains of burial mounds, farms and churches representing different but interlocking stages and cycles of community. But it also strikes a strangely modernist note: the final sentence is a jarringly disorientating device, which offsets the local 15 ‘Det var rigelig Tid til at nyde Omgivelserne – stille glidende i den brede blaa Fjord. Vi var i en Himmel af Skønhed. Til venstre laa Fur med de mørke, svungne Lyngbakker, og de høje Lerskrænter ned mod Vandet. Bag os Sallings frodige Land med Kirker, Gaarde og grønne Marker – toppet af Gravhøje. Tilhøjre det tunge Himmerland, hvor ‘Solen altid skinner paa Bjørnholms hvide Gavle’. Saadan sagde vi i min Barndom. Det var, trods de hvide Trappegavle, en dyster Gaard, det ærværdige Vitskøl Kloster – som det hed i Middelalderen. Helt nede ved Stranden, under den gamle Gaard, lyste den store Ertebølle Klint, og ikke langt borte laa Køkkenmøddingen fra den fjerne Oldtid. Langt forude skimtedes Hanherred som en small Stribe blaat Land. Langsomt – uendelig langsomt – drev vi tæt forbi Livø, hvor der, dengang, endnu stod Rester af Skov fra Tidernes Begyndelse. Kæmpemæssige Ege rejste sig som mørke Monumenter op over vildsom, kratagtig Underskov. ¶ Ja, Land og Fjord og Himmel var uforandret fra hine graa Tider, da Vikinger og jævne Fiskere færdedes paa Fjorden. Deres Øjne har set det samme som vi saa. Vand og Land med Øer og Kyster laa nu som dengang i varm flimrende Soldis. Tusind Aar havde – set paa nogen Afstand – intet forandret oppe ved Limfjorden. Min Barndomsegn var gledet jævnt fra Oldtid til Nutid. Nu er alt forandret.’ Demant Hatt, Foraarsbølger, ed. Fellow, 51.

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144 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism detail of the preceding paragraph and profoundly unsettles the reader. Here is a different response to the idea of landscape. The sense of fairy-tale idyll or Arcadia, and its apparent abundance of perceptual time and space, is suddenly shattered. If the landscape of the Limfjord, in Demant Hatt’s account, is a dreamworld, a half-imaginary space of remembrance and invention, the final line is an abrupt awakening, a moment of rupture that violently tears the curtain aside. Emilie Demant Hatt’s powerfully evocative account of the landscape of the Limfjord reflects a wider shift in early twentieth-century Danish art and literature. Representations of the Danish landscape gained new impetus from the work of the so-called Limfjord digtere (Limfjord poets), an informal group of Jutland writers including Thøger Larsen, Johannes V. Jensen, and Jeppe Aakjær, who vigorously promoted their own sense of regionality in opposition to the narrow metropolitan elite that they believed dominated the Copenhagen cultural scene.16 In poem entitled simply ‘Landskab’ (‘Landscape’), published in the journal Atlantis in 1923, for example, Thøger Larsen eulogised the Danish landscape in terms that again evoked an earlier nineteenth-century pictorial tradition (Denmark as the land of coast and farm, of sea, fjord, and gentle hills), yet which also unfolded a more modernist vision of Danish nature as a spiritual life-force, animating the land: Det suser svalt over Muld og Strand i Danmark, Bakkers og Bølgers Land og Hvisk i Træerne, nær og fjærn, og Kvad, der mumler i Møllens Kværn og Brus for Brisen mod Søens Bred, og Aandepustet fra Blomsterbed – er Danmarks Stemme, der moderøm Betror dig en blid og bundløs Drøm. That which sighs gently over soil and shore In Denmark, the land of dunes and waves And whispers in the trees, near and far, And sings of what murmurs in the millstones And hums in the breeze from across the lake, And that breath from the flowerbed – Is Denmark’s voice, which with motherly affection Confides in you a gentle and unfathomable dream.17 16 Ingwersen, ‘The Modern Breakthrough’, esp. 301–16. 17 Thøger Larsen, ‘Landskab’, Atlantis 1/4 (April 1923). The opening lines were later carved on a memorial stone for Larsen by Aakjær and Johannes V. Jensen. See Ellen Damgaard, ‘Thøger Larsens Mindesten’, in Du danske Sommer: Fynbomalerne og de Jyske Forfattere i Samklang, ed. Malene Linell Ipsen

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Like the members of the so-called Funen school (or Fynbomalerne) – painters Peter Hansen, Fritz Syberg, and Johannes Larsen – based in Faaborg on the southern coast of Funen and at Kerteminde in the north-east, the Limfjord digtere celebrated their provincial roots, not as a narrow form of insularity or exclusivity, but rather as an assertion of aesthetic difference. The regional became a source of renewal: a decisively modern, anti-decadent turn that sought to re-energise and invigorate Danish art and literature from within, rather than perpetuating what they believed was merely the pale anachronistic imitation of an outmoded European late Romanticism. Hence, according to Johannes V. Jensen, self-appointed spokesman of the Jyske ­bevægelse (Jutland movement), regionality became a source of authenticity and truth, and hence universal. What had seemed peripheral was, in fact, central. In characteristically combative mood, he summarised the aesthetic lines of debate in his diary: It can now already be seen that the Funen school, who began as out­ siders in a double sense, partly because they belonged to a remote, not a priori classical but rather peripheral part of the country, and partly because in terms of technique and taste they had long since set themselves in opposition to the once general prevailing Salonkunst so that they were dismissed as ‘Farm painters’, a term of abuse, when one considers the difference now, it is already apparent that the Funen school constitute a central continuation of Danish art’s finest traditions, that which is otherwise connected to Zealand and Copenhagen; only at a certain point one came to realise that, this time, the renewal came from the ‘provinces’, from Funen.18 Jensen thus explicitly invoked the idea of extraterritoriality, of belonging on the outside or edge, as a sign of artistic integrity, both for the Funen school and the Limfjord digtere, and also (by extension) for Danish art as a whole: by appealing to its true peripheralised nature, Jensen believed, Danish art could recover a proper sense of identity, liberated from the anonymous cosmopolitanism of Salonkunst, and hence it could regain its true sense of focus or (Kerteminde and Kongens Lyngby: Johannes Larsen Museet and Sophienholm, 2008), 83–92. 18 ‘Det kan allerede nu ses, at Fynboerne, der begyndte som outsiders i en dobbelt Forstand, dels som tilhørende en fjern, ikke paa Forhaand klassisk men periferisk Del af Landet, dels i Teknik og Smag længe gjorde sig saa bemærket i Modsætning til en en Overgang gældende Salonkunst, at de blev skældt ud for ‘Bondemalere’, et Hædersnavn, naar man ser Forskellen nu, det er allerede øjensynligt, at Fynboerne betyder den central Fortsættelse af dansk Kunsts bedste Traditioner, den der ellers er knyttet til Sjælland og København; kun skulde der en vis Tid til at se, at Fornyelsen denne Gang udgik fra ‘Provinsen’, fra Fyn.’ Johannes V. Jensen, ‘Fyn og Fynboerne’, Aarbog 1917 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1917), 159–73; quoted in Du danske Sommer, ed. Linell Ipsen, 153–4 at 153.

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146 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism c­ entre.19 To a certain degree, this strategy paralleled trends in early twentiethcentury Danish politics. Reform of the voting system to allow wider popular representation in 1901 had coincided with the election of the agrarian Venstre block into government, marking a broader process of social and geographical decentralisation in the Danish political landscape. This shift in turn reflected the changing nature of Danish Realpolitik in the years following the 1864 Jutland war, when Denmark lost approximately 40 per cent of its territory in southern Jutland to Prussia: the defeat prompted a sense of inwardness and national self-reflection, resulting in the emergence of a nostalgic patriotism and the determination that, as a small nation, ‘hvad udad tabes, skal indad vindes’ (‘what was lost from without shall be won from within’).20 It is partly for this reason that the landscape of the Limfjord described by Emilie Demant Hatt in her memoir and hymned by the Limfjord digtere came to seem so intensely precious, and, moreover, so quintessentially Danish. Like the world of the Funen painters, this idealised vision of the Danish landscape became valuable precisely because it was now perceived to be territorially vulnerable and marginalised. The sense of nostalgia underpinning Demant Hatt’s account and pervading Thøger Larsen’s poem, the melancholic-modernist dream of ‘Danmark, Bakkers og Bølgers Land’, reflected a very real experience, and fear, of separation and loss. And the uncovered layers of cultural memory served, at least in part, to demonstrate and assert collective ownership, a sense of belonging and of groundedness that could as easily slip ‘slowly and evenly’ away even as it was recovered. The Jyske bevægelse was thus motivated by a profound desire for aesthetic change. The need for a decisive shift of style and idea was energetically argued in the daily newspaper Politiken in 1907. In a series of exchanges known as the Bondemalerstrid (‘Farm Painter controversy’), the symbolist painter Harald Slott-Møller and art critic Karl Madsen (an energetic patron and supporter of the Funen school) clashed over the future direction for contemporary Danish 19 In an article entitled ‘Dansk Natur’ (‘Danish Nature’), for a special Christmas number of the nationalist newspaper Riget, 1910, Jensen wrote: ‘By the way, it is not at all through a deliberately local tone that the so-called Funen school have assumed the lead in Danish visual art, but by proceeding strongly as Danish in general; the same is true to a certain extent of the Jutland authors.’ [Det er i øvrigt slet ikke ved en gennemført Lokaltone den saakaldt fynske Skole har taget Têten i dansk Malerkunst men ved at gaa kraftigt frem som dansk i Almindelighed; det samme gælder til dels de jyske Forfattere.] Quoted in Per Dahl and Aage Jørgensen, ‘Johannes V. Jensen og Fynbomalerne’, Du danske Sommer, 53–67, at 56. 20 Erland Porsmose, ‘Danmarks Stemme’, in Du danske Sommer, 15–35, at 16. The quotation ‘Hvad udadtil tabes, skal indadtil vindes’ is usually attributed to Enrico Mylius Dalgas (1828–94), who was one of the leaders behind agricultural reform in nineteenth-century Denmark, and energetically promoted the cultivation of the Jutland heaths. But in fact the phrase was coined by Hans Peter Holst (1811–93), in an 1872 lecture. I am indebted to Svend Ravnkilde for this information.

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art.21 For Slott-Møller, symbolism still represented the search for an inner psychological truth, but for Madsen, symbolism had become overly associated with elitism, obscurity, and decadence: he argued instead for a healthy return to the Danish countryside, a vivid democratisation of art. Writing in 1916, Johannes V. Jensen similarly hailed Jeppe Aakjær as the agent of a new cultural threshold in Danish literature, ‘a man who breaks through the soil and renews the material itself … The popular, inner, primitive strength has forced its way through him as poet.’ 22 Aakjær had achieved this popular breakthrough ten years earlier in his collection Rugens Sange (‘Songs of the Rye’, 1906), a volume of poetry which enjoyed considerable popularity and critical success in early twentieth-century Denmark. The Danish landscape plays a central role in Rugens Sange, not simply as a picturesque backdrop or scenic frame, but also as a site of action, of domestic routine, and of hard physical labour. Rugens Sange is designed partly around the seasonal cycle of the agricultural year – the festivals and routines of springtime, harvest, and midwinter – but it is also concerned with the evocation of a sense of place. In his foreword to the 1926 edition, Aakjær described how the collection had been inspired by a journey home in 1905 from Copenhagen to the remote north-west corner of the Jutland peninsula: though the sounds and sights of his native landscape had powerfully stirred his creative imagination, it was not until he returned to Copenhagen and then travelled out to Jutland again in New Year 1906 that he was able to find the appropriate form for his poetic vision. Rugens Sange was thus conceived partly as the expression of a profound separation anxiety and feeling of alienation: the tension between urban Copenhagen and rural idyll remains sharply implied throughout. Many of the poems are motivated by a spirit of hiraeth or Heimweh (the nostalgic longing for home) that is paradoxically groundless and unstable, the affectionate rediscovery of familiar sites juxtaposed against the remembrance of past events and lost family and friends – Emilie Demant Hatt’s sense that ‘everything has been changed’. Aakjær’s collection opens with a ‘Forspil’ (‘Prelude’), whose overtly musical reference points towards a recurring vitalist concern throughout with the materiality of sound: memory and poetic imagination are explicitly associated with auditory perception, and the waving rye becomes a metaphor for nervous agitation: Jeg lægger mig i Læet her ved Storrugens Rod, Jeg lytter og jeg lytter, til det synger i mit Blod;

21 Kurt Risskov Sørensen, ‘Bondemalerstriden’, in Du danske Sommer, 39–46. 22 ‘… en Mand [der] bryder op af Mulden og fornyer Stoffet selv. … Den folkelige, indre, primitive Kraft har brudt sig Vej gennem ham som Digter.’ Politiken, 10 September, 1916; quoted in Dahl and Jørgensen, ‘Johannes V. Jensen og Fynbomalerne’, 53–67, at 56.

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148 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Den hvide Rug, den blide Rug, som mod min Tinding slaar  – det er som tusind Fingre smaa paa Sølvtangenter gaar. I lay down in the shelter of the tall rye’s roots, I listen and listen, until it sings in my blood; The white rye, the gentle rye, which beats against my temples  – it is as though a thousand small fingers moved upon silver keys. Other poems, such as ‘Høst’ (‘Harvest’), similarly invoke the image of a dream landscape illuminated by the glow of a vitalist sun. In ‘Vor Barndoms Bæk’ (‘Our childhood brook’), the water becomes a stream of consciousness – not in the Joycean sense, but rather as a tracing curve that drains individual and collective memory and hummed (‘nynnet’) in the popular imagination (‘Folkedrøm’). Poems such as ‘Den Jyske Lyng’ (‘The Jutland Ling’) and ‘Hedelandet’ (‘The Heathland’) are concerned with the poetic elevation of the Jutland landscape, and in particular with the austere beauty and strangeness of the heath, an environment whose scenic appeal had conventionally been underplayed in relation to its poor economic value yet which had appealed to painters such as Lundbye and writers such as Steen Steensen Blicher as emblematic of the romantic Danish temperament.23 Aakjær later prepared a modern edition of Blicher’s work and revived his midsummer Himmelbjerg festivals, a ritual gathering dedicated to the performance of traditional poetry, music, and folk dance.24 Poems such as ‘Jylland’ (‘Jutland’) and ‘Jeg er født paa Jyllands Sletter’ (‘I was born on Jutland’s Plains’) explicitly align Jutland with a patriotic sense of Danish identity, and the centre of the volume is occupied by a series of poems in Jysk dialect. But other poems respond more sensitively to the image of Denmark as ploughed, harvested land. ‘Sædemand’ (‘The Sower’), the third poem in the book, concludes in praise of the Danish farmer as the solemn agent and progenitor of national renewal: ‘Tak, Bonde, med din Sædekurv!’ (‘Thanks, farmer, with your sowing basket!). In ‘Paa Hedens Høje’ (‘Upon the Heath’) and ‘Her vendte Far sin Plov’ (‘Here Father turned his plough’), the ploughed earth becomes once more a source of memory and remembrance. In the latter text in particular, one of the shortest in the whole collection, the ploughed land becomes a symbol of agricultural routine and of the rural lifecycle, the poem’s pervasive grey hue both a sign of austerity and economic hardship and of passing life: Her vendte Far sin Plov, aa, saa mangen, mangen Gang, Naar Graalærken højt over Sandmarken sang. Her gik min stille Mor i sin grove graa Kjol Og saa med tynget Blik mod den synkende Sol. 23 The Jutland heath also plays an important role in Johannes V. Jensen’s novel Kongens Fald (1900), a text to which I return below. 24 Olwig, Nature’s Ideological Landscape, 24.

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Thi satte Eders Søn denne liden graa Sten Til Minde om en Færd, der som Duggen var ren. Here Father turned his plough, ah, so many, many times, When the meadow lark sang high above the sandy field. Here my mother walked in her coarse grey coat, And watched with heavy glance the setting sun. Therefore your son set this little grey stone To the memory of a journey, as pure as the dew. Aakjær’s mindesmærke or memorial, like Nielsen’s flint, quietly elides personal memory with collective conscience, just as the rhythm of seasonal change and the passage of the sun across the fields merges with the sense of belonging, of ‘hjemstavnsfølelse’ or rootedness in the soil. But is also a dream sequence, like Emilie Demant Hatt’s description of the Limfjord, a grey mist in which presence and absence, or memory and perception, seemingly blur together and become part of a continually shifting cycle of growth and decay, work and erasure. Though he did not contribute directly to the Bondemalerstrid in Politiken, Nielsen was no less creatively engaged in debates about the idea and nature of the Danish landscape. For him, the conjunction of landscape and memory could seem similarly ecstatic and apocalyptic. At times of national crisis or celebration, for example, Nielsen was readily drawn, like Johannes V. Jensen, to patriotic images of the Danish countryside. In a letter to his wife dated 13 February 1920, following the crucial referendum to determine Danish sovereignty in northern Slesvig (German: Schleswig), Nielsen wrote: ‘I think of you when I read about the vote in southern Jutland; I know how much it has been upon your mind, and I can understand that your heart beats when you think of your childhood, the whole area and countryside where you grew up and became big and “strong” (as you said).’ 25 The result of the referendum, to reunite territory lost following the 1864 Danish-Prussian war with the rest of the Danish kingdom, had been announced the previous day (12 February), and prompted a widespread upsurge in nationalist feeling. Nielsen later composed music for Helge Rode’s patriotic play, Moderen (The Mother), first performed at the Royal Theatre on 30 January 1921, including several numbers inspired by ideas of the Danish landscape, such as the poetic miniature for flute and harp, Taagen letter (‘The Mist is Rising’).26 Here, the mistiness suggested by the movement’s title is evoked principally by modal mixture: the instability 25 ‘Jeg tænker paa Dig ved at læse om Afstemningen i Sønderjylland; jeg ved hvor meget det har ligget Dig paa Sinde og jeg kan forstaa at Dit Hjerte banker naar Du tænker paa Din Ungdom, hele Egnen og Landet hvor Du er vokset op og bliven stor og “stærk” (som Du sagde).’ Dagbøger, 429. 26 The genesis and composition of Nielsen’s music for Moderen, including details of his collaboration with Rode and the Royal Theatre, is described in Kirsten

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150 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 5.2  Nielsen, 'Taagen Letter' (Moderen), bb. 27–end

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of the major third (E§/Eb) results in the modulation towards Ab minor at the end of the middle section. Though the tonic is swiftly regained (b. 27), elements of instability remain until the coda, where the Eb is gently resolved via chromatic alteration (Ex. 5.2). Even here, however, the sense of contingency remains strong – the final bar might easily turn back towards the minor once more, the whole number replaying itself in a seemingly infinite cycle of tension and release: the mist lifts only to fall once more. Despite such hints of chromatic darkening, the prevailing mood in Taagen letter is idyllic, a representation of the Danish landscape as symbolic pastoral Arcadia similar to that projected in the outer movements of Springtime on Funen. In correspondence with his wife during to a trip to Funen in July 1920, as he was working on the music for Moderen, Nielsen wrote: ‘Funen bulges with corn and the splendid countryside overflows with the richness of the fields. Everywhere flags for the reunion!’ 27 Yet this trip is also marked by a powerful sense of loss and alienation, similar to that expressed at the end of Emilie Demant Hatt’s description of the sailing voyage on the Limfjord: ‘Mother’s grave was nicely kept and I now have everything organised for the gravesite in future. Then I was out in my home country and talked with one my school friends who Flensborg Petersen’s editorial preface to the critical edition, CNU 1:9, Incidental Music 2 (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, 2007), xi–xxviii. 27 ‘Fyn bugner af Korn og det herlige Land strømmer over af Rigdom paa Markerne[.] Overalt Flag for Genforeningen!’ Letter to Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen dated 9 July 1920; Dagbøger, 434.

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has a farm there and also owns the field where the house lay. It was melancholy. The region has become well-cultivated and the corn stood ripe, but the brickworks and houses are gone and even the hedges are different.’ 28 For Nielsen, the mutability of the landscape – its capacity for cyclic change and transformation – is projected onto his own biography, the remembrance of close family and friends as well as the places themselves. Yet while elements of continuity remain and seemingly collapse the sense of passing time, the overriding impression is as much of difference and separation, as of reunion, the mark upon the ground that traces a lost memory.

ЙЙ‘Det er saamænd Jens Vejmand’

The simultaneously painful and ecstatic sense of landscape, memory, and loss expressed by Nielsen in his diary entries and letters is captured most forcibly in his Erindringsbog, Min fynske Barndom (‘My Childhood on Funen’).29 The book itself originated as a convalescence project, sketched while Nielsen was recovering from a particularly intense series of heart attacks and at a time when thoughts of his own mortality must have seemed particularly close. Clearly, his mind had already turned to memories of his childhood. In a diary entry dated 21 January 1926, he noted: ‘(Moods from Childhood) Then I would go out onto the wild heath in a thunderstorm and ask God in Heaven to strike me down with his lightening.’ 30 A week later he wrote again with similar thoughts of return and oblivion: ‘My home soil pulls me back more and more like a long sucking kiss. Is it ordained that I shall finally return to rest in the Funen earth? Then it must be in the very same place that I was born: Sortelung, Frydenlund field. Thunder and lightening in the night. (Memories).’ 31 Landscape and memory here become a site of existential angst, the return to origins more a process of dissolution than rebirth. Yet My Childhood on Funen starts in a more neutral mode, with a sense of opening out, deepening, and expansion similar to that unfolded by Aakjær in Rugens Sange. It serves as much as a threshold rather than simply, as the diary 28 ‘Moders grav var nydelig holdt og nu har jeg det i Orden med Gravstedet for Fremtiden. Saa var jeg ude paa min Fødemark og talte med en af mine Skolekamerater der har en Gaard der og ejer ogsaa den Mark hvor Huset laa. Det var vemodigt. Egnen selv er bleven veldyrket og Kornet stod frodigt men Teglværk og Huse er borte og selv Hegnene er anderledes.’ Letter to Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen dated 17 July 1920; Dagbøger, 435. 29 Carl Nielsen, Min fynske Barndom (Copenhagen: Martins Forlag, 1927). 30 ‘(Stemninger fra Barndommen) Saa vilde jeg gaa ud paa den vilde Hede i Tordenvejr og bede Gud i Himmelen slaa mig ned med sit Lyn.’ Dagbøger, 490. 31 ‘Min Hjemstavn drager mig mere og mere som et langt sugende Kys. Er det Meningen jeg tilslut skal vende tilbage og hvile i den fynske Jord? Da maatte det være paa selvsamme Sted, jeg blev født: Sortelung, Frydenlunds Mark. Tordenvejr og Lyn om Natten. (Erindringer).’ Entry dated 29/1/26; Dagbøger, 490.

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152 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism entries suggest above, a vanishing point. In a characteristic gesture, Nielsen’s account of his own arrival is as much spatially as temporally conceived – precise details of his birth, narrated in the opening paragraph, are subordinate to the sense of belonging to a particular location, and of being bounded to a specific dwelling place (the farmer’s cottage or bondehus in Nørre Lyndelse, where he was born). This is a recurring narrative strategy throughout the book. Idealised descriptions of the landscape, and of significant emotional events in Nielsen’s childhood, repeatedly give way to more prosaic details of a certain place, or highly physicalised discussion of people’s occupations and working practices upon the land. The landscape does not become a passive framework or backdrop, so much as a sphere of activity or site of action. This quality, for example, characterises Nielsen’s early description of their first home: two rooms of a shared house plus a kitchen, occupied by a family of twelve children. In contrast with Nielsen’s father, who is defined initially by his frequent absence from the house, the head of the family next door is powerfully attached to the seasonal cycle of the worked land: In summer the man was a peat-cutter; he was a hard worker and had formidable strength. At four or five o’clock every morning at this time of year he walked with his lunchbox on his back and a rod in his hand with heavy, bearlike steps the mile or so to the moor. It was strange to watch him work; usually completely alone in the peat diggings. First he cleared the turf away, then he marked a square hole down in the pit, threw the peat into it, splashed water upon it and leapt into the pit and worked everything with his bare feet. The trousers were rolled up to his thighs, and he sweated and lurched, as though it were a great passion within him.32 The passage is notable not only as an extended description of hard physical labour, but also for the way that it inscribes a pattern of work upon the ground. The landscape is defined here not only in terms of its particular geological character (the peat bog emblematic of a specific land type in Denmark, like the Jutland heath, that was already under considerable environmental pressure at the close of the nineteenth century),33 but also in terms of the human 32 ‘Om Sommeren var Manden Tørveskærer; han var en Slider af Rang og havde voldsomme Kræfter. Paa denne Aarstid gik han hver Morgen ved fire-fem Tiden med sin Madkasse paa Ryggen og en Kæp i Haanden med tunge, bamseagtige Skridt en halv eller hel Fjerdingvej til Mosen. Det var mærkeligt at se ham arbejde; som oftest ganske alene i Tørvegraven. Først skar han Græstørven bort, saa indrammede han et firkantet Hul nede i Graven, kastede Tørvejorden deri, øste Vand paa og sprang saa ned i Graven og æltede det hele med sine bare Fødder. Bukserne var smøget op til Laarene, og han svedte og tumlede, som om det var en stor Lidenskab hos ham.’ Min Fynske Barndom, 18–19. 33 On attitudes to the management of heathland and lowland peat bogs, and shifting ideas of nationalism in Denmark, see Olwig, Nature’s Ideological Landscape.

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activity of the local population. The peat digger’s temperament becomes an extension, or outflowing, of his manual labour – the sweat and energy with which he digs the ground. And it is this intensive engagement with the working ground that shapes the tone and character of the landscape and which colours much of the description in My Childhood on Funen. Writing itself becomes a form of digging, of excavation from the soil. And, like the stone which the farmer picks up in his ploughed field, it is the rhythm and routine of work that first awakens the senses and stimulates the inner spiritual growth necessary for the creation of Art. This sensitivity to physical labour, and the sense of rural hardship that undercuts attempts to idealise and mystify the landscape, is a prominent quality of Aakjær’s Rugens Sange. Aakjær’s work is particularly concerned with issues of social justice, welfare, and economic inequality, and especially with the plight of the elderly. Many of his poems reveal a keen insight into the austerity and routine of Danish rural life. In ‘Stensamlersken’ (‘The Stone Collector’), for example, the ‘poor shadow’ of old Ane Malén gathering stones upon the ground is contrasted sharply with the richness of the rye fields: ‘Derhjemme græder for Brød de Smaa, / Her sanker du Sten!’ (The children cry for bread at home, / Here you collect stones!’). A similar example of landscape as worked ground emerges from Nielsen’s account of the brickworks close to his birthplace in Min fynske Barndom. At one level, the description can be understood as a simple record of the industrialisation in a provincial Danish region, mapped onto an older historical network of land usage and ownership: My birthplace thus lay in the middle of a field. There was an ancient hay meadow, which had seldom been ploughed and which continually lay out to grass. There was no road to the house, but there were two footpaths, the first went east towards Dømmesrenden, where there was a bridge and a road, which led to a brickworks a few hundred yards away. The second path went west, towards Frydenlund farm, which belonged to the Bramstrup estate. Frydenlund similarly lay a couple of minutes from our house, and Bramstrup a half mile further towards the west along the road between Odense and Faaborg. These four places: our home, the brickworks, Frydenlund and Bramstrup held the world together in which my brothers and sisters and I first grew up. Such a wealth of memories! Where shall I begin, and how will I ever be able to finish?34 34 ‘Mit Fødehus laa altsaa midt paa en Mark. Det var en mangeaarig Græsmark, som sjældent blev pløjet op og isaafald kun for atter at bliver lagt ud i Græs. Til Huset var ingen Kørevej, men det var to Gangstier, den ene gik mod Øst over Dømmesrenden (Dæmningsreden), hvor der var en Bro og en Vej, der førte til et Teglværk nogle faa hundred Alen borte. Den anden Sti gik mod Vest, hen til Gaarden Frydenlund, der hørte under Herregaarden Bramstrup. Frydenlund laa ligeledes kun et Par minutters Vej fra vort Hus, og Bramstrup omtrent en

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154 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism On reading this passage, it would be easy to echo Raymond Williams’s famous dictum, in The Country and the City, that ‘a working country is hardly ever a landscape’.35 For Williams and other Marxist critics, this notion of working country conceals or veils a process of modernisation and social change, the seemingly inevitable incursion of urban modes of manufacturing and consumption into an essentially rural context. Such signs of technological progress bring with them particular categories of class and socio-economic order. The encroachment of the brickworks upon the ancient pattern of estate, farm, and ancient hay meadow has more than a merely visual impact upon the landscape – it fundamentally alters not only the scenic prospect but also its social-economic fabric. (Nielsen’s book responds to this idea of social mobility: his account of the harvest coincides with the migration of workers from Detmold in northern Germany.) Nielsen’s poignant later narrative of Samson the Jutland horse, employed at the works to pull the brick trolleys until he breaks down with a fractured leg, supports this reading of the country as worked land: Samson serves as a symbol of the exploitative relationship between industry, people, and nature, and also as a tragic monument to the passing of an older agrarian regime. But Samson is equally significant for his purely aesthetic presence: the horse is described with exquisite attention to the plastic detail of his bodily form. (Nielsen’s sympathy for horses was readily apparent from his early days in Copenhagen, but his eyes for equine form had surely been opened wider by his wife’s imposing figure of King Christian IX on horseback for the courtyard of Christiansborg Slot in Copenhagen – we shall return to the image of the seated rider in the Conclusion.) Samson is thus a monument in multiple senses: a figure in the landscape, an agent of socio-economic change (and, more touchingly, the sign of a passing mode of production), and an aestheticised object, the focus for artistic contemplation and patriotic appeal. But Samson also stands as a symbol for one of Nielsen’s most potent and emblematic responses to the Danish landscape: his setting of Aakjær’s poem ‘Jens Vejmand’ (‘Jens the Roadmender’) from Rugens Sange. According to his diary, Nielsen composed the melody on 26 June 1907 – the following day he was photographed rambling in Dyrehaven (the Deer Park) north of Copenhagen with the poets L. C. Nielsen, Ludvig Holstein, and Johannes V. Jensen, the leading protagonist in the Jyske bevægelse.36 Aakjær himself wrote to Nielsen more than a year later, dedicating one of the other poems halv Fjerdingvej længere mod Vest ved Landevejen mellem Odense og Faaborg. Disse fire Steder: vort Hjem, Teglværket, Frydenlund og Bramstrup holdt den Verden sammmen, hvori mine Søskendes og mit første Barndomsliv udfoldede sig. Hvilken Rigdom af Minder! Hvor skal jeg begynde, og hvordan skal jeg nogensinde kunne blive færdig?’ Nielsen, Min fynske Barndom, 29. 35 Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (London: Chatto & Windus, 1985). 36 CNB 3, 169.

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from the collection, ‘To mørke høje’ (‘Two dark hills’) to the composer, and beginning: I owe you my warmest thanks for the incomparable melody which you with such gentle hands have wrapped around my ‘Jens the Roadmender’. I could not have wished for one more beautiful, more soulfully touching. Here, word and melody have found each other in a kiss – as it should be!37 ‘To mørke høje’, which immediately follows ‘Her vendte Far sin Plov’ in Aakjær’s volume, outlines a painful vitalist process of birth and communion with the Danish landscape. Its sense of place is apocalyptic rather than prosaic, the mood reminiscent of the opening movement of the Sinfonia espansiva, or of the ‘Inextinguishable’, rather than of Nielsen’s popular songs: Imellem to mørke Høje Jeg vogted som Barn min Faders Faar, Og Mulden gav mig sin Møje, Og Solen flammed mit Haar. Men Verden tindred i Dis og Drøm, Og Barnelængslerne vimred Som Siv i den dybe Strøm. Between two dark hills I watched my father’s sheep as a child, And the earth gave me its pains, And the sun made my hair shine. While the world shimmered in haze and dream And childhood longings quivered Like reeds in the deep stream. Here, as in ‘Vor Barndoms Bæk’, Aakjær invokes a stream of consciousness, a landscape animated by its sense of vibrancy and psychological movement: the sense of transience and contingency captured by the cadenza from Springtime on Funen. The tone and subject of ‘Jens Vejmand’ are vividly different. Like the description of Samson in Min fynske Barndom, ‘Jens Vejmand’ is concerned less with an idealised notion of landscape as the source of angst and existential crisis, and rather with social injustice and inequality, the life of hardship endured by the roadmender ultimately rendered valueless in the cruel irony of the final lines:

37 ‘Jeg skylder Dem min varmeste Tak for den uforlignelige Melodi, De med saa nænsom Haand har svøbt om min “Jens Vejmand”. Jeg kunde ikke ønske mig en skjønnere, en mere sjælfuldt rørende. Ord og Melodi har her fundet hinanden i et Kys, – saadan skal det være!’ Letter dated 17 January 1909, CNB 3, 386.

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156 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Det er saamænd Jens Vejmand. Hans Liv var fuldt af Sten, Men paa hans Grav, i Døden, Man gav ham aldrig én. It is surely Jens the Roadmender. His life was full of stones, But on his grave, in death, They spared him not a single one. Nielsen’s setting, from the Strofiske Sange, op. 21, is strikingly diatonic. The clear phrase structure (four four-bar units) and carefully graded melodic profile (ascending in gentle steps up towards the registral peak at the midpoint of the verse, and then falling again to the lower tonic) is exemplary in its hymn-like character (Ex. 5.3). Anne-Marie Reynolds has commented on the didactic quality of many of Nielsen’s popular tunes: the melody is designed so that it can be easily learnt and sung as it proceeds, a strategy that positively invites communal participation. There is thus a strongly democratising impulse underlying Nielsen’s setting, a marked turn away from the idea of landscape as an inner psychological domain towards an open, outwardlooking world of human character and physical labour, a sung celebration (through tragedy) of the idea of a social community. Even the final lines become potentially more optimistic in Nielsen’s setting. The irony of the roadmender’s unmarked grave is no less crushing – indeed, it becomes all the more powerful for the sense of collective ownership invoked by the song. But the strophic structure means that his fate is inevitably gathered up within a broader cyclic sense of change. Like the image of the turning plough, invoked elsewhere in Rugens Sange by Aakjær, the repetitive rhythmic sound of the roadmender’s hammer upon the ground (‘paany, paany, paany’ [anew, anew, anew] as the second stanza declaims) becomes a metaphor for wider forms of production and creativity, the mark upon the ground that is simultaneously a sign of presence and erasure. Nielsen’s song similarly recycles itself, the melody’s circularity affirming its own powerfully regenerative force, directing our attention outwards even as it records the roadmender’s fate. Death, in Nielsen’s song, becomes merely another stage in a continually evolving life cycle. Just as ‘Jens Vejmand’s’ circularity ultimately leads outwards, the sense of landscape in Nielsen’s description of the brickworks in Min fynske Barndom is spatially conceived. The paths that lead from Nielsen’s birthplace follow the cardinal points of the compass, with relative distances between particular locations carefully identified so that the children’s world around their cottage is neatly circumscribed. But the description is also concerned with a sense of breakthrough beyond the landscape’s apparent boundaries – the road that leads between Odense and Faaborg after Bramstrup later becomes the

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Funen Dreams Ex. 5.3  Nielsen, ‘Jens Vejmand’, Strofiske Sange, op. 21/3, first stanza

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first stage of Nielsen’s route to Copenhagen and beyond, the gateway to his professional career, and the threshold that links Funen with the wider musical world. The landscape thus articulates a psychological, as well as physical, process of growth and evolution: its spatial ordering involves a temporal mapping that begins to grow outwards, from the four points that enclose the children’s environment and whose orientation points towards a wider infinitely expanding domain of memories and experiences, an epiphanic moment of self-realisation and of being-in-the-world. As Nielsen writes of crossing the channel between Funen and Zealand, en route to the Danish capital at the end of My Childhood on Funen to begin his studies at the Conservatoire, ‘when I was out upon the Storebælt, it was as though everything opened within me; the whole world seemed like a great curved arch from North to

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158 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism South’.38 As in ‘Jens Vejmand’, what had initially seemed so highly localised and specific assumes more universal, cosmic dimensions: the chain of memory unlocked by the sense of a particular place becomes a continually repeating cycle of recollection and perception. Nielsen’s idea of landscape in My Childhood on Funen hence serves multiple purposes. It locates the account of his early years within a specifically Danish scenic tradition, one which owes its origins as much to earlier nineteenthcentury painting as to the idealised decryptions of Nielsen’s great countryman H. C. Andersen, for whom travel literature and autobiography became central literary genres. But the book can also be read as an eloquent record of social change and technological progress, the first incursion of modern industrial economy into a provincial backwater. In that sense, My Childhood on Funen is simultaneously retrospective and prospective: it looks both backwards nostalgically towards familiar old-fashioned modes of work and agricultural routine, and forwards towards new domains of experience and communication. But Nielsen’s book is also concerned with the texture and grain of the countryside. It is this preoccupation with surface and material, with the fold and weave of the landscape’s physical and social fabric, which provides the most powerful contexts for reimagining his childhood, and which crucially frames his earliest musical encounters. As I argued in the Introduction, music’s landscape, for Nielsen, is powerfully associated with this sense of community – the music society or glee club, Braga, in which he first performs with his father, is a specific form of gathering, whose diverse and spatially dispersed membership is reflected in its eclectic repertoire of dance tunes, popular songs, operatic overtures and easy numbers from classical symphonies.39 The group’s activities have a profound influence on Nielsen’s compositional development and on his idea of music as a form of conversation or dialogue. But his sense of an animated, musical landscape is a recurring trope throughout his writings on music. In 1925, four years after the composition of Springtime on Funen, Nielsen wrote in the essay ‘The Song of Funen’, published in Living Music, of an imaginary soundscape: On Funen everything is different from the rest of the world, as those who take time to listen will surely learn. The bees sing in their own way with a special Funen sound, and when the horse neighs and the red cows bellow, everyone can then hear that it’s entirely different from anywhere else in the country. A singing Fynsk is what the thrush flutes, and what the blackbird laughs as it skims under the lilac bushes is but an imitation of the starling’s fantasies, which in turn are influenced by the enchanting chuckle of the Funen lasses as they cheer and laugh in 38 ‘Da jeg kom ud paa Storebælt, var det, som alting udvidede sig i mig; hele Verden var som en stor spændt Bue fra Nord til Syd.’ Nielsen, Min fynske Barndom, 212. 39 Ibid., 69–70.

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the gardens behind the clipped hedges. The bells chime and the cocks crow in Fynsk, and a truly symphonic joy rises from all bird’s nests every time the mother feeds her young. The silence sings in the same tone too, and even the trees dream and talk in their sleep with the Funen dialect.40 Nielsen’s panegyric seemingly unfolds an enchanted Mahlerian realm of magical bird calls, distant bells, and nature sounds. In that sense it falls within a well-trodden nineteenth-century convention, a Wunderhorn vision of nature as an Arcadian escape from the turbulence and instability of modern life. The emphasis on Funen’s essential difference or otherness reinforces this sense of spatial and temporal retreat or withdrawal. Landscape here seems passively immersive rather than actively worked or vitalistic. But Nielsen’s description is framed in a fundamentally different way to Mahler’s: despite its fairy-tale tone and childlike playfulness, there is little sense in Nielsen’s sketch of an ironic distance, of an Arcadia that immanently reveals its own impossibility or brokenness. Rather, Nielsen’s landscape might be read more positively as a form of acoustic ecology, a vivid assertion of being-in-place conceived in terms of a particular sonic character or resonance. Nielsen hence offers a more playfully animistic view of the world, one in which Funen emerges as a site of heightened auditory awareness and perception, or the locus of a particular dialect or tone of musical voice. A similar acoustic vision animates a diary entry dated 25 May 1928: Between grass and corn. Conversations between the plants. The weeds are surprised and form a league. (I have lain and heard what they talk about, something everyone can do daily in the summer. In the ­winter they sleep. One of them falls asleep and the other falls silent after autumn. The evergreens keep watch.) The quaking grass talked so excitedly, that I could not understand what it said.41 40 ‘I Fyn er alting anderledes end i den øvrige Verden, og hvem, der giver sig Tid til at lytte, skal nok erfare det. Bierne synger paa en egen Maade med an særlig fynsk Klang, og naar Hestene vrinsker og de røde Køer brøle, maa da enhver høre, at det er paa en helt anden Maade end i det øvrige Land. Det er syngende Fynsk, hvad Droslen fløjter, og Solsortens Latter, naar den smutter ind under Syrenbuskene, er ikke andet end en Efterligning af Stærens Indfald, som igen er paavirket af de fynske Pigers henrivende Klukken, naar de baade jubler og ler i averne bag de klippede Hække. Klokkerne kimer, og Hanerne galer paa Fynsk, og op fra alle Fuglerederne staar der en helt symfonisk Jubel, hver Gang Moderen gi’r Ungerne Mad. ¶ Ogsaa Stilheden synger i den samme Tone, og selv Træerne drømmer og taler i Søvne det fynske maal.’ Samtid 1, 345–6, at 346. 41 ‘Mellem Græs og Korn, Samtaler mellem Planterne. Ukrudtsplanterne er forundrede og danner Sammenslutning. (Har ligget og hørt hvad de talte om, noget enhver kan gøre dagligt om Sommeren. Om Vinteren sover de. Den ene sover ind og den ander tier henad Efteraaret. De eviggrønne holder Vagt.) Hjertegræs talte saa forvirret, at jeg ikke [kunne] forstaa, hvad det sagde.’ Dagbøger, 545.

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160 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Here, landscape is not concerned with the elaboration of a national Romantic project, nor with the archaeological excavation and uncovering of layers of cultural memory, but becomes instead a form of listening, a means of capturing and embodying an intensified level of auditory imagination and perception, grounded in the seasonal cycle of growth and decay. Such complex nature voices play a special role in Nielsen’s music, in the cadenza passage from Springtime in Funen, or at similar moments in his tone poem Saga-drøm and in the Sixth Symphony.42 Most often they are characterised by a sense of temporal suspension, the use of extended ostinato figures or arabesque melodic lines over static pedal points: familiar devices in much early twentieth-century music but here employed with a characteristic sense of modal inflection that clouds (or mists) the music’s otherwise strikingly triadic surface so that it assumes the character of a dream episode. Such momentary cessations of regular time highlight the act of speaking (or, rather, singing) as a privileged category of musical behaviour. Landscape, in that sense, is inherently performative, its presence or character marked either by a particular grain or tone of voice or by the evocation of a privileged musical space – the intensified domain of auditory perception.

ЙЙFunen Dreams

This multi-layered vision of the Danish landscape constructed in My Childhood on Funen, as both a site of intensified auditory awareness and as laboured, working country, is musically exemplified by two vividly contrasting movements from Nielsen’s Third Symphony. If the first movement, as the previous chapter has argued, can be heard as the energetic realisation of dynamic musical wave forms, the electrifying projection of the music’s linear kinetic energies through space, the second and fourth movements correspond more closely to the ideas of landscape elaborated by Aakjær, Johannes V. Jensen, and Emilie Demant Hatt. Nielsen himself explained the exceptional nature of the second movement, the Andante pastorale, in a letter to Bror Beckman, 29 October 1910, as he reported on progress with the composition: ‘I am working at the moment on a symphony and I think I shall soon be finished with the two final movements; I have just finished the second movement, a broad, landscape Andante, which is somewhat different from my earlier works.’ 43 For Henrik Knudsen, writing in his 1913 programme note for 42 The unmensurated cadenza for solo woodwind and strings in Saga-Drøm, which is intended to depict the events in Njal’s dream as he lies asleep, is one of the most remarkable passages in Nielsen’s work, and deserves more extended discussion than is possible here. I return to the Sixth Symphony in Chapter 7 below. 43 ‘Jeg arbejder for Tiden paa en Symfoni og jeg tænker jeg skal snart blive færdig med de to sidste Satser; jeg har lige fuldendt 2den Sats, en bred, landskabelig Andante, som er noget forskjellig fra mine tidligere Arbejder.’ CNB 3, 555.

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the work, the Andante’s musical landscape served a specifically restorative function: The second movement of the symphony is predominantly characterised by passive nature moods. With its beautiful, calmly gliding melodic stream, which appears to flow directly from nature, and with its full instrumentation, which never speculates with empty timbral effects, it functions after the stormy motion of the first movement like a rest in nature. Carefree and dispassionate, we feel how life passes us by in its beauty, and we give ourselves over entirely to the complete calm, that from which the soul gathers new strength.44 The Andante pastorale hence promotes Knudsen’s vitalist reading of the symphony: it becomes a space for rejuvenation after the energy expended by the preceding Allegro, an immersive regathering and renewal of creative force. The landscape here is ultimately less concerned with aesthetic contemplation or memory than with the physical sense of being-in-place: a merging with the environment that is both dissolution and a new beginning or point of physical and psychological growth. The music traces a process of awakening or rebirth of musical consciousness, rising from the soporific calm of the opening bars to an idyllic union or conjoining with the landscape itself, symbolised by the appearance of two vocal soloists (baritone and soprano) within the orchestra. According to Knudsen’s analysis, this process of awakening consists of three stages, corresponding to the individual sections of the movement: the slow unfolding of the landscape in the opening paragraph; the sound of voices in nature; and the representation of human feeling or emotion within nature. ‘In diverse combinations’, Knudsen notes, ‘these phases form larger groups, finally merge completely with one another, and bring forth a wonderful atmosphere at the close of the movement’.45 Nielsen himself had suggested a similar reading in his unsigned programme note (with short music examples) for the Concertgebouw performance of the symphony in Amsterdam in 1912: The Andante Pastoral describes, as the title suggests, peace and tranquillity in Nature, which is broken only by the voice of a few birds, or 44 ‘Der zweite Satz der Sinfonie zeigt hauptsächlich das Gepräge passiver Naturstimmungen. Mit seinem schönen, ruhig dahergleitenden melodischen Strom, der direct aus der Natur zu flieβen scheint und mit seiner satten Instrumentation, die niemals mit hohlen Klangwirkungen spekuliert, wirkt er nach der stürmischen Bewegtheit des ersten Satzes wie ein Ausruhen in der Natur. Sorglos und leidenschaftslos fühlen wir das schöne Dasein an uns vorübergleiten, und wir geben uns ganz der wohligen Ruhe hin, die die Seele neue Kraft sammeln läβt.’ Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’, 13. 45 ‘In verschiedenen Verbindungen bilden diese Phasen gröβere Gruppen, um schlieβlich vollständig miteinander zu verschmelzen und zum Schluβ des Satzes eine wunderbare Stimmung hervorzuführen.’ Ibid., 13.

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162 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism what have you. The composer’s intention behind the movement as a whole is the following tripartite division: Landscape … Nature voices … and man’s intense feelings as the result … Towards the conclusion, the landscape’s tranquillity and calm seem to condense (Eb major), and one hears, from a distance, human voices, first a man’s and then a woman’s voice, which then disappear and the movement finishes in complete apathetic stillness (trance).46 A simple formal chart of the movement (Table 5.1) supports this basic division: the movement consists of an extended prelude (bb. 1–32), based on C, followed by a passage alternating a chain of woodwind cadenzas suggesting bird calls (Knudsen’s ‘Vogelstimme’)47 or nature sounds (Nielsen’s ‘nature voices’) with a series of impassioned string chorales (bb. 32–84); the prelude returns in more energised form in bb. 84–97, framing the second half of the movement, a prolonged postlude or harmonically static plane of sound that revolves around a single Eb major sonority or Klang. This final section is briefly interrupted only by a short brass chorale (bb. 126–35), which sacralises the landscape, bestowing a ritualistic feeling of solemnity upon proceedings, before finishing, as Nielsen’s note suggests, in a state of idyllic transcendental quiet. As Knudsen’s account suggests, the design of the Andante differs markedly from the customary formal pattern.48 The movement begins in C, but ends in Eb, the progressive tonal model serving both a structural and associative purpose, lending the Andante a sense of openness and the final bars a feeling of growth or evolutionary flowering even as it regains a state of rest. A voice leading chart of the movement (Ex. 5.4) illustrates this associative harmonic process in more detail. The opening prelude (bb. 1–32) begins with a sense of drift, the musical surface animated purely through slow melodic motion and motivic diminution. This seemingly inert, formative C major creates a ­feeling 46 ‘Andante pastorale skildrer, som Titelen antyder, Fred og Ro i Naturen, der kun afbrydes ved Stemmen af enkelte Fugle, eller hvad man vil. Komponistens Ide med den hele Sats er følgende Tredeling: ¶ Landskabet … ¶ Naturstemmer … ¶ og Menneskets stærke Følelse derved … ¶ Henimod Slutningen bliver den landskabelige Ro og Dybe ligesom mere fortættet (Es Dur) og man hører, langt borte fra, Menneskestemmer, først en Mands og siden en Kvindestemme, der atter forsvinder og Satsen slutter i fuldkommen apatisk Ro (Trance).’ Unsigned programme note for performance of Sinfonia espansiva at Concertgebouw, 28 April 1912 [from undated letter (according to John Fellow, written c. 6 April 1912)]. Reproduced in Samtid 1, 162–4, at 163. 47 Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’, 14. 48 ‘Die Form des Satzes weicht stark von der allgemein üblichen ab.’ Ibid., 13.

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Table 5.1  Symphony no. 3, second movement: formal chart Bar

Thematic zone

Character

Key

Prelude

Expansive, arcane

C

32

Woodwind cadenza 1

bleak, austere

V/a minor

43

String chorale 1

Intense, serious

roving

zone 1 1

56

Woodwind cadenza 2

bleak, austere

V/c minor

65

String chorale 2

con fuoco

roving – V/Eb (unstable)

78

Woodwind cadenza 3

agitated

V/g minor

84

introduction/transition

powerful, animando

V/Eb (stable)

97

zone 2 Dream sequence

molto tranquillo

Eb

126

Brass chorale

solemn

db minor – V/Eb

135

Coda

Adagio, tranquillo

Eb

Ex. 5.4  Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, second movement: voice-leading sketch

& ˙œ & 1˙œ 1 ? ˙˙ ? 5 5

& ˙ & n˙œ nœ œ ? œ ? œJ œJ

9 9

& &

œ œ

œ œ œœ œœ

˙œœ œ˙œ C

j bbbœœœj nnœœ b 51œ nnœœ bn51œœ bœ bn œœ bnœœJ nœ J

œœ #œ œ ##œœ œ44œ ###œœœ #œœ ##œœ #œ 44 # œ œ œœœ œ ###œœœ #œ #œ œ

nœ nœ

bbbœœœ bbbœœœ n

Ab c Ab n c

œ bœœœœ˙ b œ˙

Bbm Bbm

œ œ

bœœ œ bœœ bbœœœ

œœ b œ b œœ b œ b œ bœ œ b œœ bbbœœœ b œœœ bbbœœœ œœœ œœœ œœ bbbœœ œ œ œ œ 64 56 69 69 b56œ 64 b œœ &bbœœ bœœ bœ bœ œ œ bœ nœœ bœ bœ bœ œ &b œ bœœ bœœ bbbœœœ œ bœ nœœ bœJJ bœ

Deep middleground schematic Deep middleground schematic

C

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œ œ

œ bœ œ #œ œ bœ œ #œœœ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ bbœœ

bœ bbœœ bœ œ b˙œ bœ bbœœ bbbœœœ œ b˙œ 76

bœœ bœ bœœ bbbœœœ bn ˙œ bn ˙œ

76

œ˙ œ˙

b˙˙ b˙˙ Eb Eb

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164 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism of emptiness, of nature as open space or blank void. The pianissimo horn calls with which the Andante begins suggest distant Lurs (the four horns play together, creating a hushed chorus effect), evoking the image of a timeless Nordic Arcadia, the sense of distance and temporal suspension intensified by the gentle neighbour note oscillation.49 The entry of the strings with what Knudsen calls ‘ein landschaftliches Thema’ 50 in b. 5 heightens the sense of emergent calm, their melodic contour rising and falling slowly through triadic space as though tracing the gentle lines of the Danish topography in sound. The early emphasis on the modally flattened seventh degree (Bb) both reinforces the pastoral mood and points towards the movement’s ultimate tonal destination (Eb). This structural tonal motion towards Eb is deflected by the first woodwind cadenza, which shifts weight away from the C major plane of the opening introduction towards an unstable second inversion chord on A minor, the change of mode introducing a temporary darkening of mood. Texturally, the passage resembles the cadenza in Springtime on Funen: a curling melodic descent (stylised bird call or nature voice) imitated canonically by the lower woodwind, creating a weaving curtain of sound over the timpani/bass pedal. The Bb from the introduction remains prominent as an ornamental chromatic diminution (b. 36), stripped of its earlier modal context. It is not until the impassioned entry of the string chorale in b. 42, however, that the Andante is able to articulate any functional harmonic bass movement. The upward striving sequential motion of the chorale briefly touches Ab (b. 51): an important staging post towards the movement’s later tonal destination (Eb), although the approach is once again deflected by the return of the woodwind cadenza (b. 56). Locally reinterpreted as an augmented sixth, the Ab chord here merely prefaces V/C minor at the start of the next cadenza, and Ab is not regained until bb. 64–5, where the strings re-enter once more as part of the antiphonal woodwind-string dialogue. Throughout this exchange, the string chorales not only signal a change of musical behaviour, they also suggest a different kind of musical presence or subjectivity, in opposition to the sense of empty void evoked by the opening prelude and the woodwind cadenzas. The strings’ relative dynamic intensity (marked fortississimo con fuoco in the second chorale, at b. 69) implies a state of affective restlessness or emotional dissonance, as though residues of earlier chromatic energy (from the opening Allegro, perhaps) re-emerge to destabilise the harmonic balance. Initially, it seems, Nielsen’s immersion in nature, the physical sense of being-in-place, is hardly pain-free or untroubled, but rather marked by a feeling of struggle and hard 49 Nielsen did indeed write a prelude for Lurs, in the opening number of his incidental music for Oehlenschläger’s Viking play Hagbarth og Signe, performed at the Frilufts Theater (Open-air Theatre) in Dyrehavn in 1913, the year after the premiere of the symphony. 50 Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’, 14.

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chromatic graft. For Knudsen, the string writing is deeply affective: ‘through its healthy melodic content and masterly voice leading, it interprets with intimacy and power the feeling that seizes humanity itself in the face of Nature, and the enchanting effect of Nature upon the soul.’ 51 The tensest passage in this second chorale nevertheless achieves a significant harmonic goal: the attainment of the dominant of Eb in b. 72, and, though definitive arrival on Eb is postponed by the third woodwind cadenza (b. 78), the movement finally succeeds in gaining a sense of long-range harmonic direction. The second half of the movement, the long radiant plane of Eb major, returns to the melodic material of the opening prelude (bb. 5ff) superimposed with a variation of the canonic figure from the woodwind cadenzas in the violins, now a soft muted arabesque. But it is simultaneously a moment of transfiguration, the quiet affirmation of new, richer, emergent musical domain. The blank space or void unfolded in the opening prelude is here completely filled out by a resonant tapestry of sound created from the cumulative layering of ostinato figures: a characteristically modernist soundsheet or Klangfläche, comparable with the opening of contemporary works such as Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, music likewise motivated by the vision of an imaginary Danish landscape. Knudsen describes how ‘one suddenly then hears in the distance a human voice, a baritone, which is swiftly joined by a soprano. Both proceed in tender melodic lines, they sing without text, only upon the vocalise “ah”, and it is as though Nature itself sings.’ 52 As David Fanning has observed, Nielsen originally sketched a text for the vocal lines, which offers an insight into their expressive role: ‘Ah! All thoughts gone[,] I lie beneath the sky.’ 53 Nielsen’s decision to omit the words may have been prompted by various practical or artistic considerations – not least the desire to treat the vocal lines as part of the orchestral texture rather than as independent soloists in a concertante sense. But it also reinforces the sense of dissolution, of merging with the background. The passage can certainly be heard as a blissful union, an ecstatic vision of the Danish landscape as eroticised paradise. Nielsen himself later referred

51 ‘Mit Innigkeit und Kraft verdolmetscht sie durch ihren gesunden melodischen Inhalt und uhre meisterliche Stimmführung das Gefühl, das sich des Menschen angesichts der Natur bemächtigt, und die berückende Wirkung der Natur auf die Seele.’ Ibid. 52 ‘Da hört man plötzlich aus der Ferne eine menschliche Stimme, einen Bariton, zu dem sich bald ein Sopran gestellt. Beide ergehen sich in weichen melodischen Linien, sie singen ohne Text, nur auf dem Vokal a, und es ist, als sänge die Natur selbst.’ Ibid., 15. 53 ‘Alle Tanker svundne. Ah – ! Jeg ligger under Himlen.’ David Fanning, ‘Nielsen’, in A Guide to the Symphony, ed. Robert Layton (London: Oxford University Press, 1995), 358. The relevant pages of the manuscript are reproduced in Birgit Bjørnum and Klaus Møllerhøj (eds), Carl Nielsens Samling: Katalog over komponistens musikhåndskrifter i Det Kongeliger Bibliotek (Copenhagen: Det Kongelige Bibliotek Museum Tusculanums Forlag, 1992), 286 (plate vii).

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166 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism to the movement as a representation of ‘Paradise before the Fall of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve.’ 54 And, as Gertrud Hvidberg-Hansen and Gertrud Oelsner have observed, the image of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was a topic that frequently appealed to symbolist Danish artists such as Viggo Pedersen (I den sene Skumringstime. To Mennesker, Adam og Eva [In the late twilight. Two People, Adam and Eve], 1893)55 and Harald Slott-Møller (Adam og Eva, 1891)56, as well as to Nielsen’s wife, sculptor and illustrator Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, not least in her cover illustration for the score of Nielsen’s cantata Hymnus Amoris (1896). ‘As the first humans’, Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner write, ‘[Adam and Eve] became symbols of the beginning of a new culture, and the motif hence mirrored the period’s own outlook.’ 57 In Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen’s illustration, the two figures (modelled on the composer and the artist herself) raise their arms towards the sky in a gesture of salutation, surrounded by the stylised representation of a flowering landscape; as Anders Ehlers Dam suggests, ‘the sun and life-force are both above them and within them: apart from humanity, something metaphysical, and yet also something that is within humanity.’ The closing chorus of Nielsen’s work is a radiant hymn of praise to the fire and warmth of the sun which illuminates the garden below. Both Hymnus Amoris and the symphony might therefore be heard as part of Nielsen’s wider Hellenist notion of landscape as a realm of enchanted classical myth. According to Ehlers Dam, ‘the sun is praised here as a vital force, which approaches the divine, but yet which is nothing other than a part of the cosmos. This representation, where the sun is both a concrete physical globe and symbol for the élan vital, the life-force, is found in various places in art and literature in the vitalist stream, which began around the year 1900.’ 58 Yet, if the presence of the children’s chorus in the closing pages of the Hymnus Amoris elevates the music to a cosmic universal level, the final bars of the symphony’s Andante pastorale sound distinctively earthy. The music seemingly falls asleep once again, the coda slowly unwinding via a trio of post-coital flutes in their lowest register (bb. 142–4) that circle drowsily around the tonic, suggesting a lingering erotic sunset. 54 ‘Paradiset inden Syndefaldet af vores første Forældre, Adam og Eva.’ Undated programme note, 1931; Samtid 2, 595. 55 Held at the Oslo City Museum. Reproduced in Wivel, Den Store Stil, 50. 56 Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. Wivel, Drømmetid, 98. 57 Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner, ‘Livets triumf’, 25. 58 ‘Solen og livskraften er på én gang over dem og i dem: adskilt fra menneskene, noget metafysisk og noget, der er inden i menneskene. Solen hyldes her som en vital kraft, der nærmer sig det gudommelige, men som dog ikke er andet end en del af det kosmiske alt. Denne forestilling, hvor solen både er den konkrete fysiske sol og et symbol for l’élan vital, livskraften, findes adskillige steder i kunsten og litteraturen i den vitalistiske strømning, der tog sin begyndelse omkring år 1900.’ Anders Ehlers Dam, ‘“Musik er Liv”: Carl Nielsens vitalistiske musikfilosofi’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner, 276–85 at 277.

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The Andante thus traces a broad expressive arc, not unlike the trajectory of the Helios Overture, beginning in a state of cold emptiness, and growing in textural warmth, strength, and colour until it reaches saturation point in the coda, melting away again into a haze in the final bars. This also accounts for the Andante’s harmonic structure, the bare C major opening gradually giving way to the richer sonority of the Eb music with which the movement concludes, the melodic liquidation in the coda suggesting that the process of growth could perhaps begin again once more from a fresh tonal starting point. In that sense, the movement is relatively self-contained, framed and sealed off from the rest of the symphony. Yet the meaning of the Andante is characteristically unclear, just like the cadenza in Springtime on Funen. While the two singers suggest an erotic union, the final bars might also be heard as a slow death, the merging with the landscape as much a passing away as a coming together. A similar sense of landscape’s ambivalence is captured in a famous passage from Johannes V. Jensen’s epic novel Kongens Fald (‘The Fall of the King’, 1900), retelling the decline of the Kalmar Union under Christian II in the early sixteenth-century, at the moment when one of the book’s principal characters, the royal knight Axel, dies: And he flew in an upright position through the luminous night and descended on board the Ship of Joy. They sailed upon the ocean beneath the light of the moon and stars. And when they had sailed lightly and at length, they came to the Land of Joy. That low-lying land, which has the wonderful summer. With your eyes closed you recognise the sweet scent of the greensward that covers the earth, the land is soft and green like a fresh bed upon the sea, a bed of birth, a deathbed. The sky arches with affection overhead, the clouds stand still above it, the waves draw in and pat the shining strand. Two blue seas woo the coasts, where the sand is fine, and where the meagre grass is littered with nothing but round, multicoloured pebbles. In the country lies a fjord, which never forgets; there stand the pillars of the sun. The country’s coastline and islands reveal themselves with a marvellous grace amid the sea. The fjords sing, and the straits are like a gateway to the land of plenty. Here everything is deeply coloured, the earth is green, green, and the sky meets the sea in a blue mist. It is the land of the great summer, the land of death.59 59 ‘Og han fløj i oprejst Stilling i den lyse Nat og dalede ombord paa Lykkens Skib. De sejlede paa Havet under Maanens og Stjærnernes Lys. Og da de havde sejlet let og længe, kom de til Lykkens Land. Det lave Land, der har den forunderlige Sommer. Du mærker med lukkede Øjne den søde Lugt af Jordens Grønsvær, Landet er blødt og grønt som en frisk Seng i Havet, Fødeseng, Dødeseng. Himlen hvælver sig med Forkjærlighed over det, Skyerne staar stille over det, Bølgerne rækker ind og klapper den lyse Strand. To blaa Have bejler til Kysterne, hvor Sandet er fint, og hvor den magre Græsbund er prikket med lutter runde, brogede

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168 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism For Jensen, Axel’s death becomes a hallucinatory dream sequence, a mythical journey towards the land of the great summer which is, in turn, an epiphanic idealisation of a north Jutland landscape, close to the location near Salling described by Emilie Demant Hatt in her sailing trip upon the Limfjord. Art historian Henrik Wivel has recently invoked the passage from Kongens Fald to explain the mood of Laurits Anders Ring’s enigmatic landscape painting, Sommerdag. Roskilde Fjord, Frederiksværk (1900). Ring’s painting of a fishing boat at dawn, its nets raised, seemingly motionless upon the still waters of the sound becomes, for Wivel, a hollow or empty metaphor for a state of suspended consciousness or of drift, both melancholic and expectant: a quintessentially modernist vision of the landscape as both presence and absence, the mirrored reflection of blue sky upon the water the expression of an infinite depth of memory and forgetfulness on the cusp of the new century.60 But the conjunction of Jensen’s text and Ring’s image is even more powerful when placed alongside the closing bars of Nielsen’s Andante. As Knudsen suggests, the two wordless voices in the second half of the movement merge with the landscape to become the sound of Nature itself – the quiet music of Jensen’s singing fjords. And the sturdy brass chords that momentarily interrupt the Eb major idyll at fig. 11 (bb. 126–34) become the sun pillars, guarding the gateway to Slaraffenland (the land of Cockaigne) in the final bars. Just as the sight of falling apple blossom in the cadenza from Springtime on Funen is as much a symbol of loss and remembrance as of youthful new hope, the broad landscape mood of Nielsen’s Andante becomes a sonic realisation of Jensen’s great summer, an ecstasy, and the land of death. The Danish landscape is no less powerfully evoked in the symphony’s fourth movement. Yet the finale is radically different to the Andante’s ambivalent or ultimately melancholic notion of landscape as a site of cultural memory and loss, and one which is closer to the idea of working country evoked by Aakjær in Rugens Sange. The second movement can be heard as a temporal sink that drains the sense of regular passing time and human experience. The finale, meanwhile, is concerned with the birth of a new, invigorating modernity, unfolded in the confident striding theme of the exposition. In his 1912 Concertgebouw programme note, Nielsen confidently described the fourth movement as ‘The apotheosis of work! The composer has attempted to show the healthy morals that lie within work’s blessing. The whole proceeds Sten. I landet er en Fjord, der aldrig glemmer, dér staar Solens Støtter. Landets Kyster og Øer viser sig med vidunderlig Ynde i Havet. Fjordene synger, og Sundene er som Porte ind til Overflødighedens land. Her er alting dybt farvet, Jorden er grøn, grøn, og Himlen mødes med Havet i blaa Stemning. Det er den store Sommers Land, Dødens Land.’ Quoted in Henrik Wivel, ‘Heaven and Hell: Dualistic Metaphysics of Nature in the Landscapes of L. A. Ring’, in L. A. Ring: On the Edge of the World, ed. Peter Nørgaard Larsen (Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2006), 168–87, at 186. I have retranslated the passage from the Danish. 60 Ibid., 183–5.

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straight towards its goal.’ 61 This sense of purpose had been apparent even during the movement’s composition. In a letter to his wife dated 22 February 1911, Nielsen pointedly invoked the craftsmanlike figure of Bach (rather than the more aesthetically problematic Beethoven) as his true musical precursor: The final movement in a symphony is somehow more difficult to write these days, I think, because once upon a time the Ancients had decided that it should be a piece of lighter content, so this idea eventually became a sort of routine habit and the content suffered, owing to the fact that one was primed already, in a manner of speaking. In the meantime I have found a way out for my symphony’s concluding movement. I think the theme is good. It is sustained in a broad, advancing, celebratory mood, throughout which forces operate similar to those that ultimately enchant within a Bach fugue, even if he often begins with a theme that can initially seem dry and schematic (but nevertheless always healthy, like a meagre cooking apple can seem in appearance).62 Nielsen thus presented his finale almost as a form of dietary sustenance, a nutritious source of strength and musical discipline. Knudsen, in his 1913 analytical guide, similarly described the movement as ‘a single, broad unity’. Indeed, for Knudsen the music was animated throughout by a sense of moral purpose and natural order, qualities readily associated with Bachian counterpoint: ‘all health and strength, the movement streams like a great wide river’, he claimed, so that ‘all over, the same healthy joy of life and work reigns’.63 These qualities appealed even beyond Nielsen’s native Denmark. Czech music critic Max Brod, who had previously written an article on Nielsen’s music in the Viennese periodical Der Merker (1910),64 wrote enthusiastically to the composer on 17 May 1913:

61 ‘Finalen er Arbejdets Apotheose! Komponisten har villet vise den sunde Moral der ligger i Arbejdets Velsignelse. Det hele gaar jevnt frem mod Maalet.’ Samtid 1, 164. 62 ‘Den sidste Sats i en Symfoni er, synes jeg i den nyere Tid ligesom bleven vanskeligere at skrive og jeg tror det ligger i, at de gamle havde nu engang slaaet fast at det skulde være et Stykke af lettere Indhold og saa blev denne Ide tilsidst til en Art Vaneforestilling og gik nu ud over Indholdet, naar man paa Forhaand ligesom var præpareret. Nu har jeg imidlertid funden en Udvej for min Symfonis Slutningssats. Jeg tror mit Tema er godt. Det er holdt i en bred, fremadskridende, festlig Stemning hvori der hele Tiden arbejdes af Kræfter der paa en Maade ligner det der i en Fuga af Bach tilsidst betager, selv om han mange Gange begynder med et Tema der strax kan forekomme En helt tørt og skematisk (dog altid sundt som et kedeligt Madæble kan være det af Udseende).’ CNB 4, 51. 63 ‘Dieser Satz [der vierte] ist eine groβe breite Einheit. … Voller Gesundheit und Stärke strömt der Satz dahin wie ein groβer breiter Fluβ. … Überall herrscht hier die gleiche gesunde Lebens- und Arbeitsfreude.’ Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’, 20. 64 Brod, article on Nielsen appeared in Der Merker 2/1 (October 1910). As John Fellow notes, Brod’s interest had been awakened by the second movement of the

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170 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism How can I ever thank you for your Sinfonia espansiva? I can only say that this work, particularly the final movement (which I have already played four times over with my brother), has ­morally ­elevated and fortified me. In it, I hear you intone a song about a happy, work-rich and yet Arcadian-innocent future for humanity. That indeed ­awakens hope anew! One believes in the human race! – That is how it has moved me, and I am now searching for a worthy means of expressing it publicly. Once again many thanks! You have delighted my entire soul.65 For Brod, Nielsen’s music literally embodied (in its physicality and moral strength) the vision of a new kind of modern musical expression. Just like the polemical exchanges of the Bondemalerstrid, Brod was keen to promote such qualities in response to the perceived degeneracy of late Romanticism. Hence, he had no qualms in invoking notions of force, race, and national character in his review of Nielsen’s music: they were terms of general cultural currency in early twentieth-century European art and literature. Indeed, in Nielsen’s work, Brod believed he had found the musical expression of a particularly vigorous Nordic aesthetic (an idea which equally appealed to other German authors such as Thomas Mann). In a polemical essay entitled ‘On the Beauty of Hateful Pictures: a Manual for Romantics of our Time’, Brod explicitly compared Nielsen’s music with the writing of Norwegian modernist Knut Hamsun whose work, likewise motivated by a sense of invigorating Nordic nature, had been published in fin-de-siècle Danish journals such as Tilskueren. Brod reserved particular praise for Nielsen’s use of ‘legitimate counterpoint’ (‘legitimem Kontrapunkt’) and his ‘honest and pure voiceleading’ (‘ehrliche und reinen Stimmführung’), dwelling on precisely those elements of compositional craftsmanship promoted by Nielsen himself and Symphonic Suite, which was published in another Viennese periodical, Kunstwart, earlier in the year. At the end of November, Nielsen wrote to Brod: ‘I must tell you the remarkable coincidence that the very day I received your letter and article I finished the second movement of a new symphony after a certain agony in my work. I believe the rest will go more briskly, and I thank you once again for your kindness’. [Jeg maa fortælle Dem det mærkelige Træf at jeg netop den Dag jeg modtog Deres Brev og Artikel efter en Del Kval i mit Arbejde sluttede 2den Sats af en ny Symfoni. Jeg tror Resten vil gaa mere strygende og jeg takker Dem endnu engang for Deres Godhed.] CNB 3, 559. 65 ‘Wie soll ich Ihnen für Ihre ‘Espansiva’ danken? ¶ Ich kann Ihnen nur sagen, dass mich dieses Werk, namentlich der letzte Sats (den ich mit meinem Bruder schon 4 mal gespielt habe) förmlich moralisch erhoben und befestigt hat. Sie scheinen mir da ein Lied anzustimmen von einer glücklichen, arbeitsreichen und doch arkadisch-unschuldigen Zukunft der Menschheit. Da erwacht wieder die Hoffnung! Man glaubt an das Menschengeschlecht! – So ist es mir ergangen und ich suche jetzt eine würdige Form, um dies öffentlich zu sagen. ¶ Nochmals vielen Dank! Sie haben meine tiefste Seele erfreut.’ CNB 4, 439.

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which we will consider in more detail in the following chapter.66 The idea of landscape as working country, promulgated by Aakjær, has here been transformed into fresh ground or cultivated earth, the ploughed soil expectantly awaiting its new growth and rich harvest. As Table 5.2 suggests, the formal structure of the finale corresponds broadly to that of the first movement of the symphony. Both movements suggest rounded binary structures with a strong sense of thematic return, but closure is associated more with a sense of openness and liberation than with symmetrical tonal balance. Just as the first movement modulates from a weak, structurally unsupported D minor towards a radiant A major close, the finale shifts its sense of tonal gravity from the rich D major of the opening theme towards an A major apotheosis, reinforcing the pattern of the opening Allegro. Both movements exhibit a strong sense of goal direction. Whereas the first begins in a state of dynamic flux, however, energised from its very opening bars by a process of linear chromatic displacement, the finale opens with an overwhelming sense of stability and groundedness, a tonally closed twentyeight-bar phrase divided into seven regular four-bar units – as Nielsen suggested, it is ‘straight down the line’ (‘lige ud paa Landvejen’). D major here symbolises not simply a diatonic key centre, but also a state of mind, its association with other canonic symphonic finales (pre-eminently Beethoven’s Ninth) responsible for the sense of home-coming or familiar generic territory. Indeed, the first subject might be heard as an early twentieth-century Danish Freudengesang (‘Ode to Joy’), a broad singing tune whose key and melodic contour, as Rudolph Simonsen first noted in 1926, strongly recall Nielsen’s setting of Aakjær’s ‘Jens Vejmand’.67 Here, then, is the elevation of the common Danish man as symphonic hero, Nielsen’s breezy hymn to the apotheosis of work mapped onto Aakjær’s figure of the Jutland labourer in search of social justice, the finale’s stirring affirmation of Danishness simultaneously marking its engagement with a wider European symphonic tradition. Knudsen similarly draws attention to the movement’s sense of underlying animating motion from one tonal pole (D) to another (A), praising the music’s strong sense of ‘organic coherence’ (‘organischen Zusammenhang’), the continual inner relationship (‘innige Verwandschaft’) of rhythmic motifs generating a foreground diversity of material that serves to enhance the formal clarity of the finale’s large-scale structure. ‘Only once, over a long pianissimo pedal, does rest seemingly appear’, Knudsen notes, drawing attention to the anomalous passage in the reprise beginning at b. 226 – ostensibly the start of a reverse recapitulation – ‘but this is only an illusion’, he explains, offering 66 Max Brod, Über die Schönheit hässlicher Bilder, ein Vademecum für Romantiker unserer Zeit (Leipzig, 1913), 190–1; quoted in CNB 4, 449. Nielsen wrote to Brod on 11 June 1913, expressing particular delight in the phrase ‘legitimate counterpoint’. 67 Rudolph Simonsen, ‘Carl Nielsen som Symphoniker’, DMT 2/1 (October 1926), 7–11, at 9.

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172 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Table 5.2  Symphony no. 3, fourth movement: formal chart Bar Section

Theme

Key centre

Character/Texture

exposition (EET) 1 P 29 TR 62 S

s, t, u, v, w a

v , x, x

D

a

y, ya, xb, wa,z

104 C (TR)

va

114 TR (P)

va, vc, sa, ta, u

206 C (TR)

vc

226 S

c

a

u, v , y, y , s, t

281 TR

v, va, za, xb

323 P

s, t, u, v, y, y !

a

forte, linear

V/D–V/Bb

fortissimo, fugato

bb6/4–F# (MC: EEC)

piano espressivo

V/F#–V/E

interruptive!

development E

imitative/sequential – apotheosis

e–V/Bb

fugato, decrescendo

reprise (R-Zone) Bb7/Eb

pianissimo, circular

V/g–V/A

mezzo forte, fugato

A

fortissimo, interrupted! coda

350 P

u, v

A (PAC: ESC)

fortissimo, circular

P = Primary Theme; TR = Transition; S = Second Subject; C = Coda; EEC = Essential Expositional Closure; ESC = Essential Structural Closure; MC = Medial Caesura; PAC = Perfect Authentic Cadence

instead a strikingly modernist reading of the passage, in which ‘the given motives are still being vigorously further developed, albeit only fragments of the motives, as though in a kind of unconsciousness. One could almost compare this work with the unconscious activity of the soul,’ Knudsen continues, ‘with the work that the soul accomplishes during rest or dream, and which is the precondition of every viable, incontestable achievement.’ 68 The significance of this episode only becomes fully apparent in the context of the symphony as a whole. Structurally, it belongs to the finale’s second subject space, albeit motivically transformed. Further support for the motivic significance of Bb can be found in the first subject group – though the opening bars unfold a single sustained theme, motivically the tune can be broken down into at least five separate motivic units (Ex. 5.5): a head motif (labelled s), a continuation and cadential tag (t and u, which generate much of the ostinato work in 68 ‘Nur an einer Stelle, auf einem langen Pianissimo-Orgelpunkt, scheint Ruhe einzutreten, aber es scheint auch nur so; denn auch hier wird mit den gegebenen Motiven rüstig weiter gearbeitet, allerdings nur mit Bruchstücken der Motive, wie in einer Art von Unterbewuβtsein. Fast könnte man diese Arbeit mit der unbewuβten Tätigkeit der Seele vergleichen, mit der Arbeit, die die in der Ruhe oder im Traume vollbringt, und die eine Vorbedingung für jede lebenskräftige, sonnenklare Tat ist.’ Knudsen, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’, 20.

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Ex. 5.5  Nielsen, Symphony no. 3, fourth movement: thematic table

# s & #C œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ> ˙. u # t & # œfij œ œj ‰ œfij œ œj ‰ œfij œ œj ‰ œfijœ œj ‰ œfij œ œ œ œ œ ˙. > > > > > > > > > # &#œ v

w > ## œ &

œ œ œ œ . > >

˙.

œ

œ œ œ œ . > >

˙.

> nœ œ n>œ nœ bœ bœ nœ bœ nœ nœ œ bœ nœ œ bœ

x > . - > > -œ >œ >œ >œ >œ >œ >œ ? ## œ œ >œ >œ -œ >œ >œ >œ œ œ œ œ œ- œ œ œ œ œ œ œ > >> > >> a ## x & œ nœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ > > > > > > > > > > > > va

# bw &# y

ya œ #œ b œ œ b -œ -œ b ˙

x ## nœ bœ œ- œ nœ œ b-œ -œ n˙. &

nœ bœ œ-

b

> ## b œ &

wa

> œ #œ œ œ

z ## ˙. &

#-œ -œ ˙.

# . &#œ va

>œ œ œ. œ.

nœ nw

>œ œ œ #œ

œ.

œ.

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v b+ya

n>œ

>œ >œ >œ >œ

œ œ b˙

œ ˙. J

œ œ œ. œ.

v b. . . œ. œ. œ. œ. œ ## œJ œJ œJ J ‰ ‰ ‰ ‰ J ‰ &

# &#

œ b-œ -œ n˙.

œ -œ œ œ -œ -œ -œ œ œ œ

-œ -œ ˙ > ˙.

œ nœ

œ

œ -œ - ˙ J ‰ nœ

nœ n>œ >œ >œ >œ

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174 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism the developmental space), a counterstatement (v, which inverted, va, becomes the countersubject proper in the bridge or transition), and a sequential tail (w), which introduces Bb as the first significant chromatic element in the movement and treats it locally as a melodicised Neapolitan approach to the dominant at the return of the opening phrase. This Bb emerges once again as part of the accented quaver figuration at fig. 3 (b. 46, part of the countersubject’s development), before becoming more fully tonicised towards the approach to the second subject itself at fig. 4 (b. 62, which Knudsen erroneously hears in C minor). Enharmonically transformed, bb → a# it becomes the raised third at the end of the second subject space (over F# major), reinforcing the exposition’s pattern of tertiary tonal movement. Though Bb does not re-emerge again until b. 227, the passage’s strongly flatside orientation, hovering around Bb7 and Eb but decisively settling on neither key centre, points both to parallel flatside second subject spaces in the first movement (on Ab and Eb), and also, more significantly, to the tonal domain of the second half of the second movement (Eb). It is therefore marked, by association, as landscape music, a reading reinforced by the presence of familiar pastoral topics – the episode’s extended pedal, dynamic level, and repetitive rhythmic figuration. For Knudsen, the passage almost assumes the character of a Freudian dream sequence, an unconscious return of the repressed, or perhaps a regression to the dusky womb-like space of the eroticised close of the Andante. But the passage is also a creative flux: fragments of first and second subject groups float hazily by, as though in haze of enchanted nature sounds. It becomes, in effect, a cadenza, like the drifting apple-blossom in the final movement of Springtime on Funen, a momentary sense of suspension and weightlessness, a compelling vision of the Danish landscape as a crucible of memory and loss. As in the cantata, however, it is the sense of regeneration and renewal that ultimately holds sway. The final bars of the symphony regather their contrapuntal strength, the fugal writing indicating a fresh start in which previous flat-side tendencies are vigorously worked through and resolved. Significantly, the delayed return of the first subject group substitutes the opening of the second subject for the previously problematic fifth phrase or tail (compare bb. 339–42 with 17–20): a thematic synthesis that reinforces the sense of closure and balance. Consequently, no elements of the flatside complex remain to be resolved, and the symphony concludes, as Knudsen describes, ‘with eight tough timpani strokes that proceed in crotchets over two bars, accompanied by a crescendo on the note A by the whole orchestra, and once again confirm the character of this continually upright work, which is typical of the finale.’ 69 As Knudsen suggests, even in these final bars there is a sense of continuity, the reiterative statements of the 69 ‘Dann schlieβt die Sinfonie – glücklicherweise nicht mit einem brillierenden, nach auβen gewandten leeren, wenn auch glanzvollen Orchestereffekt, sondern mit acht zähen Paukenschlägen, die zwei Takte lang in Vierteln aufeinander folgen, und von einem Crescendo des ganzen Orchesters auf dem Ton a

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Fig. 5.2  Peter Hansen, Pløjemanden Vender, 1900–2

theme and the earthy strokes of the timpani serving to drive the symphony continually forwards. Closure becomes, as in Aakjær’s poem, merely the start of a new cycle. But Nielsen’s finale is perhaps closest to another iconic representation of the Danish landscape. One of the canonic images in early twentieth-century Danish art is Peter Hansen’s Pløjemanden Vender (‘The Ploughman turns’, 1900–2; Fig. 5.2). The most recognised work of the Funen school, Hansen’s picture has long been admired, both for its vivid sense of colour – the earth brown of the soil and the horses juxtaposed against the ploughman’s blue coat and the red rosehips on the hedge – and also for its unusual sense of perspective, the high skyline creating a vertiginous sense of the slope rising towards the top of the frame, accentuating the angle of the plough and furrowed contour of the soil. The subject matter is equally striking: the ploughman and his begleitet werden, und den Charakter stetiger gediegener Arbeit, der dem Finale eigentümlich ist, nochmals bekräftigen.’ Ibid., 24.

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176 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism team are elevated by the scale of the painting, so that they assume heroic proportions. Yet there is also a feeling of intimacy about the picture, the apparent lack of stylisation emphasising the sense of hard domestic routine. Hansen’s picture has invited a range of symbolic interpretations. For Gertrud Oelsner, for example, the portrait becomes a spiralling vitalist construction in which ‘the newly ploughed earth vibrates with life and movement. The painting’s compositional design knits the course of the seasonal cycle together with the farmer’s swinging shift of direction in an organic, rhythmic movement, in which even the autumnal thorn trees take part.’ 70 Yet, as this chapter has argued, the painting can also be placed alongside Nielsen’s symphony and Aakjær’s poetry within a complex tradition of Danish landscape representation. In part, this tradition is concerned with celebrating its sense of nationhood – the mythic image of Denmark, the land of farm and sea, dunes and waves, as imagined by romantic generations ever since Henrik Steffens’s formative lectures on Danish geology in the 1800s. It is also concerned with the Nordic sense of place as a site of occupation and domestic routine, a mode of inhabiting and moving within the land which is independent, as Kenneth Olwig notes, from the familiar scenic traditions of European landscape painting (yet to which the Funen school also, in part, belongs). Landscape becomes, for Nielsen and Aakjær, and also for Emilie Demant Hatt, bound up with a sense of self – the ambivalent return to images, characters and places from childhood which is also a process of self-realisation: landscape here is always two-sided, a process of remembrance and forgetfulness, as the cadenza in Springtime on Funen reveals. But the landscape can also be affirmative: Hansen’s ploughman, like the final bars of Nielsen’s symphony, could symbolise the triumph of the democratic will, a platform for the breakthrough in Danish politics in which the figure and voice of the common Danish man are elevated and ennobled. It also serves as an aesthetic credo, the promotion of a more practically oriented artistic language as craft in opposition to the notion of art as arcane symbolist ritual or institutionalised convention. In a diary entry from 1926, Nielsen noted: ‘Memories. The farmer’s horizon. The wholesomeness which lies between the dunghill on his farm and the solemnity of the church on Sunday’,71 grounding the domestic routine of rural life in the fertile earth of the Danish fields. But it is the patterned mark upon the earth that is the most powerful image, the idea of landscape as a form of 70 ‘… den nypløjede jord vibrerer af liv og bevægelse. Maleriets kompositoriske træk knytter årstidernes cykliske forløb sammen med bondens svingende retningsskifte i en organisk, rytmisk bevægelse og sammenhæng, som selv de efterårsklædte tjørntræer passer sig ind efter.’ Oelsner, ‘Den sunde Natur’, 164. It should be noted that there are two slightly different versions of the painting, and that it is not clear whether the season depicted is autumn or early spring. 71 ‘Erindringer. Bondens Horisont. Det sunde der ligger mellen Møddingen ved hans Gaard og Kirkens Højtidelighed om Søndagen.’ Diary entry, 25 May 1926; Dagbøger, 497.

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writing or inscription and creative imagination. It is this impulse that underpins the symphony’s sense of life-force, a vitalist resonance and vibration that is also part of a larger cycle, constantly pushing forwards even as it rotates back upon itself in a constant process of reflection and renewal. Here lies the proper authority and power of the creative artist, Nielsen suggests, in his capacity for regeneration, in his attention to small things, and to the sounds of everyday life. In the musical landscape of Nielsen’s symphony, in the work’s final bars, the ploughman turns once more.

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6  Counterpoints

N

ielsen’s third symphony  represents a critical turning point in his career. As the preceding chapters have suggested, it is arguably the work in which Nielsen most convincingly synthesised or held in balance the conflicting notions of Danishness that had underpinned and motivated his music hitherto: the opening movement’s energetic breakthrough of a new Nordic-Hellenist symphonic modernism, first unveiled in the Helios overture and celebrated in the Bacchic carnivalesque world of Maskarade; the second movement’s unfolding of a mythic Danish Arcadia, the singing fjords of Johannes V. Jensen’s great summer; and the finale’s earthy apotheosis of Jeppe Aakjær’s figure of the Danish bondemand, confidently striding towards his new social democratic artistic domain. The symphony hence becomes Nielsen’s most compelling musical realisation of the modern symphonic hero. But more importantly, as John Fellow has discussed, the work simultaneously marks Nielsen’s engagement with a critical shift in European modernism.1 This is a period, as James Hepokoski has persuasively argued, characterised by the emergence of a younger generation of seemingly more hard-line musical modernists. For Hepokoski, this moment demanded a radical reorientation of the modernist musical project: a senior generation of composers alongside Nielsen, including Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Elgar and Debussy, became strategically outflanked by the apparently more progressive musical stance adopted by a younger avant-garde, symbolically headed by Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Though this late-modernist shift has often formed the default critical model for later dialectical accounts of twentieth-century musical history, many writers, including Hepokoski, have challenged this strongly teleological reading, problematising the simple binary conservative-progressive dualism upon which the model rests, and directing renewed attention towards the diverse ways in which the elder generation of musical modernists continued to engage with aspects of musical innovation (harmonic, timbral, rhythmic) that were no less ‘progressive’ or forward-looking than their younger avantgarde colleagues. As Hepokoski concludes, the subsequent reassessment of compositional principles by composers such as Sibelius and Nielsen in the years either side of the First World War in no sense represented a simple retrenchment or retreat from the musical front line – rather, it marked a deeper, increasingly individual concern with exploring the repercussions of a fractured musical worldview. Its key impulse is intensification rather than withdrawal.

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1 Fellow, ‘Carl Nielsen, Wien und die europäische Wende’ / ‘Carl Nielsen, Wien og det europæiske vendepunkt’.

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Nielsen’s later symphonies, from the Fourth onwards, arguably do not aspire towards the same kind of unity or symmetry articulated by the Third. By comparison, they embrace a greater diversity of musical expression, even as they struggle to maintain and control a corresponding balance of musical materials. Despite such increased formal strain, however, the trajectory of their final bars is insistently upwards, symbolically characterised by a feeling of openness rather than closure which sounds all the more exhilarating in the context of their often fractured musical surface. This heightened sense of musical drama was no doubt motivated partly by the changing conditions of Nielsen’s domestic life. As Jørgen I. Jensen has suggested, there is a strong tendency, especially in Danish reception, to hear the later works against the background of Nielsen’s personal biography. The full onset of his marital ­crisis in 1914–16, for instance, prompted not solely by the revelation of his ­latest infidelity but also by his decision to resign from the Royal Theatre and the sudden need to maintain a livelihood as a freelance, independent composer, coincides with the genesis of the Fourth Symphony. And, though the impact of the First World War may not have been directly felt in Denmark in terms of military engagement, it nevertheless had significant implications for a professional musician’s working conditions: it would be hard not to hear passages in the later works as in some senses a response to the wider European political turmoil as well as Nielsen’s own professional crisis.2 As I have argued elsewhere, however, key landmarks in Nielsen’s later symphonies – including the timpani duel in the finale of the Fourth, and the side drum cadenza in the first part of the Fifth – can be heard not simply as the foreground realisation of such domestic tensions or contemporary historical events, but rather more persuasively as the acoustic trace of Nielsen’s attempt to uphold and reenergise the symphony as a modernist musical vehicle.3 The final chapter of this book will consider in greater detail the implications of this reading for Nielsen’s most problematic work, the Sixth Symphony (Sinfonia semplice). But such moments of apparent musical conflict also point to the outward growth and imaginative expansion in Nielsen’s music more generally, well beyond his purely symphonic canon. They signal a changing attitude to the musical material. The apparent disparity between Nielsen’s growing concern with popular songs and pedagogical projects – culminating in the twenty-nine ­little organ preludes and his Klavermusik for smaa og store (1929–30) – and



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2 Thorvald Nielsen recalled that in 1915, Nielsen told him: ‘Yes, there is a new symphony, I have the idea of a duel between two kettledrums, it is something to do with the war’. [Ja, det er såmænd en ny symfoni, Jeg har en idé til en duel mellem to pauker, det er noget med krigen.] Thorvald Nielsen, ‘Nogle personlige erindringer’, in Carl Nielsen i Hundredåret for hans fødsel, ed. Jürgen Balzer (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag, 1965), 12. 3 Daniel M. Grimley, ‘Modernism and Closure: Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony’, Musical Quarterly 86/1 (2002), 149–73.

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180 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism the technical and aesthetic challenge of passages in his more consciously ‘difficult’ large-scale works, including not only the symphonies but also the two late wind concertos and his solo violin pieces, more properly constitutes a pattern of stylistic diversity and exchange, a rich and provocative dialogue between different (and sometimes competing) musical voices and traditions. And it is this spirit of dialogue and diversity that arguably becomes the defining quality of Nielsen’s later music, his individual response to the wider modernist shift identified by Hepokoski and others.

ЙЙNielsen’s Metamorphic Anachronism

One of the most prominent and distinctive strands in this diverse constellation of musical identities in Nielsen’s later music is his adoption of an archaic, contrapuntal voice. Max Brod had sensed this new component in Nielsen’s musical idiom when he pointedly praised the ‘legitimate counterpoint’ and ‘honest and pure voice leading’ in the finale of the Third Symphony, qualities which, Brod felt, elevated Nielsen’s music morally above that of his immediate contemporaries. Nielsen’s growing concern with such musical archaisms after 1910–11 was reflected not only through his interest in Baroque organ music (Bach and Buxtehude) and sixteenth-century polyphony (Palestrina), but also in the elaboration of distinctive linear contrapuntal structures in works such as the Chaconne and the Theme and Variations for piano, the three motets composed for Mogens Wöldike’s Palestrina Choir, and in his final composition, Commotio. Superficially, this self-consciously archaistic turn towards a more contrapuntal compositional style might seem to represent a familiar aesthetic strategy, the assumption of a musical tone of voice that carries its own canonising tendency. As W. Dean Sutcliffe has suggested, As a historical phenomenon, the turn or return to counterpoint functions like a stock-taking, a sabbatical, or a retreat; the religious overtones of this last term are appropriate enough given the still strong associations of counterpoint with the sacred or at least the sublime. A turn to counterpoint is often associated with the final phase of a composer’s career and might be thought of as tantamount to putting one’s creative life in order before the long silence.4 Closer consideration swiftly reveals, however, that Nielsen’s contrapuntal turn is less explicitly concerned with the summative process described by Sutcliffe. It signals no hazy retreat towards a golden ‘late style’. On the contrary, Nielsen’s contrapuntalism is fundamentally thorny and deconstructive: it often threatens to undermine its traditional associations of religious

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4 W. Dean Sutcliffe, ‘Chopin’s Counterpoint: the Largo from the Cello Sonata, opus 65’, Musical Quarterly 83/1 (Spring, 1999), 114–33, at 116.

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grandeur, musical rigour, or stylistic unity, even as it appears to invoke or symbolise familiar modes of musical behaviour (fugue, canon, imitation or ground bass). In the process, Nielsen’s counterpoint reveals an underlying anxiety, a prevailing sense of musical instability that in turn provides an insistent creative stimulus. It is through this more agonistic use of counterpoint, arguably, that Nielsen’s reassessed and ambivalent modernism begins to emerge. Clearer understanding of this deconstructive counterpoint emerges only through detailed critical analysis of Nielsen’s work, and after reflection on the historical status of counterpoint in early twentieth-century music more generally. Far from being the unifying force that its associations with such supposedly ‘universal’ canonic figures such as Palestrina, Bach, and Beethoven implies, counterpoint in fact emerges increasingly as a site of critical conflict, polemic, and intense musicological debate – a more discursive and polarised discourse in which Nielsen’s music plays an active role. As Sutcliffe notes, proper critical scrutiny of this historical context is initially problematic. The idea of counterpoint, he suggests, retains a markedly autonomous character, a moral authority that resists the intensity of analytical response encouraged by the invocation of other more readily contestable categories such as sonata form. But counterpoint was a focal point of attention for many writers and composers at the turn of the twentieth-century, and the development of a more contrapuntal idiom as part of a deliberately archaic musical style was a common compositional and music-theoretical device. In its polemically charged diversity, counterpoint became the primary tool with which to promote or resist the advance (or, indeed, the retreat) of musical modernism. What was at stake were competing claims for musical value and artistic inheritance. Nielsen’s contrapuntal turn thus emerged out of a more general struggle for aesthetic recognition and musical self-determination: Brod’s decision to praise the Third Symphony’s ‘legitimate counterpoint’ (my emphasis), in other words, could hardly have seemed less politically charged at this critical moment in the unfolding development of twentieth-century music. As Walter Frisch has recently observed, the idea of counterpoint in the early twentieth-century musical imagination was frequently bound up with the mythical-musicological figure of J. S. Bach. In this sense, defining the true nature of Bachian counterpoint became a powerfully nationalist project.5 A special issue of the German periodical Die Musik in 1905, for example, as Frisch notes, was dedicated to discussing the nature and significance of Bach’s work, and assessing the importance of his influence for the future of German music. A key figure in this early modernist phase of German Bach reception, and the starting point for the contributions in Die Musik, was Wilibald Nagel.

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5 See also Richard Taruskin, ‘Back to whom? Neoclassicism as Ideology’, Nineteenth-Century Music 16/3 (1993), 286–99.

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182 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism ‘For Nagel’, Frisch suggests, ‘Bach could help provide a Wiedergesundung, a regeneration of health. … Bach had already become a kind of pawn in a struggle against what was seen as degenerate or ‘unhealthy’ in German music at the turn of the century.’ 6 As we have seen in previous chapters, this need for a new musical order and a perceived return to ‘healthy musical values’ was felt no less pressingly in Denmark, where the ‘unhealthiness’ of contemporary German music was a frequent critical trope. Yet what is remarkable in the 1905 issue of Die Musik, Frisch notes, is the apparent consistency of response: ‘Bach is seen as a healer, a restorative fountain, or a physician, in times that are troubled or “hypernervous”.’ 7 Hence, Alexis Hollaender could write that ‘Bach’s music signifies, or rather should signify, a healing bath for the music of our time, which could thereby rid itself of overactive sensations, grow, and take possession of itself’, while Theodor Müller-Reuter eulogised: ‘for me Bach is a healthy spring, into which I step when my musical soul has suffered any kind of injury. He is a healthy spring that strengthens and purifies; he gives powers to oppose all shallow, hypernervous, and unhealthy music. Bach is like a physician. Through his works he speaks to me like a father who cautions his son, who sharpens my knowledge and who heals me when musical excesses have endangered the health of fantasy and of artistic practice.’ 8 Such radical-conservative appropriations of Bach’s compositional legacy, and claims to his true musical inheritance, were to become increasingly common and contested currency as the century progressed, and one of the most important weapons on either side of the modernist musical debate. Nielsen expressed similarly elevated views of Bach’s music as early as 1893, when he noted that he played Bach ‘for an hour every day. It is as though one becomes stronger and healthier with Bach; he works almost like a swim, both physically and mentally.’ 9 A parallel double-image, of Bach as redeemer and disciplinarian, emerges from a letter to the painter Niels Skovgaard towards the end of Nielsen’s life, on 12 November 1928: In music, we have Master Johan [sic] Sebastian Bach; whenever I am feeling tired or listless, I will always look towards him rather than to any other normally excellent music in order to regain my human predisposition, and I am never disappointed. Such security and deep, calm power is inexhaustible.10

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6 Walter Frisch, German Modernism: Music and the Arts (Berkeley: California University Press, 2005), 140. 7 Ibid., 141. 8 Ibid., 142. 9 ‘Spiller hver Dag Bach for Tiden. Det er ligesom man bliver stærkere og sundere af Bach; næsten som et Bad virker han; ja, baade aandeligt og legemligt.’ CNB 1, 293. 10 ‘I Musiken har vi Mesteren Johan Sebastian Bach; naar jeg er træt eller er blevet mat i min Følelse overfor megen anden og ellers udmærket Musik søger jeg altid

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Other writers professed to hear this Bachian quality in Nielsen’s own music. One critic, for example, wrote after hearing the premiere of Maskarade that Nielsen’s musical style … is neither old or new, but holds itself in-between, while oscillating between both extremes. There is something of Bach and Handel in him: he loves those logical, mathematical dissonances. His textures are masculine, solidly built and tightly contained; but he never flatters the ear or indulges the voices or instruments. … His music is reminiscent of the Latin language: clear – logical – interesting – and international.11 Such accounts reinforce existing patterns of Bach reception by stressing the supposed clarity and objectivity of his work, and also attempt to elevate Nielsen’s music into the pantheon, effectively claiming Bach’s international inheritance for this most Danish of operas. Similar characteristics – logic, clarity, strength, and the correct (‘mathematical’) treatment of dissonances – continue to be associated with counterpoint as a compositional discipline even up to the present day. As Janet M. Levy has noted, counterpoint is ‘used persistently to imply depth or deepening, maturation, greatness’,12 a category whose musical value invariably seems positive and immutable, inspiring ­reverence and awe rather than genuine critical engagement. Nielsen’s approach to counterpoint initially appears to reinforce this historical tendency. His first encounter with Bach’s music, for example, provides one of the most striking moments in his autobiography, My Childhood on Funen, and points to familiar trends in Bach reception. Recounting his early keyboard lessons with the local piano teacher, Outzen, Nielsen recalled: I began with the slow preludes, which I played note by note at an eternally slow tempo. In the beginning, I didn’t really think that is was actually proper music. Where was the melody? And what did the continual return of that figure mean? There was certainly no song in the right hand, and I didn’t know that there was something called counter­ point, so that side of the matter couldn’t stir my understanding. It was hen til ham for at faa min menneskelige Modtagelighed tilbage og jeg gaar aldrig forgæves. Denne Tryghed og dybe, stille Kraft er uudtømmelig.’ Breve, 256. 11 ‘[Hans Stil] er hverken gammel eller ny, den holder sig midt imellem, men svinger sommetider til begge Yderligheder. Der er noget af Bach og Händel i ham; han elsker den logiske, matematiske Dissonancer. Hans Sats er mandig, fast bygget og tæt sluttet; men han smigrer aldrig for Øret, kæler ikke for Stemmen eller Instrumenterne. … Hans Musik minder om det latinske Sprog: klar – logisk – interessant – og international.’ Hagen Hohlenberg, ‘Carl Nielsen: Maskarade’, Tilskueren 23/12 (December 1906), 1007–11 at 1008. 12 Janet M. Levy, ‘Covert and Casual Values in Recent Writings on Music’, Journal of Musicology 5/1 (Winter 1987), 17.

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184 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism as though one wanted to score a mighty oak tree with a little penknife and couldn’t even penetrate the bark. But I persisted, and a few glimmers of light would emerge through the clash of a couple of notes, which moved me more than any other music I knew. In Red Indian stories, I had read how they used to create fire by rubbing two sticks together so long that they finally began to glow. The same thing happened to me here. When I had played the little Eb minor prelude fifty times through, I was aflame. Now the door was open, and I could begin to discover an entirely new and remarkable world. But I turned away from Bach once more when Outzen showed me how to handle the piano, and only in my mid-twenties did I take up the Well-Tempered Clavier again.13 Nielsen’s account stresses the centrality of the Well-Tempered Clavier as the canonic Bach work in the late nineteenth-century repertoire – a role which ensured that it remained the default pedagogical model for educational keyboard works (including, of course, Nielsen’s own). But his response also points towards the ideological tensions within Bach reception that Nielsen would later seek to exploit creatively. The image of the inspirational fire, ignited within the musical work, is a familiar trope in Romantic accounts of musical genius – as well as reflecting one of the early tendencies in critical writing on Nielsen’s music (Kjerulf’s haunting image in the First Symphony of the young child innocently playing with dynamite). Yet Bach’s music, for Nielsen, also seems strange and unearthly, its lack of obvious melodic content and the complex contrapuntal texture at first an impenetrable mystery. In that sense, Bach’s work becomes emblematic of a fresh, more objective or abstract musical idiom – an ‘entirely new and remarkable world’ that is simultaneously arcane and modernist. For Frisch, this apparently contradictory sense of Bach’s newness can be 13 ‘Jeg begyndte med de langsomme Præludier, som jeg spillede Tone for Tone i et Evighedstempo. I Begyndelsen syntes jeg slet ikke, det var rigtig Musik. Hvor var Melodien? Og hvad betød det, at en Figur blev ved at komme igen? Det var jo ingen Sang i højre Haand, og jeg anede ikke, at der var noget, der hed Kontrapunkt, saa den Side af Sagen kunde ikke fange min Forstaaelse. Det var, som om man vilde skære med en lille Pennekniv i en mægtig Eg og end ikke naaede igennem Barken. Men jeg blev ved, og af og til kom der smaa Glimt ved Sammenstød af et Par Toner, som berørte mig helt anderledes end al anden Musik, jeg kendte. I Indianerhistorier havde jeg læst, at de Vilde tænder Ild ved at gnide to Stykker Træ saa længe mod hinanden, at de tilsidst bliver glødende. Det gik mig her paa samme Maade. Da jeg havde spillet det lille es Moll Præludium Nr. 8 et halvt hundred Gange igennem, flammede det op i mig. Nu var Døren aabnet, og nu kunde jeg gaa paa Opdagelse i en helt ny og mærkelig Verden. Men jeg kom atter bort fra Bach, da Outzen viste mig tilrette paa Klaveret, og først da jeg var midt i Tyverne, tog jeg fat paa “Wohltemperiertes Klavier” igen.’ Nielsen, Min fynske Barndom, 167.

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explained as a form of ‘historicist modernism’,14 a tendency which, he suggests, characterises much ‘music written in the years around 1900 that derives its compositional and aesthetic energy not primarily from an impulse to be New, but from a deep and sophisticated engagement with the music of the past’.15 Manifested in the work of composers as diverse as Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Max Reger, and Richard Strauss, this historicising modernist tendency, for Frisch, can be both painful and eulogistic. At times, historicist modernism is concerned with the idea of musical preservation – the desperate need to retrench or reinforce core values in the face of a perceived collapse in established music-cultural systems or traditions. On other occasions, it is self-consciously new and progressive, a decisive attempt to shrug off the burden of late Romanticism and strike a more positive and objective tone in music. As such, the term is deeply ambivalent: it looks both forwards and backwards, imaginatively reconstructing the musical past even as it envisions a new musical future. A similar model for analysing this process, which has important implications for understanding Nielsen’s work, is presented in Martha Hyde’s essay, ‘Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses in 20th-century Music’.16 Hyde resists the casual application of labels such as ‘neoclassicism’ to describe such complex stylistic patterns of allusion, and draws an important distinction between, on the one hand, philological or antiquarian allusions to Baroque music, including the use of eighteenth-century dance forms in works such as Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, and on the other, the processes of accommodation or translation, ‘which are anachronistic in the sense of incongruously linking different times or periods’, and which underpin works such as Debussy’s ‘Hommage à Rameau’ from his first book of Images.17 According to Hyde, previous critical discussions have often tended ‘to isolate the [compositional] features they focus on, but at the same time seem uniformly to lack a theory of imitation that would help and categorize imitative resources and effects’. Hence, they seem overly one-dimensional or synthetic, gathering together a diverse range of compositional strategies under a single umbrella term without proper attention to their individual musical effect. As a consequence, Hyde proposes a further category of metamorphic anachronism, one which ‘involves deliberate dramatization of historical passage, bringing the present in relation with a specific past and making the distance between them meaningful’.18 Hyde’s critical model is thus ‘contrapuntal’ in a higher-order

14 Frisch first introduces the term in ‘Reger’s Bach and Historicist Modernism’, Nineteenth-Century Music 25/2–3 (2002), 296–312, an article that forms the basis for chapter 4 in his German Modernism, 138–85. 15 Ibid., 296. 16 Martha Hyde, ‘Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses in 20th Century Music’. Music Theory Spectrum (1996), 200–35. 17 Ibid., 203. 18 Ibid., 205.

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186 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism sense: it proposes a stylistic counterpoint between sharply contrasting historical periods and musical languages that sometimes move in parallel but are more often complementary or in opposition. And her approach demands a similarly polyphonic analytical response, one which both dwells on the process of translation through which divergent musical styles are gathered loosely together and brought into play, and also emphasises the moments of dissonance or strain when the musical structure begins to fall apart. Hyde’s notion of metamorphic anachronism, whereby the sense of historical passage between past and present is dramatised and projected into the musical foreground, is exemplified powerfully by many of Nielsen’s later works, not least the Chaconne.19 The work was premiered by Alexander Stoffregen on 13 April 1917, at a chamber concert in a characteristically diverse programme alongside the second volume of En Snes danske Viser (‘A dozen Danish songs’) by Nielsen and Thomas Laub. Contemporary reviews readily commented on the music’s archaic contrapuntal character, pointing towards Frisch’s notion of historicist modernism. København, for example, noted the ‘interesting, tortuous, old-fashioned music in new attire’, while Charles Kjerulf, writing in Politiken after a later performance, praised the work as ‘a contrapuntal pianostudy without the least use of “Klaver-Sats” [piano texture] or any of the grand piano’s richness of tone colour. Everything is simply design, lines, and curves, but the prettiest, most meticulous, old-fashioned ornamentation.’ 20 As the work’s title and opening key (a modal D minor) suggest, Nielsen had obviously had a specific Baroque model in mind: Bach’s famous Chaconne from the Partita for solo violin, bwv1004.21 As early as 1894, in a diary entry dated 14 November, Nielsen had written while in Vienna: Today I spent a long time in the Stephansdom, and the more I see of it the more wonderful it seems to me that a human imagination could accomplish such a work. It seems to me like a powerful hymn of praise that climbs towards the heavens. I caught myself inwardly singing along to Bach’s Chaconne while I studied the church; the connection is natural.22 19 Parts of the following commentary are based on my article, ‘“Tonality, Clarity, Strength”: Gesture, Form and Nordic Identity in Carl Nielsen’s Piano Music’, Music & Letters 86/2 (April 2005), 202–33. 20 ‘… interessant, snørklet, gammeldags Musik i nyt Klædebon’; ‘en kontrapunktisk Piano-Studie med den mindste Anvendelse af “Klaver-Sats” eller overhovedet Flyglets Rigdom af Klangfarver. Alt kun Tegning, Streger og Sving, men den nydeligste, sirligste, gammeldags Ornamentik’. Quoted in Ludvig Dolleris, Carl Nielsen: en Musikografi (Odense: Fyns Boghandels Forlag – Viggo Madsen, 1949), 211, and David Fanning’s editorial preface, CNU 2:12, xxiv–v. 21 Nielsen had heard Joseph Joachim play the Chaconne in Berlin in 1890; see the diary entry dated 22 October in Dagbøger, 1, 21. 22 ‘Saa idag atter længe paa Stefanskirken, og jo mere jeg sèr jo forunderligere bliver det mig at en Menneskeaand har kunnet omfatte et saadant Værk. Den virker paa

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Aligning Bach’s work with Gothic architecture, Nielsen’s diary entry once more reinforces a familiar pattern of nineteenth-century Bach reception: counterpoint as religious sublime. But in a letter to his daughter Irmelin Eggert Møller dated 19 December 1916, as he was working on the piano piece, Nielsen’s attitude reveals a keener sense of influence anxiety, the initial sense of pragmatism and imaginative freedom giving way to a more competitive edge in the final sentence: I have started my vacation by beginning a large Ciaconne for piano, which I am well advanced with. You know, of course, that the Passacaglia and Ciaconne form are nearly the same: an underlying theme or bass that is varied in a multitude of ways. I think it will grow big and strong, but over the Christmas period I am happy just to let my fantasy roam within these tightly bound eight bar periods in moderate 3/4 time. You know Bach’s delightful Ciaconne for solo-violin, of course. If only I could reach his shoulders with mine for piano!23 Nielsen was a professionally trained violinist himself with extensive chamber and orchestral experience (and his future son-in-law, Hungarian violinist Emil Telmányi, was later well known for his Bach interpretation). Not surprisingly, Bach’s violin figuration appears to have served as a startingpoint for some of the keyboard writing in Nielsen’s Chaconne: for example, the ‘double-stopped’ parallel thirds of the fourth variation (bb. 33–41), the string-crossing broken chords of the ninth (bb. 74–81), the scherzoso pointof-the-bow dotted rhythm of the thirteenth (bb. 106–13), and the open-string martellato ostinato which dominates the central climax. But Nielsen’s deeper compositional interest in Bach and Baroque music had perhaps been stimulated by a keyboard player: the German organist Karl Straube, who first visited Copenhagen for two recitals in October 1913 and later returned in March 1914 to perform at the city’s cathedral, Vor Frue Kirke. A leading member of the New Organ Movement and organist at Bach’s church, the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, as well as a friend of Max Reger, Straube met Nielsen on 2 October mig som en vældig Jubelhymne der stiger imod Himlen. Jeg greb mig selv i, at jeg indvendig gik og sang paa Bachs Ciaconne da jeg studerede Kirken; Forbindelsen er naturlig.’ CNB 1. 393–4. 23 ‘Jeg har begyndt mine første Feriendage med at paabegynde en stor Ciaconne for Klaver som jeg er godt igang med. Du ved nok at Passacaglia og CiaconneFormen er næsten ens; et til Grund liggende Thema eller Bas som varieres paa mangfoldige Maader. Jeg tænker den skal vokse stærk og stor men i Julen foreløbig morer det mig meget at slippe min fantasi løs indenfor disse bundne Perioder c. 8 Takter i maadelig 3/4 Takt. Du kender jo Bach’s dejlige Ciaconne for Solo-Violin. Kunde jeg naa ham til Skuldrene med min for Klaver!!’ Unpublished letter in the Carl Nielsen Archive, Royal Library, Copenhagen; discussed, but not reproduced, in Mina F. Miller, ‘Introduction’, The Complete Solo Piano Music of Carl Nielsen (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, 1981), pp.7–23, at 14.

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188 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism 1913.24 Though Nielsen did not attend Straube’s first two recitals (including works by Reger, Bach, Brahms and Liszt), Straube nevertheless played privately for Nielsen on 4 October at St Andreas Kirke.25 Nielsen was clearly impressed; in a letter to his wife dated 6 October, he wrote: Well, I’ve had a visit from Straube. He had heard my symphony [the Espansiva] for four hands and was very strongly affected by it. He said, among other things, that it could never have been written by a German, and considered that it was so unique and strongly personal. That is something one cannot have an opinion about oneself. On the way to the station, he said: ‘There is an incredible power in your symphony; some places are almost frightening.’ … I suddenly have the urge to write a Phantasi for Organ and have already begun. It is splendid how an organ can sound when a great master grapples with it.26 Though only brief sketches for Nielsen’s proposed 1913 ‘Phantasy’ and other organ works survive from this period (he did not begin work on Commotio for over a decade),27 Straube’s visit may still have directed Nielsen’s thoughts towards the Chaconne and the idea of ground bass variations. Straube had previously given the premiere, in Berlin, of Reger’s Suite for Organ in E minor, op. 16 (1895), a work which concludes with a passacaglia that, as Frisch notes, draws on earlier prototypes by Brahms (the finale of the Fourth Symphony), Rheinberger (his Organ Sonata no. 8, op. 132), as well as Bach (the C minor Passacaglia, bwv582).28 And Straube’s concert at Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen on 12 March included Reger’s Chorale Fantasy ‘Wachet auf’, a Passacaglia, Fugue, and Chaconne by Buxtehude, and César Franck’s Chorale no. 3, alongside Brahms’s Vier ernste Gesänge and three new psalm ­melodies by Nielsen himself.29 It is not hard to sense that in 1914, in the years 24 Dagbøger, 353. 25 Straube’s visit is discussed by John Fellow in CNB 4, 498. Straube later gave Nielsen a copy of Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s book on Goethe (CNB 4, 514), though Nielsen seems not to have commented on the volume. 26 ‘Jeg har jo haft Besøg af Straube. Han har hørt min Symfoni 4-händig og var meget stærkt berørt deraf. Han sagde bl. a. at den kunde aldrig en Tysker have skrevet og mente den var saa ejendommelig og stærkt personlig. Det kan man ikke selv have nogen Mening om. Paa vejen til Banegaarden sagde han: “Der er en utrolig Kraft i Deres Symfoni; man kan næsten blive helt angst flere Steder.’ … Jeg har faaet Lyst til at skrive en Phantasi for Orgel og har allerede begyndt. Det er mægtigt som et Orgel kan lyde, naar en stor Mester tumler med det.’ CNB 4, 502–3. 27 See Niels Bo Foltmann’s editorial preface to the critical edition of Nielsen’s organ music, CNU 2:12 (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, 2006), xlii. 28 Frisch, German Modernism, 154–61. As Frisch notes, the premiere of Reger’s Suite took place on 4 March 1897. 29 Dagbøger, 379.

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­immediately following the Third Symphony and on the cusp of the First World War and the decisive moment of musical aesthetic reorientation identified by Hepokoski, Nielsen’s work was poised at the leading edge of a historicist modernism wave. Straube’s description of the Third Symphony’s ‘incredible power’ and its moments of apparent danger and alarm strongly reflects this sense of a precarious balance between opposed musical forces. But if the Third Symphony ultimately manages to gather together and resolve the dissonance between its polarised musical impulses smoothly in the confident final bars of the finale, many of Nielsen’s later works dramatise the process of contrast, conflict, and resolution in an even more explicit and provocative manner. The strain inherent within Hyde’s notion of metamorphic anachronism is made increasingly evident, and becomes, in works such as the Chaconne, a primary form-defining parameter. Structurally, the Chaconne consists of a series of nineteen eight-bar variations upon an eight-bar ground, followed by an extended coda.30 Nielsen groups some of the variations in pairs to provide a sense of middleground coherence: variations 6 and 7 (bb. 50–65), and 9 and 10 (bb. 74–89), for example, are textural inversions of each other; variations 13 and 14 (bb. 106–21) share similar dotted scherzoso ostinato figuration; and variation 16 is a chromatically distorted reconfiguration of variation 15 (bb. 122–45). The coda similarly suggests a symmetrical two-part structure (the second half begins in b. 192). But the Chaconne is defined at a more fundamental level by its arch-like sense of growth and retreat, expanding from a static starting point towards the moment of greatest dynamic, registral, and harmonic intensity at the apex of variations 16 and 17 (bb. 145–6), from where the music gradually winds down before fading away in an extended pianississimo epilogue (bb. 192–202). The simplicity of this design recalls earlier works such as the Helios overture, which has a similar basic profile, but the trajectory here is tauter and much more strained: there is a powerful sense of the music violently threatening to break its boundaries at the crux of the formal arch in variation 16. Nielsen may initially have had Bach’s solo-violin chaconne in mind as a formal and expressive template: both works suggest a growing intensity towards the middle variations, and the bariolage passage at the centre of Bach’s chaconne likewise suggests an escalating feeling of tension that is only dissipated by the marked turn to the major mode. Unlike Bach’s model, however, where the major-mode variations function almost like a nested interlude or slow movement within the chaconne proper and are followed by a symmetrical return of the opening sequence in the minor, 30 The variations are numbered in Nielsen’s manuscript draft, although confusingly he begins by labelling the ground itself ‘1’ (the numbering in the following account begins at b. 9, after the first statement of the ground). The only exception to the regular eight-bar structure of the variations before the coda is the singlebar poco rall. transition from variation 4 to 5 (b. 41).

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190 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism the feeling of destabilisation in Nielsen’s work demands more sustained resolution, and the modal shift becomes an extended tierce-de-picardie. This is in some ways the most striking passage in the piece: Nielsen liquidates the Chaconne theme within an inner part, around which a delicate arabesque or fioritura runs for over forty bars, first in the left hand and then in the right.31 Eventually, any sense of regular phrase rhythm and harmonic movement dissolves into nearly an entire page of passagework before the simple chordal close. This final section resembles the improvisatory flourish of a Baroque fantasia,32 a cadenza-like gesture frequently used in eighteenth-century music as a cadential signifier. All that remains of the initial ground by this stage of the proceedings are the descending inner parts in the final cadence, the low Ds in the left hand a closing reference to the register in which the work started.33 The dramatic registral, dynamic, and chromatic journey charted by the Chaconne is initiated by the design of the opening ground in bb. 1–8. The bass theme creates a gentle arc that grows towards the middle of the phrase, through the initial ascent up towards the Bb and the descent to the low C§, and then fades away again towards the end of the phrase in the ascent towards the upper D§. As Ernst Kurth or Hans Mersmann might have suggested, the ground thus generates its own linear sense of potential energy, the dynamic motion from one note to the next creating a sense of wave-like amplification or ascent (Steigerung) and discharge or abatement (Entladung) that becomes the impulse for the entire work. This initial wave of potential melodic energy is intensified by the structure of countersubject (bb. 9–16): first moving in contrary motion with the bass, and then sequentially imitating itself to create a more undulating energetic melodic profile (Ex. 6.1). The second variation, marked quasi stringendo, is a simple diminution of this opening group of bass ground and countersubject, but Nielsen begins to develop motivic ideas which generate later variations: the triplet figure in the bass in b. 23, for example, expands the chromatic range outwards to Eb and becomes the starting point for the rising tranquillo espressivo line in variation 5 (bb. 42–3). Similarly, the third variation begins to widen the variety of articulation, introducing the first staccato and marcato markings after the legato phrasing of the preceding variations. The imitative tendencies of the countersubject 31 ‘Liquidation’ here refers to Schoenberg’s definition: a process of textural-motivic reduction as a closing signifier. See Arnold Schoenberg, Fundamentals of Musical Composition, ed. Gerald Strang and Leonard Stein (London: Faber, 1967), 58ff. 32 Compare, for example, the conclusions of the Preludes in D major and D minor from the Well-Tempered Clavier I, bwv850 and bwv 851, or, more pointedly, the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, bwv903, where such textures are interspersed throughout the Fantasy. 33 On the status of the low left hand D(s) which conclude the work, see the editorial commentary in David Fanning’s critical edition, CNU 2:12, xxv.

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Ex. 6.1  Nielsen, Chaconne: opening Tempo giusto (q = 96)

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here begin to intensify, so that the two hands become momentarily caught in a tight canonic dialogue in the centre of the variation, bb. 27–30: the potential for similar ­ostinato patterns to become agitated and disruptive is another of the Chaconne’s characteristic design features. Though the fourth variation, as noted above, is dominated mainly by the violinistic double-stopping in the right hand, b. 39 introduces a new chromatic harmonic twist, pushing the music more sharply towards the flat-side. This in turn generates the harmonic interruption at the start of variation 5 (the bass begins on Bb rather than D, b. 42). The whole variation, in fact, is more intensively chromaticised than previous statements, a process that impels the Chaconne forwards. Such patterns of chromatic alteration are consequently developed in the following variations, though it is the delicate register leaps in the right hand variation 6 (from b. 50), and the nagging ostinato figuration in variation 8 (from b. 66) that more immediately catch the attention. The process of widening or accumulation unfolded by the opening ground bass theme and developed in subsequent variations does not proceed entirely uninflected. The image of the energetic wave, gradually gaining strength and growing in amplitude, might be more properly understood as series of interlocking component waves, as Kurth and Mersmann’s models suggest. The block of variations 9–11 (bb. 74–97), for example, is a partial drawing back: an abatement that allows the music to regather energy in order to approach the central climax. Variation 11 (marked meno), in particular, is an interlude or hymnic slow movement that represents the lowest point of activity hitherto: from here, the ascent to variations 16–17 seems all the more steep. Nielsen plays a characteristic formal-expressive game at the centre of the Chaconne. The onset of the central climax, at b. 130, represents the start of the most strained and dissonant music in the whole work. The wild effect is emphasised by the mechanically repetitive rhythm, so that the passage becomes gesturally

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192 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism as well as tonally dissonant within the parameters established by the opening bars. Past and present musical impulses are brought dramatically into conflict. But it is simultaneously a moment of return: the point at which, for the first time, the opening ground bass theme is heard again in the left hand in its original form. Nielsen thus disorients the listener. The pivotal moment of recapitulation, the work’s point of symmetrical balance, is powerfully destabilised and distorted. And, in variation 17, the return of the bass ground is brutalised,34 so that it appears all the more angular and dissonant: this is the passage where the whole piece threatens to fall apart and collapse (Ex. 6.2). Such passages of formal strain and chromatic brutalisation become paradigmatic in much of Nielsen’s later music, as we shall see. But the placement and function of variations 16–17 can be understood in a number of ways: first, as the logical end-point of the growth process initiated by the opening theme; second, as the expression and intensification of disruptive ostinato tendencies apparent earlier at variations 4 and 8; third, as the unrestrained outburst of chromatic harmonic tensions latent in the initial theme and developed more intensively from b. 39 onwards; and fourth, as the foregrounding or bringinginto-play of the sense of metamorphic anachronism identified by Hyde – the disjunction between opposed musical styles (the archaic and the modernist) suggesting fracture rather than synthesis. The idea of counterpoint can hence be heard figuratively on several levels in the Chaconne: as the interplay of component waves and musical energies, the dialogue and opposition of musical processes proceeding at different rates, and the dissonant clash of different historical styles and musical languages. What remains striking, however, is the extent to which such higher-level counterpoints remain a source of creative imagination – the factors that shape and define the Chaconne – even as they seemingly bring the music to breaking point. Nielsen’s attitude towards his material in the Chaconne hence begins to diverge from more familiar patterns of Bach reception. The process of translation or allusion, to borrow Hyde’s terminology once more, seems more antagonistic than reverential. This difference of creative imagination becomes all the more apparent alongside works such as Busoni’s transcription of the Bach chaconne (1892–3). Busoni sent Nielsen a copy of his edition of the WellTempered Clavier in 1897, and, though Busoni championed Nielsen’s work in Berlin, Nielsen always seems to have had more respect for Busoni as a pianist than as a conductor or composer.35 Busoni’s transcription of the Chaconne 34 ‘Brutalisation’ is the term offered by David Fanning to describe moments of chromatic distortion in Nielsen’s music, where a diatonic motive or theme is intervallically transformed so that it retains a recognisable profile but no longer contains its original diatonic content. Such moments are often highly expressively charged. See Fanning, ‘Progressive Thematicism’, esp. 196ff. 35 In a diary entry dated Leipzig, 7 February 1891, Nielsen wrote: ‘In the evening to the chamber music concert in the Gewandhaus … There Busoni and Brodsky

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Counterpoints

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194 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

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Nielsen.indb 194

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was intended to be both a ‘performing version’ of Bach’s work, and a comprehensive study in virtuoso piano technique: it later inspired other projects such as the epic Fantasia Contrappuntistica (1910), a work which takes the idea of Bachian counterpoint to a new extreme.36 As with other nineteenth-century arrangements, Busoni remains closest (or ‘truest’) to Bach’s original score at major points of structural articulation, namely the end of the first minore section, the beginning of the maggiore section and the beginning of the second minore section (b. 214, rescored as a study for the left hand in the manner of Brahms’s famous arrangement of 1879). Otherwise, his transcription makes little attempt to recreate faithfully the sound of the early eighteenthcentury keyboard. Many of the effects, such as the spectacular double-octave runs in b. 73, for example, are a late-Romantic, rather than neo-Baroque, keyboard texture. Likewise, the delicate toccata figuration from b. 94, comparable with variation 9 (b. 74) in Nielsen’s Chaconne, is conceived very much in terms of a late nineteenth-century pianistic technique. For the most part, however, Nielsen’s work offers a very different kind of piano writing from that in Busoni’s transcription. The crucial difference is not so much of idiomatic design but of aesthetic and stylistic orientation. Any sense of ‘religious fidelity’, which arguably remains the governing principle in Busoni’s work, is undermined in Nielsen’s Chaconne by the central climax, where the tension between archaic and modernist elements erupts dramatically into the foreground. Indeed, it is the very abruptness of the juxtaposition, the essence of Hyde’s process of ‘metamorphic anachronism’, that becomes one of the defining characteristics of Nielsen’s musical style in the Chaconne and beyond. Yet the way in which Nielsen eventually achieves resolution in the final bars of the work offers one of his most compelling musical narratives.

played a new sonata by the former. This work is highly interesting, but I still don’t think he’ll make it as a composer. But on the other hand he is an important piano virtuoso.’ [Om Aftenen til Kammermusikconcert i Gewandhaus … Derpaa spillede Busoni og Brodsky en ny Sonate af Først-nævnte. Dette Arbejde er højst interessant, men jeg tror dog ikke paa ham som Componist. Derimod er han en betydelig Klaviervirtuos.] Quoted in Dagbøger 1, 42. 36 On the dual artistic function of Busoni’s Bach arrangements, see Martin Zenck, ‘Reinterpreting Bach in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’, The Cambridge Companion to Bach, ed. John Butt (Cambridge, 1997), 226–39. Zenck writes of Busoni’s transcription (p. 232): ‘For Busoni, performance, revision, and composition represent graduated levels of the indivisible creative process and not three distinct entities … it is as if, for Busoni, all of the aspects of the topic ‘Bach’ are permeated by a fundamental idea that extends from the ‘abstract idea’, through the musical imagination, and then to the actual performance, transcription and composition … Bach is for Busoni a point of departure from which all works emanate.’ The Fantasia Contrappuntistica is discussed in Frisch, German Modernism, 180–2.

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ЙЙNielsen, Reger, and the idea of Counterpoint

These levels of musical opposition, of large-scale conflict and resolution, are intensified in the Theme and Variations, which Nielsen wrote immediately after completing the Chaconne. To a greater extent even than the Chaconne, the Theme and Variations point towards Nielsen’s ambivalent relationship with inherited musical tradition as a source of inspiration and as evidence of current musical culture in decline. Nielsen is supposed to have stumbled across the theme with which the work begins while improvising around some of Brahms’s piano music,37 though there is no evidence of a single work having served as a model. Karsten Eskildsen reasonably suggests that Brahms’s Variations on a Theme of G. F. Handel, op. 24, played an important role, particularly as regards figuration in the early variations, but as the set developed Nielsen could equally well have had in mind the Variations on a Theme of Haydn, op. 56.38 Nielsen’s treatment of the theme, however, and his attitude to Baroque counterpoint arguably suggests a stronger parallel with the music of Max Reger. In the first decade of the twentieth century, Nielsen was more interested in Reger’s work than perhaps any other contemporary Continental composer. This trend partly reflects the prominence that Reger’s piano music enjoyed in the early years of the twentieth century, but it also suggests that Nielsen sensed a deeper sympathy with aspects of Reger’s musical thinking. Nielsen’s attention was first directed towards Reger’s work by a mutual acquaintance, the Dutch composer Julius Röntgen, in 1904. In a letter dated 20 September, Nielsen wrote to Röntgen regarding Reger’s Sonata that ‘I do not yet know how I will come to relate to Reger. I have only studied two movements, and my current opinion is that he has a splendid sense of form and that the rhythmic pithiness will help him out a great deal. The harmonic modulatory element is also good; what I lack so far is genuine melodic power of invention. Almost the same is true for Pfitzner, but Reger interests me far more.’ 39 Nielsen approached Reger himself toward the end of the year 37 Nielsen apparently borrowed a volume of Brahms’s piano music from the Royal Library in Copenhagen, shortly after finishing the Chaconne. Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen, vol. 2, 140. 38 Karsten Eskildsen, notes on Theme and Variations, for Knud Ketting (ed.), Carl Nielsen: The Man and the Music, CD ROM. Nielsen had heard, and been deeply impressed by, Brahms’s Variations on a Theme of Haydn at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in 1891. In a diary entry dated 28 January, he wrote, ‘Masterly! Already in the first variation one can hear Brahms, and the whole series is stamped with his unique character which lies as far away from the innocent little theme as possible’ [Mesterlige! Strax i den 1ste Variation hører man Brahms og hele Rækken er stemplet med hans Eiendommelighed, som ligger saa langt borte fra det uskyldige lille Thema som muligt.’ Dagbøger, 1, 40. Brahms’s work may also have served (more directly?) as model for the finale of Nielsen’s Sixth Symphony. 39 ‘Jeg véd endnu ikke hvorledes jeg vil komme til at forholde mig overfor Reger. Kun de to Satser her jeg studeret og mit foreløbige Skjøn er at han har en

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with the intention of sending him some of his own compositions,40 and in an autobiographical note from early 1905, he revealed that, ‘of the newer composers, I feel most closely allied to the German Max Reger, so far as I am familiar with his work. He seeks, just as I do myself, a strong and confident form and handles the tonal relationships in a musical work entirely freely.’ 41 When Reger’s sudden early death was announced in the Danish newspapers in 1916, Nielsen noted desolately to his wife on 12 May, ‘Max Reger is dead aged 42’.42 Yet Nielsen nevertheless remained ambivalent about aspects of Reger’s music. Some of these reservations he shared with contemporary theorists such as Heinrich Schenker and Reger’s former teacher, Hugo Riemann.43 In his discussion of Reger’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Joh. Seb. Bach, op. 81 (1904), for example, Schenker asked, ‘are we to attribute these ever recurring fits of literalism, the constant mixing of variation and quotation, to artistic dishonesty or to incompetence?’, concluding that, ‘for the incompetence is witnessed already by the fragmented execution of linear progressions, and the unfounded procedure in the connection of harmonies (Klänge).’ 44









udpræget Formsans og den rytmiske Prægnans vil hjælpe ham ud over meget. Det harmonisk-modulatorisk Element er ogsaa godt; hvad jeg foreløbig savner er virkelig melodisk Opfindsomhed. Næsten det samme gjælder Pfitzner, men Reger interesserer mig foreløbigt langt mere.’ CNB 2, 372. 40 Reger’s secretary replied to Nielsen’s letter in a note dated 7 December 1904: ‘Reger writes that he would be very (underlined!) interested in getting to know your compositions. If you would be so kind as to send your materials right away, I am sure that you will find in M. Reger an equally kind and supportive colleague.’ [Reger Schreibt eben, dass es ihn sehr (unterstrichen!) interessieren würde, Ihre Kompositionen ken[n]en zu lernen. Wollen Sie also bitte Ihre Sachen ihm recht bald zusenden – ich glaube, dass sie in M. Reger einen ebenso liebenswürdiger wie stets dienstbereiten Kollegen finden werden.] CNB 2, 404. Nielsen’s initial letter is not preserved. 41 ‘Af de nyere Komponister føler jeg mig mest beslægtet med Tyskeren, Max Reger, saa vidt jeg kender til hans Værker. Han tilstræber nemlig ligesom jeg selv en fast og sikker Form og behandler de tonale Forhold i et Musikstykke fuldkommen frit.’ Samtid, 51. 42 ‘Max Reger er død 42 Aar gammel.’ Dagbøger, 408. 43 ‘A Counter-example: Max Reger’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Bach, op. 81, for piano’, trans. John Rothgeb in The Masterwork in Music: A Yearbook (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), vol. 2, 106–17. Schenker claims that in Reger’s music, the organic relationship between foreground detail and background structure has been lost on account of the extreme chromaticism. Riemann’s infamous public falling out with his former protegé took place in 1907–9, and is summarised in Alexander Rehding, Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 10–14. 44 Heinrich Schenker, ‘A Counter-example: Max Reger’s Variations and Fugue on a theme by Bach, op. 81, for piano’, trans. John Rothgeb in The Masterwork in Music: A Yearbook (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), vol. 2, 106–17, at 113. It is hard to appreciate Schenker’s article without bearing in mind the much higher profile that Reger’s piano music enjoyed in the first half of the century. In

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198 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Nielsen harboured similar doubts. In a letter to Röntgen dated 16 December 1905 expressing mixed feelings, he replied, What you wrote about Max Reger interests me very much. I think that the Public will be utterly unable to grasp Reger’s work and yet I am a lot more sympathetic towards his efforts than towards the tendency of which Richard Strauss, with his amateur philosophy and acoustical [klangtekniske] problems, is representative. Reger only writes music for the sake of music, and even if, undeniably, not everything he writes has the same value – he lacks both sincerity and good taste – the path he has chosen remains the right one. I am astonished at the technical proficiency that Germans have nowadays and I cannot believe other than that all this complexity will soon have exhausted itself and I sense a completely new art of the purest archaic stamp in the air. What would you say to single-voiced music? We must get back – not to the old – but to the pure and clear.45 This idea of the purity of single-voiced music became a recurring trope for Nielsen, who believed, like Schenker, that much contemporary contrapuntal writing lacked sufficient linear rigour, and hence that a return to compositional basics was necessary. Writing to his student Knud Harder, who had originally intended to study with Ludwig Thuille in Munich, Nielsen recommended that he seek lessons with Reger, and explained that ‘he is a man who masters all the skills that, as ill-luck would have it, are almost wholly discredited these days. I mean: that polyphony, which through Wagner, and especially his disciples has flattened out into a characterless quasi-contrapuntalism which expresses nothing other than sultry sentimentality or empty, storming passion.’ For Nielsen, contrapuntal integrity was essential: ‘this art must be led back to its fundamental principles, yes, right back to its singlehis conclusion, Schenker wrote (p. 117): ‘Verily, one does Reger no service if one calls him an heir of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. The word is probably not to be taken so seriously – the mere thought of such an heir and mega-genius boggles the mind. No, Reger is not heir to those masters, he didn’t write polyphonically, he was not complex, not reactionary. But for all that, he didn’t write well enough!’ It seems unlikely that he would have treated Nielsen’s music any more favourably. 45 ‘Hvad Du skrev om Max Reger interesserede mig meget. Jeg mener ogsaa at det store Publikum absolut ikke vil kunne kapere Regers Værker men alligevel er hans Stræben mig langt mere sympatisk end den Retning – som Richard Strauss med sin Dilletant Filosofi og klangtekniske Problemer – er Repræsentant for. Reger vil dog kun Musik for Musikens Skyld og selv om det saa langtfra er ligemeget hvad han skriver – han mangler baade Inderlighed og fin Smag – saa er det dog den rigtige Vej. ¶ Jeg er forbavset over den tekniske Dygtighed Tyskerne har nutildags og jeg kan ikke tro andet end at al denne Kompliserthed snart maa have løbet sig træt og jeg ser i Aanden en hel ny Kunst af den reneste archaiske Præg. Hvad siger Du til en enstemmig Musik? Vi maa tilbage – ikke til det Gamle – men til det Rene og Klare.’ CNB 2, 581–2.

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voiced source with its natural respect for each movement and each note. I would not claim that Reger has done this, but, just as he too has entered the woods from the wrong side, there is nevertheless something of what I mean in his work, and I believe that as a teacher he would set that clearly apart from what he does as a composer.’ 46 Though Nielsen thus respected Reger’s explicit concern with the idea of counterpoint as a musical discipline, he nevertheless retained significant doubts as to its practical realisation in Reger’s music, particularly his treatment of voice-leading and modulation. This tension between theory and practice provided the context for one of Nielsen’s most extended theoretical discussions in print. In 1909 Nielsen published a review of Carl Cohn’s textbook, Nøgle til Løsning af Orla Rosenhoffs firstemmige Opgaver til Brug ved Undervisningen i Harmonilære (‘Key to the Solutions to Orla Rosenhoff’s Four-voice Exercises for Use in the Instruction of Harmonic Theory’) in the Danish magazine Vort Land – Orla Rosenhoff had been Nielsen’s theory teacher at the Royal Danish Conservatoire and an early supporter and friend of the composer’s music. In his review, which swiftly turned towards a wider discussion of pedagogy and contemporary music, Nielsen asked: ‘it is a great and hitherto unanswered question whether the whole of our modulation system is not in need of fundamental reform.’ Bemoaning what he perceived as the lack of taste and artistic responsibility in new music, Nielsen proposed that the use of the dominant seventh chord as the primary means of modulation between diatonic keys should be abandoned, and that free composition should be more tightly regulated in the classroom. ‘Every good musician should be able to modulate only with the help of pure triads’, Nielsen argued, ‘and the student should be warned against or even forbidden from staggering around or climbing from one tonality to another in the current coarse and unartistic manner. There lies a challenge.’ 47 Nielsen elaborated upon these remarks in a follow-up article, after Cohn had 46 ‘Han [Reger] er en Mand der kan alt det som ved Tidernes Ugunst næsten helt er kommen i Miskredit. Jeg mener: den virkelig polyfoni, som gjennem Wagner og især hans Efterfølere er gledet ud i en karakterløs Quasi-Kontrapunktik som ikke udtrykker andet end lummer Sentimentalitet eller tom, stormende Lidenskabelighed. Denne Kunst maa føres tilbage til sine Grundprincippier, ja, helt tilbage til sin ènstemmige Oprindelse med sine Naturlove for enhver Bevægelse og ethvert Toneskridt. Jeg vil ikke paastaa at Reger har gjort dette; men, skjøndt han ogsaa er kommen den gale Vej ind i Skoven, saa er der dog noget af det jeg mener i hans Arbejder og jeg tror, at han som Lærer vil sætte det endnu klarere frem end han gjør som Komponist.’ Letter dated 13 Feb 1907, CNB 3, 134–5. 47 ‘Det er et stort og til Dato endnu uberørt Spørgsmaal, om ikke hele vort Modulationsvæsen trænger til en grundig Reform. … Enhver god Musiker bør kunne modulere ved Hjælp af rene Treklange, og Eleven bør advares imod, ja det maa forbydes ham at rave rundt eller entre fra den ene Toneart til den anden paa den gængse, grove og ukunstneriske Maade. Her ligger en Opgave.’ Article published 21 October 1909; reproduced in Samtid 1, 140–1, at 141.

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200 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism replied to the initial review, by attacking a wider trend in German music theory. Unaware perhaps of the very public falling out between Reger and his former teacher, Hugo Riemann, that had taken place over the preceding two years, Nielsen claimed that ‘a great delusion lies even in the title of Hugo Riemann’s book, “Systematic Theory of Modulation”. For if there is anything that in its nature cannot, or should not, be systematic, it is modulation in music.’ According to Nielsen, Riemann’s highly influential attempt to explain harmonic progression through the idea of dualism was simply wrong-headed. Tarring Reger’s models in his Beiträge zur Modulationslehre (Contributions to the Theory of Modulation)48 with the same brush, he claimed: Max Reger’s examples may be interesting enough in their own way, but it is entirely the old manner with dualist analysis, and he tries particularly to make them as ‘logical’ and ‘punchy’ as possible. But why? There is no hurry, and it can never be beautiful; moreover, the logical conclusion is that as a result, for example, one moves from C major to F sharp minor without transition chords. One will never be punished for it; but it cannot be called the art of modulation. It is mutation. If one agrees to the idea that harmonic theory and counterpoint correspond to drawing and design in painting, then modulation and colour theory mean the same thing as each other. But the ability to select or choose the right shades of colour with taste and talent can only be developed by a diligent teacher’s instruction up to a certain degree; it also demands continual study – out in the open field, so to speak. I will therefore restrict myself to making following positive recommendations, 1) that one begins as early as possible with modulation (so that the pupil, as soon as he has learnt the principles of triads, begins to venture out exploring, so to speak, feeling his way carefully forwards under the teacher’s observation, 2) that even at a more advanced standpoint, one leaves dominant seventh chords completely out of consideration and uses only triads in root position and first inversion, 3) that one under no circumstances permits chromatic alteration of a single note or voice, and 4) that one weans both oneself and the pupil completely away from the habit of our two weak tonalities, minor and major, as though these harmful and in reality utterly superfluous ­concepts did not exist.49 48 Max Reger, Beiträge zur Modulationslehre (Leipzig: C. F. Kahnt, 1909, repr. 1917). 49 ‘I selve Titelen paa Hugo Riemanns Bog “Systematische Modulationslehre”, ligger en stor Vildfarelse. Er der noget, der i Følge sin Natur hverken kan eller bør være systematisk, saa er det Modulationer i Musik. … Max Regers “Beispiele” er paa en Maade interessante nok, men det er ganske den gamle Manér med Doppeltanalyse, og han gaar især ud paa at gøre dem saa “logische” og “schlagfertige” som muligt. Men hvorfor? Det har jo ingen Hast, og smukt kan det aldrig blive; desuden er den logiske Følge deraf, at man f.Ex. gaar fra

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Counterpoints 201 Nielsen’s complaint partly revolves around the distinction between what Alexander Rehding has described as ‘implicit’ and ‘explicit’ models of music theory – the notion of ‘a compositional logic immanent in the musical work’, versus the attempt to synthesise a ‘general order’ that does little to illuminate the ‘particularity of a given work’.50 Riemann’s theory, in its attempts to derive universal musical laws from the principles of the undertone series, corresponds more with the latter approach than with the former – and for Nielsen, such systematic abstraction away from what he believed was a practical musical reality governed by rules of good taste and proper compositional behaviour was a fundamental flaw in contemporary German music theory. This theoretical error merely reflected a deeper problem in new German music, he believed, evident in Reger’s tendency towards overcomplexity, obscurity, or profusion. Nielsen’s theoretical polemic thus becomes a telling moment of musical resistance. Riemann’s misguided attempt to synthesise a general principle of musical-harmonic order has led, via a weakening of contrapuntal rigour, to a form of musical decadence, a process to which Reger’s music ultimately succumbed. Only through a conscious return to musical basics, the study of counterpoint in its material forms, can a full sense of artistic purpose be regained. Nielsen’s tutorial advice to Knud Harder thus assumes a strongly ideological character, an aesthetic rappel à l’ordre that is simultaneously a vivid assertion of musical identity: Try to compose some completely simple, tonal melodies without any harmony (single-voiced); imagine that you dare not move outside the eight notes of the scale and that each note is a shrine that cannot be quitted under pain of death. Set yourself the task to write as originally and with as much conviction and fervour as possible in this prison cell C-Dur til Fis-Dur uden Mellemakkord. Man kan jo ikke blive straffet for det; men Modulationskunst kan det ikke kaldes. Det er Mutation. Ifald man vil gaa ind paa, at Harmoni-lære og Kontrapunkt svarer til Tegning og Konstruktion i Malerkunsten, saa vil Modulations- og Farvebegrebet ligeledes dække hinanden. Men at træffe eller udvælge de rette Farvenuancer med Smag og Talent, det kan selvfølgelig til en vis Grad opøves under en dygtig Lærers Vejledning; men dertil hører bestandige Studier – saa at sige i fri Mark. ¶ Derfor vil jeg foreløbig kun stille de positive Forslag, 1) at man begynder saa tidligt som muligt paa Modulation (at Eleven, saasnart han har lært Treklangene i Grundbeliggenhed, begynder ligesom at vove sig ud paa Opdagelse, prøvede sig forsigtigt frem under Lærerens Opsigt), 2) at man lader–ogsaa paa et mere fremskredent Standpunkt  – Dominantseptimakkorden fuldstændig ude af Betragtning og kun benytter Treklange i Grundform og som Sextakkord, 3) at man paa ingen Maade tillader kromatisk Forandring af den enkelte Tone eller Stemme, og 4) at man vænner sig selv og Eleven til at se fuldstændigt bort fra vore to fattige Tonearter Moll og Dur og lader, som om disse skadelige og i Virkeligheden aldeles overflødige Begreber ikke existerer.’ Response to replies by Carl Cohn [27 October 1909] and Asger Juul [23 October 1909], Vort Land, 2 November 1909; Samtid 1, 148–9 at 149. 50 Rehding, Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought, 42–3.

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202 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism with its meagre rations. Then you shall see what riches drop straight into your hat one fine day. You have acquired much greater fluency, and that is no bad thing; but I advise you again and again, my dear Mr. Harder: Tonality, Clarity, Strength.51 It would be a mistake to seek a direct one-to-one correspondence between Nielsen’s theoretical debates and his compositional practice on this basis. Nevertheless, Nielsen’s contributions to Vort Land point towards a central compositional impulse in his work, one that arguably distinguishes his music from Reger’s: the distinction between elaboration, the accumulative decoration and ornamentation of a simple underlying musical pattern or framework, on the one hand, and elementalisation, the gradual reduction of accumulated layers or ornamental details until only basic shapes or ideas remain. This distinction can be explored through brief comparison of two works: Nielsen’s Theme and Variations, introduced above, and Reger’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Joh. Seb. Bach, op. 81, discussed by Walter Frisch. Both works reveal a shared concern with basic elements of musical syntax, and employ the stylised use of archaic musical elements within in a more ‘advanced’ modernist context. Yet a closer comparison reveals profound differences in outlook and musical imagination. For Frisch, Reger’s Variations constitute ‘an act of restoration’, an urgent attempt at cultural re-engagement ‘to the world of Bach that is acknowledged as past and that must be reconstituted in contemporary terms’.52 For Frisch, the process of re-engagement is partly a painful one, but this awkwardness is simultaneously a sign of the music’s modernity, since ‘the disjunction between the historical technique and the sonority it is manipulated to produce serves to reinforce the presentness – the modernity, as it were – of the music and our reception of it’.53 In spite of what Frisch identifies as the relatively high level of ambient dissonance in the Variations, the music suggests that Reger’s understood Baroque music as an ultimately ornamental, improvisatory art. Texturally, the Variations are characterised by a gradual increase in chromatic passing notes and tonal excursions that originate as parenthetical embellishments of the cadential points of the original

51 ‘Prøv engang at komponere ganske enkelte, tonale Melodier, uden al Harmoni (enstemmigt); forestil Dem at De ikke tør bevæge Dem udenfor Skalaens 8 Toner og at hver Toner er en Helligdom som ikke under Dødsstraf tør berøres virkningsløst. Sæt Dem dernæst det Maal indenfor denne Celle med tilhørende Fangekost at skrive saa originalt og fuldbrystet som muligt; De skal se hvilken herlig Belønning De en skjønne Dag faar plumpet lige ned i Turbanen. De har faaet større Skrivefærdighed og det er jo forsaavidt meget godt; men jeg raader Dem atter og atter, kjære Hr. Harder: Tonalitet, Klarhed og Kraft.’ Letter dated 17 May, 1907; Breve, 84. The image of riches falling into one’s turban is a Danish maxim referring to the first act of Adam Oehlenschläger’s play Aladdin eller den forunderlige Lampe, for which Nielsen later wrote incidental music (1918–19). 52 Frisch, ‘Reger’s Bach’, 299. 53 Ibid., 306.

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Counterpoints 203 aria. Though, as Frisch notes, ‘in portions of Reger’s op. 81, perhaps especially in variations 3 and 5, the variation structure tends to break down and thus capitulate to the contingency of musical language and syntax’, Reger manages overall to maintain a sense of balance and containment: ‘In variations 8–13, the rounded returns represent an assertion of order, which becomes still more explicit in variation 14, the only “strict” variation in the second half.’ Hence the free contrapuntal fantasy of the final fugue becomes summative, ‘a heroic effort both to accept fragmentation (in the form of the fugue subject) and re-establish coherence through powerful formal and harmonic closure’.54 Though Reger’s essentially elaborative compositional process frequently generates levels of polyphonic textural density that exceed anything to be found in Nielsen’s work, the progress and integrity of the music is rarely threatened by the incursion of the extreme gestures that fissure Nielsen’s Chaconne. In this sense, the ‘process of restoration’ that motivates Reger’s Variations becomes more acutely agonistic in Nielsen’s work. And, at its pivotal point in Variation 15, Nielsen’s Theme and Variations dramatically accentuates the disjunction between historical technique and modernist sonority even more powerfully than did the Chaconne. Nielsen’s elementalisation – the reduction of music to its basic essential components – is directed here towards intensification rather than dissolution or withdrawal. Indeed, Nielsen’s variations seek to deepen and exploit, rather than simply resolve, the tensions that underpin the set and which are adumbrated in the opening theme (Ex. 6.3). Frisch comments on the strangely ‘unvariable’ nature of the theme with which Reger’s Variations commence: the challenge posed by this strategy perhaps becomes, as Frisch implies, a deeper expression of homage to Bach as musical ‘Allvater’. Yet Nielsen’s theme is even more puzzling. In a letter to his daughter Irmelin, dated 22 March 1917, Nielsen wrote with characteristic understatement that his theme ‘begins in B minor and ends in G minor, so it follows that whenever a new variation begins, one is refreshed even by the new key (B minor). Variation works can, I think, often seem monotonous in tonal respects, something avoided in this manner.’ 55 The theme breaks down into four regular four-bar phrases which constitute a series of cadential propositions; the strong formal symmetry, in contrast to the open harmonic structure, is one element of the tension between freedom and restriction that characterises the set as a whole. The first phrase closes on the relative major, while the second, which begins as though it were a consequent phrase, closes on the subdominant (or, rather, the dominant of the flattened seventh scale degree – V/A). 54 Frisch, German Modernism, 169. 55 ‘Themaet begynder i h moll og ender g moll deraf følger at hvergang en ny Variation begynder friskes man op ogsaa af den nye (h moll). Variationsværker kan, synes jeg, ofte virke monotont i tonal Henseende, det undgaaes paa dinne [sic] Maade.’ Dagbøger, 410.

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204 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 6.3  Nielsen, Theme and Variations: theme, bb. 1–16

# & # c œœœ ˙˙˙... - ˙. mp

#œœœ ˙˙˙˙... œ- . œ Œ Œ œ .

# & # ˙˙˙˙ -

n˙˙ ˙-

nœ œ ? ## œ œ œ # ˙. & # n˙˙˙... -

12

- do

œ nœ-

œ -? ## œ nnœœ bœ b-œ œ bœ bœ œ

-˙ ˙˙ ˙

˙˙ ˙˙ -

˙˙.. ˙˙.. -

œœœ -

˙˙.. ˙˙.. -

#œœœ œ-

˙˙˙... ˙-.

œœœ œ. Œ Œ œ Œ œ Œ Œ œ. Œ Œ œ. œ -. bœœ ˙˙.. œœ n˙˙˙... ˙œ. œ #œ nœœ bnnn˙˙˙˙... . œ ˙ œ bœ- ˙-. œcre ˙. nœ œ Œ Œ Œ œ Œ œ. nœ œ nœ. nœ -œ n-œ bœ U n bn˙˙˙... œœ bbnœœœ n œœ bœœ nœœ b˙˙ #n˙˙ b ˙. ˙. b-œ bœ- nœœ ˙˙b ˙˙.. -

? ## c ΠΠ7

œ

œ nœœœ -

n>œ b -œ œ nœ œ bœ œ nœ >

f

b -œ b-œ nœ œ- bœ nœ œ bœ bœ nœ nœ œ bœ nœ œ œ nœ- œ dim.

nœœœ œ-

œ œœ œ œ

-œ œœ œ œ œscen

poco rall. pp

Œ

nœ nœœ-œ

œ

U œ

This drift towards the flat side of the tonic is massively accentuated by the third and fourth phrases. The enharmonic reinterpretation of G# (as Ab) in b. 9, at the beginning of phrase 3, pulls the music towards F minor,56 a tritone away from the tonic. Though Nielsen is fond of such tritonal oppositions (in the first movement of the Third Symphony, for example), they are rarely articulated as abruptly as here. F minor is prolonged through bb. 12–13, across the break between phrases 3 and 4. The final phrase mirrors the first by moving towards the relative mode (F minor → Ab major), but a harmonic ‘jolt’ in b. 15 reinterprets Ab as a Neapolitan, so that the theme closes inconclusively on G minor (the flattened submediant of the opening key, though any sense of their tonal relationship has long since been suspended or dissolved). Having approached G from above via the flattened supertonic, Nielsen then puns on the leading-note function of F#, dominant scale degree in B minor, as the first variation begins. To summarise, the theme thus constitutes a series of open phrases that drift insistently away from the opening key: the lack of any definitive tonic arrival is in sharp contrast to the four-square phrase rhythm and symmetrical arch-like melodic contour. This lack of clear tonal articulation, and the broader need to resolve the tension between symmetry and asymmetry within the theme itself, becomes the central structural principle of the variations that follow. Some of the early 56 Note also that Ab is the dynamic and registral climax of the theme in b. 13.

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Counterpoints 205 Ex. 6.4  Nielsen, Theme and Variations: Variation 7, bb. 113–28 Largo (q = 58)

? ## œ-œœ

-˙ ˙˙

113

ppp

? ## Œ

118

? ##

-. n˙˙˙˙...

? ## n ˙. . n ˙˙-.

˙˙ ˙œ nnœœœ n nnœœœ -

&

˙ n˙ ? ## b w˙ n˙

123

? ## bb ˙. b w˙.

-˙˙ ˙˙

-˙˙. ˙˙...

˙˙ ˙-

˙˙.. ˙-. b nb ˙˙˙. . b˙ b ˙-

-œ nnœœœ nœœ nœ-

b ˙ b˙ œ œ b˙ b ˙-

n n˙˙. b ˙ œ n ˙. b ˙ œ bn˙˙. b˙ œ b˙ b˙ #˙. n#˙˙.. n nn˙˙˙...

#-˙. # #˙˙..

sempre ppp

˙˙ ˙-

Œ

# n˙˙.. n˙-.

-˙˙ ˙˙

-˙ ˙˙

œ-œœ

˙˙ ˙-

œ ? #œ



#-˙ ##˙˙˙

#-˙˙˙ #˙

n ˙. nb n˙˙˙...

nœœœ

œ œ

#˙˙˙

###˙˙ ˙

nbb˙˙˙.. .

nœœ

b œ nnœœ b˙ n˙ n˙˙.. ˙˙ # ˙˙ ? b nœ ˙ ˙. & n œ nb˙˙. b œ b œ b œ œ b ˙ b b œ n œ- b ˙. bœ b ˙ b œ dim. pppp

bœ n˙. b œ n˙˙..

Œ

bbw˙ b˙ b ˙ b˙

bœ bœ bœ b œ

bœ nœ nœ

˙ ˙

˙ ˙

U œ. U œ

variations are effectively études or genre-miniatures: the third, for example, is a strict two-part canon whose imitation assumes a strangely mechanistic character, a tendency that foreshadows later figuration to follow. The seventh variation is a mysterious chorale, corresponding to the eleventh variation in the Chaconne, which proceeds entirely via common diatonic chords yet leads the music into even remoter harmonic domains, taking its inspiration from the enharmonic shift in bb. 8–9 (Ex. 6.4). From the eleventh variation (a grotesque capriccio), however, the musical texture is dominated by ostinato figuration, whose presence becomes increasingly disruptive as the music progresses. Allied to a creeping process of chromaticisation, such ostinato figures correspond to what David Fanning has aptly described as ‘warning signals’ in the Fifth Symphony, musical gestures that can also be understood as a reaction to a sense of imminent chromatic chaos or breakdown.57 In the Fourth Symphony too, static or ‘vegetative’ repetitive elements become chromatically transformed, or ‘brutalised’, so that their effect often appear malevolent. The function of the ostinato passages in the Theme and Variations is 57 Fanning, Nielsen: Symphony no. 5, 21ff.

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206 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism similar: the tension increases as the ostinato patterns develop, until the music reaches its point of dynamic, chromatic and registral saturation in Variation 15, where the bass’s seemingly immovable chords are set against a range of dramatic fanfare-like figures in the upper register (Ex. 6.5). At this point, the whole structure of the Variations sounds on the verge of collapse, and it is seemingly only with an effort of extreme willpower, marked come ubbriaco (‘with inebriation’ or ‘drunk’) in b. 288, that Nielsen brings the music under control once more. It was the shocking, dissonant effect of this climax that so alarmed critics at the time of the work’s first performance. Charles Kjerulf, for example, described the work as ‘Experimental-music, that at times sounded poetic – almost as though by mistake – but which for the most part sounded mathematical, without any natural connection with the ear’, adding that ‘but then Carl Nielsen and the piano were never good friends.’ 58 Other critics were notably less negative. Vort Land, for example, wrote that ‘Carl Nielsen continually pushes forwards. He is not like others, but then he never was. He has the ability to discover the worthwhile and genuine, and if he makes demands upon those that wish to enjoy his discoveries, it is worth taking the trouble.’ 59 Like the Chaconne, the Theme and Variations traces an arch-like formal trajectory that reaches a point of extreme gestural dissonance before retreating towards a calm, idyllic close. In the later work, this process can be understood as an amplification of the tensions inherent within the theme itself: between static and dynamic elements, archaic and modernist musical impulses, formal symmetry and asymmetry, and harmonic closure and tonal freedom. Perhaps as a reflection of the greater effort involved in overcoming conflict and achieving resolution, however, the closing bars of the Variations are less conclusive than those of the Chaconne, and can seem almost prosaic. Nielsen seems to have sensed this quality acutely in a letter to Julius Röntgen dated 3 January 1921. Commenting first on the unusual structure of the set, Nielsen agrees: You write correctly that Variation 7 deviates from the theme in harmonic respects and that from here on one can compose new variations. This is exactly what I have done. Variations 8, 9 and 10 lead strictly on from the harmonisation of variation 7, so that by variation 10 it has become very obscure (in German: veiled) or expanded. There are two 58 ‘Eksperimental-Musik, der til Tider kunde klinge poetisk – nærmest som ved en Fejltagelse – men det for det meste klang matematisk, uden nogen naturlig Forbindelse med Øret. C. N. og Klaveret har nu aldrig været gode Venner.’ Quoted in Dolleris, Nielsen, 213. 59 ‘C.N. stadig gaar videre og videre. Han er nu engang ikke som andre. Han har Evnen til at finde det lødige og ægte, og stiller han end Fordringer til dem, der vil nyde godt af hans Fund, saa lønner det sig at paatage sig Besværet’. Quoted in ibid., 214.

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Counterpoints 207

“” œ œ nœ #œ #œ œ ‰.. bRÔœ nœ.. œ œ.. œ œ.. œ #œ.. œ œ.. œ œ

Ex. 6.5  Nielsen, Theme and Variations: climax, bb. 257–88

# & #c Œ

257

fz

# & #c Œ

> ? ## c œ.. œ.. >

ff

> œ œ >

w w w w w w

fz

Œ Œ

> œ.. œ.. >

? ## ˙˙˙˙... ˙.. ˙.

> œ œ >

œœ nœœ.... œ œ.. œ œ œ.. œ œœ ‰.. RÔ J ‰ j œœ.... œœ.... œœ.... J

˙˙.. ˙˙.. ˙˙..

> œ >œ > >œœ >œ >œ >œœ >œœ >œœ ## œ œ œœ œ œ Œ &

266

3

3

3

3

3

3



fz

œ œ.. ‰.. œRÔ œ.. œœ œœ.... œœ#œœ ‰ J >K j r ˙. œœ.... >Kr œ #˙˙.. œ œœ...... œ œ ˙˙˙... œ.. œ RÔ J RÔ > >

fz

>K r œ œ RÔ >

3

3

3

> > > > > > > >œ ‰ bœbœnœ#œ œ nœ nœ n#œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œ 3

3

3

w w w w w w

œ œ nœ œ œœ##>œœ #>œœ >œœ >œ >œœ >œœ >œ >œ ##>œœ > >œ >œ > > >œ > > #œ œ œ #œœ œ œ#œœ œœ œ œœ œœ Œ

> ## >œœ >œœ#>œœ >œœ >œœ >œœ >œœ >œœ œœ Œ &

#œ #œ œ œJ ‰ œ

? ## ˙˙˙˙... ˙˙...

w w w w w w

> > œ.. œ œ.. œ > >

w w w w w w

> > >œ > > œ b œ >œ >œ n#œœ #nœœ #>œœ œ œœ œœ n œ b œ œ ‰

œ œ.... œ œ.. œ œ.. œ # j œ & # ‰.. œRÔ œ œ œ.. œ œ.. œ œœ.... œ œœ.... œœ œœ.... œœ œœ ‰ œ œœ.... œ œ.. œ œ.. œ œ œ # œ œ.. œ œ.. œ œ.... œ œœ.... œ œœ.... œ œœj ‰ & # ‰.. œÔR œ œ j w ˙˙.. œœ.... w . ? ## w ˙ œ w ˙˙.. œœ...... w w ˙. œ.. J

> œ œ >

œœ œ œ.. œ œ.. œœ R Ô œ ‰ .. ‰ J

œœ œ œ .. ‰ RÔ œ.. œ œ.. nœ œj ‰

fff

Nielsen.indb 207

Œ

bnœœ b œœ.... œœ œœ....#nœœ ##œœ.... nnœœ ‰.. RÔ

> œ.. œ.. >

˙˙.. ˙˙.. ˙˙..

# œ.... œœ #œ.... nœ nœ & # #œ # œ n œ # œ

263

œ œ nœ œ nœ œ ‰.. RÔ œ.. œ.. œ nœ.. nœ

fff

bœ b œ.... œœ œ.... nœ #œ.. nœ nœ œ ‰.. RÔ n œ œ n œ# œ.. n œ #nœœ.... œ#nœœ.... œ#œœ

œ œ # & # œ.. nœ #œ.. bœ œ

260

Œ

3



>œ >œ >œ #>œ >œ >œ #>œ #>œ >œ > >œ > > > >œ œ œ#œ œ 3

3

3

˙˙.. ˙˙.. ˙˙..

3

3

Œ > > nœ.. œ nœ.. œ > >

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208 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

Ex. 6.5 continued

> ## . œœ. n>œœ n>œœ >œœ œœ >œœ >œœ >œœ >œœ ‰ ‰ & R 3

269

3

3

# &# ? ##

œ. >œ > > > > > >œ >œ ‰. nRœ œ œœ nœœ œœ œœ œœ œ œ ‰.. 3 3 j >K ˙˙.. œœ.... œr ˙˙... ˙˙.. œœ.... œ n˙˙˙. ˙˙. œœ.. R ˙.. . J .. >Ô

. . . . . . ## œœ #œœ. #œœ. œœ. œœ œœ nœœ œœ œœ Œ &

272

3

# &#

274

# &# ? ##

3

œœ. n>œœ >œœ >œ >œ >œ >œœ >œœ >œœ œ nœ œ RÔ 3 3 j3 œœ.... œœ.... œœ.... J



3

3

. . œ. . . . . ## œœ #œœ œ œœ œœ œœ. nœœ œœ. œœ Œ & 3 3 3 > ˙˙.. n œ.. ? ## ˙˙˙... nœ.. ˙. >



3

>K r œ œR Ô >

œœ. #œœ. œ. œ. œ. œœ. œœ. œœ. œœ. œ. œ ‰.. RÔ œ œ œ 3

w #w w w w w

3

3

nœ nœ b œ nœ œ nœ nœ œ œ œ nœnœ œ œ œ nœ nœ œ œ fz

fz

fz

#œ #œ nœ nœ #œ nœ œ œ nœ œ nœ nœ b œ b œ œ b œ b œ œ bœ

nœ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ œnœ

3

> > nœ nœ œ nœ nœ b œ b œœ nœœ nb>œœ b>œœ n>œœ Œ 3 3 > ˙. b œ.. ˙˙˙.. bœ.. ˙˙... >



> bw œ bn w w œ nnw w nw >

œ nœ nœ b œ nœ b œ b>œœ b>œ b>œ >œ > œ n œ bœ nœœ Œ

fz

. . . . . œ. #œ. œœ œœ œœ œœ. œœ. œœ. œœ œœ ‰.. œR œ Ô 3 3 3

. n>œ >œ >œœ >œœ >œœ >œœ >œœ >œ œ‰ ‰.. œœ œ œ RÔ 3 3

fz

> œ œ >

fz

fz

nœ œ nœ bœ œbœ b œ b œ nœ#œnœ nœ nœ nœ œ b œ b œ ‰ œœ w w w w w w

# œ œ nœnœ œ #œ #œ nœ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œJ ‰ ‰ œ œnœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ &# œ

276

fz

#œ nœ œ ## nœ #œ#œ nœ œ #œ œ #œ œ œ nœ œ œ J ‰ & j> ˙˙.. œœ nœj œœœ nœ ? ## ˙˙˙... ˙. œ nœ >

Nielsen.indb 208

‰ #œ œ œ

fz

fz

fz

#œ #œ nœ œ œ œ#œ nœ œnœnœ œ b œ œnœbœ

nw w w nw w w

07/12/2010 12:01

Counterpoints 209

> ## œ œ œ nœ œ b œ nœœ >œœ n>œœ n>œœ >œ œ Œ &

Ex. 6.5 continued

278

fz

3



3

# &#

280

œ

3

3



# nœ œ#œ #œ #œ œ#œ #œ nœ œ œ œ œJ ‰ & # nœ#œ œ

j j nnœœ œ œ nœJ J

? ## ˙. ˙˙. ˙..

bœ ## .. bbœœnbœœ ..b œR b œœ ‰ ‰ Ô & RÔ b ˙˙ b b ˙˙˙ b ? ## b b˙˙ b ˙˙ bb ˙˙ -

fz

fz

œ.. œ w œ.. œ nw nw w

fz

bœ b œ bœ ## ..bb œœ .. ‰ R bœ ‰ RÔ & Ô

œ œ œœœœ œœœœ œœœœ

‰ œ œ bœ nœ œ bœ œbœbœbœ nœ nœ nœnœ nœ bœ œbœbœ

œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ nœ nœ #œ J

283

œ fz

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210 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism bars of variation 10 to one bar of variation 7, which further results also in a phrase expansion so that the one is in 4/4, the other in 3/4 time. Variation 11 refers once again to the theme.60 Having explained the basis for the middle variations, Nielsen then accounts for the approach the central climax, drawing attention to the structural and affective quality of the ostinato pattern that increasingly begins to dominate the musical foreground from variation 11. As his letter suggests, Nielsen was aware that the nagging ostinato figure was one of the more provocative aspects of the work’s design, yet he was keen to distance himself from the more extreme dissonance associated with younger avant-garde composers such as Schoenberg: According to my idea and my musical ear, the figure [music example] represents a perpetual search for an exit, a despairing or comical circling to try and find a hole down into which it can disappear. This hole is G minor, which it must, eventually, as the leading tone, slip into: it should not be otherwise, it cannot. That is a psychological necessity. (Schoenbergian illegitimacy can perhaps amuse children, but not a thinking, grown man. I have recently looked over his 3 Piano Pieces op. 11 again and find them very childish in their principles (continual augmented octaves, minor second clusters and so on), and clumsy in execution).61 This in turn prompted a vigorous defence of the work’s climax and closing pages, a rare insight into aspects of Nielsen’s compositional process: As for the end of the variations, that is something I have pondered as I set to work. It would have been easy for me to have a wild and dramatic ending; but I came to the present result, because the work’s whole architectonic plan is best served by an ordinary ending. If one 60 ‘Du skriver rigtigt at Var: 7 viger ud fra Temaet i harmonisk Henseende og at man herudfra kunde komponere nye Variationer. Det er netop hvad jeg har gjort. Var: 8, 9 og 10 gaar netop strengt udfra Harmoniseringen i Var. 7, dog saaledes at Gangen i Var. 10 bliver meget tilsløret (verschleiert) eller udvidet. Det gaar to Takter af Var: 10 paa en Takt af Var. 7, herved fremkommer jo ogsaa en Fraseringsforskydning idet den ene staar i 4/4, den anden i 3/4 Takt. Var: 11 refererer sig atter til Temaet.’ Quoted in David Fanning, editorial preface, CNU 2:12, xxx. 61 ‘Efter min Ide og ogsaa efter mit musikalske Øre staar Figuren [music example] som en bestandig Søgen efter en Udgang, et fortvivlet eller komisk Kredsløb for at finde et Hul at forsvinde i. Dette Hul er g-moll, hvori den som Ledetone tilsidst maa, bør og skal smutte ind. Det er en psykofysisk Nødvendighed. (Den Schönbergske Illigitimitet kan maaske more Børn, men ikke en tænkende, voksen Mand. Jeg har nylig gennemset paany hans 3 Klaverstykker Op. 11 og finder dem meget barnlige i Principperne (bestandige verspandte Octaver, smaa Secundsammenstød o. s. v.) og dumme i Udførelsen).’ Ibid.

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looks back over the whole piece and remembers the theme and its simple structure, it must be as it is; otherwise we might imagine variation 15 as the wild defence of a man who battles with his back against an iceberg and eventually, as though drunk and numbed by the fight, reels away, so it is right that that the conclusion should be as uninteresting as the character (in a drama) who has fought and taken his leave and now no longer concerns himself with the main interest and has no desire to do so. So you see, I am fully aware that I let the ending become weaker and weaker, but if this ending does not work convincingly, then naturally you are right and I am wrong.62 As Nielsen’s vivid description suggests, the ending of the Theme and Variations is deliberately provisional or contingent: a temporary cessation of hostilities rather than a final point of rest. The sense of balance or repose in the closing bars is less stable than in the Chaconne, and hence seems less stable or secure. This reflects an important shift in structural focus, away from gestures of synthesis, balance, and resolution, towards expressions of conflict, or the dramatic eruption of deep underlying structural tensions. Hyde’s process of metamorphic anachronism, the marked use of archaic material in a modernist context, studiously elaborated in Reger’s piano works, has given way here to a more freely organic and unpredictable musical discourse.63 It is, as the introduction to this chapter suggested, possible to offer powerful autobiographical reasons for this fundamental change of aesthetic outlook: Nielsen’s separation from his wife after long-term difficulties in their relationship; his sense of isolation after his resignation from the Royal Theatre; or his reaction to events outside Denmark as the First World War progressed might all have left a trace in his musical works from this period.64 The man battling vainly with his back against the ice in Variation 15, described in 62 ‘Hvad Slutningen af Variationerne angaar, maa jeg sige, at jeg tænkt herover under Arbejdet. Det vilde har været mig en let Sag at lave en vild og effektfuld Slutning; men jeg kom til det Resultat som nu foreligger, fordi hele Værkets arkitektoniske Plan er bedst tjent med en almindelig Slutning. Ser man med et Overblik tilbage paa hele Stykket og erindrer man sig Temaet og dets enkle (einfache) Struktur, saa maa det være som det er; eller betragter vi Var: 15 som et vildt Forsvar af en Mand der kæmper med Ryggen mod et Isfjeld og tilsidst, ligesom drukken (ubbrioso) og bedøvet (betäubt) af Kampen vakler bort, saa er det rigtigt, at hele Slutningen skal være “uinteressant”, saasandt en Person (i et Drama) der har kæmpet ud og gaar [sin] Vej ikke længere bør tilvende sig Hovedinteressen og heller intet Krav har derpaa. Du ser at jeg saaledes fuldt bevidst har ladet Slutningen blive mattere og mattere, men ifald denne Udgang ikke virker overbevisende, saa har Du naturligvis Ret og jeg Uret.’ Ibid. 63 On the nature of this organicism in a work comparable to the Theme and Variations, see Daniel Grimley, ‘Organicism, form and structural decay: Nielsen’s Second Violin Sonata’, Music Analysis 21/2 (July 2002), 175–205. 64 For a summary which hints at some of the problems Nielsen experienced at this time, see Dagbøger 2, 388–91.

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212 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Nielsen’s letter, could then be heard as Nielsen himself. But it is also possible that the change was motivated by forces that Nielsen perceived immanently within his musical material, prompted by the confrontation, as Hepokoski has suggested, with the work of a younger modernist generation of composers. This might explain Nielsen’s otherwise uncharacteristic attack on Schoenberg, a colleague for whom, despite obvious musical and generational differences, he maintained a personal and professional regard. Like Reger, Nielsen may have been motivated by a sense of musical culture in decline, which in turn demanded an urgent, and ultimately stormy renewal. In this sense, the exhaustion of the final bars of the Variations might be imagined as the aftermath of an artistic struggle provisionally overcome, but whose battle will swiftly be rejoined. Yet the climax might also be understood as the logical result of latent tensions within the structure of the theme itself: the application of a generic formal principle (developing variation) brought into sharp opposition with the autonomous character of the individual variations themselves. Indeed, the complex interplay between internal and external forces acting upon the Variations is one further aspect of the way in which the work is fundamentally contrapuntal in outlook and design. And the way in which the juxtaposition of different musical languages is dramatised and brought forcibly into the musical foreground points to the work’s underlying elementalism: its desire to return music to its most basic and essential components.

ЙЙNielsen’s Vitalist Counterpoints

The spirit of oppositional dialogue and conflict that motivates the Theme and Variations is a broader trend that can be heard through many, though not all, of Nielsen’s later works: prototypically the final three symphonies and the two wind concertos. For Nielsen, the experience of such conflict became a fundamental structural principle in his music. Ethical power: musical humanism. This perspective was developed in a review of Thomas Laub’s Tolv Viser og Sange af danske Digtere (‘Twelve Verses and Songs by Danish Poets’), first published in the newspaper Politiken in 1920 and later reprinted in the anthology Living Music. Through a strikingly picturesque analogy (which recalls the elevated opening pages of Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra, supposedly conceived ‘6000 feet above sea level and much higher above all human things!’),65 Nielsen presented musical culture as in a state of crisis and indecision: 65 Nietsche’s note is dated ‘Early August 1881 in Sils-Maria [Upper Engadine]’, and is the first appearance in his philosophy of the doctrine of eternal recurrence. Quoted in The Nietzsche Reader, ed. Keith Ansell Pearson and Duncan Large (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 238. I return to Nielsen’s relationship with this period of Nietzsche’s thought in the following chapter.

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Anyone who has wandered over the St Gotthard Pass in spring has surely noticed the water in the little tarn of melted snow at the summit. It stands and quivers, as though it cannot decide for itself. And yet it must make a choice. The four streams, which have their source at this point, each suck in their own way, so that it is useless to resist. – We too refuse to stay and decay! And what of free will? Let us not go into that now, but rejoice in Nature’s large, clear hand, which draws us to a halt and leads our thoughts towards those universal laws of life, equally those which concern the material as well as those we perceive in what is called the spiritual life. They are the same for both, as is plainly revealed as soon as we place them in opposition, cross them, or set them so that they come into conflict, recklessly in all the clarity which the final dying burst of light casts forth. So, it takes fight for there to be clarity. Something must be opposed, for there to be perception. The bad is not in itself bad, or not absolutely bad, before we see its employment against something different.66 Nielsen’s remarks are revealing, not only for the way in which Nature is associated with a form of writing or inscription – here conceived as a more concrete and material notion than the idea of free will – but equally for the strongly vitalist impulse that underlies his vision, the principle of conflict or opposition that is fundamental to the energetic creation of art. For Nielsen, this process suggests a specifically musical correspondence: the idea of counterpoint, ‘which refers to when a note or voice is set against another, so that the two move quite independently yet continually clarify and illuminate each other.’ In some instances, Nielsen suggests, this process can become merely mechanical, a synchronised machine-like motion of musical wheels, shafts, and axles, generating power and forward propulsion. ‘If one set these movements in suitable tones, it might produce well organised piece of music’, Nielsen points out, ‘which would swiftly nevertheless become monotonous on 66 ‘Enhver, der har vandret over St Gotthard i Foraarstiden, har sikkert lagt Mærke til Vandet i den lille Sø af smeltet Sne, som findes paa Toppen. Det staar og dirrer, som om det ikke kan beslutte sig. Og dog maa der træffes et Valg. De fire Strømme, der har deres Udspring fra dette Sted, suger hver sin Vej, saa det nytter ikke at stritte imod. –Vi vil da heller ikke staa her og raadne! ¶ Og den fri Vilje? ¶ Lad os ikke komme ind herpaa, men glæde os over Naturens store, tydelige Skrift, der standser os og bringer os til Eftertanke over Lovene for alt Liv, saavel dem, der gælder Materien, som dem, vi ser i det, vi kalder det aandelige Liv. Det er de selvsamme, hvad tydeligt viser sig, naar vi ligesom lægger dem overkors, krydser dem eller stiller dem saaledes, at de maa strides, hensynsløst i al den Klarhed, som de sidste spændte Kræfters Lys kaster frem. Der maa altsaa strides, for at faa Klarhed. Noget modsat maa fremholdes, for at erkende. Det slette er altsaa i og for sig ikke slet, eller ikke absolut slet, før vi ser dets Anvendelse over for noget modsat.’ Samtid 1, 248–53, at 248.

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214 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism account of the machine’s uniform rhythm.’ 67 It is certainly possible to identify passages in Nielsen’s work that suggest this kind of mechanistic counterpoint – the layered ostinato figuration in Variation 11 of the Theme and Variations, for example, suggests a machine that is about to spin out of control, and a similar grinding of gears and revolutions can be heard in episodes of the Fifth Symphony (movement II: bb. 303–50ff [figs. 64–7ff]). In both cases, the mechanistic quality becomes a source of structural and expressive tension, and the need to escape from the sense of monotony associated with such apparently overregulated systems has significant implications for the music that follows. In the Theme and Variations, it precipitates the grinding dissonances of Variation 15; and in the Symphony, it generates the two fugues that dominate the middle of the movement, the first of which races headlong towards collapse, while the second is concerned with reconstruction and renewal.68 In sharp contrast to this kind of mechanical polyphony, true counterpoint, for Nielsen, is a more elusive phenomenon. Turning to the relationship between text and music in his review of Laub’s songs, he writes: Here, in a nutshell, I find what I demand in all art: something opposed, that comes together and, incandescent, seems to be one yet always remains two, embracing, caressing, like water flowing over smooth, round stones, without ever coming into actual contact and breaking the playful game.69 It is striking that Nielsen once again turns to a landscape metaphor at precisely the moment when a more practical, technically oriented discussion might have been expected. This is not so much an inability to conceive of musical in systematic terms, but rather a marked shift of discourse. Like the curiously shaped flint which the farmer unearths and contemplates in his harrowed field, discussed in the previous chapter, counterpoint becomes, in Nielsen’s imagination, akin to a geomorphic process: the passage of water over the stones again suggesting a musical stream of consciousness, the flow of ideas twisting together and unwinding in an unseen current or vital impulse. Such fluid models of musical creativity could easily seem either arcane or anachronistic, or provocatively modernist: a metaphor for a new kind of intuitive musical design that shifted away from architectural notions of large-scale 67 ‘[I Musiken vi har Udtrykket Kontrapunkt] der betyder, at en Node eller Stemme sættes mod en anden, saaledes at de to bevæger sig ganske selvstændigt, men dog bestandigt forklarer og belyser hinanden. … satte man disse Bevægelser i fornuftige Toner, vilde man faa et velordnet Musikstykke ud deraf, der dog hurtigt vilde virke trættende paa Grund af Maskinens ensformige Gang.’ Ibid. 68 Fanning, Carl Nielsen: Symphony no. 5, 59–70. 69 ‘Her finde jeg, in nuce, hvad jeg fordrer i al Kunst: noget modsat, der mødes og gennemglødes, saa det synes ét, men dog bestandig er to, favnende kærtegnende, som glidende Vande over glatte, runde Stene, dog uden at komme til egentlig Berøring og bryde det legende Spil.’ Samtid 1, 251.

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structure, or an attempt to ground music in a primitive form of natural science. Either way, Nielsen was adamant about the urgency of this radical musical character as a response to a wider sense of cultural decline. In a polemic that kicks once again against post-Wagnerian decadence, he concluded: I must emphasise in particular that the plain and simple is the hardest to understand these days. The simple and clear have now become mysterious, because the whole artistic world has been filled with chaos, din, ecstasy and savagery for so long that our senses have become coarsened. One must therefore go through these melodies frequently and listen to the notes in peace and quiet. The elemental is the most difficult, and the state of mind which I refer to here is a gift that for many has become unobtainable. The drunk finds it difficult to be satisfied with spring water, the harlot with morning prayers, the gambler with the game of forfeits, and yet they were all innocent at birth; but this they have forgotten, and then it is so difficult to find one’s way back to how things were in the first place.70 Only the study of counterpoint in its true form, Nielsen believed, could inspire a revitalisation of musical culture: the value of Laub’s works, Nielsen’s long-time collaborator on the Danish popular songs project, thus lay in their restorative power. But it is tempting to read Nielsen’s own free works, such as the Chaconne and the Theme and Variations, as also at some levels engaging with this process of renewal, even as they energetically challenge familiar narratives of musical homage and imitation. Indeed, it is the wider implications of this troubled search for the elemental, and the musical consequences which result, that will become the subject of the final chapter of this book. As Nielsen’s essay suggests, polemical debate regarding the true nature of counterpoint was widespread throughout early twentieth-century musical theory. Heinrich Schenker, as already suggested, shared similar concerns about the state of contemporary music. For Schenker, however, developing the common theme of musical degeneration, the problem lay not so much with the perceived lack of musical education, but rather in overdevelopment. In the preface to his Neue musikalische Theorien und Phantasien (in reality an aesthetic manifesto), for example, Schenker claimed, ‘Today it is the fashion 70 ‘Jeg gør udtrykkelig opmærsom paa, at det letfattelige er det vanskeligste at forstaa nu til Dags. Det enkle og klare er nu mystisk, fordi hele den kunsteriske Verden har været opfyldt af Uro, Larm, Ekstase og Vildskab saa længe, at vore Sanser er blevet forgrovede. Derfor maa man gennemgaa disse Melodier ofte og i Fred og Ro lytte til Tonerne. Det oprindelige er det vanskeligste, og den Sjælstilstand, jeg taler om, er en Gave, der for mange er uopnaaelig. Drankeren har svært ved at finde sig til Rette med Kildevand, Skøgen med Morgenbøn, Hasardspilleren med Panteleg, og dog var de alle fra Fødslen helt ufordærvede; men det har de glemt, og saa er det svært at finde tilbage til det oprindelige.’ Samtid 1, 253.

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216 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism to talk about an “excess of technique”, an excess that allegedly stifles the composer. If we could only gain clarity about what this slogan really means!’ The problem lay not so much with idea of technique itself (which is only vaguely defined): ‘is not technique then a necessary, good, and – so to speak – healthy thing? Is not the technique of a work comparable to the health of a body whose organs fulfil all the functions nature demands of them?’ On the contrary, for Schenker, ‘it is high time to abandon this nonsense, to save ‘technique’ from its stifling embrace with ‘excess’ and to represent it only as something true and positive.’ Properly understood, musical technique becomes a vitalist form of discipline or rigour, similar to that demanded by Nielsen. Hence, Schenker concludes, ‘today’s composers suffer not from an “excess of technique”, as is commonly believed, but rather from too little of it’.71 This is particularly true, Schenker notes, of the study of counterpoint. According to Schenker, counterpoint is above all concerned purely with regulation: with developing the strength to be able to allow the musical lines to follow their own inner path. ‘Contrapuntal theory, which is nothing but a theory of voice leading, demonstrates tonal laws and tonal effects in their absolute sense’, Schenker maintained; ‘the beginning artist learns that tones, organised in such and such a way, produce one particular effect and none other, whether he wishes it or not. One can predict this effect: it must follow!’.72 As for Nielsen, Schenker’s counterpoint is therefore concerned with organic continuity and synthesis: not so much with fixed, static models of musical form, but rather with the motion determined by the inner life of the notes themselves. Yet the fault of modern music, for Schenker, is its restlessness, the urge to shape ideas in ways that run contrary to their natural order. In Schenker’s mind, this represented a crisis of governance: ‘the composers of the present day have lost all authority over the secrets of tones. … With Richard Strauss, Pfitzner, Mahler, and even Reger – with Tchaikowsky, Elgar, and all the rest, it is always the same: they no longer know which effects they can and should seek, and they understand still less how to achieve the effects that should be sought.’ 73 Only by attending to the immutable laws of tonal music, Schenker maintained, could a coherent sense of musical progression be restored. Had Nielsen’s music ever appeared on Schenker’s horizon, Schenker would no doubt have added his name to the list of modern composers whom, he believed, had abused the natural laws of tonal voice-leading: it is hard to imagine Schenker responding sympathetically to the more complex, multivalent idea of counterpoint unfolded in the Theme and Variations. And the 71 Preface to Neue musikalische Theorien und Phantasien, in Heinrich Schenker, Counterpoint, trans. John Rothgeb and Jürgen Thym, ed. Rothgeb (New York: Schirmer, 1987) [originally published as Kontrapunkt, 2 vols, 1910 and 1922], xvii– xxxii, at xxi. 72 Ibid., 14. 73 Ibid., 15.

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application of post-Schenkerian voice-leading analysis to works after the Third Symphony remains highly problematic. Yet Nielsen and Schenker share a number of basic preconceptions regarding the nature of musical meaning. For Schenker in the preface to Counterpoint, this takes the form of a critique of Schopenhauer’s notion of music as the embodiment of an ‘innate universality, along with the most definite precision’ in The World as Will and Representation: music’s expression of the (unresolvable) desire to render in concrete terms the spiritual essence of things-in-themselves. ‘This “definite precision” that so amazes the philosopher is nothing but the inherent effect of tones’, Schenker responds, ‘the self-sufficient character of motives, of which unfortunately he has no notion. And, seen from another perspective, the autonomy of tones is at the same time nothing but music’s “innate universality”.’ In a striking turn, which he leaves relatively unexplored, Schenker writes: ‘music is not “the heart of things”; on the contrary, music has little or nothing to do with “things”. Tones mean nothing but themselves; they are as living beings with their own social laws’ (my emphasis).74 For Nielsen, music similarly possesses its own social dimension: his musical motives can rapidly gain a sense of autonomy so that they appear self-sufficient. Yet, if tones do indeed become like ‘living beings’ as Schenker suggests, their behaviour, in Nielsen’s music, can often appear threatening or unruly. The instrumental dialogues, in Nielsen’s later works, are frequently more antagonistic than Schenker’s model would naturally permit. Counterpoint thus becomes a form of conversational exchange. But whereas in Schenker’s model, such interplay is emblematic of an idealised community, one in which seemingly natural hierarchies are dutifully respected and observed, Nielsen’s work suggests a more diverse pattern of social communication, a domain where the danger of transformation or collapse is embraced and celebrated as well as resisted. Schenker’s notion of music as the play of ‘living beings with their own social laws’ suggests powerful parallels with the work of other contemporary theorists such as August Halm and Ernst Kurth, whose energetic model of musical behaviour was discussed in detail in chapter 4. For Kurth in particular, the idea of music as the oppositional dialogue of linear melodic forces was fundamental.75 Though this pattern suggested to Schenker the vision of an ­idealised 74 Ibid., 16. 75 It is worth acknowledging here Schoenberg’s objections to Kurth’s term ‘linear counterpoint’, as coined in the title of his Grundlagen des linearen Kontrapunkts (1917). Though he claimed not to have read Kurth’s treatise, Schoenberg argued in his essay ‘Linear Counterpoint: Linear Polyphony’ (1931): ‘… has it occurred to Mr Kurth and his followers that there must be some bond of cohesion between a number of parts intended to be heard simultaneously and meaningfully, and that this bond can cohere only in some other direction than the linear? It seems that here we have to think of motivic cohesion, since that of tonality and even organized barring is discarded by the followers. … ¶ The individual line explains nothing about the whole and gives no indication why this one line should appear

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218 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism community of ordered musical tones, for Kurth it retained a more inward quality – the acoustic trace of a psychological process of growth and development. In Kurth’s model, as for Nielsen, this sense of evolutionary expansion was driven by the dynamic nature of musical dissonance. ‘Harmony’, Kurth repeatedly emphasised, ‘is a play of forces [Kräftespiel] directed towards [an] equilibrium.’ Significantly, however, this state of rest or balance is inevitably contingent and unstable: As long as the gravitation prevailing between the tones does not achieve equilibrium in the triadic form, there exists in harmony the unresolved tension of dissonance that stimulates further development, analogous to the way the concept of the horizontal tension-dissonance was derived from unspent energies of dynamic melodic phases. Harmonic dissonance also consists in the continued influence of unabsorbed forces that stimulate further activity, particularly as a vertical equilibrium. And what is characterised as resolution in the chordal sense is the release [Auslösung] of forces directed at the specific basic forms (the consonant triads).76 In other words, as music constantly tends vertically towards consonance, its linear melodic energy demands continual growth and expansion outwards horizontally – towards dissonance. Music thus exists in a dynamic state of equilibrium, a balance of opposed forces similar to that described by Nielsen. For Kurth, this means that: An oppositional tendency [gegensätzliche Tendenz] thus characterises the technical features of a linear-contrapuntal design and, on the other hand, of harmonic design. Their difference is profound; it extends to the very roots of compositional technique, which in the harmonic view begins with the chord, and in the linear view with the line as the unit and origin. For if there is a desire to penetrate the musical structure from two sides, then in both cases theory must begin with the sources from which flows the twofold play of forces in the music: with the force that tends toward a chordal consolidation of the tones, and with the energy that underlies linear shaping: the phenomenon of a unified melodic phrase.77 at the same time as others. Or, at most, negatively, the line would in itself be incomplete, inadequate. ¶ I believe ‘counterpoint’ to be a play on words … and gather from it the following: the art of counterpoint, of ‘against-notes’, those notes or note-progressions which can be set in opposition and magically possess a relationship to each other that fulfils the principle of cohesive contrast.’ Quoted in Arnold Schoenberg, Style and Idea, ed. Leonard Stein, trans. Leo Black (London: Faber 1975), 296. 76 Kurth, Grundlagen, 62–3; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 42. 77 Kurth, Grundlagen, 66–7; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 42–3.

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Nielsen’s music often seems to be driven by a parallel process. The progress of the Chaconne described above, for instance, might be conceived as dependent upon the opposition of polarised musical tendencies: the strict invariant framework of the ground versus the unfolding linear developmental energy of the variations. As the Theme and Variations also reveal, the primary goal of Nielsen’s unfolding linear form is not so much a final conclusive end but rather a provisional point of rest, a sense that the work’s energetic motion is only temporarily stilled. This reflects not only the intensity of the opposition – as manifested in levels of extreme dissonance at the climax of both works – but also the nature of the musical form itself: a reading that is as applicable to the Fourth and Fifth symphonies as it is to the two piano works. Kurth offers a similarly vitalist reading of musical design, one in which ‘the union of both fundamental forces of the composition is, in the lively process, a struggle, a confrontation.’ Closure hence becomes almost a by-product or coincidental expression of this underlying conflict, a process whose affective power ‘lies precisely in the force of this conflictive meshing of opposing, interactive elements [feindlichen Ineinanderdringens der gegensätzlich sich durch­wirkenden Elemente].’ 78 Kurth’s energetic model of musical form is dependent on the fundamental dualism he perceives between vertical and horizontal elements of music. ‘As long as we speak of an animation of voices, we are still dealing with a harmonic structure’, he suggests. But, ‘rather than an animation of voices, an essential individuality of the voices prevails in counterpoint.’ 79 In his later works, Nielsen adopts this principle in a characteristically loose and expansive manner: the tension between linear melodic and vertical harmonic forces is also applied to other musical parameters including rhythm and timbre. For Kurth, however, this dualist view of opposed elements underpins his sense of music’s historical evolution. Bach’s pre-eminence lies in the synthesising motivic power of his melodic lines: the way in which moments of transition in his works gather up and project their linear musical energy through the transformative power of their motivic development or Fortspinnung. This provided one of the grounds for debate in subsequent readings of Kurth’s work. Nielsen’s pupil Knud Jeppesen, most famous for his treatise on sixteenthcentury counterpoint,80 for example, claimed that the formative element 78 Kurth, Grundlagen, 67, quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 43. 79 ‘Solange man überhaupt von Stimmenbelebung spricht, liegt noch harmonische Satzanlage vor; beim Kontrapunkt herrscht nicht Stimmenbelebung, sondern ursprüngliches Eigenleben der Stimmen.’ Kurth, Grundlagen, 142; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 45n. 80 Jeppesen (1892–1974), studied with Paul Hellmuth, Thomas Laub and Carl Nielsen. He was organist at Sankt Stefans Kirke (1917–32), and later organist at Holmens Kirke (1932–47) in Copenhagen, then the first ever professor in musicology at Aarhus University (1946–57), and president of the Danish Carl Nielsen Society (1966–72).

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220 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism in Bach’s music was in fact ‘a chordal-modulatory one. It is a streak of light which, to be sure, breaks up under the polyphonic approach, as if through a prism, into a glistening, sparking play – a play whose variety, nonetheless, depends to a certain extent upon illusion.’ 81 To Jeppesen’s mind, Kurth ‘has only one side of Bach’s style in view, the linear, and he disregards or attempts to deny the unquestionable fact of its resting on a harmonic basis. With him we are for the time being at the end of the movement in contrapuntal theory which proceeds from Bach.’ 82 Kurth’s theories thus represented a historical cul-de-sac, one that had finally reached its end. Not surprisingly, given his field of academic expertise, for Jeppesen the true historical progenitor of contrapuntal musical thought was Palestrina rather than Bach. ‘Bach’s and Palestrina’s points of departure are antipodal’, Jeppesen states in the introduction to his textbook. ‘Palestrina starts out from lines and arrives at chords; Bach’s music grows out of an ideally harmonic background, against which the voices develop with a bold independence that is often breath-taking.’ 83 The prognosis of Jeppesen’s study is therefore clear: Western music has already overreached the culmination of its natural harmonic development, the strand which stems from Bach, and it is only via a return to purer form of voiceleading, based on earlier sixteenth-century principles, that music can regain its sense of rigour and intensity. Jeppesen’s turn to sixteenth-century counterpoint invokes another familiar historicising mode of musical thought: the association of Palestrina’s polyphony with notions of purity, sublimity, and universality was no less ideologically charged than similar patterns of Bach reception. In other words, Jeppesen’s account can be read as another form of metamorphic anachronism, to borrow Martha Hyde’s term once again: the attempt to bring an archaic musical language into a modernist context as a form of cultural appropriation and self-authentication. Nielsen was evidently sympathetic to the thrust of Jeppesen’s work, and he published a highly positive review of his former pupil’s study in Politiken in 1923, reprinted two years later in the collection Levende Musik (‘Living Music’). In an unpublished note in the folder containing the first draft of the review, Nielsen wrote revealingly: It is no wonder that J[eppesen] has swiftly become famous and extolled in German music circles and in German universities. This exact scholarship must really be something for the thorough, precise, and dependable Germans, and it must make an even stronger impression precisely there because Dr Jeppesen’s form [of expression] is not German, but 81 Knud Jeppesen, Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century, trans. Glen Haydon (New York: Prentice Hall, 1939, repr. New York: Dover, 1992), xii. The volume is dedicated to Nielsen. 82 Ibid., 51. 83 Ibid., xi.

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rather French or even, in its mature concision and limpid abundance, entirely outside any time or space.84 Nielsen’s note points to the national bias implicit within Jeppesen’s work: the perceived virtues of Palestrina’s polyphony – namely its clarity and concision – are projected onto Jeppesen’s writing and praised as eternal musical values elevated above a specific time and space (but most pointedly beyond the reach of mainstream German musical institutions). Nielsen’s approach is, in that sense, reverential, and it is not surprising to find traces of Jeppesen’s thinking in the design and layout of works such as the Tre Motetter (‘Three Motets’) composed for Mogens Wöldike’s Palestrina Choir in 1929 – pieces which, Wöldike recalled, were directly inspired by a concert of Netherlandish polyphony.85 But Nielsen’s attitude to sixteenth-century counterpoint may also have been motivated by his experience of the encounter with a younger avant-garde modernist generation described by Hepokoski. Other composers who may have shared a similar sense of stylistic and aesthetic confrontation, such as Sibelius (in the opening pages of the Sixth and Seventh symphonies, 1923 and 1924) and Vaughan Williams (the Mass in G minor, 1922), also invoked sixteenth-century polyphonic textures as a means of creating a new sense of musical space in works from the early 1920s. Counterpoint, for Nielsen as for Sibelius and Vaughan Williams, thus became not only a reflection of a sense of crisis (as its dramatically dissonant realisation in works such as the Theme and Variations suggests), but also a mode of resistance, a deliberate distancing or turning away from the younger modernist front-line. Documentary evidence for this radical-conservative pattern of musical thinking can be found in Finn Høffding’s highly influential account in Tilskueren of the 1927 ISCM Festival in Frankfurt, where Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony was conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler. For many of Nielsen’s supporters, the festival performance supposedly signalled the international breakthrough for Nielsen’s music. But equally significantly, it gave Høffding an opportunity to canonise Nielsen’s work in terms that were to shape his later Danish reception powerfully. For Høffding, Carl Nielsen stands as the first anti-romanticist not only in Denmark but in Europe as a whole. His anti-romanticism was reflected among 84 ‘Det er ikke at undre sig over at J. strax er bliven berømt og berømmet i tyske Musikkrese og ved de tyske Universiteter. Denne eksakte Videnskabelighed maa rigtig være noget for de grundige, nøjagtige og paalidelige Tyskere og den maa gøre saa meget stærkere Indtryk netop der, fordi Dr Jeppesens Form ellers ikke er germansk, snarere gallisk eller rettere ved sin modne Knaphed og klare Fylde staar udenfor Tid og Sted.’ Review of Jeppesen’s Palestrinastil med særligt Henblik paa Dissonansbehandligen, Politiken, 12 June 1923; Samtid, 286–90 and 804–6. 85 Mogens Wöldike, ‘Carl Nielsens Motetter’, DMT 7/1 [Carl Nielsen memorial issue] (January 1932), 33–4. Wöldike describes the pieces as ‘a symphonic work in three movements’ [‘en symfonisk Værk i tre Satser’].

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222 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism other things by the way in which, contrary to all other contemporary composers, he began to simplify musical style. Whereas others sought to complicate harmony through sustained chromaticism, which ultimately abandoned tonality and gave itself over to pure colouristiceffects, he reversed completely and engaged himself in purely contrapuntal writing.86 Høffding turns Nielsen’s elementalism, his desire to reduce music to its basic essential component parts, into a broader aesthetic shift: one which leads strongly away from late-romantic decadence and atonality towards a supposedly purer contrapuntal discourse. Even the nature of this turn, however, is contested and politicised. Picking up a familiar thread, Høffding writes: ‘Max Reger, who appeared somewhat later than Carl Nielsen, has also been known as a polyphonist in his time, but despite all his efforts in the polyphonic direction, he must essentially be understood as a harmonist.’ The basis for this distinction, Høffding claims, is a matter of historical inheritance and tradition: ‘Reger proceeds from Bach, but however much Carl Nielsen owes to Bach, his point of departure and whole polyphonic mode of feeling is much more closely related to Palestrina’s time.’ This alternative genealogy once more suggests an attempt to establish aesthetic legitimacy, aligning Nielsen’s music with a more venerable, supposedly universal musical tradition. But it also points towards a stringent critique of contemporary music. As Høffding explains, this derives from a fundamental technical issue: ‘now that most people think of Bach as a polyphonist, it is necessary for a moment to go more closely into the frequently discussed problem of the relationship between the harmonic and the polyphonic, a problem which is in any case of importance with respect to the attitude towards modern music.’ 87 As we have seen, the polarisation of vertical and horizontal elements in this way is a recurring subject in much contemporary music theory – it provided the starting point for 86 ‘Carl Nielsen staar som de første Antiromantikker ikke alene i Danmark, men overhovedet i Europa. Hans Antiromantik gav sig blandt andet Udslag i, at han modsat alle andre samtidige Komponister gav sig til at forenkle den musikalske Skrivemaade. Mens alle andre søgte at komplicere Harmonikken ved en gennemført Kromatik, der i sidste Instans forlod al Tonalitet og kastede sig ud i rene Farvevirkninger, vendte han helt om og interesserede sig for den rent kontrapunktiske Skrivemaade.’ Finn Høffding, ‘Dansk og international musik’, Tilskueren 44 (Sept 1927), 166–70, at 166. 87 ‘Max Reger, der traadte noget senere frem end Carl Nielsen, havde i sin Tid ogsaa Ord for at være Polyfoniker, men trods alle Bestræbelser i polyfone Retninger maa han dog væsentligst opfattes som Harmoniker. ¶ Reger gik ud fra Bach, men hvor meget end Carl Nielsen skylder Bach, hans Udgangspunkt og hele polyfone Følemaade er langt mere i Slægt med Palestrinatiden. Da nu de fleste Mennesker opfatter Bach som polyfon, er det nødvendigt et Øjeblik at gaa nærmere ind paa det saa ofte drøftede Problem om Forholdet mellem det harmoniske og det polyfone, et Problem der iøvrigt er af Vigtighed med Hensyn til Indstillingen overfor den moderne Musik.’ Ibid., 166.

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Counterpoints 223 Poul Hamburger’s reading of Nielsen’s Third Symphony, as well as the basis for Mersmann’s energetic notion of expansive musical form. In Høffding’s report, however, it is coupled with a revisionist historical model that seeks to place Nielsen’s music at the centre of a new direction in modern music. Høffding borrows earlier energetic notions of chord progression, speaking of leadingnote ‘tendencies’ and ‘affinity’ to explain the relationship between voiceleading and harmonic function, but stresses that these are subject to natural (dynamic physical) rules. ‘Just as one can in chemistry say that stuff has an affinity with something else, that is to say, will easily combine with it, so in music we can say that certain chords have an affinity with certain others, and that therefore a good harmonic progression resides in the ability to exploit the many possibilities for movement a chord contains.’ 88 In other words, the rules of harmonic progression can almost be imagined as a periodic table, a chart outlining the potential energy that a chord may contain dependent upon the kinetic linear motion of its melodic elements – a view that would no doubt have appealed to Nielsen’s organicist sense of musical growth. But for Høffding, an important historical point emerges from this distinction: the historical overdevelopment of harmonic function means that Bach, despite his evident contrapuntal invention and melodic fluency, is essentially a harmonist. ‘But what then is polyphony, and where does one find it?’, Høffding asks; sixteenth-century polyphony becomes a purer source of musical origin, one which is ‘an offshoot of monodic song and which from its birth was therefore inclined to support itself’.89 While Bach’s music implicitly becomes associated with dependency, subjugation, and an excess of colour (chromaticism), Palestrina’s suggests independence, self-sufficiency, and vitality. The implications of this binary model, for Høffding, underpin a polemical attack on late nineteenth-century music: ‘modern objective music is the reaction against post-romanticism’s exaggerated subjectivity, its fantasy and its perpetual inclination to draw literature and cheap philosophy into play’.90 And here, for Høffding, lies the inner strength of Nielsen’s music – in his supposed cultivation of ‘pure polyphony’ as a response to the perceived subjectification of late-romanticism, a tendency that has led him away from an exhausted chromaticism back towards music’s originary source. But even if this is a 88 ‘Ligesom man i Kemien siger, at et Stof har Affinitet mod et andet, d. v. s. at det let forbinder sig med det, saadan kan i Musikken sige, at ganske bestemte Akkorder har Affinitet mod ganske bestemt andre, og at derfor en god harmonisk Sats bestaar i at kunne udnytte de mange Bevægelsesmuligheder en Akkord indeholder.’ Ibid., 167. 89 ‘Men hvad er da Polyfoni og hvor finder man den? … [Polyfoni] er udsprunget af den enstemmige Sang og netop derfor fra Fødslen vant til at bære sig selv.’ Ibid., 168. 90 ‘Den moderne objektive Musik er Reaktionen mod Efterromantikkens overdrevne Subjektivisme, dens Fantasteri og hele Hang til litterære og godtkøbsfilosofiske Indblandinger.’ Ibid., 169.

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224 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism trend that Nielsen’s work obviously shares with other figures in European music, Høffding claims that Nielsen’s polyphony is somehow deeper and more authentic. The fact that Nielsen’s work has not yet been fully acclaimed on the continent is merely, for Høffding, a sign of its integrity and spirit: Nielsen’s linear counterpoint is cutting-edge. But Høffding’s account also points towards an underlying sense of insecurity and isolationism, one that is acutely conscious (even though it is never stated explicitly), of Denmark’s peripheralised position in European music. In an unexpected turn, Høffding attempts to establish Nielsen’s primacy by redrawing the territorial boundaries of musical modernism. ‘In his pure polyphony and sense for the architectonic’, Høffding maintains, ‘Carl Nielsen is fully modern, whereas celebrities such as Arnold Schönberg and Allan [sic] Berg in their decadent eccentricity can only be regarded as obsolete and almost scarily exaggerated Romantics.’ 91 Rather, for Høffding, Nielsen’s modernity is closer to Stravinsky’s, these ‘two fine healthy composers’ (‘to prægtige sunde Komponister’); even if the kinship is not immediately apparent, their rejection of colourism (‘Kolorit’) and use of ‘pure diatonicism’ (‘rene Diatonik’) points towards a shared concern with basic musical resources. Hence, for Høffding, ‘Carl Nielsen’s art reveals itself in reality to belong to a later time than his own – he is a pioneer.’ 92

ЙЙ‘Tonality, Clarity, Strength’

Høffding’s essay, and Jeppesen’s book, point to a number of significant trends that prevailed through Danish music in the mid-twentieth-century. These include the sense of growing inwardness or isolation, evident in the concern with ‘Danishness’ as an increasingly autonomous category; the shift away from the focus on Germany as the primary centre of musical development towards other regions, notably France and Eastern Europe; and the attempt to shape aspects of Carl Nielsen’s reception, particularly within Denmark but also abroad.93 Nielsen’s music, for Høffding, is both fully modern and also grounded in universal musical principles. His concern with antique musical materials, such as sixteenth-century counterpoint, serves only to reinforce his sense of newness, confronting the potential challenge that Nielsen’s music was somehow simply old-fashioned or backward-looking. But Høffding’s

91 ‘… i sin rene Polyfoni og Sans for den arkitektoniske er Carl Nielsen fuldt ud moderne, hvorimod Berømtheder som Arnold Schönberg og Allan [sic] Berg i deres decadente Særhed kun kan betragtes som forældede og til det uhyggelige overdrevne Romantikere.’ Ibid., 170. 92 ‘Carl Nielsens Kunst viser sig i virkeligheden at tilhøre en senere Tid end hans egen – han er Foregangsmand[.]’ Ibid., 169–70. 93 On this stylistic and geographical reorientation in Danish music in the 1930s, see Michael Fjeldsøe, ‘Det fortrængte modernisme – den ny musik i dansk musikliv, 1920–1940’ (PhD dissertation, University of Copenhagen, 1999), 208–21.

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Counterpoints 225 review might also be read as an attempt to try and resolve the two seemingly contradictory sides of Nielsen’s musical character: the experimental (or expansive) and the more didactic. Høffding’s article specifically concerns the Fifth and Sixth symphonies, works which (especially in the latter case) remained problematic for many members of their contemporary Danish audience. Yet his emphasis on melody as the source of Nielsen’s musical imagination points implicitly towards the composer’s popular songs and his collaborative work with Thomas Laub and other musicians concerned with reforming the Danish popular song tradition, even though such works are not explicitly mentioned in the review. Though Høffding’s essay suggests another form of stylistic counterpoint, one that unfolds across the full range of Nielsen’s work, it also attempts the shift the balance of power towards the linear melodic elements of Nielsen’s music as a source of aesthetic and moral value. Høffding’s idea of counterpoint here is no less ideologically conceived than the contributions to the Bach volume of Die Musik in 1905, or Max Brod’s reading of the Third Symphony in 1913. Counterpoint once more signals purity, mastery, and authority: it was imbued with canonic values that served both to elevate Nielsen’s music into a higher artistic realm and also to shape a whole pedagogical programme for Danish music education. Høffding’s idea of Nielsen’s counterpoint thus becomes emblematic of a whole musical community, unified by its shared sense of compositional discipline and rigour. Nielsen’s very final composition, the organ work Commotio, suggests a similarly synthetic musical vision. But it also looks back to the more unstable and dynamic patterns of historical allusion and translation (and to Hyde’s notion of metamorphic anachronism) associated with earlier works such as the Chaconne, the Theme and Variations, and the Fourth Symphony. Although, as noted previously, the initial idea of an organ fantasy may have been inspired by Karl Straube’s Copenhagen visit in 1913–14, Nielsen did not begin writing Commotio until early in 1931. Straube’s influence and the legacy of the New Organ Movement were nevertheless still palpable, as Nielsen revealed in a letter to his son-in-law, Emil Telmányi, dated 24 February 1931, in which he described the work as ‘an attempt to rebuild the only genuinely valid organ style, namely the polyphonic music suited especially to that instrument, which has long been thought of as a kind of orchestra – which it is not in the least.’ 94 Two days later, on 26 February, he wrote to his wife that ‘I am just at the final wave in my great organ piece; now I am confident and in reality finished, so that the remainder which is left to be done is simply a question of a few hours’ further work’, a report which offers a fleeting insight into the 94 ‘Et Forsøg at genopbygge den virkelig eneste gældende Orgelstil, nemlig den polyfone Musik som passer specielt for dette Instrument, som i lang Tid er blevet betragtet som et Slags Orkester, hvad det aldeles ikke er.’ Breve, 265.

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226 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism work’s dynamic formal profile.95 According to Nielsen’s diary, the piece was finished on 1 March, and he wrote again to his wife the following day: Now my great organ piece is completely finished, and I am pleased with this work because it has been done with greater skill than any of my other things; I can judge this for my self, but not otherwise how it is in spirit. It is a large work and lasts around 22 minutes I would guess. Bach’s largest organ work (Prelude and Fugue in E minor) is 368 bars, mine is 511, so as for size? – Bach is unattainable!96 As in the Chaconne, Bach serves both as a model for emulation and also as a point of resistance: Commotio is no simple reverential attempt to recreate the sound of Bach’s music, but rather a more complex dialogue with its multiple historical precursors (which takes Bach, Buxtehude, and the North German Organ School as only one possible starting point). This sense of complexity is reflected in the pattern of its early performances. The work was played privately on several occasions: by Peter Thomsen on the organ at Christiansborg Slotskirke on 24 April 1931, and later by Finn Viderø at Sct Nicolai Kirke on 14 June and Emilius Bangert at Roskilde Cathedral on 23 June. Commotio did not receive its public premiere until 14 August, when Bangert played it at Aarhus Cathedral. He repeated this performance at the annual NordicGerman Organ Week held at the Marienkirche in Lübeck on 6 October – an event which, following Nielsen’s unexpected death, became a memorial concert.97 In a letter to Bangert before the Lübeck performance, shortly before his death, Nielsen attempted to clarify the meaning of the work’s title, which was intended to suggest ‘Bewegung, auch geistig’ (‘movement, also intellectual’). Nielsen further wrote: I would rather not include anything about ‘phantasierender’. The work is so strong in its form and voice-leading, you see, that I am incapable of anything more solid and firm. If more explanation was needed beyond the title alone (below) which I would actually rather it was ­limited to, then I would like the following [in German in the original]: The Latin word, ‘Commotio’, fundamentally applies to all music, but the word is used especially here as an expression for self-objectification. 95 ‘Nu er jeg lige ved den sidste Bølge i mit store Orgelstykke; nu er jeg sikker og i Virkeligheden færdig, da det, der skal gøres kun er et Spørgsmaal om Arbejdskraft nogle Timer.’ Dagbøger, 2, 596. 96 ‘Nu er mit store Orgelstykke helt færdigt og jeg er glad for det Arbejde fordi det er gjort med større Dygtighed end alle mine andre Ting; det kan jeg jo nok selv bedømme, derimod ikke hvordan det ellers er i Aanden. Det er et stort Værk og varer vist c 22 Minutter. Bachs største Orgelværk (Præludium og Fuga i e moll) er paa 368 Takter, mit er 511, saa hvad Omfanget angaar? – Bach er uopnaaelig!’ Dagbøger, 2, 598–9. 97 See Schousboe’s summary in Dagbøger, 2, 611–16.

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In a larger work for that mighty instrument called the organ and whose notes are determined by that natural element called air, the composer has attempted to suppress all personal, lyrical feelings. The task is great and strong, demands a kind of dryness instead of feeling and is better surveyed with the ear than embraced by the heart. The work is supported by two fugues around which an introduction, interludes, and coda cling like climbing plants around the stems of a forest; the composer believes that further analysis is superfluous.98 As Nielsen’s letter suggests, the idea of ‘phantasy’ (as both form and/or compositional process), so prominent in many of his earlier works from the 1890s, has here been abandoned in favour of a stronger sense of formal architecture and voice-leading. Nielsen’s emphasis on the music’s objective tone echoes Høffding’s review: the choice of a Latin word for the title underlines the work’s prevailing spirit of historical allusion, and also deflects the kind of expectations that a more generic heading would have raised. But the word ‘Commotio’ also suggests a dialogue with the word ‘counterpoint’, and the sense of movement that pervades Nielsen’s organ work is indebted to the kind of energetic linear writing that he had developed in works such as the Third Symphony. Hence, Commotio properly refers to the projection of such linear melodic ideas through space on the broadest scale. It signals both the idea of melody unfolding through time (the music’s irresistible sense of forward motion or spinning-out), and simultaneously its polyphonic sounding-together. This more complex reading of the work’s title was first explored by Poul Hamburger, in an early analysis of the work for the Nielsen memorial issue of Dansk Musiktidsskrift (1932). Unlike Nielsen, Hamburger did not reject the idea of Fantasy as a formal or compositional principle, but conceived it rather as an aspect of the work’s sense of historical continuity and musical change: ‘Commotio’ means ‘with movement’, a title that would appear to be directed not towards tempo or performance, but rather towards the 98 ‘Jeg vil ikke gerne have noget om ‘phantasierender’ ind. Værket er jo saa strengt i sin Form og Stemmeføring at jeg ikke evner at gøre noget fastere. ¶ Jeg kunde tænke mig følgende ifald man vil have mere Forklaring end selve Titlen (omstaaende) som jeg egentlig helst saa det indskrænket til: ¶ Das lateinische Wort Commotio gilt eigentlich alle Musik, aber das Wort ist hier besonders benutzt als ein Ausdruck für Selbst-Objektivierung. ¶ In einem grösseren Werke für das mächtige Instrument welches man Orgel nennt, und dessen Töne von dem Naturelement, welches man Luft nennt, bedingt sind, muss der Komponist versuchen, alle persönliche, lyrische Gefühle zu unterdrücken. – Die Aufgabe wird gross und streng und fordert eine Art Trockenheit anstatt das Gefühlsvolle und muss lieber mit dem Ohre beschaut als vom Herzen umschlungen sein. ¶ Das Werk wird von zwei Fugen getragen wozu Introduktion, Zwischensätze und Koda sich klammern, wie Schlingpflanzen an den Stämmen des Waldes; der Komponist meint aber dass weitere Analyse überflüssig ist.’ Letter dated 30 August 1931; reproduced in Niels Bo Foltmann, editoral preface, CNU 2:12, liii.

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228 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism character of the inner content itself. The work does indeed appear in an almost completely free form, whose nearest precursor seems to be the Baroque period’s great improvisation forms, the Toccata and Fantasy, and just as in these early forms, an almost completely unhindered dynamic freedom for fantasy reigns in Carl Nielsen’s Commotio, and this fantasy never allows itself to be bound by any one single thematic train of thought for any length of time, so that the piece feels almost like a mighty mosaic of diverse form-elements: flowing passages and powerful chord sequences alternate with cantabile or fugal episodes – movement, changeability, from first note till last.99 Hamburger’s formal analysis of the work is summarised in Table 6.1. As the table suggests, Commotio can be heard as a single massive uninterrupted musical span: an extended contrapuntal composing-out of a modally inflected perfect cadence (G minor – C major, a dark–light trajectory that retraces the basic tonal plan of the First Symphony). Beyond this large-scale cadential pattern, however, the piece can easily be broken down into its diverse constituent ‘form-elements’, dominated by the two extended fugal passages, beginning at bb. 113 and 319. Though the two fugal sections are both essentially cumulative in terms of texture and harmonic tension, they each articulate in turn their own internal subdivision: the first leads to an expressive codetta at b. 239 in Bb, which introduces a swift slackening of musical energy, and the second is interrupted by a contrasting pianissimo episode whose primary function is to delay the final arrival of the tonic entries and the closing cadence.100 The first fugue is preceded by an extended prelude, launched over a spectacular 99 ‘“Commotio” betyder “med Bevægelse”, en Titel, der næppe tager Sigte paa Tempo og Foredrag, men vel snarere paa selve den indholdsmæssige Karakter. Værket fremtræder nemlig i en ganske fri Form, hvis nærmeste Forbilleder synes at være Baroktidens store Improvisationsformer, Tokkata og Fantasi, og ligesom i disse gamle Former raader ogsaa i Carl Nielsens Commotio en næsten uhæmmet Bevægelsesfrihed for Fantasien, som aldrig for ret lang Tid ad Gangen lader sig binde af en bestemt tematisk Tankeudvikling, saaledes at Stykket nærmest virker som en kæmpemæssig Mosaik af forskelligartede Formelementer: strømmende Passager og vældige Akkordgange vekslende med kantabile eller fugerede Episoder – Bevægelse, Omskiftelighed fra første til sidste Tone.’ Poul Hamburger, ‘Carl Nielsen som Orgelkomponist’, DMT 7/1 (January 1932), 26–33, at 28. 100 As previous commentators have noted, this episode proved problematic for some of the work’s early interpreters. Emilius Bangert, for example, proposed that Nielsen replied on 26 July: ‘I have thought a great deal about your proposal regarding that cut in Commotio, but I think the error (in the architecture) lies elsewhere and perhaps in that the final fugal section needs to be more mighty, hence also broader.’ [Jeg har tænkt meget paa Deres Forslag om det Spring i ‘Commotio’, men jeg tror Fejlen (i det arkitektoniske) ligger anderledes og maaske deri at den sidste fugerede Sats skal være mere mægtig, altsaa ogsaa bredere.] Breve, 267. Bangert’s proposed cut concerned the a tempo ma fluente section in bb. 441–80, which he felt unnecessarily delayed the final stretto entries of the fugue subject before the coda.

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Counterpoints 229 Table 6.1  Commotio: formal chart Bar Formal Section 1 39 113

Key

Tempo

Prelude/Chromatic Fantasy

g–c# (V/f#)

Adagio

Pastoral

f#–Ab

Andantino quasi allegretto

Fugue 1 [fughetta]

G

A tempo poco tranquillo

239 Codetta

Bb

Andantino tranquillo

258 [Nested slow movement]

G

Andante sostenuto

C

[not specified]

(V/C)

A tempo ma fluente

C

[not specified]

319 Fugue 2 [ricercar–gigue]

441 489

Interlude

Fugue 2 (reprise)

tonic pedal that invokes not only numerous Bachian precedents but also later monumental neo-Baroque gestures such as the opening pages of Brahms’s First Symphony or indeed Nielsen’s own Violin Concerto (1912). The tonal plan of this prelude is characteristically extreme, swinging from a highly chromaticised G minor towards C#: Nielsen’s preference for tritone steps, as in the opening movement of the Third Symphony, once again suggesting an expansive harmonic freedom. It also points to the importance of enharmonic shifts (the Abs in the opening bars become G#s in b. 5) as the catalyst for structural harmonic change. This turbulent opening prelude finally gives way to a lilting pastoral (b. 39), initially oriented around F# minor, whose melodic impulse is predominantly sequential rather than imitative. The main theme of this pastoral, however, subsequently forms a countersubject in the following fugue (at b. 161), and other elements of the pastoral’s sequential figuration later ­reappear at the angular climax of the fugue before it collapses into the Andantino tranquillo codetta at b. 239 and the more extended interlude (Andante sostenuto) that follows. For some recent interpreters, such as Jens E. Christensen, this interlude (b. 258) constitutes an important structural component in its own right: a compressed slow movement comparable to the Poco adagio quasi andante at the heart of the Fourth Symphony, or the second half of the opening movement of the Fifth. As a result, Hamburger’s essentially bipartite reading of the work (as a hybrid Prelude/Toccata and Fugue) can be laid alongside a more complex three- or four-part division, which corresponds to a cyclic multi-movement sonata design.101 Commotio hence adopts the kind 101 Hamburger writes: ‘Commotio is divided into two approximately equal main parts. In the first part the improvisatory freedom appears more strongly, whereas in the second the fugal element predominates – one glimpses here the weak, but not quite entirely erased contours of the Toccata from Bach’s era with its two-part division into Prelude and Fugue.’ [Commotio er delt i to omtrent lige store Hovedafsnit. I første Del træder det improvisatorisk ubundne stærkest frem, medens i anden Del det fugerede Element er dominerende – man skimter her de svage, men endnu ikke helt udslettede Konturer af Bachtidens Tokkata med dens Todeling i Præludium og Fuga.] Breve, 28.

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230 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism of complex formal thinking developed in earlier works including the Fourth and Fifth symphonies and the Clarinet Concerto, so that a series of compressed independent movements can be heard within the curve of a ­single expansive phrase or breath. At this level, the work is strongly teleological. The opening prelude becomes a massively unbalanced and destabilising exposition, a violent chromatic flux that demands harmonic and textural resolution. The pastoral and the first fugue (in reality a fughetta) are initial attempts to achieve resolution, but these episodes too merely end in harmonic disorder and instability (b. 230): only the summative final fugue, with its broad, swinging rhythm (reminiscent of the fugal closing movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in Ab, op. 110), and its symmetrical reprise, is able to articulate a sufficient sense of balance and tonal closure to bring the work to a satisfying conclusion. This cyclic process of expansion and dissolution within a single extended arc suggests a different approach to the work’s form, which directs attention more closely towards aspects of melodic design and contrapuntal structure. For Hamburger, Commotio’s diverse form elements potentially threaten to fall apart into incoherence – here lies the relevance of the title’s alternative meaning, ‘commotion’, signalling disorder or musical anarchy rather than simply ‘sounding/moving together’. Despite this sense of imminent tension and collapse, Hamburger maintains, the work is ultimately bound securely together through a process of motivic association. Turning again to Bach and Buxtehude as Nielsen’s true musical precursors, Hamburger argues: But no more than that this freedom in the old masters results in an incoherent chaos – just think of Bach’s great Organ Fantasy in G minor – no more is this the case in Carl Nielsen’s work. Not only has he understood, like the master of transition he was – something that emerges no less vividly in the Inextinguishable Symphony – how to preserve the organic coherence between the individual parts reciprocally, but on many occasions it can be observed how a seemingly unimportant, entirely sporadically appearing motif can re-emerge in a later context in order to become the guiding thought, or – conversely – can appear like a fleeting memory, a rapidly dwindling reflex of something previous – a ‘technique of association’, which the old toccata composers, Buxtehude above all, used to often brilliant effect as the means with which to unify even great contrasts.102 102 ‘Men ligesaa lidt som denne Ubundethed hos de gamle Mestre resulterede i et usammenhængende Kaos – man tænke blot paa Bachs store Orgelfantasi i g-mol – ligesaa lidt er dette tilfældet i Carl Nielsens Værk. Ikke alene har han forstaaet, som den Overgangenes Mester, han var – noget, der træder ikke mindst levende frem i Symfonien ‘Det Uudslukkelige’ – at bevare den organiske Sammenhæng mellem de enkelte Dele indbyrdes, men mange Gange lader det sig tillige iagttage, hvorledes et tilsyneladende uvæsentligt, rent sporadisk optrædende

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It is relatively easy to retrace the links of Hamburger’s chain of motivic associations through the principal sections of the work (Ex. 6.6). The wedge-like fughetta subject of the first fugue, for example (b. 113), first emerges as a bass line in bb. 96–8. Similarly, the tighter, more restrictive theme of the Andante sostenuto (b. 258) that follows is prefigured by the preceding codetta (b. 240); and the chromatic head subject of the closing fugue is first announced amid the cadential figuration in b. 317. What connects such thematic statements is not in fact a closely worked process of motivic transformation, but more often a looser sense of resemblance or shared contour, in particular the frequent recurrence of a descending cadential figure (bracketed in Ex. 6.6) that was already a characteristic Nielsen motif. Equally striking, however, is the way in which such fluid patterns of thematic statement and return amplify and reflect the work’s fluctuating structural tensions. The instability of the opening prelude, for example, is generated partly through the friction between the static, seemingly immovable bass, and the rhythmically florid, tonally unstable figuration in the upper parts. This sense of struggle between opposed musical impulses – crudely, the static and the dynamic – points back once again to Kurth’s notion of linear counterpoint. In Bach’s music, Kurth maintains, the contrapuntal pattern of simultaneous ascending and descending lines creates a transformative power from which ‘an infinitely more powerful energetic process arises, resulting from the interacting constituent drives’. Yet the defining character of this transformative energy is the sense of opposition and conflict involved. By comparison with his historical imitators, Kurth maintains, ‘Bach allows every global unfolding to emerge clearly as a struggle, and often a very urgent resistance, against the local dynamic in the motives of opposing tendencies. This [process] also agrees, characteristically, with his incomparably stronger harshness of dissonance.’ 103 Nielsen’s music is similarly concerned with conflict and dissolution as much as synthesis and balance. The tension generated in the opening prelude, for example, is released only when the bass and upper parts finally begin to move in synchronisation (at the powerful chordal passage at b. 21); yet even here, the feeling of coordinated musical lines is merely provisional, and the local sense of cadential arrival (on V/F#) at b. 28 coincides with a sense of thematic liquidation. The first fugue (from b. 113), marked a tempo poco tranquillo, unfolds this energetic wave-like process of opposition, transformation, and release on a broader scale. As Hamburger notes, the passage begins with ‘broadly and healthily singing lines’ (‘bredt og sundt syngende Linjer’) in the manner of Motiv kan dukke op igen i senere Sammenhæng for her at blive den ledende Tanke eller – omvendt – kan træde frem som en flygtig Erindring, en hastigt svindende Refleks af noget foregaaende – en ‘Associationsteknik’, som ogsaa de gamle Tokkatakomponister, Buxtehude frem for nogen, anvendte med ofte genial Virkning som Middel til at forene selv store Modsætninger.’ Breve, 28. 103 Kurth, Grundlagen; excerpts in Kurth, Selected Writings, 72.

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232 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 6.6  Nielsen, Commotio: thematic table 3 3 3 œ œ bœ œ œ b œ bœ œ œ œ bœ œ #œ b œ œ œ œ #œ œ 3 3 3 œœ œœ œ b œœ œœ œ b œ b œ œ œ ?c ‰ J w 3 w ## œ œ œ™ œ™ œ œ #œ œ & # 38 œ™

&c ‰

? ### 38 œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‹œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ œ & b bb œ b & b bb œ

œ

œ bœ bœ bœ bœ œ



œ œ œ œ œ

œ nœ nœ

œ bœ

- - -œ ? # -œ -œ -œ -œ -œ -œ œ -œ œ -œ -œ œ- œ œ- œ œ - œ- - œ- - œ œ œ- œ- œ - -

œ œ # œ™ œ™ œ œ œ œ œ™ œ œœ & œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œœ nœ œ™ œ nœ œ - - - - - &

# ∑

? # bœ ™

nœ ™ œ™

# & 43 ˙™ ˙™ ? # 43 ˙œnœ œ

n Ϫ Ϫ Ϫ

œœ

bœ œ bœ œ b œ œ b œœ œ nœ œ nœ™ œ œ bœ œ J 3 3 nœ™ œ œ nœœ ™ œbœœ œœ nœœ œœ nœ bœ nœœ ™ œbœœ nœœ œœ b ™ J œ™ œ™

œ™ œ

œ˙ ™ œ œ œ œ œ ˙™ ˙™

˙™ œ œ ˙™ œ œ

œ œ

# ˙™ & œ

œ #œ œ œ œ nœ ˙™ ˙™ 3 3 3 œ œ nœ œ ™ b œj ˙™ ˙™ ˙™ ?#

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&

#

Ex. 6.6  Nielsen continued

j 12 8 œ #œj œ nœj œ œ

j œ bœ

j j œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ

j œ œ

233

j œ

. . . . . . . . . . . . # œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. b œ & œ#œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ n œnœ œœ œ œœ œ œœ œ œœ œ œœ œ bbœœnœ œœ œ œœ œ œœ œ œœ œ œœ œ ?#

œ bœ nœ



œ œ bœ



œ œ bœ

bœ œ

a conventional four-voice fugal exposition. But the contrapuntal combination of the pastoral theme with the fughetta subject as the middle entries begin (b. 153) coincides with a growing sequential impulse (from b. 155) that is ultimately directed more towards dissolution and than towards consolidation and tonal stability. As Hamburger observes, one of the key stages in this process is the growing tension between points of fugal imitation and more motoric ostinato figuration, latent within the fughetta subject itself. The end result, as the motoric figuration begins to dominate and assume control, is the brutalised restatement of the fughetta theme in b. 226, a decisive moment of thematic return that results in harmonic crisis and near-collapse. Nielsen thus undermines the notions of balance and control that are traditional associations of fugal composition: the process of gradual imitative accumulation here leads to overload rather than synthesis. And the andantino tranquillo that follows (b. 239) emerges very much as a residue or afterglow of this climactic apex wave, the unspent energies of the preceding cycle already beginning to gather once again even as the previous climax continues to fade. For Kurth, this cyclic process of intensification and release is a defining mode of Bach’s linear counterpoint. ‘If thematic presentation means thematic consolidation [Verdichtung]’, he explains, ‘then the transitional passage is thematic dissolution [Auflösung].’ Bach’s transformative process of development, the way in which such passages erode and reshape thematic character, is strikingly similar to the principle of elementalism that motivates much of Nielsen’s work. ‘That which remains of the original characteristics of the theme and its motives in this disintegrative process are those absolute dynamic gestures, simplified down to an ultimate kernel [auf einen letzten Kern vereinfachten] and thus possessing only the most general outlines.’ 104 In Commotio this forceful reduction to absolute dynamic gestures is accomplished vividly in the final section. The second fugue is in many senses a mirror image of the first. Whereas the opening fughetta ultimately leads, 104 Kurth, Grundlagen, 433; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 73.

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234 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 6.7  Nielsen, Commotio: conclusion

œ #œj œ nœj œ j bœ œ bw˙. & œ. bœ. nœ. œ b œ. œ ˙. . ? œw w.. œ. #œ. ff

?

ff

w.

œ.

b˙. b ˙.

b œœ.. bœœ..

˙. bœ˙. b œ. bb ˙. ˙. b ˙˙...

˙œ . .

œœ œœ

œœ b˙˙ .. œœ ˙˙œ. œ bœ . J J

œ œ œœœ ... bœœœ... J

U w .. w w w ..

U w w .. w.

U j œ œ bœ bœbœ œ b œ b œ b œ b œ . b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ w œ bœ œ œ w. pesante

through sequential elaboration, towards a point of maximal strain and dissonance that effectively pulls the music apart, the second maintains a much greater sense of focus and forward momentum, drawing its energies towards the concentrated cadential release of the final bars. As Hamburger suggests, the ‘pastoral singing intermezzo’ at b. 441 momentarily recalls the music of the first fughetta, together with its sequential ostinato figuration. But such sequential patterns here remain ultimately subordinate to the progress of the fugue, which returns via a series of stretto entries in bb. 480–4 and a full formal reprise at b. 489. The music’s chromatic elements are gathered together for a final time, and the work concludes with a searing C major cadence, the Neapolitan emphasis on Db in the penultimate bar an enharmonic resolution of the C# shift in the opening paragraph (Ex. 6.7). Equally remarkable as this process of definitive tonal arrival in the closing bars, however, is the thematic liquidation of the fugue subject itself, its reduction to basic intervallic components. For Kurth, in such moments of transformation, ‘it is here that Bach’s personality, in its demonic depth, shines forth most forcefully from the work of art.’ Transition and closure, in Bach’s music, are associated with a cycle of energetic expansion and release: ‘the liberation from the thematic content and shedding of the particular cast of a specific motivic shape, aspiring to the freest immaterial forms – dynamic expression released from all bonds.’ Liquidation, Kurth argues, ‘is not an interruption of the thematic material but rather the overcoming [Überwindung] of it’,105 a dialectical process of dissolution and renewal. The idea of counterpoint in Nielsen’s Commotio appears to rest upon a similar dialectical sense of expansion and release. But it also rests upon the tension between Commotio’s tendency towards chaos and fracture (in the first fugue) on the one hand, and its opposing impulse towards centralisation and cohesion (in the second) on the other. Indeed, this tension is a fundamental structural principle in much of Nielsen’s later work. Commotio is Nielsen’s final, most impressively architectonic realisation of Kurth’s energetic dictum that ‘the motive arises out of motion 105 Kurth, Grundlagen, 437; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 73.

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and dissolves back into motion. The beginning and end of all polyphony is motion.’ 106 Nielsen’s counterpoint is characteristically multi-voiced and deconstructive. It evokes counterpoint’s familiar historical associations of mastery, control, discipline, and compositional maturity, the canonical figures of Palestrina, Bach, and late Beethoven. But it also challenges and problematises such associations, not least through Nielsen’s frequent tendency towards dissonance, gestures of collapse, or textural and chromatic saturation. Nielsen’s counterpoint is thus often angular, thorny, and difficult. This symbolises not a technical inadequacy or unease, but rather a sense of historical passage. Martha Hyde’s notion of metamorphic anachronism offers a convincing explanation for the way in which works such as the Chaconne and the Theme and Variations seek to intensify and dramatise the distance that seemingly separates their musical elements: the tension between the ground bass form’s arcane repetitive harmonic rhythm and its urge towards improvisatory modernistic fantasy, or the taut framework of the Variations’ initial theme and the impulsive freedom of the variations themselves. The idea of counterpoint in these works refers to a creative dissonance, a characteristically modernist sense that things constantly threaten to fall apart. The way in which Nielsen gathers up and resolves these dissonances provides a vivid sense of musical drama. But it also reflects an urge to reduce music to its basic constituent parts – the process of elementalisation that becomes a recurrent trope in Nielsen’s writing on music. It is hard not to hear Commotio in this context as a more summative, retrospective work: Hamburger compared it to the monumental facade of Jensen-Klint’s Grundtvig-Kirke in Copenhagen.107 But the essence of Commotio, like the opening movement of the Third Symphony, is properly its sense of energetic transformation, the impression of constant change and development that fluctuates and grows like a pulsating electrical charge. In an article entitled ‘Meditations’ that Nielsen published in June 1925, to mark his sixtieth birthday, he wrote: Music is something living, something that flows, moves, captures our attention in the same way as a brook’s course, the wind’s breath, a cloud’s flight, and the dance of the leaves. Hence something coherent, that has its self-justification in its own movement, in that path that it takes or follows. Music can therefore very well learn from Nature, but not in such a way that it aspires to resemble natural sounds – that is the dilettante’s great misunderstanding – but in such a way that we 106 Kurth, Grundlagen, 438; quoted in Kurth, Selected Writings, 74. 107 Hamburger, ‘Carl Nielsen som Orgelkomponist’, 32. This topic is further discussed by Jørgen I. Jensen, ‘At eksplodere i en form – Commotio og Grundtvigskirken’, in Dansk Musik i tusind år, ed. Eva and Bo Holten (Copenhagen: Musica Ficta, 1999), 88–9.

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236 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism become one with that which prevails upon something stronger, and learn to experience the coherence in each manifestation of life. From Nature we can also learn to shun the stronger effects. Nature is never ‘effective’, but rather something much greater, something which does not astonish, yet is also never tiring.108 Here then is a more characteristically early twentieth-century notion of counter­point as vitalist life-force: the melodic line’s energetic struggle and conflict to emerge, develop, and evolve in its full richness and complexity, a process that constantly threatens to spin out of control. Nielsen’s idea of counterpoint may sometimes suggest an ideological desire to unify or synthesise such divergent impulses. But more often his music begins to unwind, and breakdown into its individual speaking voices, even as it draws itself energetically together. And it is this more complex, pluralistic notion of counterpoint that drives Nielsen’s most problematic and incisive work, the Sixth Symphony, to which we now turn.

108 ‘Musik er noget levende, noget, der rinder, bevæger sig og fanger vor Opmærksomhed paa samme Maade som Bækkens Løb, Vindens Pres, Skyernes Flugt og Bladenes Dans. Altsaa noget sammenhængende, der har sin Rigtighed i sig selv, i sin egen Bevægelse og i det Forløb, det tager eller faar. Derfor kan Musiken meget vel lære af Naturen, men ikke paa den Maade, at den skal forsøge at efterligne Naturlydene – dette er Dilettantens store Misforstaaelse – men saaledes, at vi gør os til ét med det, der bevæges af noget stærkere, og lærer at opleve Sammenhængen i enhver Livsytring. Af Naturen kan vi ogsaa lære at sky de stærke Effekter. Naturen er aldrig effektfuld, men noget, der er meget større, som ikke forbløffer, men som heller ikke trætter.’ Musik, Tidskrift for Tonekunst 9/6 (June 1925); Samtid, 328–30, at 328.

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7  Cosmic Variations

T

he argument  that has underpinned much of this book has been the idea of Nielsen as a modernist composer. The definition of modernism upon which this claim rests, however, is far from monolithic or one-dimensional. On the contrary, modernism emerges repeatedly from this discussion as a highly contested category: it can be identified as a term of frequent abuse in early twentieth-century music criticism (especially in the contemporary reception of Nielsen’s more challenging large-scale works), and subsequently emerges as a complex, problematic strand in recent music-historical writing. Jørgen I. Jensen’s image of the double man, of Nielsen as both ‘great little Dane’ and as continental European modernist, is an eloquent example of the ways through which the idea of modernism in Nielsen’s music can be refracted: both outwards, towards a cosmopolitan internationalism, and inwards, towards the invented, highly localised notion of Denmark as in some senses an autonomous, culturally closed domain. As analysis has shown, Nielsen’s work in fact engages powerfully with broader strands in early twentieth-century European music. Like Mahler, his works are often fractured and energised by moments of gennembrud or Durchbruch, a sense of radical destabilisation created through the incursion of music from seemingly beyond the boundaries of the individual musical work. Such moments in Mahler, according to Adorno, constitute a fundamental critique both of the symphonic project and of its wider artistic and cultural environments. Nielsen’s work, I have argued, is similarly dialectical, and the divergent impulses within his music often threaten to break apart and collapse the musical work: this is precisely what happens in the climaxes of the Chaconne and the Theme and Variations, and it also accounts for such moments of crisis as the timpani duel in the finale of the Fourth Symphony and the side drum cadenza in the first part of the Fifth. Nielsen’s music, in that sense, is motivated by what I described in the previous chapter as a gestural counterpoint, a basic opposition of elements or materials that challenges and breaks down our conventional frame of musical expectation. Whereas in Mahler, and other early twentieth-century modernists such as Elgar, this process of opposition and breakthrough often signals defeat, resignation, or alienation from world, even at its most seemingly affirmative, in Nielsen the emphasis is rather on the music’s dynamic instability, its creative energy or impulse towards transformation, regeneration, and change. The multiple voices within Nielsen’s music are not so much a sign of aesthetic fracture, the normative modernist sense of ‘things falling apart’ in terminal decay, but rather part of a rich and more playful dialogue, a novelistic texture that might be interpreted more positively as a musical response to the diversity of the modern world.

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238 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism This is arguably the context in which Nielsen’s sixth and final symphony, the Sinfonia semplice, needs to be understood. But this complex, dialogical approach is nevertheless a controversial reading of the work, one that cuts against the symphony’s prevailing patterns of reception. Nielsen began the symphony in August 1924, presumably with the intention of completing the work in time for his sixtieth birthday celebrations the following year. In a letter dated 14 August to his son-in-law, Emil Telmányi, from his summer house in Skagen, Nielsen reported: ‘nothing new, except that I have begun work on an amiable, playful symphony’.1 Two days earlier, he had written to his daughter of a work ‘of completely idyllic character. Thus, entirely outside all timedetermined taste and fashion, but simply fine and inward abandonment in tones in the same manner as the old a cappella masters, yet still with the resources of today – and yet what do I know, when I still only feel it loosely and have the vague urge towards something in that direction.’ 2 For many commentators, these early plans provide the best explanation for the work’s subtitle. Yet here the problems start, since, as Thomas Michelsen notes in his editorial preface to the critical edition for Carl Nielsen Works, the subtitle does not appear in any of manuscript material, nor was it printed in the first edition of the published score (though it did appear on programmes for the work’s premiere and in later editions).3 And, as immediately becomes apparent after even a casual hearing of the work, the symphony is anything but simple in the demands it places upon its players – parts of the string writing in the first movement, for example, are among the most challenging and exposed passages in any of Nielsen’s works. The idea of a ‘Sinfonia semplice’, in other words, seems ironic at best. This more complex and puzzling vision of the symphony was strongly reflected in the work’s genesis and reception. The manuscript full draft of the first movement was dated ‘Damgaard, 20 November’ (1924), and the second movement was completed by the end of January 1925, but the finale was finished only on 5 December, over sixteenth months after the work was begun, and barely a week before the complete work received its first full performance at the final concert in the series of celebrations to mark Nielsen’s sixtieth year.4 During the composition, Nielsen’s letters and correspondence reveal a



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1 ‘Intet Nyt uden at jeg har begyndt at arbejde paa en elskværdig, legende Symfoni’. Quoted in editorial preface, Carl Nielsen, Symphony no. 6, ed. Thomas Michelsen, CNU 2:6 (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, 2001), xii. 2 ‘af helt idyllisk Karakter. Altsaa, helt udenfor al tidsbetinget Smag og Mode, men bare fin og inderlig musikalsk Hengivelse i Tonerne paa samme Maade som de gamle a capella Musikere, dog alligevel med vor Tids Midler, ja, hvad ved jeg, naar jeg endnu kun føler det løse og den dunkle Lyst til noget i den Retning.’ Breve, 231. 3 Editorial preface, Nielsen, Symphony no. 6, ed. Michelsen, xvii. 4 As Schousboe notes (Dagbøger, 474–5), the third movement was dated 18/4/25; hence, the finale took almost eight months to complete. The programme for the sixtieth birthday concert on 11 December included the Violin Concerto, the

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shifting sense of insecurity as the work developed. In a letter to his wife from Damgaard, dated 20 August 1924, for instance, Nielsen wrote: ‘no progress with my symphony: but I hope it will come’, and a day later: ‘I don’t get anywhere with my work. I hope I have the inclination and energy. Unfortunately, however, I would much rather be doing something practical; that would be lovely. But I am resolved to try again and keep at it until I am in a satisfactory train of thought. Music is something rather strange; if it doesn’t fizz in my head with a certain bustle, I can’t progress.’ 5 Yet on 10 October 1924, he wrote to his friend and patron Carl Michaelsen that ‘I am progressing well with my new symphony; as far as I can tell, it will largely be of an entirely different character than my other works: more amiable, flowing, or what should I say, perhaps it is better not to say, since I do not know which currents may occur under sail.’ 6 And to his daughter, Anne-Marie Telmányi, he wrote on 24 October: ‘I am quite diligent composing something. God knows how it will turn out! I do not even know myself, but if it turns out to be something rubbish, then that hardly matters: dammit, little Nielsen cannot always continue in the same way with temperament and all that. This time it will be entirely boring and nice.’ 7 This powerful sense of creative ebb and flow partly reflects Nielsen’s default working method: the manuscript materials held in the Carl Nielsen Collection at the Royal Library in Copenhagen reveal that he generally worked with broad continuity drafts rather than preparing detailed sketches before assembling a large-scale work. Drafts of earlier works reinforce the impression that Nielsen often began to compose without a determined sense of where the work would eventually lead: his oft-quoted statement about the Fifth Symphony that ‘we never know where we will end up’ 8 could refer both to the perception of his work in live performance and also to this fundamental aspect of Nielsen’s compositional process. But his comments here suggest









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tone poems Saga-drøm and Pan og Syrinx, and the Oriental Music from Aladdin, alongside the first complete performance of the symphony. 5 ‘Det gaar endnu ikke med min Symf: men jeg haaber det vil komme’; ‘Det gaar slet ikke med mit Arbejde. Jeg haaber jeg faar Lyst og Kraft. Det er desværre saadan at jeg meget hellere og gerne vil bestille noget praktisk. Men jeg vil nu prove igen og blive ved til jeg faar fat i en Traad. Musik er noget underligt noget; hvis det ikke bruser i min Hjerne af en vis Tummel, saa kan jeg ikke.’ Dagbøger, 2, 480 and 481. 6 ‘Jeg er kommen godt igang med min nye Symfoni; saavidt jeg kan se, bliver den i Hovedsagen af en anden Karakter end mine øvrige: mere elskværdig, glidende eller hvad skal jeg sige, dog er det ikke godt at sige, da jeg ikke ved noget om hvad Strømme der kan komme under Sejladsen.’ Breve, 233. 7 ‘Jeg er ganske flittig med at komponere noget. Gud ved hvordan det bliver! Jeg ved det ikke selv, men hvad om det ogsaa bliver noget Skidt saa kan [det] jo ogsaa være det samme, lille Nielsen kan jo da for Pokker ikke blive ved paa en og samme Maade, med Temperament og al det der. Denne gang skal [det] være godt kedeligt og pænt.’ Quoted in editoral preface, Nielsen, Symphony no. 6, ed. Michelsen, xii. 8 ‘Vi aner ikke hvor vi ende’. Anecdotal quotation in Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen, vol. 2, 271.

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240 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism a particular sense of anxiety and evasiveness about the first movement of the Sixth Symphony, a feeling that the work was somehow unstable as it evolved through composition. The image that emerges from Nielsen’s correspondence is in part a playful one: the idea of ‘lille Nielsen’ whose work will abandon all ‘temperament’ and become ‘boring and nice’ suggests that he was fully conscious (and lightly critical) of his popular construction as the ‘great little Dane’. In this sense, the final finished work is a not-so-gentle kick against his prevailing contemporary reception in Denmark – the closing bar of the finale, with its rough bassoon raspberry, is a characteristic jibe against such notions of decorum and good musical behaviour. But Nielsen’s conception of the work also reflects a greater sense of uncertainty. Exceptionally among Nielsen’s symphonic works, the first movement was premiered independently, in Stockholm, on 1 November 1925, before the premiere of the complete work in Copenhagen the following month: a decision which may have reflected nagging doubts on Nielsen’s behalf as much as the incomplete state of the finale. Such doubts could have been prompted by events earlier in the work’s gestation. As Schousboe records, in the middle of the work’s composition, Nielsen escaped the Danish winter and travelled to the south of France in early 1925, where he and his wife stayed in Menton on the Mediterranean coast. Here, while visiting J. F. Willumsen in Nice, he met Arnold Schoenberg.9 In a letter to Emil Telmányi dated 12 February, Nielsen reported: On Monday we were in Nice at the Willumsen’s and it was a lovely trip. Unfortunately, Arnold Schönberg and his wife (who stay in Beaulieu) had been here [i.e. in Menton] while we were in Nice. So yesterday we went over and visited them and they were thrilled by our visit and we arranged that we would travel to Nice today and meet there with a particular train. A great carnival has just opened today and the whole city is in revolt. I like Schönberg and Mother [Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen] says that our talks obviously interest him very much. It could well be that the sympathy is reciprocal, but in any case is it very charming to talk with him and he is both intelligent and childlike: an appealing combination. We shall see.10

9 On the early Danish reception of Schoenberg’s music, see Jan Maegaard, ‘Arnold Schönberg og Danmark’, Dansk Årbog for Musikforskning 6 (1968–72), 141–58. 10 ‘I Mandags var vi i Nizza hos Willumsen og det var en udmærket Tur. Desværre havde Arnold Schönberg [og] Kone (der bor i Beaulieu) været her medens vi var i Nizza. Men saa tog vi igaar ned og besøgte dem og de var meget henrykte over Besøget og vi maatte aftale at nu idag tager vi til Nizza og mødes der med et bestemt Tog. Der bliver nemlig aabnet et stort karneval idag hvor hele Byen er i Oprør. Jeg kan lide Schönberg og Mor siger at han er uhyre optaget af at tale med mig. Det kan godt være at Sympatien er gensidig, men ihvertfald er det meget morsomt at tale med ham og han er baade intelligent og barnlig: en tiltalende Konstellation. Nu skal vi se.’ Dagbøger, 2, 478.

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Nielsen’s letter suggests not only his personal warmth towards Schoenberg, but also that he was more interested in Schoenberg’s work than subsequent commentators have sometimes tried to suggest: it is hard to imagine Nielsen taking the effort to visit Schoenberg if he had been entirely uninterested in his music.11 But the timing of the encounter is also significant: the meeting took place shortly after the completion of the symphony’s second movement, the problematic Humoreske, and as Nielsen was beginning to think about the third and, crucially, the variations in the fourth. It is tempting to read the symphony subsequently as a trace of Nielsen’s encounter with the music and personality of a younger European modernist generation: as a work that embraces, and also moves away from, a harder, more confrontational modernist idiom. And Nielsen’s description of Schoenberg as ‘intelligent and childlike’ seems equally well suited to the symphony itself. This sense of ambivalence – of a work poised delicately between competing ideas of modernism and musical style – became apparent from the series of interviews that Nielsen gave throughout his sixtieth birthday year, many of which addressed the development and character of the eagerly awaited new composition. In Politiken on 3 April 1925, for example, he reported confidently (and mistakenly in retrospect) that he hoped to complete the work within a month, and that the fourth movement was to be ‘a variation work, a cosmic chaos, whose atoms upon the theme from the dark to the light clear up and gather together into a sphere’.12 Yet later that year on 9 November, following the premiere of the symphony’s first movement in Stockholm, he told Axel Kjerulf, again in Politiken: I will now confide in you an important matter: If I could live my life over again, I would beat all artistic notions out of my head and enter a profession or do some other useful work, of which I could finally see the result. What a human satisfaction it must be, when a man closes 11 Schousboe also records Nielsen’s diary entry on 9 February: ‘Drove to Nice and visited Willumsens. Ms. Ree came along with us. While Arnold Schoenberg had been and visitied with his wife. [Tog til Nizza og besøgte Willumsens. Frk Ree var med. Imedens havde Arnold Schonberg været her og gjort Visit med sin Kone.] Schoenberg’s visiting card reads: ‘Dear Mr Nielsen, we have tried to telephone you, but you have no telephone! Best wishes, Arnold Schönberg, 8[recte: 9]/ II-1925’. [Verehrter Herr Nielsen, wir haben versucht Ihnen zu telefonieren, aber Sie haben kein Telefon! Beste Empfehlungen. Arnold Schönberg. 8/II-1925.] The Nielsens paid a return visit on 11 February. Nielsen had evidently held mixed feelings about Schoenberg’s earlier music (cf. his comments about the Three Piano Pieces, op. 11), but had attended a performance of the Chamber Symphony at the Danish Philharmonic Society (Dansk Filharmonisk Selskab) in Copenhagen on 30 January, 1923. 12 ‘et Variationsværk, et kosmisk Kaos, hvis Atomer over Temaet fra det dunkle til det lyse klarer op og samles til en Klode’. ‘Hvad Carl Nielsen tænker paa!’ [’On Carl Nielsen’s mind’], interview with ‘Periskopet’, Politiken, 3 April 1925; quoted in Samtid, 324–5, at 324.

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242 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism his shop or workplace in the evening, knowing that he has done a decent and honourable day’s work and will receive his due credit for it. But these simple and otherwise perpetually relevant thoughts have no validity, when the talk is of creative artists. … I am now so old that I can overlook the whole business, that the creative artist’s lot is unreasonable and painful, and depends upon what one might call a sort of melancholic obsession. We imagine a great deal of things on the wrong side of reality. It is a dream and a delusion, and there is neither peace nor joy in it. If I could take an exam or learn a craft, I would feel satisfied with such work – but it is too late. I became a musician out of necessity – because circumstances demanded it – and also because I laboured under the delusion of the joy and happiness that music could bring me – in the form of fortune and green woods and peace in my soul from the desire and urge to create that haunted me.13 Though Nielsen added at the end of his interview an important qualification: ‘[d]o not think I am a pessimist. I am in any case optimistic enough to believe in a beautiful concert tomorrow and hope for a good result’,14 his conversations with Kjerulf awakened a great deal of interest and surprise during his anniversary year, and had a significant influence both on his contemporary profile within Denmark and also on the reception of the symphony after its Copenhagen premiere. The idea of a creative fatigue, whether caused by Nielsen’s own fragile health, or through a sense of disillusionment with recent trends in modern European music, became a recurrent topic in writing on the symphony after its premiere. Nielsen’s apparent bitterness with his 13 ‘Nu skal jeg betro Dem en alvorlig Sag. Ifald jeg kunne leve mit Liv om igen, vilde jeg piske alle Kunstnergriller ud af mit Hoved og gaa i Handelslære eller gøre et andet nyttigt Arbejde, hvoraf jeg til sidst kunde se et Resultat. Hvilken menneskelig Tilfredstillelse maa det ikke være, naar en Mand om Aftenen kan lukke sin Butik eller sit Værksted, vide, at han har gjort et hæderligt og godt Arbejde, og saa faa sin rimelige Løn derfor. Men disse simple og ellers til enhver Tid gældende Tanker har ingen Gyldighed, naar Talen er om skabende Kunstnere. … Jeg er nu saa gammel at jeg kan overse det hele – at de skabende Kunstneres Lod er urimelig og pinefuld og beror ligesom paa en Slags sørgelig Tvangsforestilling. Vi foregøgler os en hel Del Ting paa den forkerte Side af det virkelige Liv. Det er en drøm og et Blændværk, og der er ingen Ro og Lykke ved det. Kunde jeg tage en Eksamen eller lære et Haandværk, vilde jeg føle mig mere lykkelig ved det Arbejde – men det er for sent. Jeg blev Musiker af Tvang – fordi Forholdene vilde det – og vel ogsaa, fordi jeg var belastet med Vrangforestillinger om den Lykke og Glæde, Musiken kunde bringe mig – i Form af Guld og grønne Skove og Fred i Sjælen for den Lyst og Trang til at skabe, som plagede mig.’ ‘Kunstens trange Vej’, Politiken, 9 November 1925; quoted in Samtid, 359–61, at 360. 14 ‘Tro nu ikke, jeg er Pessimist. Jeg er oven i Købet saa optimistisk at tro paa en smuk Koncert i Morgen – og haaber paa et godt Resultat.’ Samtid, 361.

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Cosmic Variations 243 lot as a creative artist, especially his claim that he would rather have studied a profession or been a craftsman, evidently left a sour impression, particularly in his anniversary year, even if it (arguably) reflected a momentary impulse rather than a deeply held conviction. The symphony’s jarring juxtapositions of contrasting musical material and the angular humour of the second and fourth movements in particular were heard in this context as emblematic of a loss of spirit, or a hollow response to the modernist trends in contemporary European music. For many writers, the music’s playful, ludic spirit was instead aligned with a wider sense of cultural pessimism and inwardness – a trend that, as Michael Fjeldsøe has observed, became increasing predominant in Danish music criticism as the decade progressed. Reviews of the premiere hence foreshadowed much of the symphony’s subsequent reception. Even the most positive critics were initially guarded in their response. Hugo Seligmann, writing in Politiken, for example, described a ‘curious work, not easily approached’, and claimed figuratively ‘it is a work of Denmark’s youngest composer, of the cleverest of them all, that harsh modernist’.15 Other writers were less relaxed about the apparent change of tone in Nielsen’s symphony, failing to perceive the gestural and expressive connections with previous works such as the Fifth Symphony or Maskarade. Gunnar Hauch, for example, wrote in Nationaltidende of ‘the most complicated, peculiar or rather self-willed work’, which, he complained, was ‘excessively egocentric and has lost much of the ‘expansiveness’, which otherwise used to thrill even his surroundings.’ 16 As Thomas Michelsen notes, several writers compared Nielsen’s symphony with Stravinsky’s music: Petrushka was in repertoire during the 1925–6 Copenhagen season, and Stravinsky himself had first visited the city as an international musical celebrity to perform his new Piano Concerto on 18 July 1924, when he caused a sensation.17 For København, however, the comparison was an unfortunate one: ‘all the Asiatic trickster’s hocuspocus was presented for us’, the anonymous 15 ‘… et mærkeligt Værk … ikke saadan at løbe til. … et Værk af Danmarks yngste Tonekunstner, af den dristigste af dem alle, den krasse Modernist.’ Hugo Seligmann, Politiken, 12 December 1925; quoted in Nielsen, Symphony no. 6, ed. Michelsen, xiv. 16 ‘Det mest komplicerede, egenartede eller rettere egenraadige Værk … overhaand­tagende egocentrisk og har mistet meget af det “ekspansive”, som ellers betog ogsaa Omgivelserne.’ Quoted in Nielsen, Symphony no. 6, ed. Michelsen, xiv–xv. 17 Svend Ravnkilde, ‘Stravinsky i København, sommeren 1924 – et strejftog med Finale 1924’, DMT 55/6 (1981/2), 258–69, at 259. Schousboe reproduces the famous picture of Nielsen with Stravinsky and other members of the Kongelige Kapel (including composer Finn Høffding and conductor Frederik Schnedler-Petersen) at the restaurant Nimb in Tivoli after Stravinsky’s concert on 2 December in Dagbøger, 26.

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244 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism reviewer wrote of the Sinfonia semplice, ‘but hardly as enjoyably as when the Stravinskian witches’ sabbaths carry on’.18 The possibility that Petrushka may have served as one of many points of inspiration for Nielsen’s symphony was recognised, but critics failed to perceive the ways in which it may also have crystallised tendencies latent in Nielsen’s earlier music, notably the Fifth Symphony. The Sixth was treated as an anomaly, the result of a tired creative imagination rather than a serious and provocative engagement with the problems of modern symphonic design. The familiar image of Nielsen as Denmark’s modern symphonic hero, the composer of the Espansiva and the ‘Inextinguishable’, suddenly seemed strange and remote. Similar criticisms – of Nielsen’s perceived physical and artistic weakness and the symphony’s supposed lack of coherence or structural control – can be traced in later accounts. Writing in 1947 at an important moment in Carl Nielsen’s post-war reception, for example, Torben Meyer and Frede Schandorf Petersen commented on the symphony’s privileged status: ‘this symphony, Sinfonia semplice, would be the last of Nielsen’s great symphonic works’, but noted that it led his music in a direction which ‘he never really developed or found himself in properly’. Rather, they claimed, ‘the work appeared without the same inspirational glow as the preceding symphonies’. For them, the problem was essentially concerned with continuity and unity of expression: ‘the contrast between the periods based on tradition and the new material, which he seeks to bring forth, becomes so garish that it seems as though these two worlds can never meet. The oppositions have become so great that they create a chasm, over which no bridge could be built that could bind together the heterogeneous components in this work.’ 19 Although they comment favourably on the work’s diversity and richness of character, and, surprisingly perhaps, commend the finale’s elegance of design and realisation, they maintain that ‘one cannot escape the fact that, in spite of its many fine details, the symphony stands as the weakest among Carl Nielsen’s symphonic works.’ Among Nielsen’s symphonic canon, they conclude, ‘the Sixth Symphony 18 ‘Alle den asiatiske Pudsenmagers Hokuspokus fik vi præsenteret, blot knap så morsomt, som naar de stravinsky’ske Heksesabater gaar an.’ Quoted in Nielsen, Symphony no. 6, ed. Michelsen, xv. 19 ‘Denne Symfoni, ‘Sinfonia Semplice’, skulde blive det sidste af Carl Nielsens store, symfoniske Arbejder, men samtidig indvarslede dette Værk i hans Kunst en Retning, som han aldrig rigtig uddybede og fandt sig tilrette i. … Værket fremstaar ikke med den samme, inspirerende Glød som de foregaaende Symfonier. Kontrasterne mellem de paa Traditionerne byggende Perioder og det nye, som han søger frem til, bliver saa grelle, at det synes, som om disse to Verdener ikke vil mødes. Modsætninger er blevet saa store, at de danner et Svælg, hvorover der ikke kan bygges nogen Bro, som kan forbinde de uensartede Bestanddele i dette Værk.’ Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen, vol. 2, 237, 238.

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Cosmic Variations 245 would seem to remain still the least appreciated of them all, and is performed seldom’,20 a retrospective judgement which continues to haunt the work. An equally authoritative early Nielsen commentator, Poul Hamburger, expressed similar doubts. In a survey of Nielsen’s orchestral and chamber music for Jürgen Balzer’s centenary anthology in 1965, Hamburger repeated Meyer and Schandorf Petersen’s assessment: acknowledging the work’s ‘diverting’ character in the second movement and the finale, and praising the ‘high seriousness and emotionality that prevails in the other two movements’. Hamburger nevertheless concluded that ‘altogether the Sixth is generally considered the weakest of all Nielsen’s symphonies’.21 In a lecture course on Nielsen’s symphonies at Copenhagen University in the late 1960s, Hamburger announced that he would not discuss the Sixth.22 In this context, it is easy to appreciate Hans Abrahamsen’s complaint that ‘I have always thought that our image of Nielsen has been a little conservative. The Danish musical world has used Nielsen as an exponent of resistence to contemporary music.’23 For a younger generation of Danish composers, Nielsen was inextricably linked with the idea of an aesthetic old guard: the more progressive elements of works such as the Sixth Symphony and the late wind concertos were relatively marginalised and inaccessible. The reception of the Sixth Symphony reflects a broader attempt to shape and control Nielsen’s musical legacy, and to canonise his place within twentieth-century Danish music. The image of Nielsen that appeared most critically acceptable for mainstream histories was the composer of Danish popular songs, collaborator with Thomas Laub on projects such as the Folkehøjskole Sangbog, the author of Maskarade and the Sinfonia espansiva. The more provocative musical gestures of the Sixth were difficult to assimilate with this vision. And the overlapping of elements of Nielsen’s biography – his heart problems, the apparent sense of pessimism following his November 1925 Politiken interview – provided sufficient material grounds for reading the Sixth as an exceptional work rather than a key component in his musical development. The most striking response to the symphony, however, can be followed outside his Danish reception, in the two versions of Robert Simpson’s monograph, Carl Nielsen: Symphonist (1952 and 20 ‘… man kommer ikke bort fra den Kendsgerning, at Symfonien trods dens mange fine Detailler staar som det svageste blandt Carl Nielsens symfoniske Værker. … Den sjette Symfoni er vel endnu den mindst værsatte af dem alle og opføres kun sjældent.’ Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen, vol. 2, 247, 248. 21 Poul Hamburger, ‘Orchestral Works and Chamber Music’, in Carl Nielsen: Centenary Essays, ed. Jürgen Balzer (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag – Arnold Busck, 1965), 19–45 at 45–6. 22 I am grateful to Niels Krabbe for this information. 23 Quoted in Anders Beyer, ‘Pictures of Music: A Portrait of the Composer Hans Abrahamsen’, Dacapo CD 8.224080 (Copenhagen, 1997), 3–7 at 6–7.

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246 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism 1979).24 Simpson’s book is even more significant, perhaps, as the first extended discussion outside Denmark of Nielsen’s work. It has therefore had a much greater influence than studies such as Meyer and Schandorf Petersen’s musicbiography on Nielsen’s ­international profile. Key elements of Simpson’s book, most notably his privileging of Nielsen’s symphonic works, his vision of Nielsen’s strong ethical musical humanism, and the principle of progressive tonality that Simpson identifies and follows through Nielsen’s work, continue to dominate discussion of his music in much Anglo-American scholarship. Simpson’s book obviously owes much to Nielsen’s Danish reception: the acknowledgements in the first edition list Nielsen’s eldest daughter, Irmelin Eggert Møller, and Torben Meyer, who wrote a brief biographical note in the Appendix.25 But it was also shaped by Simpson’s British context: in particular, through his own aesthetic commitment to the development of the modern (though not ‘modernist’) British symphony, and his resistance to the work of a younger post-war avant-garde (a commitment that became increasingly embattled and obstinate in the second edition of the book). Simpson’s study, in that sense, is no less ideologically charged than other accounts of Nielsen’s music. The Sixth Symphony, however, poses particular challenges to Simpson’s method. The work does not exhibit the same kind of evolutionary teleological progressive tonal design that Simpson perceived in the earlier symphonies: its journey from a idealised G major towards the finale’s carnivalesque Bb major is much more complex and convoluted than even the structure of the Fifth, and it is arguably impossible to determine any middleground coherence that might support a progressive tonal plan. Furthermore, the symphony’s expressive trajectory is much harder to read via Simpson’s humanist ethical model: the second movement in particular raises significant issues of meaning and expressive balance. Rather, in the first edition of his book, Simpson begins the chapter on the Sixth by arguing that ‘it is characteristic of Nielsen that his last symphony, completed sixth months after his sixtieth birthday, should be a transitional work’,26 marginalising the symphony so that it becomes little more than a stepping-stone between the Fifth and later, more apparently assimilable works such as Commotio. Simpson subsequently reinforces the familiar trend of the work’s Danish reception, aligning the work against (rather than alongside) tendencies in contemporary European music and offering instead a more local, biographical reading: ‘the core of the 24 Robert Simpson, Carl Nielsen: Symphonist (London: Dent, 1951), rev. edn (London: Kahn and Averill, 1979, repr. 1983). In the following discussion, the two editions are identified as Symphonist1 and Symphonist2. 25 The first edition is dedicated by Simpson ‘to my friends in the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra’, while the second is dedicated to Nielsen’s youngest daughter, Anne Marie, ‘in memory of Irmelin’. The preface by the Danish Ambassador is also omitted from the second edition. 26 Simpson, Symphonist1, 106.

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Cosmic Variations 247 symphony, the first movement, is not spiteful or destructive: there is a deep personal tragedy behind it: Nielsen’s heart was showing alarming symptoms of the disease from which he never recovered.’ 27 The symphony’s tone and design, in effect, become almost entirely synonymous with the composer’s own physiognomy. The problem with such readings is not so much their historical veracity but rather their tendency to become overly reductive and deterministic. In Simpson’s later edition, for example, the idea of Nielsen’s cardiac problems becomes all pervasive. The ‘screaming semitonal discord’ (p. 114 in the first edition) at the height of the first movement (b. 171), becomes ‘almost literally evocative of a heart attack’ (p. 22 in the second); this critical turn then becomes a model for reading the whole work: ‘Nielsen was no stranger to this experience. The fine health of the beginning has been insidiously undermined, always by B flat, at first like a slight symptom, then gradually more insistently sinister, now rampant and shattering.’ 28 Simpson’s own medical training may have sensitised him particularly acutely to the power of such biographical associations. But it also constitutes an attempt to render the music in more flatly humanistic terms: the symphony’s angst becomes the expression of an underlying physiological complaint. The composer’s body is once again aligned with his symphonic work in a literal form of organicism. In the first edition of Simpson’s book, this is symptomatic of what he perceives as both the symphony’s strength and its weakness: ‘thus ends Carl Nielsen’s last symphony’, Simpson writes, ‘and it is, taken as a whole, bitterly disappointing in more senses that one. But perhaps it is so in only one sense after all, for its artistic shortcomings are so clearly the result of its emotional origin that even in its disjointedness it demonstrates Nielsen’s instinct to identify form with content.’ Even this faint praise, however, fails to elevate the symphony to the level of its precursors. Aware perhaps of the work’s early performance history, and in particular the first movement’s unofficial premiere in Stockholm, Simpson concluded in 1952 that ‘the sixth Symphony will always be a source of controversy and a moving document, but it should never be played where Nielsen’s music is not familiar, unless, perhaps, the first movement is given by itself; that is capable of standing alone as a magnificent tragic work, ­rising from the deepest springs of human feeling.’ 29 27 Ibid., 108. 28 Simpson, Symphonist2, 122. 29 Simpson, Symphonist1,122. It is worth stressing that Simpson later acknowledged, in 1979, that his reading in 1952 had been coloured by the fact that he had not had the opportunity to hear the symphony live (supporting Meyer and Schandorf’s observation that the work was seldom performed at the time). So it is equally possible that the more humanistic slant of Simpson’s revised account in 1979 might also have reflected his subsequent experience of the work in the concert hall.

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248 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism In the revised 1979 edition, however, he clearly felt better equipped to accept the symphony in its entirety, beyond the first movement alone. But it is arguably only on compromised terms: Simpson inverts his progressive tonal model so that whole work becomes concerned not with the achievement of a long term goal (or point of definitive tonic arrival), as in the earlier symphonies, but rather with the reluctant acceptance of Bb as the symphony’s default tonic. Even if, as Simpson claims, ‘it is comparatively easy to detect Nielsen’s progressive strengthening of a tonality in the course of a work when the feelings it is made to arouse are encouraging: it is much less straightforward when he progressively lessens resistance to a tonality that is made to have inimical associations, at last accepted with equivocal elation’.30 The battle to come to terms with Bb hence becomes an ethical struggle. ‘Far from being an expression of subjective hurt’, Simpson concludes, the symphony is ‘a record of the experience [of Nielsen’s angina pectoris and his creative block] and the way he learned positively to cope with it.’ The symphony thus becomes a moving last testament – a late work in the Beethovenian sense, in which the music’s pain and angst are less bound up with a regretful leave-taking or farewell-to-theworld than with a cosmic humour: ‘a gaiety beyond all reason, expressed with perfect organisation’.31 Simpson’s colourful analyses, and his desire to vitalise such discussions with a strong sense of bodily force or gesture, constitutes a form of what Kevin Korsyn has identified as catachresis (pp. 121–2), the ironic or paradoxical tendency to connect seemingly opposed or diverse objects resulting in a jarring or disturbing effect.32 Simpson writes in the first edition of his monograph, for example, of the clarinet’s ‘liquid semiquavers’ (p. 108) on the symphony’s opening page, and of ‘fiery, fragmentary counterpoints (p. 110), a ‘fiendish sound’ (p. 112), and a ‘violent and twisted cataract of notes’ (p. 113) later in the first movement. As Korsyn suggests, catachresis is essentially a linguistic game that challenges and inverts the conventions upon which language is used and understood: it problematises the relationship between subject and object, weakening the discursive authority upon which such simple statements or representations rely. For Simpson, it is clearly part of his larger desire to humanise Nielsen’s work. But it is a particularly appropriate method for analysing the strikingly gestural behaviour of the Sixth. The basis for this approach can be found in Nielsen’s own thoughts on the symphony. Simpson places particular emphasis on an extract from an interview that Nielsen gave to Andreas Vinding for Politiken, on 11 December 1925, the day of the complete work’s premiere in Copenhagen. A longer extract from the 30 Simpson, Symphonist2, 115. 31 Ibid., 135–6. 32 Kevin Korsyn, Decentering Music: A Critique of Contemporary Musical Research (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 121.

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Cosmic Variations 249 same interview, entitled ‘Carl Nielsen on the Soul of Instruments’, reads as follows:  – Carl Nielsen has dubbed his new work Sinfonia semplice. That is – the composer says in conversation – because in this work I have striven for the greatest possible simplicity. This time, as a composer, my point of departure has been the character of the single instrument, I have tried to depict the instruments as independent individuals. I have treated each instrument like a person who lies asleep, and who I shall now awaken into life. While Wagner was the great ocean of sounds, upon which the individual voices were afloat, modern music endeavours to part the waters, almost as if we imagined a chorus upon the stage that has suddenly been individualised. It is remarkable that, without realising it clearly, I have always had that conception of music. I remember that, when my very first piece was performed, Grieg observed that I had used a very small orchestra. I answered, half apologetically, that it was because I wished to avoid instrumental doubling. But I must have already known where it would lead me, purely instinctively. I began by composing music with the piano, which I later orchestrated. The next stage was to write my score directly for the instruments. Now I think out from the instruments themselves – almost as though I’m creeping inside them.  – Do instruments have souls? You could well say that, if one remembers that a word is just a word. But the clarinet, for example, can be at the same time warm-hearted and completely hysterical, as mild as balm, and screaming like a tramcar on poorly greased rails. I have always found that the horn is poorly suited to the South, rather it belongs in the dark forests and lakes of Northern Europe, while on the contrary the trumpet and trombone will not offend us when they blaze away in the brightest sunshine on the piazzetta in Venice. Violins are more universal … string instruments belong to the whole world … the cello is like a tenor. Now the oboe, there’s a lovely instrument, striking a pastoral note with flocks of sheep, goats, deer and their calves, all the poetry of animals and shepherds, the oboe is like small new-born lambs in the Springtime. And if we imagine that we need an instrument to express foolishness, then we have the bass drum with its ponderous boom-boom. In my new symphony I have a piece for small percussion instruments – triangle, glockenspiel and drum – in which everyone proceeds according to their own tastes. Times change. Where is new music leading us? What will be left behind? We don’t know! You will find this in my little Humoresque, which is the second movement of the symphony,

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250 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism and in the finale, which is a theme and variations, and very merry it is. There are more serious, problematic things in the first and third movements, but on the whole it was my intention to make the symphony as lively and merry as possible.  – Do you find enough instruments to express everything? Yes, we can say what we want with those we have. But sometimes a new sound will catch hold of us. Music is sound. The other day I was sent a painting that had been wrapped in some grey paper, which crackled most amusingly. It was a completely new melody. Telmányi and I enjoyed ourselves for ages playing with that paper. There are some modern composers who would want to employ that grey paper directly in the orchestra. I would prefer to transcribe its sounds for one of our known instruments.  – Is music only sound? Is it not something more than that? We musicians are fortunate to be able to express everything without being required to take direct responsibility for it. No-one can attack us for writing an indecent song, even if the thoughts which lie behind the composition are as filthy as can be. It cannot be proven. There are no ethics in music, no religion or morals. So as a rule it is just nonsense when people talk about profound music, simply because it sounds ­elevated. Merry things can be deep, because they are correctly expressed. Profundity is when that thing, which is being said, is being said in the right way.33 33 ‘Sinfonia Semplice har Carl Nielsen døbt sit nye Værk. ¶ Det er, siger han under en Samtale, fordi jeg i dette Arbejde har tilstræbt den størst mulige Enkelhed. Jeg har denne Gang komponeret ud fra Instrumenternes Karakter, har søgt at skildre Instrumenterne som selvstændige Individualiteter. Jeg betragter de enkelte Instrumenter som Personer, der ligger og sover, og som jeg nu skal vække til Live.¶ Medens Wagner var det store Tone-Hav, hvorpaa de enkelte Stemmer flød, gaar den moderne Musiks Bestræbelser ud paa at skille Vandene ad, omtrent som hvis vi kunde tænke os et Kor paa Scenen, der pludselig blev individualiseret.¶ Det er mærkeligt nok, at jeg altid uden rigtig at gøre mig det klart har haft denne Opfattelse af Musik. Jeg husker, da jeg fik mit allerførste Arbejde opført, at Grieg bemærkede, det var et meget lille Orkester, jeg brugte. Jeg svarede, halvt undskyldende, at der var, fordi jeg ikke vilde fordoble Instrumenterne. Men allerede da maa jeg have vidst, hvor jeg vilde hen, rent instinktivt. Jeg begyndte dog med at komponere med Klaver, som jeg senere omsatte for Orkester. Det næste Stadium var, at jeg skrev mit Partitur direkte for Instrumenterne. Nu tænker jeg ud fra Instrumenterne selv – ligesom kryber ind i dem. ¶ Har Instrumenterne Sjæl? ¶ Det kan man godt sige, dersom man underforstaar, at et Ord kun er et Ord. Men Klarinetten f.Eks. kan være paa én Gang varmhjertet og bundhysterisk, mild som Balsam og skrigende som en Sporvogn paa daarligt smurte Skinner. Jeg har altid fundet, at Valdhornet slet ikke passede for Syden, men for Nordevropas dunkle Skove og Søer, hvorimod Trompeten og Basunen uden at saare os kan knalde løs i det stærkeste Solskin paa

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Nielsen’s interview is characteristically complex and contradictory. It can be read on one level as a somewhat evasive attempt to deflect journalistic curiosity: Nielsen reveals little about the ‘serious, problematic things’ in the symphony’s first and third movements, for instance, and his insistence that ‘there are no ethics in music, no religion or morals’ seems strikingly at odds with his programme note for the Fourth, written just ten years previously. It is hard not to sense Nielsen’s more provocative anti-establishment side coming to the fore in such comments. But the interview can equally be read as a vital insight into Nielsen’s working methods and his musical outlook – and in particular, to a wider aesthetic shift or change of tone in the years following the end of the First World War. The symphony’s title, Nielsen suggests, refers to its sense of characterisation and dramatic clarity – to a renewed directness of expression, rather than a conscious simplification or reductiveness. Music’s power hence lies in its freedom and unpredictability, its capacity for expansion which, at times, becomes potentially threatening or unstable. Nielsen conceives instrumental character in terms of a concise musical geography: the horn becomes emblematic of a brooding Northern sensibility, redolent of forests and Romantic melancholy, whereas the trumpets and trombones suggest a more sunlit Italianate environment and the oboes evoke an Arcadian Piazettaen i Venezia. Violinerne er mere almengyldige, Strengeinstrumenterne hører hele Verden til … Violoncellen er som en Tenor. Oboen er et herligt Instrument, den skildrer det landskabelige med Faareflokke, Geder, Hjorte og smaa Kid, al Dyrenes og Hyrdernes Poesi, den er som smaa nyfødte Lam ved Foraarstid. Og dersom vi kunde tænke os, at vi havde brug for et Instrument til at udtrykke Dumheden, da har vi Stortrommen med sit taabelige Bum-bum. ¶ Jeg har i min nye Symfoni et Spil af smaa Slaginstrumenter–Triangel, Klokkespil og Tromme–der slaas om Smag og Behag. Tiderne skifter jo. Hvor fører den nye Musik os hen? Hvad bliver tilbage? Vi véd det ikke! Dette vil De finde i min lille Humoreske, som er anden Sats i Symfonien, og i sidste Sats, som er Tema med Variationer, hvor det gaar meget lystigt til. I første og tredje Sats findes mere alvorlige, problematiske Ting, men som Helhed har det været min Bestræbelse at faa Symfonien saa levende og lystig som mulig. ¶ Findes der Instrumenter nok til at udtrykke alt? ¶ Ja, vi kan sige, hvad vi vil, med dem, vi har. Men undertiden gribes vi af en ny Lyd. Musik er Lyd. Jeg fik forleden sendt et Maleri, der var indpakket i noget graat Papir, som knaldede saa morsomt. Det var en helt ny Melodi. Telmanyi og jeg morede os længe med at spille paa det. Der er moderne Komponister, som vilde anvende det graa Papir direkte i Orkestret. Jeg vilde nu foretrække at omskrive Lyden til et af vore kendte Instrumenter. ¶ Er Musiken kun Lyd? Vil den ikke noget mere? ¶ Vi Musikere har det Held at kunne udtrykke alt uden at behøve direkte at staa til Ansvar for det. Ingen kan angribe os for at skrive en uanstændig Vise, selv om Tankegangen, der ligger bag Komposition, er nok saa smudsig.Bevises kan det ikke. Der er ingen Etik i Musik, ingen Religion eller Moral. Det er i Reglen ogsaa noget Vrøvl, naar Folk taler om dybsindig Musik, blot fordi den lyder højtidelig. De lystigste Ting kan være dybe, fordi de er rigtigt udtrykt. Dybsindighed er, om den Ting, der bliver sagt, er rigtig sagt.’ ‘Carl Nielsen om Instrumenternes Sjæl’, interview by Andreas Vinding, Politiken, 11 December 1925; reproduced in Samtid, 378–9. Simpson quotes only the fifth paragraph.

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252 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism pastoral scene reminiscent of the Georgics. The clarinet, meanwhile, is more urban and grotesque, as ‘mild as balm, or screeching like a tramcar on poorly greased rails’: an image congruent with its behaviour both in the Fifth and Sixth symphonies and also in the Clarinet Concerto.34 This musical geography is clearly delimited and framed, contained within an imaginary context or virtual stage. Nielsen’s description hence suggests a form of music theatre – a rich play of character and gesture, in which individual instruments assume particular speaking roles. On the one hand, this reinforces the music’s sense of autonomy: the various instrumental dialogues within the symphony ‘mean’ nothing beyond themselves. On the other hand, it also emphasises the music’s powerful sense of embodiment and performance: the way in which Nielsen imagines himself inhabiting the various instrumental characters within the work strengthens the symphony’s sense of physical presence and movement. The description of the Humoresque in particular becomes a Petrushka-esque ballet sequence or pantomime, a carnivalesque procession in which everyone ‘proceeds according to their own tastes.’ Here lies the source of the music’s ambivalence and playfulness. Nielsen’s seemingly casual aside, ‘Where is new music leading us? What will be left behind? We don’t know’, has frequently been read as a sign of existential crisis or embittered despair, a fear of silence or cultural decline that has pervaded the general reception of the symphony. But in this context it arguably becomes more equivocal: an expression of creative potential and release as much as the loss of control or direction. And this is perhaps the defining quality of Nielsen’s comic imagination in the Sixth Symphony: the ‘simple’ conversational exchange of genre, character, and instrumental personality that animates Nielsen’s symphonic drama becomes a means of affirming music’s expressive force, and of celebrating its materiality in sound. Here Simpson’s humanist reading of the work suddenly seems not so remote. Even when such patterns of conversational exchange seem threatening and destructive, as they frequently can throughout the work, the tendency is ultimately towards regeneration rather than decay. In this sense, among others, the Sinfonia semplice can usefully be conceived as Nielsen’s ‘Spring Symphony’. Elements of this more playful, comic reading of the work can be identified in Jonathan D. Kramer’s account, published in Mina Miller’s 1994 anthology. Writing outside the Danish reception, Kramer’s concern is not so much with the apparent loss of aesthetic faith or musical meaning so much as its overabundance: the collision of richly divergent musical characters and styles that serves to disrupt the music’s sense of continuity and balance. Kramer helpfully shifts attention away from Simpson’s notion of an inverted progressive tonal design towards the symphony’s gestural shape. 34 See my earlier discussion, ‘Analytical and Aesthetic Issues in Nielsen’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra’, Carl Nielsen Studies 1 (2003), 27–41.

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This is accomplished primarily by means of what Kramer calls an ‘expressive paradigm’: Often in the first movement – and elsewhere as well – a passage begins with a gesture of apparent simplicity, which is subsequently undermined. Sunny innocence – characterised normally by simple texture, straightforward rhythm, diatonic melody, clear tonality, and/or consonant harmony – gives way gradually to darker complexity – characterised by polyphonic density, involved rhythm, chromatic melody, dissonant harmony, and/or weakened tonality. The third part of the expressive paradigm is a resolution to a newly won simplicity, analogous – but usually not similar – to the initial gesture. This terminal simplicity may in turn commence a new statement of the expressive paradigm.35 Kramer’s paradigm is in effect a kind of language game or speech-act: it forms a predicate that can be reiterated, inflected, reshaped, or inverted, even as its basic character remains unchanged. The strength of Kramer’s model is its flexibility and multi-parametrical status (involving melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamic and textural contrast). Remote musical events, of widely differing local articulation, can be related through the same underlying structural expressive grammar. The cyclic nature of Kramer’s three-part paradigm furthermore allows the music to regenerate itself, the dialectical opposition of simplicity/non-simplicity resulting in a higher order ‘new simplicity’ that initiates the whole process once more. This model works particularly well for the tripartite structure of the first movement, which we will explore in greater detail below. But the weakness of Kramer’s paradigm is its normativity: the fact that it can be applied to virtually every event within the symphony quickly flattens out the work’s topography, so that the music’s individual contours and details are increasingly lost within a smoother cyclic pattern of change and transformation. Consequently, the rhetorical force of certain landmark moments within the work is potentially compromised. Frustratingly too, Kramer finally subscribes to a negative view of the work’s trajectory. Concluding his analysis of the first movement, and summarising his conception of the symphony as a whole, Kramer writes: Despite its ultimate resolution, the expressive flavour of the paradigm is pessimistic. Again and again this movement presents seemingly innocent materials, which decay and disintegrate. … The process of destruction of innocence, the loss of (rather than just contrast to) simplicity, is the essence of this fundamentally dark work. That disintegration leads invariably to reintegration never seems to inspire optimism. 35 Jonathan D. Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity in Nielsen’s Sixth Symphony’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller, 293–344, at 294.

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254 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Tensions may relax, simplicity may return, but true and total resolution is forever eluded. Thus the music must end away from its initial tonic. The final chord may be consonant, but the major triad can no longer be as sunny or innocent as it was at the outset. It is, in a word, tainted.36 It is not necessary to dispute Kramer’s claim that much of the first movement concerns the confrontation between ‘seemingly innocent materials’ and their opposite: gestures of decay, disintegration, or conflict. Indeed, as we have seen, such qualities are readily apparent in many of Nielsen’s works, not just the Sixth Symphony. The problem with this point of conclusion is rather that it tends to assume an overly literalistic perspective. The final chord, for instance, might simply sound provisional, rather than ‘tainted’. Notions of optimism and innocence, pessimism and decay are applied here in a moreor-less uncritical, unmediated way. Despite his emphasis on the work’s ‘postmodern’ qualities, the way in which it gathers together diverse musical styles in a colourful bricolage, Kramer’s reading of the symphony is highly deterministic: it leaves little room, in fact, for the ambiguity which he claims lies beneath the music’s surface. A richer, more illuminating sense of the music’s complex interplay with genres and instrumental characters can be gained from placing Kramer’s reading and Simpson’s account once more alongside Adorno’s critical analysis of Mahler’s musical style. Previous discussion in this book has focused on Adorno’s idea of the breakthrough as modernist category: this is certainly relevant for aspects of the Sixth’s formal and expressive design. Mahler and Nielsen also share a pronounced sense of their ‘outsider’ status: both composers, as I have argued in the introduction, came from provincial backgrounds yet spent much of their professional careers in a more cosmopolitan urban milieu, a juxtaposition of musical-cultural worlds that, for Adorno, helps to lend Mahler’s music its characteristic extra-territorial edge. But Adorno also draws attention to the novelistic character of Mahler’s work, the way in which Mahler’s music is frequently populated by various speaking characters and musical dialogues, alongside other passages that assume the quality of conversation, commentary, or description. The evocation of particular formal or generic types such as fugal passages or mock-military marches is similarly a writerly device, topics employed both for their particular expressive Affekt and for their role within a more abstract, non-referential process of employment. ‘It is not that the music wants to narrate’, Adorno explains, ‘but that the composer wants to make music in the way that others narrate’.37 Mahler’s music, in other words, adopts a paralinguistic character, assuming the speaking roles or tone of characters within a literary work without saying anything in actual linguistic terms. The task of the analyst is to recognise 36 Ibid., 322. 37 Adorno, Mahler, 62.

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that, in Mahler’s work, ‘a purely musical residue stubbornly persists that can be interpreted in terms neither of processes nor of moods. It informs the gestures of his music. To understand him would be to endow with speech the music’s structural elements while technically locating the glowing expressive intentions.’ 38 Adorno’s potentially problematic notion of expressive intentionality is not meant here in a privileged or unmediated sense: unlike Simpson’s often rather literal musical humanism, it constructs Mahler’s musical physiognomy as an essentially critical, performative category. It is tempting as a result to extend this idea of the novelistic quality of Mahler’s work to Nielsen’s. This gestural character is as explicitly foregrounded in Nielsen’s Sixth as in any of Mahler’s symphonic movements, and Nielsen’s music seems similarly conscious of sudden changes in its tones of voice. This affects both the individual behaviour of particular musical instruments, and also the disjunction between different musical styles or modes of utterance. Much of the first movement, for example, is concerned with the confrontation between a conventionally authoritarian fugal style, with its old-fashioned hierarchies and anachronistic musical traditions, and a more explicitly modernist, machine-like music, whose propulsive character seems driven entirely by its own mechanical momentum. The opening music frequently attempts to assuage the tension between these two different musical impulses (acting like a gracious intermediary), even while it simultaneously serves an obvious structural formal function, framing the movement within a comic, fairy-tale discourse. Despite such parallels, it is nevertheless important to stress the fundamental difference in outlook between Mahler’s music and Nielsen’s. For Adorno, ‘Mahler’s characters, taken together, make up a world of images. At first glance it seems Romantic, whether in a rural or small-town sense, as if the musical cosmos were warming itself by an irretrievable social one: as if the unstilled longing were projected backwards.’ 39 Mahler’s work is concerned not so much with recapturing those images, but with the process of recollection itself, and ultimately with the impossibility of that recapture. In a characteristically early modernist gesture, this sense of unfulfilled, unfettered longing is given a particular ironic twist, Mahler’s music often dwelling poignantly on the moment of denial or violently reacting to its inability to transform present into past.40 Nielsen’s work is not wholly without its own sense of nostalgia, yet the Sixth Symphony’s prevailing mood is radically different. It exemplifies 38 Ibid., 3. 39 Ibid., 46. 40 Adorno writes of the closing bars of Mahler’s Fourth: ‘If [the symphony] dies away after the words of promise ‘that all shall awake to joy’, no one knows whether it does not fall asleep forever. The phantasmagoria of the transcendent landscape is at once posited by it and negated. Joy remains unattainable, and no transcendence is left but that of yearning.’ Adorno, Mahler, 57.

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256 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism instead Mikhail Bakhtin’s vision of the spirit of the comic novel as ‘heroes of free improvisation and not heroes of tradition, heroes of a life process that is imperishable and forever renewing itself, forever contemporary – these are not heroes of an absolute past’.41 Nielsen’s work is thus concerned with the play of masks and musical conventions – a Rabelaisian comedy, to adapt Mikhail Bakhtin’s model, whose ludic outlook is essentially positive, projecting forwards, rather than inwardly nihilistic. Far from being the anomalous work that it seemed to many critics at the time of its premiere, the Sixth Symphony represents a strong continuity in Nielsen’s composition, from the symbolist breakthrough of his earliest large-scale works, to the energetic vitalism of Maskarade and his middle symphonies. In that sense, Nielsen’s modernism, and his relationship with ideas of Danishness, adopts a particular tone, one concerned with the transformation of appearances and speaking characters, and with dialogue, conversation, and exchange as the primary parameters of musical form. This pattern of dialogue and exchange shapes and determines the form of the first movement. In the first edition of his book, Simpson maintains that the symphony ‘has nothing to do with classical sonata form’, and that the first movement ‘is not describable in conventional terms; even its beginning is not remotely like that of any other symphony’.42 Yet the design is not entirely sui generis, and a formal chart of the movement suggests a more complex synthesis of different structural models (Table 7.1): the threefold appearance of the fugue alone suggests distant remnants of an underlying rounded binary scheme, and statements of the characteristic toy march with which the movement opens also suggest a basic pattern of exposition, departure, and symmetrical return. Indeed, a significant part of the movement’s sense of drama is generated through its critical engagement with conventional formal expectations. But the normal structural categories of development and recapitulation are highly strained, or suspended, so that it is better to conceive of the movement as a series of interlocked cycles or wave-like rotations, similar to those in Commotio or the first movement of the Sinfonia espansiva, whose energetic ebb-and-flow (corresponding with Kramer’s expressive paradigm, perhaps) generates the music’s internal dynamic profile. Alternatively, the large-scale cadential syntax of a more normative sonata structure here gives way to a series of interweaved thematic statements, alternating strongly asymmetrical cumulative passages (the fugues) with more stable, balanced, and periodic phases (the toy march): the juxtaposition of different musics beings to assume a balletic character, a tendency reinforced in the second and fourth movements, so that the formal subsections of the Tempo giusto 41 Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 36. 42 Simpson, Symphonist1, 108.

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Table 7.1  Sinfonia Semplice, first movement: basic formal chart Bar

Formal zone

Tempo/Character

Key

R1 [exposition] 1

Toy march [P1]

Tempo giusto

G, Eb, V/e

54

Fugue 1 [S1]

strings; imitative

e

81

Bridge [TR1]

mechanistic

(ab)

R2; R3 [development] 110

Toy march transfigured [P2]

radiant; retrospective

F#

129

Bridge [TR2]

crystalline

E

141

Fugue 2 [S2]

winds; imitative

a

[152

Toy march! [P3]

chromatically distorted

(ab)]

171

Breakthrough [TR3]

Allegro passionato

Eb/Bb

187

Collapse; Decay [P4]

frozen; fragmentary

(eb)

215

Toy march transfigured [P5]

R4 [recapitulation] regenerative

(G)

237

Fugue 3 [TR4]

tutti; violent

f

257

Coda [P6]

più lento; retrospective

Ab

might be productively imagined as theatrical sequences or acts, rotating ensembles of similar musical material in different spatial and temporal configurations. The moment of greatest structural tension occurs at the apex of the central developmental section (or Rotation 4), where the Allegro passionato breakthrough in b. 171 rushes headlong towards the fortississimo dissonance in b. 187 – Simpson’s harrowing point of cardiac arrest, after which the music momentarily seems frozen in terror. Kramer compares this gesture perceptively with the similar (yet more harmonically dense) crisis in the first movement of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony, noting in a footnote that whereas Mahler’s climax ‘is the result of an inexorable process of growth from the beginning of the movement, the Nielsen climax is less clearly integrated, less clearly motivated. It does not have the same air of inevitability’.43 This perhaps corresponds more accurately to the immediate effect of breakthrough itself in b. 171 rather than b. 187: such moments of harmonic crisis are, after all, prefigured as early as b. 31. The comparison is nevertheless significant, suggesting in both cases the adoption of a common early modernist strategy, namely the evocation of a formal and expressive arc that ultimately reaches breaking point and cannot be sustained. Structure and expression, in that sense, seem opposed: the tension between the desire for melodic and textural expansion and the need for balance, closure, and return 43 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 343 (n. 11).

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258 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 7.1  Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: first movement, opening

&c Ó ?c

œ

cel.

p

Œ

œ

Œ

œ ∑



œœ ‰

œ w œ œ œ#œ œœœœœ œ œ #œ œ œ Œ œ œ J

vn 1 & 2 (8vb)

Œ

p

cl 1

Ó



Œ

bn 1

œœœœ

p

w w œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ bœ œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ & œ œ œ œ œ œ

5

bœ œ œ œ bœ œ ? œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ . . . . . . . . - -œ œ œ ≈ œ œ œ ≈ œ œ œ #œ œ 7 œ œ œ bœ œ ob #œ ≈ œ #œ œ ≈ œ œ ≈ œ & bœ œ ‰ œ œ ‰ œ œ ‰ œ ‰ œ ‰ œ ≈ œœ ≈ œœ ≈ œœ ≈ œœ ≈ œœ ≈ œœ ≈ bœ . . . . . . . pp ? bœ œ ‰

œœ‰

œœ ‰

œ bœ ‰

. . . . . . . œœ ≈ œ ≈ œœ ≈ œ ≈ œœ ≈ œ ≈ œœ ≈ ≈ œ ‰ œŒ Óœ œ J

vc & db pizz.

mfz

pp

brings the music to the point of collapse. But, as in the Espansiva, it is only through this process of dissolution that the music regains its regenerative force. Kramer spends a great deal of attention discussing the ways in which the opening phrase anticipates this process of accumulation, collapse, and rebirth. He notes the patterns of metrical disruption (in particular, the music’s constant dance-like swaying between 3/4 and 4/4), and its modal instability: playful at first, and increasingly disturbing and extreme as the music progresses. Simpson, too, comments on the harmonic and motivic detail of the opening bars – especially the tendency (marked throughout much of Nielsen’s work, in fact) for the music to drift flatwards, only to regain its sense of harmonic balance through a series of sudden sharpwards shifts. It is tempting, in this light, to accord particular importance to the work’s first chromatic intrusion: the Bb which is heard within the clarinet and bassoon semiquavers in b. 5, and which clouds an otherwise pure diatonic G major (Ex. 7.1). Bb, of course, is the key of the finale and hence the destination of the whole work, and for Simpson it assumes a totemic significance, not least through its grotesquely transformed reappearance in the first movement at b. 171 (Ex. 7.2). But here, as is the case in the opening page of the Fifth Symphony, it is better to hear

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Ex. 7.2  Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: first movement, climax

171

Allegro passionato (q = 144) ww (fl & picc 8va), hns b ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

& Œ

ff

Ÿ b˙˙.. b˙˙..

w w w w

° tpts, trbns, tuba j & œ. œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ b œ-. > > > > > ff >œ >œ >œ >œ >œ ? œ. œ œ œ œ œ ¢ bœ. J œ bœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ° strŒ(db 8vb) & œ bœ œ

ff

? ¢ Œ j bœœ ‰ & bœœ J

173

j #œœfi #Q ÆE

Œ

Ó ‰ œ ff

œ J

j ‰ œœ . j ≈ œœ œœ ‰ . .

Ó

Ó bœœ > œ bœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ hns

≈œ œ.

b>œœ

Ó œ bœ

œ

Œ œ bœ.

fls, obs



œ J

œ bœ œ œ bœ bœ bœ œ œ nœ nœ œ nœ œ nœ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ bœ bœ œ nœ bœ œ œ œ ° bœ bœ nœ & b œ b œ bœ œ œ nœ nœ œ nœ œ nœ œ #œ œ œ œ œ nœ b œ b œ œ nœ bœ œ œ œ bœ ? bœ œ œ bœ nœ ¢ œ bœ bœ nœ & nœœ #œœ nœœ bœ œ #œ ‹œ #œ

175

° &



?



¢

Ÿb~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ bb ˙˙.. Œ bb˙˙..

tpts, trbns, tuba

b œœ-.. b-œ. bœ.

j œœ œœ >> >> œ œ œ œ J

œ >>œ œ œ

œ >>œ œ œ

œ >>œ œ œ

nœ ° nœ œ œ b œ œ Œ b œ bœ œ bœ bœ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ & bœ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ ? nœ œ œ #œ œ œ œ #œ œ nœ bœ œ Œ bœ bœ œ bœ bœ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ¢

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260 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 7.2  Nielsen continued

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ j j w œœfi bb œ w œ Q bbœ & w w œ ‰ ÆE J

177

r ° j & b œœ ≈ bœœ œœ . > . > ? bœ ≈ œ œ b œ œ œ ¢ J R

œœ œ œ

œ >œ >œ œ

œ >œ >œ œ

œ >œ >œ œ

° b œ bœ œ bœ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ & ¢

? bœ bœ œ bœ bœbœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ

j œ ‰ b œ. œ. œ ‰ J

Œ

Ó

Œ

Ó

Œ

Ó

#œ œ bœbœ œbœbœ œbœ nœ nœ œ œ #œ œ nœ #œ œ bœbœ œbœbœ œbœ nœ nœ œ œ #œ œ nœ

this early chromatic element as indicative of the music’s prevailing flatwards drift: the music increasingly tends towards Bb in bb. 13–14, and after the first moment of harmonic crisis in b. 31, the opening phrase is restated on Eb (bb. 33ff), reinforcing the pattern of flatside movement that the remainder of the movement seeks to redress. Both Kramer and Simpson emphasise the innocent, idyllic quality of the bars: the underlying tragedy of the symphony, they maintain, rests in its inability to regain this state of innocence. But such innocence is already highly contingent. Adorno comments on the similarly childlike quality in the opening bars of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. Indeed, comparison between the two works is compelling: both begin with richly intertextual toy marches, announced with prominent percussion (glockenspiel or sleighbells), that become increasingly beleaguered and troubled as the symphonies progress (Ex. 7.3). For Adorno, it is precisely this childlike mood that is so destabilising: ‘the bells in the first measure [of Mahler’s Fourth] that very softly tinge the eighth notes in the flute have always shocked the normal listener, who feels that he is being played for a fool. They really are fool’s bells, which, ­without saying it, say: none of what you now hear is true.’ 44 The opening, in other words, is already in some senses distanced or alienating: it becomes an archetypal tag, equivalent to the ‘once upon a time’ (in Danish: ‘der var engang’) with which one of H. C. Andersen’s fairy-tales begins. Nielsen’s opening is similarly semantically rich. It quotes from the second movement of Haydn’s Symphony no. 101 (‘The Clock’), a work that Nielsen knew well. It also replays the opening scene of his opera Maskarade, specifically the moment at the which the bustling whirl of the overture finally dies away and gives way to 44 Adorno, Mahler, 56.

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Cosmic Variations

261

Ex. 7.3  Mahler, Symphony no. 4: first movement, opening Bedächtig, nicht eilen . . . . . . . . fl 1 & 2 # œfij œ œfij œ œfij œ œfij œ œfijœ œfijœ œfijœ œfijœ

& 44

sleighbells

#4 & 4

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿ ¿

p staccato

. # œfij ˙˙æ & Y æ # & Ó

3

∑ j œfi

. ˙˙æ Y æ

. ˙æ ˙ Y æ

j œfi

fl 3 & 4 f

. ff . œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Ó sf

cl 1 & 2



‰ œ œ œ vn 1

p

œ . œ ≈ œ.

pp

œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ

. . . . .j # œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ ? œœœ œœ œœ œœ œœœ œœ & œœœœœœœœ œœœ œ J‰ Œ œ œ œ œœ pp

str pizz.

. ˙æ ˙ Y æ

j œfi

∑ œ

œ œ œnœ œ œ œ

œ œ œ œ œ œœ œ ‰ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œ œ œ œ Œ œ Œ Ó

the sound of the ticking clock in Leander’s bedroom as the two heroes awake from the preceding night’s revelry (Ex. 7.4). In the opera this passage seemingly blends time and space, transporting the audience figuratively into the imaginary realm of mid-eighteenth-century Copenhagen, but more immediately opening up the fictive symbolist dream space of the opera itself (Vilhelm Andersen’s mythic rebirth of the Nordic Bacchus procession). It also marks an existential boundary. Adorno cites a line from Rilke’s ‘The Book of Images’ as a suitable motto for the second Nachtmusik in Mahler’s Seventh Symphony: ‘the chiming clocks call each to each, and one sees the floor of time’.45 But the image seems equally well suited to the opening of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, or indeed to Nielsen’s Sixth. The glockenspiel with which the Sinfonia semplice begins registers the music’s pulse, outlining the temporal frame (clock time) through which the remainder of the work unfolds. Yet it simultaneously signals its unreality or momentary suspension of belief, the sense, as Adorno suggests, that ‘nothing of what you now hear is true’. It becomes a gentle inversion of symphonic convention, or the first sign of a machinelike regularity whose presence will be felt more forcibly as the movement progresses. The opening phase of the Tempo giusto seems relatively straightforward, but, as Kramer notes, ‘the initial currents of irregularity serve only to introduce a 45 Ibid., 47.

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262 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 7.4  Nielsen, Maskarade: Act 1, opening

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ## œ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ &

172

>œ . > . ? ## œœ œœœ ‰ œœœ nœœœ ‰ più vivo

n>œ œ. n>œbœ. œœ œœ ‰ œœ œœ ‰

n>œœ œœ. b>œœ œœ. œœ ‰ œœ ‰

œ œ œ œ œ ## œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‰ ‰ œœœ ‰ ‰ Œ. & J J Tempo I

177

> ? ## nœœœ >œœœ

>œ >œ œœ œœ

# œœ & # œœ ‰ ‰ Œ. J - nu œ ? ## œœœ ‰ ‰ Œ. J

183

>œb>œ œ œœ œœ œœ ‰ J

œœ ‰ œœ ‰ ‰ Œ. J

n>œœ œœ. b>œœ œœ. œœ ‰ œœ ‰

Curtain up

œœ œœ J ‰ ‰ Œ.

œœ œœ J ‰ ‰ Œ.

di

œœ œœ ‰ ‰ Œ. J

œœ ‰ ‰ œœ ‰ ‰ Œ. œj ‰ ‰ Œ. œœ œ œ J J p

j œœ ‰ ‰ œ.

-

œœ œœ ‰ ‰ Œ. J

j œœ ‰ ‰ Œ. œ.

>œ >œ œœ œœ

>œ >œ œœ œœ

œœ œ œœ ‰ ‰ œœœ ‰ ‰ Œ. J J mi

-

-

œœ œ œœ ‰ ‰ œœœ ‰ ‰ Œ. J J

j œœœ ‰ ‰ Œ. .

œœ. ‰ ‰ œœ. ‰ ‰ Œ. œœ. ‰ ‰ Œ. œœ. ‰ ‰ œœ. ‰ ‰ Œ. J J J J J

en - do

-

n>œœ >œœ œœ

œ. ‰ ‰ Œ. J

43

j œœ ‰ ‰ Œ. œ. œ. ‰ ‰ Œ. J

43

Scene 1 Leander and Henrik sleeping, each in their alcove. Henrik snores Poco allegretto q = 104

# 3 & #4

1



p

? ## 43 œ ‰ Œ J # &# œ

ja!

Œ

LEANDER

‰ œJ

Œ

j ‰ œ

Œ

j ‰ Œ œ

j ‰ Œ œ

j ‰ œ

œ ‰ J

Œ

œ ‰ Œ J

œ ‰ Œ J

œ ‰ J

œ. œ œ U

-

ha!

‰. œr œ. œ

œ œ Œ

Mit ar - me Ho - ved!

. . . Ÿ ## ‰ >œ œœ #œ nœ œ. > #œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ. œ œ & > > œ œ ˙ ? ## n˙ œ bœ. œ œ ‰ J ‰ J J

Nielsen.indb 262

Œ

Aa

# 3 & # 4 œj ‰ Œ

5



‰ œ >

œœœ n˙œ . J ‰ n œ.

œ

‰ œJ #œ nœ

ja,

aa ja, ja,

. . . > ‰ œ œ œ #œ nœ Œ œ ‰ Œ J j œ ‰ Œ

Œ

Œ



Ÿ> œ œ. œ. œ. œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ œ J

mf

œœ J ‰ Œ

nœœ ‰ œJ

07/12/2010 12:02

Cosmic Variations 263 clock strikes 5

# & # ‰ œJ œ œ œ œ

9

Gud ved, hvor læn - ge

glock.

# & # Œ

Œ

œ

Ex. 7.4  Nielsen, continued

. œ œ œ

jeg

œ

# œœœœœœœœ≈ ‰ &# ‰ œ œœ ? ## œœJ ‰

Œ

œœ ‰ #œœ J

i

œ J

Dag

har

œ

Œ

œ so

Œ

-

Œ

œ

vet?

œ

Œ

œ ≈ ‰ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ ≈ œ œœ œœœœœœ ∑



movement in which metre is often compromised in one way or another (just as melody is): what often seems like a straightforward antecedent phrase trails away rather than leading to a well-formed consequent.’ 46 This provides the basis for his notion of the music’s expressive paradigm, even though, as we have seen, it takes the apparent simplicity of the beginning at face value – the opening bars are arguably as disturbing historically, with their spirit of blithe good humour, as the more dissonant music that follows. The restatement on Eb at b. 33 promises some sense of stability, but the music drifts inconclusively away at letter B (bb. 41–9), in an augmentation of the woodwinds’ earlier descending chromatic semiquavers (b. 6). The enharmonic transformation of Bb (as A#, b. 49), initiates a short transition, and attempts to rebalance the music’s prevailing flatwards drift.47 This in turn prepares the entry of the first fugue, motivically related to the material of the bridge and earlier cadential figures (bb. 21–2; Ex. 7.5). Initially, this passage substitutes for the entry of a second subject group (or S-zone), and it provides appropriate textural and harmonic contrast. More importantly, perhaps, it also presents a contrasting mode of musical behaviour: a strongly cumulative, directional force that signals the entry of a new symphonic voice or character. If the opening material had seemed overly laconic, lacking sufficient structural harmonic impetus, the fugue swiftly overcompensates. The return of the cadential complex from bb. 21–2 in imitation in the woodwind and horns (from b. 66) breaks the cycle of imitative entries, and prompts increasingly agitated semiquaver figuration in the strings: the lower strings’ obsessive articulation of the fugue subject’s rhythmic head motive becomes particularly disruptive. The fugue’s traditional associations of balance, order, and compositional mastery are here subverted so that the assertion of musical authority begins to sound 46 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 294. 47 Simpson, Symphonist2, 118.

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264 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 7.5  Nielsen, Sinfonia Semplice: first movement, bb. 50–8

œ. #œ #œ #œ œ œ#œ œ J J & ? ?

œ J ‰ Œ

50

fl, cl

pp

Œ

hns ppp

w #œ Œ

lower str (va 8va)

œ œ & J

53

œ. ? œ

œ ˙œ

#œ ‰ #œ #œ œ J

œ œ #œJ

ob (8va) bn

Ó

œ ‹œ

pp

œw

Œ

œ.

œ





nœ #œ œ œ ‰

‹œ

Œ

œ

‰ nœ#œ

w œ #œ.œ œ

œ

œ œ

œ #œ Œ

œ. #œ nœ

p

œ. #œ œ.

q = 92 vn 1

nœ œ œ œ #œ œ #œ J J #œœ

œ

j œ J

mf



Œ

. œ. œ. . . ≈ œ œ #œ. ® œ œ ® #œ ® Ó

> > > . . 3 3 œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. œ œ. œ. œ œ œ. œ œ. œ œ. œ >œ.#œ >œ. œn>œ. >œ. œ . . bœ. œ. œ. œ œ œ œ ® ® ® ® œ œ ® œ œ & . . . œ. . œ.

55

3

?



Ó

Œ

3

vc, db (8vb)



œ. #œ

mp

. œ #œ 3 . œ. œ. œ. . #œ. œ œ #œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ ‰ Œ J & #œ.. #œ.#œ. . . 3 3 > > > .. . #œ. . #œ. œ. œ. #œ. œ. œ. œ. #œ. œ œ œ. œ œ œ. œ œ. œ œ. œ œ.#œ œ. œ . . œ # œ ? ≈ #œ œ #œ ® ® ® ® ® ® ® ®

57

r­ epressive.48 The sequence does not signal ‘real’ development in a conventional symphonic sense, but rather a rapidly intensified level of activity whose energetic propulsion ultimately leads nowhere. The return to the Tempo poco meno at b. 80 simply leads to a bridge passage, whose strange canonic imitation (an echo of bb. 66ff) and harmonic ambiguity suggests a state of suspension. Such ‘vegetative’ passages are common in much of Nielsen’s music: their 48 Compare the first fugue from the Fifth Symphony, part 2. ‘Demonic’ fugato passages are relatively common in nineteenth-century music, as David Fanning has stressed (Nielsen: Symphony no. 5, 58–60). But the quality of the fugato sequences in the first movement of the Sixth is rather different: they tend towards the mechanistic rather than the devilish, even as they spin similarly out of control.

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Cosmic Variations 265 connotations can be variously idyllic (a pastoral drone or pedal), malevolent (as in parts of the Fourth and Fifth symphonies), or uncanny, as appears to be the case here. It is curious that Simpson, of all commentators, does not dwell on the interruption in b. 98: the violins begin a dogged restatement of the opening of the bridge passage in Ab (in counterpoint with the motivic complex from bb. 21–2), a moment that clearly foreshadows the movement’s eventual tonal goal, and one of the few points where the idea of Ab as a key centre is clearly articulated.49 At this stage, the status of Ab remains highly provisional: it is swept up again by a return of the string’s mechanistic figuration from the second half of the fugato passage, only to give way unexpectedly to a radiant restatement of the opening theme (P2) in augmentation, based on F#. The music has travelled almost full circle, seemingly to return to the point from which it departed.50 The reprise of the opening material marks the end of the movement’s first large-scale formal cycle or rotation, and the beginning of a new phase. The following development consists of two overlapping rotations (R2 and R3) of the same basic material, pivoting round the second fugato sequence and the movement’s dissonant climax at bb. 171–86. The second rotation begins in F#, with a restorative replaying of the opening material on muted strings (b. 124). The bridge passage which follows (TR2, b. 129) is one of the most striking sequences in the movement: loosely related to earlier transition in b. 80, it recaptures the sense of distanced fairy-tale unreality evoked by the opening, once again invoking the idea of a stylised balletic rhythm as one of the movement’s underlying paradigms (the spirit of nineteenth-century Danish choreographer August Bournonville perhaps hovers over the passage). Simpson writes erroneously of D minor at the end of this passage: it might be accurately understood as a carefully prolonged approach to A minor, preparing the entry of the second fugue at b. 141. Kramer notes the differences in articulation between first and second fugues: the rescoring (winds instead of strings), the flattening-out of the head motive, and the melodic reshaping of the fugue subject: ‘the change to triplet motion, which coincides with a change of melodic direction from up to down, does imply metric accent – which ­coincides with 49 Simpson notes the passage in the first edition of his book (p. 112), without relating it to the movement’s conclusion, and it is not even mentioned in the second edition. 50 Simpson comments on the tonal proximity of this passage to the opening: ‘Anyone could be forgiven for supposing this sunlit F sharp to be G; it feels as if the opening music had been going on in the background all the time, as if the sun, for a while blotted out by storm clouds, were shining again. But it is not shining from the same place in the sky; time has elapsed, and the earth has turned a little’ (Symphonist2, 120); to my mind, the passage is better understood as a counterweight to the opening, an attempt to balance the movement’s prevalent flatwards drift through a exaggerated move towards the sharp side of the opening key.

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266 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism a strongly accented beat only in bar 144.’ 51 For Torben Meyer and Frede Schandorf Petersen, this characteristically loose and informal variation accounts for the movement’s apparent weakness, the ‘rather incoherent and episodic form Nielsen gives his materials’ – it hardly constitutes the level of closely integrated motivic working conventionally more generically suited to the symphony.52 Kramer, in contrast, hears this as signalling the music’s fundamental concern with disunity and lack of synthesis, characteristics which he labels ‘postmodern’. But it might be better conceived as signalling a different kind of attitude or approach to the idea of unity, one which is happy to maintain a broad family resemblance between different passages rather than achieving a more close-knit correspondence. This certainly accounts for the disconcerting return of the opening material, initially on Ab, in b. 152. The return takes place prematurely – before the second fugue has had a chance to work itself out in the manner of the first. And it also signals the beginning of a third overlapping rotational cycle. Simpson accords the entry higher-level motivic significance, as part of a large-scale statement of a semitonal motive (F#–Ab) either side of the opening key, G.53 In reality, it forms part of a developmental assemblage of opening ideas, gradually (and increasingly violently) transformed, or ‘brutalised’, to adopt David Fanning’s term, which begins to wind up towards the breakthrough of the Allegro passionato in b. 171. Motoric tendencies from the first fugue, which had seemed relatively constrained in their initial context, finally begin to assert control from letter J (b. 164): the fairy-tale illusion of the opening bars is finally, and decisively, shattered. What makes the entry at b. 171 so shocking is not simply, as Simpson notes, that it coincides with the eruption of Bb for the first time as a significant alternative key-centre to the symphony’s putative tonic, G: an event that, for Simpson, marks the idea of Bb with inimical associations.54 But also the fact that it so brutally transforms the previous bridge passage: the crystalline dance sequence at b. 129. Both structurally and expressively, b. 171 seems massively disproportionate, a colossal overloading of structural weight so that the movement becomes hugely unbalanced. As in the opening Allegro of the Sinfonia espansiva, analysed in chapter 4 above, but here to a much more extreme degree, the movement’s point of greatest energetic exertion – the apex of its largest single structural wave – has significant implications for the course of the music that follows. In the Espansiva, this results in an expanded reverse recapitulation, assuming the character of a secondary development, which directs attention dramatically towards the attainment of 51 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 311. 52 ‘… temmelig usammenhængende og leddelte Form, Nielsen giver sit Materiale’. Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen, vol. 2, 241. 53 Simpson, Symphonist2, 121. 54 Simpson, Symphonist1, 113; Symphonist2, 123.

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Cosmic Variations 267 Ex. 7.6  Nielsen, Sinfonia Semplice: first movement, bb. 204–14

bœ b ˙ bœ œ œ bœ J

204

3 bœ. &4 3 &4

pp

208

& Π/

con sord.



glock

≈.

pp dim.

&

cymbal

œ œ œ œ œ nœ

œ #œ J

œ J

æ ˙æ pp # #œ œ œ

æ ˙æ.



œ. #œ‹œ œ. nœ#œ œ.

& &

œ #œ J



œ J

œ

œ œ J

ææ / ˙.

212

Œ

Œ

œ

œ œ œ.

#œ #œ

œ #œ #œ #œ #œ #œ #˙



œ J

pp

œ œ. œ œ. œ œ. œ œ J ‰ Œ ∑

&



Œ

Œ

œ

œ

œ œ J

≈.

æ ˙æ.

œ b œ. œ œ. œ œ. œ œ J ‰

bœ bœ J

œ

œ œ

œ bœ J

æ ˙æ

œ#œ œ

dim. ppp

œ #œ- -œ bœ œ J œ

3



æ ˙æ. bœ œ bœ bœ #œ J J J

mp dim.

œ œ œ

œ

œ œ

Œ bœ

œ.

dim.

œ #œ œ J

ppp

œ. #œ#œ œ. nœnœ œ J ‰

dim. ppp

A as a ­structural tonic in the closing bars. The effect in the Sinfonia semplice is much more compressed, and less explicitly goal-directed. Simpson dwells on the fading residues of the climax, orientated, he claims, towards ‘the dominant minor of A flat’.55 In fact, the music shifts from a chromatically unstable F minor towards a modally mixed Eb; Ab functions here rather as a local subdominant inflection, although the reference to earlier moments of thematic articulation (Eb, b. 33; Ab, bb. 98 and 152) is also significant. The wandering violin counterpoint in bb. 204–14 begins with a deceptive recapitulation of the opening theme, drained of its previous vitality, and offers a poignant example of Nielsen’s enharmonically enriched tonal syntax (Ex. 7.6). For Simpson, much of the following paragraph is concerned with narrowly evading Bb, but 55 Simpson, Symphonist2, 122.

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268 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism is arguable whether any such directed tonal strategy exists. More significant, surely, is the sense that b. 215 marks the beginning of a highly condensed and fragmentary reprise (R4). The toy march is restated here on the lower strings as a restorative hymnic threnody, comparable in expression to the entry of the Adagio in the first part of the Fifth Symphony. In context, both gestures can be heard as somehow trying to repair the damage caused by their preceding music. The comparison is strengthened by the observation that both passages are based on G – the first time, in fact, that the Sixth Symphony’s Tempo Giusto has referred back to its opening key. But such tonal reference is purely associative: it carries little permanent structural weight, and the entry of the third fugue quickly brings the music’s mechanistic tendencies to the fore once again. Initially oriented around F minor (the key implied at the start of the decay curve following the dissonant climax in b. 186), this passage is the only one of the three fugal episodes that gradually winds down, rather than accumulating energy, slowly running out of steam via Emil Telmányi’s additional bar (b. 254) as it approaches the Più lento coda.56 Turning towards F# minor – an austere echo of the earlier moment of apotheosis at b. 110, perhaps – the music turns one final enharmonic corner before closing on Ab. Finally, the movement’s energy, both uplifting and disruptive, seems spent. Nielsen sketched a preliminary draft of the coda (reproduced in the appendix), which would have sounded even more contingent than the final version. For Kramer, the effect of even this later, extended coda is nevertheless provisional. ‘The music has not achieved Ab through a struggle; Ab is logical but not preordained. … Despite the simplicity of the ending, despite its consonance, despite its stability within its own key, it is not a large-scale resolution.’ 57 Context, for Kramer, is everything: the lack of a conventional diatonic argument in the movement as a whole is sufficient to undermine the authority of the final bars. For Simpson, in the first edition of his book, the close of the first movement traces a broader expressive trajectory that looks out beyond the domain of the symphony itself: ‘its basic idea, the loss of and fruitless search for a state of childlike joy, is so utterly simple and is expressed 56 In the autograph score used as the Stichvorlage (KB CNS 67a), b. 254 is missing and has been added by Emil Telmányi. Above the staff is written ‘Takt ind’ (‘bar in’), and at the bottom of the page, Telmányi notes: ‘Den manglende Takt blev skrevet af E.T. paa komponistens Opfordring, Indføjet af E.T. i Blækmanuskript efter Satsens renskrivning’ [The missing bar was added by E.T. at the composer’s request. Inserted by E.T. into the ink manuscript after the movement’s fair copying.] A manuscript page in pencil has been inserted by Telmányi with the annotation: ‘Ny Takt og Forandring/Godkendt af CN’ [New bar and alteration/ approved by C.N.]. On this basis it is clear that the bar was composed by Telmányi, but that the context and content of Telmányi’s addition were both known to Nielsen: the extra bar serves to pace the winding down of the third fugue more gradually. 57 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 321.

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Cosmic Variations 269 with such inexorability and piercing beauty that the work becomes a very real reflection of the times rather than a purely personal screed.’ 58 For both Simpson and Kramer, the ending somehow sounds compromised rather than being merely a temporary resting point, the final bars bearing a considerable burden of expectation and unable to satisfy the demand for symmetrical closure. But the coda is arguably more equivocal than such readings suggest. Its elliptical quality is consonant, at least, both with the music that has gone before, and also with the broader aesthetic status of the symphony in 1925: a genre that already seemed to be at breaking point. Greater emphasis on ­closure at this point would surely have sounded even more hollow. Critical opinion has sharply divided the two middle movements. Com­ ment­ators broadly agree on the elegiac tone of the third movement. For Simpson, it is one of Nielsen’s ‘most profound and concentrated utterances’, its mood of solemnity established by the striding crotchets of its ‘magnificently dignified subject’.59 Meyer and Schandorf Petersen similarly write of the melody’s ‘fantastic intensity’ (‘fantastiske intensitet’). Michelsen notes that the movement’s subtitle, ‘Proposta Seria’, refers to the Baroque Italian term for a fugue subject, and, after the abortive fugue passages in the Tempo Giusto, the third movement certainly opens with a renewed sense of purpose and contrapuntal determination.60 But, as Kramer notes, the opening fugue soon begins to unravel, in accordance with the first movement’s pattern of behaviour. Following the third entry of the subject, the strings are momentarily distracted by a short codetta (bb. 10–13; Ex. 7.7), whose oscillating fourths and pungent diatonic dissonance (the second violin’s accented entry on ab2) foreshadows the movement’s conclusion. This codetta gives way to a nervous chromatic ostinato figure, ‘a kind of tonus currens’, according to Meyer and Schandorf Petersen,61 constructed out of a chromatically in-filled tritone (b1–f2). As Kramer suggests, ‘this has little to do with the fugal spirit’, though it provides a rustling background (white noise) for a series of restatements of the fugal subject’s head motive in the horns and bassoons and later in the lower strings. The remainder of the movement consists of alternations of this pattern of aborted fugal exposition and its chromaticised restatement, with a pair of pastoral cadenzas for the woodwind (bb. 25–9 and 36–9), whose 58 Simpson, Symphonist1, 115. 59 Simpson, Symphonist2, 126–7. 60 Nielsen, Symphony no. 6, ed. Michelsen, xvii–xviii, and 128, 145. The movement was initially (in CNS 67A) titled ‘Proposta Serioso’, but the title was corrected by Telmányi. A note in the score reads: ‘rettet på Tangos henstilling/og akcepteret af CN’ [corrected at (Egisto) Tango’s request and accepted by C(arl) N(ielsen)]. Egisto Tango was an Italian composer and conductor and a keen supporter of Nielsen’s work, who was closely associated with the Royal Theatre and with Danish music for many years. 61 ‘… en slags “Tonus currens”’. Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen, vol. 2, 244.

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270 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. 7.7  Nielsen, Sinfonia Semplice: third movement, opening Adagio (q = 44 – 6) 3 vc -

&c Œ

œ- œ- œ-

#œ œ. nœ- #œ œ. œ> f molto intensivo ∑

&c



œ #-œ œ œ œ. -Œ

Ó

va f molto intensivo

5

& œ.

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intervallic content is derived from the codetta in bb. 10–13. This formal circu­ larity entirely suspends the sense of direction initiated by the opening bars. For Kramer, this again points to an underlying pessimism: The movement achieves peacefulness as it draws to a close, but this sense of rest hardly serves to resolve earlier tensions. The movement remains a statement of disappointed hopes. Every potentially definitive statement or restatement of highly profiled material has petered out; never has the movement succeeded in achieving continuity, in fulfilling the potential of its materials. Thus this movement, like the earlier ones, is finally quite dark.62 62 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 334.

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But the coda seems at least partly opposed to this bleak vision. Rather, in the closing bars it unfolds a distant imaginary landscape of bell ringing and wistful horn calls: a complex diatonic sound curtain, resting on the lower strings’ Db, and which pointedly refers back to the first entry of the second violins in b. 12. Indeed, it is one of the most radiant moments in Nielsen’s music: a passage evocative of the half-remembered sound of summer on the Limfjord, or a childhood memory from the Funen countryside. In the context of the symphony as a whole, this sequence becomes a Mahlerian window: an ecstatic vision of paradise or Eden that already seems impossibly remote, framed by more difficult or problematic music, even as it momentarily regains the fairy-tale quality of the work’s very opening bars. The insistent marking ‘non rit.’ in the final bar, and the way the Db slips down to an open-string C at the very last moment, deliberately undercuts this sense of idyll. A note in Carl Nielsen’s hand in the manuscript reads: ‘[non rit] means that the conductor should hold/ the bar strictly – without rallentando so that the final note finishes abruptly like an extinguished light.’ 63 It is tempting to align this sense of eclipse with Kramer’s feeling for the music’s darkness. But the final bar is properly more like a door clicking shut: a gentle awakening, to prepare the finale, without which the music risks falling permanently asleep. The second movement – the notorious Humoreske – is more obviously controversial. For Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, the movement is ‘a problem child in Nielsen’s production’. And here, in a nutshell, lies the crux of their complaint against the work’s integrity: ‘Has [Nielsen] really sought to try and discover something new, a new form for artistic development?’ they ask rhetorically, ‘or has he simply let his humour run free and let it carry on, exactly as it likes, as baroque in its effects as a Storm P. cartoon?’ 64 Poul Hamburger similarly remarked that ‘the Humoresque in particular was a hard nut to crack when the symphony first made its appearance, with its many strikingly grotesque ideas, such as a repeatedly occurring trombone glissando. Was this meant seriously, or was it irony – and if so, was it perhaps a parody of certain extremist tendencies in contemporary music?’ 65 For Simpson, in the first edition of this book, the Humoreske seemed emblematic of an even more profound sense of despair. ‘It cannot have needed much strength to compose the Humoreske’, he lamented, ‘but it gives the appalling impression of having 63 ‘[non rit] betyder at dirigenten maa holde/ streng. Takt – uden rallentando saa den sidste Tone slutter kort af som et Lys der slukkes’. CNS 67a. 64 ‘[Det er] et Problembarn i Carl Nielsens Produktion. Har han virkelig søgt at finde frem til noget nyt, en ny Form for kunsterisk Udfoldelse? Eller har han bare villet slippe Humoren løs og ladet den té sig, nøjagtig som den vil, barok i sine Virkemidler omtrent som en Storm P.’sk Tegning?’ Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen, vol. 2, 241. ‘Storm P.’ was the pen name of Robert Storm Petersen, one of the leading cartoonists in early twentieth-century Copenhagen. 65 Hamburger, ‘Orchestral Works and Chamber Music’, 45–6.

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272 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism absorbed every ounce of a nearly exhausted resource.’ The analysis in the second edition of his book is scarcely more positive: the Humoreske becomes the expression of a ‘forced cynicism’ that laughs bleakly at the hollow tragedy of the first movement but offers little compensation in return. Yet the movement is not nearly so incoherent or formless as these responses suggest. On the contrary, the Humoreske displays a satisfying symmetry, the gradual entry of the percussion and wind at the start suggesting the approach of a mock military ensemble or balletic parade, followed by their slow departure from the scene in the closing bars. Furthermore, the sense of thematic return at b. 122 (letter G) creates the impression of a loosely rounded binary form. Local patterns of pitch organisation are likewise relatively clear, without ever suggesting an overly systematic method. The opening twenty-two bars, for example, unfold an eleven-note aggregate. (The missing pitch is F#, held back until the first clarinet entry on the last beat of b. 23.) The sudden verticalisation that results, in bb. 23–4, is octatonic (collection II), and much of the music that follows is concerned with the overlayering and juxtaposition of different modal collections (octatonic and hexatonic modes), chromatic aggregates, and seemingly incongruous diatonic segments. The ‘ugly twisted’ clarinet subject at b. 29, for example, consists of alternating whole tone and octatonic collections, the combination finally resulting in a linear chromatic tail (Ex. 7.8) which is then treated imitatively.66 Even the strange circus-like F# major music that interjects in b. 68 can be justified in the light of previous events; Simpson hears it as bitter caricature of the opening movement’s triadic first subject, in the key of its transfigured appearance at b. 110. But it might equally well be explained as tonicising the pitch class omitted from the chromatic aggregate of the opening sequence: the delayed F# finally gains its proper structural prominence. And the trombone glissandi which so perturbed some of Nielsen’s first critics are merely ‘dissatisfied’ rather than actively malevolent.67 The trombone here hardly has the same disruptive presence as in the closing bars of the Flute Concerto, where it threatens to become a more rowdy and subversive interloper. Kramer, almost alone among previous commentators, offers a more balanced reading of the movement, praising the music’s ‘imaginatively grotesque touches’, and pointing to the strong parallels with other later but similarly gothic twentieth-century fantasies, such as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. 66 ‘Ugly, twisted’ are Simpson’s adjectives, from the second edition of his book (p. 124). It is worth noting that Kramer (‘Unity and Disunity’, 328–9) offers a different pitch-class set reading of the melody, identifying the prevalence of (016) trichords and the presence of another chromatic aggregate minus one pitch (G§). I find such set-based schemes less persuasive than collection-based approaches for much of Nielsen’s late music. 67 The autograph score (CNS 67a) includes the marking ‘utilfreds’ (dissatisfied) under the glissando in b. 100. Telmányi later added the explanation: ‘Posaune er utilfreds’ [‘Trombone is dissatisfied’].

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Ex. 7.8  Nielsen, Sinfonia semplice: second movement, bb. 29–33 Clarinet 1

coll II

whole tone

coll II

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Octatonic coll. I

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For  Kramer, the Humoreske ‘turns the expressive paradigm inside out: the music begins in a disorientated, atonal manner, and only after some time achieves the simplicity of diatonicism and tonality’. In other words, far from being merely a subjective ‘appendix’ to the first movement, as Simpson first suggested, the Humoreske, and arguably the two movements that follow, are an analytic, intensifying and reflecting upon elements of the preceding Tempo giusto as they develop and progress. Yet Kramer’s response remains fundamentally pessimistic. The music’s ‘gallows humour’, he maintains, cannot conceal an ultimately nihilistic vision: ‘the movement’s one element of simplicity’, the F# major melody from b. 68, ‘has been progressively destroyed’, and is little more than merely a momentary respite ‘before the onslaught’.68 In contrast, Nielsen himself suggested a somewhat more playful reading of the music in an interview dated 9 November for Nationaltidende, two days before the work’s Copenhagen premiere. Asked what the symphony was supposed to depict, he replied: Only purely musical problems. For the first time in my compositional career I have created a humoresque in a symphony. It is for only a few instruments, which play together while the rest of the orchestra remains silent. On the one side, I have brought together a group of instruments that consists of two clarinets, a piccolo and two bassoons. On the other side there is a glockenspiel, a side drum and a triangle. The humoresque begins with the three small percussion instruments, which gather together to wake the other, bigger instruments that lie asleep. These three small characters aren’t very smart, rather they are very childish, sweet and innocent little ones, and they begin with their bimme-limme-bim and then their bom-bom-bom … they become excited, and finally rouse the others to play … the clarinets, the piccolo and the bassoons. But the small innocent instruments have no time at all for this modern music – they pound away to themselves: do stop, do stop, they say … and so they quickly do away with the modern music. But now the clarinet begins to play a little childlike melody, 68 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 323, 324.

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274 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism and the small instruments shut up and listen. The trombone, that great instrument, yawns and says: Baah, child’s food! The other instruments fall in again, there is a tussle in the music, which sounds briefly out of tune and confused – and eventually the whole thing drifts away into nothing­ness again. That is the symphony’s humoresque.69 Significantly, the interview ends with an implied reference to Stravinsky’s recent visit to Copenhagen when on 2 December he had conducted and played the piano at a Royal Danish Orchestra concert devoted to his music, one of the items being the trio suite from L’Histoire du soldat (Stravinsky also conducted his Petrushka at the Royal Theatre); in response to a question about what impression Stravinsky had made upon him, Nielsen is reported to have replied warmly: ‘I enjoyed myself immensely’ [jeg morede mig pragtfuldt].70 69 ‘Kun rent musikalske Problemer. For første Gang i mit Komponistliv har jeg lavet en Humoreske i en Symfoni. Den er for nogle ganske faa Instrumenter, som spiller, mens hele det øvrige Orkester tier. Jeg har paa den ene Side anbragt en Gruppe, bestaaende af to Klarinetter, en Piccolofløjte og to Fagotter. Paa den anden Side staar et Klokkespil, en lille Tromme og en Triangel. Hertil kommer endelig en Basun. Humoresken begynder med, at de tre smaa Slaginstrumenter – Klokkespillet, Trommen og Triangel – bliver enige om at vække de andre, større Instrumenter, som ligger og sover. Disse tre sma Væsner har ikke megen Hjerne, de er nogle meget barnlige, søde, uskyldige Smaa, og de begynder nu med deres Bimme-limme-bim og deres sagte Bom-bom-bom … de bliver ivrigere og ivrigere og faar tilsidst larmet de andre op til at spille … Klarinetterne, Piccolofløjten og Fagotterne. Men de smaa uskyldige Instrumenter synes aldeles ikke om den moderne Musik, der nu lyder – de hamrer for sig selv: Hold op, hold op, siger de … og saa er det snart forbi med den moderne Musik. Men da begynder Klarinet at spille, det er en lille barnlig Melodi, og de smaa Instrumenter tier og lytter. Basunen, dette store Instrument, gaber og siger: Baah, Barnemad! De andre Instrumenter falder atter ind, der bliver Strid om Musiken, det lyder lidt falsk og forvirret – og tilsidst falder det hele hen til ingen Verdens Ting. Dette er Symfoniens Humoreske.’ ‘Carl Nielsen om sin lystige Symfoni’, Interview by ‘Clerk’, Nationaltidende, 9 December 1925; reproduced Samtid, 375–7, at 376. Fellow includes a reproduction of the photograph of Nielsen and Stravinsky at the Nimb restaurant. 70 Nielsen returned to Stravinsky’s visit in an interview which he gave to Fyns Ventresblad the following year, in January 1926, in which he also reiterated his strongly anti-romantic view of music. The interview was clearly influenced by the discussions of the previous year: ‘– Isn’t a man who does his work equally good, whether he writes symphonies or drives taxis? ¶ – … There is so much good in modern stuff that also interests me. A musician such as Stravinsky, who was here recently, and was so roughly treated by the critics, should be offered much consideration I believe. He is a genius, a little impudent, but lively and strong. Romantic music has flowed into a backwater with its philosophy, its mysticism, its continual attempts to express things that are foreign to music. In any case, Stravinsky has parted the waters and sought the music. There is so much profundity in music, but real depth, I believe, resides in expressing things clearly and in the right way. One cannot philosophise in music – for then one does not speak music’s language, it becomes hollow and false. Also in the

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It is not wholly surprising, in this light, that it is easy to compare elements of the Humoreske, especially the ‘circus tune’ at b. 68, with Petrushka’s second tableau: both passages exploit elements of bitonality and modal mixture (particularly octatonic collections), rhythmic distortion, and prominent writing for woodwind and percussion.71 The Humoreske hence becomes a ludic ritual, most modern music one has striven towards the incomprehensible, and it is precisely the obscurity that has often tempted people to be impressed by what is incomprehensible and to see genius behind it. But art must be for everyone, comprehensible and accessible. One just has to stand on one’s own two feet, right in the middle of real life. I myself have genuinely tried to find value in the obscure, taking it for granted that it was I who was a fool – but I could not. Music can only express itself – not other arts. It must simply be itself. It is not easy to express in words – it is rather something one feels! ¶ – Shouldn’t jazz music’s great popularity be seen as an expression of declining musical culture? ¶ – No, I don’t think so. Rather it is part of the reaction against all that obscure music, a reaction that is now growing. After all, jazz is a return to music itself, even if only in its most elemental forms, sound and rhythm. One furthermore discovers entirely new notes within it, which can be used, and so it isn’t without value. A development can already be perceived in it. A new music lies waiting for the man who – like Mozart, in his time – can gather it altogether and say it too.’ [–Er ikke en Mand, der gør sit Arbejde, lige god, enten han skriver Symfonier eller kører Drosker? ¶ – … Der er saa meget godt i det moderne som ogsaa interesserer mig. En Musiker som Strawinsky, der var her fornylig, og som blev saa strengt behandlet af Kritiken, finder jeg, man bør ofre megen Opmærksomhed. Han er genial, lidt fræk, men frisk og stærk. Den romantiske Musik er jo efterhaanden flydt ud i et Dødvande med sin Filosofi, sin Mysticisme, sine stædige Forsøg paa at udtrykke Ting, det er Musiken fremmed. Stravinsky har i hvert Fald skilt Vandene ad og søgt Musiken. Der er saa meget Dybsindighed i Musiken, men det rette Dybsind er dog, synes jeg, at udtrykke Tingene klart og rigtigt. Man kan ikke filosofere i Musik – saa taler man ikke Musikens eget Sprog, den bliver hul og uægte. Ogsaa i den helt moderne Musik har man stræbte mod det uforstaaelige, og der har været Tilbøjelighed til netop paa Grund af Dunkelheden at lade sig imponere af det som genialt. Men Kunst maa dog være for Mennesker, forstaaelig og tilgængelig. Der er kun at holde sig midt i Virkeligheden paa begge Ben. Jeg har selv ærligt søgt at finde Værdi i det dunkle, gaaende ud fra, at jeg selv var Fæhovedet–men jeg kunde ikke. Musiken kan kun udtrykke sig selv–ikke andre Kunstarter. Den maa være sig selv nok. Det er ikke let at udtrykke det klart i Ord – det er noget, man føler! ¶ – Er Jazzmusikkens store Popularitet mon ikke at opfatte som Udtryk for dalende Musikkultur? ¶ – Nej, det jeg synes jeg ikke. Snarere er den et Led i Reaktionen mod al den dunkle Musik, en Reaktion, som voxer nu. Den er dog Tilbagevenden til Musiken selv, om end kun i den allerelementæreste Form, Klang og Rytme. Man finder desuden i den helt nye Toner, som kan bruges, og den altsaa ikke uden Værdi. Det er allerede en Udvikling at spore i den. Der ligger en ny Musik og venter Manden, der – som Mozart i sin Tid – kan samle og sige det hele.] ‘En Samtale med Carl Nielsen’, interview by ‘Peter Pen’, Fyns Venstreblad, 19 January 1926; Samtid, 390–4, at 391. 71 As Svend Ravnkilde has noted, it is not clear exactly what works by Stravinsky Nielsen actually knew at the time of the composition of his Sixth Symphony. However, Nielsen’s son-in-law, Emil Telmányi, performed Nielsen’s Violin Concerto in the first half of a concert conducted by Paul Klenau at the Dansk Filharmonisk Selskab on 7 January 1925, which also featured excerpts from the

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276 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism rather than merely an ironic tragedy: a theatrical inversion of polite convention that ultimately serves a liberating purpose, the powerful adoption of a popular musical voice. Such ludic tendencies are even more powerfully realised in the finale, a set of theme and variations similar to that which closes the Wind Quintet (1922). For many commentators, the finale posed the greatest challenge to their reading of the symphony. Simpson, writing in the first edition of his book, describes how the movement traces a seemingly irrevocable descent towards bathos, following the ‘harsh wounds’ of earlier events in the symphony: ‘the curse-mark of the Humoresque is indelible’, he explains, and ‘any attempt to restore G major [the opening key of the first movement] would seem either ironical or pass unrecognised’.72 The variations that follow present a purgatorial succession. The end of the eighth variation leads to a ‘slow and hopeless collapse[; n]ow is the opportunity of Giant Despair’. In the work’s final bars, however, ‘it is too late for such things to be comic, and there are warring elements until the very end, which comes with abrupt sardonic humour’.73 The second edition, by comparison, offers a more sophisticated response. ‘The last movement is Nielsen’s Eroica’, Simpson notes, identifying some of the thematic and gestural parallels with the finale of Beethoven’s symphony. Though Simpson concedes that Nielsen’s movement ‘shows no important structural parallels with Beethoven’s, which is not strictly speaking a set of variations’ (Nielsen might, however, had had the ‘Eroica’ Variations for piano, op. 35a in mind as a counter-model), the two ‘are not altogether dissimilar, for both treat of universal and fundamental experiences.’ 74 But here the similarities begin to break down: while Beethoven’s drama remains ‘essentially youthful and fairly sanguine’, its heroism guided by an underlying mood of optimism, Petrushka Suite. Nielsen certainly attended this performance (see the relevant diary entry in Dagbøger, 2, 476), though he doesn’t mention the Stravinsky. The date coincides with his work on the Humoreske. In a letter from Skagen dated 21 July 1924, Nielsen had earlier written to Telmányi: ‘I am very excited to hear your opinion of Stravinsky. Is it pleasant to listen to? The things I have heard of his were genuinely musical and entertaining in the extreme; perhaps he doesn’t reach far and deep, but it doesn’t do any harm when he simply reveals himself as he really is. This concern with depth and ethics is often just an empty phrase, and I would rather encounter a pleasant jester [crossed out and replaced with:] joke than such insipid sobriety.’ [Jeg er meget spændt at høre din Mening om Strawinski. Det er vel morsomt at høre paa? De ting, jeg har hørt af ham var virkelig musikalske og underholdende i høj Grad; maaske han ikke spænder vidt og dybt, men det gør jo heller noget, naar han blot giver sig som han virkelig er. Dette med Dybde og etisk Værd bliver ofte til en Frase og hellere vil jeg træffe en morsom Spasmager Spas end den ferske Alvorlighed.] Ravnkilde, ‘Stravinsky i København 1924’, 267. 72 Simpson, Symphonist1, 119. 73 Ibid., 121–2. 74 Simpson, Symphonist2, 129.

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of victory through conflict, Nielsen’s speaks darkly of ‘terminal catastrophe’, the ‘glittering defiance’ of the final cadence achieved only after utter defeat.75 For Kramer, in turn, the variation finale is ‘so disparate that it could almost be a series of independent pieces’. The music is premised on a feeling for ‘coherence but little consistency’: a critical turn which, for Kramer, threatens to suspend, or rather collapse, all sense of musical meaning and context. ‘The finale throws at the listener the utmost in discontinuity, disparity, surprise, variety, and juxtaposition of opposites’, Kramer argues, so that conventional markers of musical style or value become redundant. Hence, ‘there are amazingly bold successions of: simplicity bordering on the vernacular, massive dissonance, modernist music, romantic music, polyrhythmic complexity, a blatant fanfare, an elegant waltz’. Within this whirling mix of diverse musical voices, for Kramer, all sense of authenticity or truth is lost. ‘Sometimes’, he suggests, the finale ‘asks us to believe in the music it invokes, yet at other times it derides its references (and perhaps its listeners as well)’.76 Though Kramer seeks to embrace such lack of unity, praising the music’s uncanny ­‘postmodernism’ and arguing for a strongly anti-organist mode of analytical response that moves beyond one-dimensional notions of ‘relatedness’, his view of the finale nevertheless remains a negative one. ‘Because Nielsen’s simplicity is not to be trusted’, he concludes, ‘this music is ultimately pessimistic: not because complex, dissonant, contrapuntally dense, tonally ambiguous music wins out over direct, consonant music, but because simplicity itself becomes suspect.’ The symphony’s moral and ethical domain, for Kramer, has become fatally corrupted. ‘If we cannot believe in the stability of tonality, or in the radiance of a diatonic tune, or in the regularity of basic rhythms’, he laments, dwelling on the contrast between the symphony’s childlike first appearance and its subsequent development, ‘then this music has truly lost its innocence’.77 Yet it is surely possible to advance a more positive reading of the finale, and of the symphony as a whole. Kramer’s expressive paradigm, the painful loss of innocence that, for him, colours every event within the work, in the end becomes too reductive, reliant on a flatly literalistic notion of musical meaning in which simplicity and innocence are unmediated categories. Rather, I would propose, the symphony’s at times disconcerting range of musical expression can be more gratefully understood as a sign of richness, abundance, or maturity.78 The juxtaposition of sharply contrasting musical styles 75 Ibid., 135–6. 76 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 336. 77 Ibid., 342. 78 A critical insight into the tone of the finale can perhaps be gleaned from an important interview that Nielsen gave to Svend Thorsen in Fyns Tidende, dated 31 October 1928, concerning a proposed ‘popular symphony’ that Nielsen never, in fact, lived to write. Reproduced by John Fellow, the interview is worth quoting

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278 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism becomes a sign of the symphony’s worldliness rather than disillusionment, an expression of its complex novelistic character. Indeed, the symphony’s similarities with the novel are compelling, and prompt a radically different response to the work. For Mikhail Bakhtin, such patterns of conversation and dialogues are fundamental: ‘the novel can be defined as a diversity of social speech types (sometimes even diversity of languages) and a diversity of individual voices, artistically organised.’ Hence, Bakhtin explains [my emphases], at length, both for its sense of ‘popular tone’, and also for Nielsen’s comments on being modern: ‘– Haven’t you promised to write a “popular symphony’, following a request from Ryslinge? ¶ – Yes! Replies Carl Nielsen, I have. My friend and colleague Thorvald Aagaard had spoken to me about it several times, and when he was last here in town, I believe I finally promised … that is what Aagaard no doubt thinks. What is required is an accessible symphony in the manner of my songs, without musical ornamention and the like. Ryslinge has thus set me the task of singing like the bird in the woods, and I must confess, that I am keen to do it. ¶ Have you ever sung in any other way? ¶ Perhaps you have a point … at the end of the day, I don’t think I ever have, answers Carl Nielsen with a happy smile; if one pentrates to the basic cell in my compositions, it will surely be revealed that this cell is the same both in the great symphonies and in the small songs. This has been difficult for many to understand. A learned musician such as Professor Victor Bendix maintained, for a long time, that either my small melodies or else my larger works must be a swindle. For him it was unthinkable that the same man could create both … and still be honest to himself. ¶ Where will you draw inspiration for your popular symphony? ¶ Well, where does music come from? I suppose I shall be playing on my childhood impressions from Funen. It is certain anyway that the ‘popular symphony’ will be quite simple and easily playable. The task I have set myself, as I conceive it, is that I am now in the same situation as the architect to whom one says: here are sufficient bricks and timber, but you then cannot have other material, no marble friezes or goldleaf. Please build a house! It is thus the complicated I must avoid, and one might add that this means that tonality must be safeguarded. Moderation is called for. I cannot venture too far from the governing key, but must maintain the music within its near vicinity. Notice how Mozart and Haydn, in their corresponding works, seek out the tonic’s related keys, but do not go further out. The distant keys are avoided. ¶ – Would it at all be permissible to regard you as a modern musician? ¶ – I obviously regard originality as essential. But originality is a fundamental property, one something either has or does not have. It is certainly possible to generate an apparent originality by coming out to the periphery and thereby doing something unique. That applies as much to the composer as to the visual artist. [– Har De ikke efter Opfording fra Ryslinge lovet at komponere en ,folkelig Symfoni’? ¶ – Jo! Svarer Carl Nielsen, det har jeg. Min Ven og Medarbejder Thorvald Aagaard har talt til mig derom flere Gange, og da han forleden var her i Byen, gav jeg vistnok det endelige Tilsagn … det vil Aagaard vist mene. Hvad man ønsker er en letfattelig Symfoni i Smag med mine Viser, uden musikalske Forsikringer og sligt. Ryslinge har altsaa stillet mig den Opgave at synge som Fuglen i Skoven gør det, og jeg indrømmer, at jeg har Lyst dertil. ¶ – Har De nogen Sinde sunget paa anden Maade? ¶ – Deri kan De have Ret … det mener jeg nemlig ikke, at jeg dybest set har, svarer Carl Nielsen med et lyst Smil; trænger man ind til Grundcellen i mine Kompositioner, vil det sikkert vise sig, at denne Celle er den samme baade i de store Symfonier og i de smaa Viser. Det har dog faldet mange svært at forstaa.

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Cosmic Variations 279 The novel orchestrates all its themes, the totality of the world of objects and ideas depicted and expressed in it, by means of the social diversity of speech types and by the differing individual voices that flourish under such conditions. Authorial speech, the speeches of narrators, inserted genres, the speech of characters are merely those fundamental compositional unities with whose help heteroglossia can enter the novel; each of them permits a multiplicity of social voices and a wide variety of their links and interrelationships (always more or less ­dialogised). These distinctive links and interrelationships between utterances and languages, this movement of the theme through different languages and speech types, its dispersion into the rivulets and droplets of social heteroglossia, its dialogisation – this is the basic distinguishing feature of the stylistics of the novel.79 Nielsen’s symphony, I would propose, is similarly multi-layered and dynamic. Its diverse range of character and thematic material is transformative, ultimately concerned with renewal rather than collapse. The finale’s seemingly wilful opposition of sharply contrasting genres or musical styles results not so much in ‘terminal catastrophe’, or postmodern collage, but in En lærd Musiker som Professor Victor Bendix hævdede en Tid lang, at enten maatte mine smaa Melodier eller ogsaa de større Arbejder være Svindel. Det forekom ham utænkeligt, at det samme Menneske kunde lave begge … med Ærlighed over for sig selv. ¶ – Hvor vil De hente Inspirationen til Deres folkelige Symfoni? ¶ Ja … hvorfra henter man Musik? Det bliver vel paa mine Barndomsindtryk fra Fyn, jeg spiller. Det staar i hvert Fald fast, at ,den folkelige Symfoni’ skal være ganske enkel og let spillelig. Den Opgave, der er stillet mig, opfatter jeg saadan, at jeg nu er i samme Situation som Arkitekten, til hvem man siger: ,Se, her er tilstrækkeligt af Mursten og Tømmer, men andet Materiale faar du heller ikke, – hverken Marmorfliser eller Forgyldning. Vær saa god at bygge et Hus!’ Det er altsaa det komplicerede, jeg skal undgaa, og det vil jo sige, at Tonaliteten skal værnes. Der skal udvises Maadehold. Jeg maa ikke skeje for meget ud fra den anslaaede Grundtone, men stadig holde Musikken i denne Tones Nærhed. Læg Mærke til, hvorledes Mozart og Haydn i tilsvarende Arbejder nok opsøger den oprindelige Tones Søskende og Søskendebørn, men saa heller ikke gaar længere ud. De fremmede Tonarter skyes. ¶ – Tør man overhovedet opfatte Dem som en moderne Musiker? ¶ – Jeg anser selvsagt Originalitet for en Nødvendighed. Men Originalitetet er en fundamental Egenskab, noget man eller har eller ikke har. Dog er det jo muligt at fremkalde en tilsyneladende Originalitet ved at springe ud i Periferien og dèr foretage sig sælsomme Ting. Det gælder saavel komponisten som Tegneren. ] Samtid 2, 496–8. 79 Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, 262–3. Bakhtin defines heteroglossia as: ‘another’s speech in another’s language, serving to express authorial intentions but in a refracted way. It serves two speakers at the same time and expresses simultaneously two different intentions: the direct intention of the character who is speaking, and the refracted intention of the author.’ (p. 324); and chronotope (meaning ‘time-space’) as ‘the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed in literature’ (p. 84).

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280 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Table 7.2  Sinfonia Semplice, finale: formal scheme Bar

Formal Zone

Musical Character

Tonal Area

1–13

Introduction

Quirky

A major–V/a?

14–29

Theme

Periodic – harmonically unpredictable

Bb

30–45

Var. 1

Learned – interrupted!

Bb

46–61

Var. 2

Pastoral – sarcastic

Bb/chromatic

62–103

Var. 3

Fugato più vivo

Bb/chromatic

104–33

Var. 4

Continuation with conflict

B major?

134–60

Var. 5

Continuation. Brioso

Bb

161–229 Var. 6

Quirky waltz

Bb/chromatic

230–89

Violent conflict. Decay

??

290–307 Var. 8

Var. 7

Restorative. Molto adagio

Bb minor

308–24

Var. 9

Humoreske (Dead march)

N/A

325–32

Fanfare

Triumphant!

V/Bb

333–79

(Var. 10) Coda Brilliant

Bb: IV–I

what Bakhtin heralds as ‘an indeterminacy, a certain semantic openendedness, a living contact with unfinished, still-evolving contemporary reality (the openended present)’.80 The variations’ openness can thus be heard as a power­ fully affirmative impulse, driven by a desire, common in much of Nielsen’s work, to bring music more vividly into the realm of lived experience. And it is arguably this democratising spirit, the need to embrace, but not fully to contain or enclose, that motivates the work’s final bars. A formal chart of the finale (Table 7.2) illustrates this open novelistic succession of different character-types and moods. The virtuosic woodwind fanfare or flourish with which the finale begins provides a tonally deceptive launch pad. Essentially a decorated and rhythmically syncopated two-octave descent (e3–e1), the prelude opens by immediately reversing and enharmonically reinterpreting the concluding db–c§ appoggiatura with which the previous movement closed, so that the figure becomes a rising semitone: c#3–d§3. Harmonically, the prelude implies A major, coming to rest on its dominant scale degree (e1), but the prolonged f§1–e1 oscillation in bb. 9–13, and the insistent presence of the chromatically altered a#s, already points towards the tonality (Bb major) of the theme (Ex. 7.9). Despite these careful allusions, and the way that the fanfare anticipates the theme’s principal motivic shape (the wedge pattern 3ˆ–ˆ 4–ˆ2–ˆ5–ˆ3–ˆ1), the source material in the Royal Library suggests that the prelude was actually written after the main body of the movement had been completed: the opening thirteen bars are notated on a separate sheet of manuscript paper (on the reverse of a setting of Grundtvig’s hymn, 80 Ibid., 6–7.

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Cosmic Variations

281

Ex. 7.9  Nielsen, Sinfonia Semplice: finale, opening triadic descent >> #œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ nœ œ #œ #œ œ #œ >œ >œ #œ œ >œ >œ œ nœ œ >œ 2 & 4 ‰™ R rising semitone

2 œ >œ >œ œ #œ œ œ œ nœ œ œ & 4 ‰ ™ #Rœ œ nœ œ #œ #œ œ # œ >œ >œ #œ œ >œ >œ œ n œ œ œ> fls, obs, cls

>œ >œ œ > œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ nœ œ #œ œ. #œ œ & œœœœ > >

5

& 9

œ œœœ >œ >œ œ > > œ œ œ # œ œ œ >œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ # œ >œ œ œ œ œ n œ œ # œ œ. # œ œ F/E oscillation 3

3

3

3

& œ nœ œ œ #œ #œ œ œ nœ œ #œ œ nœ œ œ &

3

œ nœ

3

3

œ œ

Ϫ

3

œ œ œ œ #œ #œ œ nœ œ #œ nœ œ œ

œ œ

Ϫ

‰ bb



consequent cadential phrase

b œ œ œ. œ. b J



solo bn

sequential repetition . . > >™ . . Ÿ bœ. . œ bœ b œ b œ œ r ? bb œ œ ≈ œ ≈ œ œ œ œ™ œ œ ≈ œ œ œ œ œ ≈ ≈ œ ≈ œ J R J

15

extended ‘cadential’ articulation (foreign note!) development/extension

nœ œ œ . . . . . ? b œ œ œ ™ œ œ ‰ œ bœ b œ œ œ # œ nœ œ œ œ œ ≈ # œ œ ≈ # œ œ ≈ n œ bœ b J

20

closural

n œ. œ. œ. œ. œ. ≈ # œ œ nœ b œ œ closural œ ≈ bœ ≈ œ œ ≈ nœ #œ nœ ≈ œ bœ œ œ ™ œ ™ ? bb œ

25

chromatic descent



‘Herunden er de gamle Dage’), interpolated with the rest of the score. It seems likely, as a result, that the prelude was not part of the movement’s original scheme, and much of the remainder of the draft shows considerable evidence of haste and revision. As was often the case, Nielsen was evidently working against a tight compositional deadline, and a similar sense of urgency motivates the lively rhythmic articulation of the opening bars.

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282 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism The sixteen-bar theme, in contrast, initially seems remarkably poised and periodic. The characteristic scoring, for solo bassoon, suggests an exaggerated sense of dignity and good manners: Nielsen plays on the instrument’s traditional aristocratic associations. The melodic design of the theme is similarly unusual. Nielsen anachronistically evokes, and then subverts, conventional diatonic expectation. The wedge-like head motif, for example, becomes an extended upbeat, after which the second bar (b. 15) sounds like a consequent cadential gesture. In other words, the theme begins with a motif that already feels prematurely directed towards closure. This cadential tag is followed by a series of aggressive, obstinate abs: it is as though the theme tries to tonicise the flattened leading-note through simple dogged reiteration of a basic cadential V–I motion. This massive overemphasis on the flat-side perhaps constitutes an extreme reaction to the oversymmetry of the opening formula. But it is succeeded by a sequential repetition of the opening two bars on the subdominant and a simple cadential close. So bb. 14–21 become a regular symmetrically closed tonic phrase, with an anomalous intrusion (the Abs) in bb. 16–17. From b. 21 to the close, however, the theme is no longer straightforwardly functional; the ‘rogue’ status of the Ab in bb. 16–17 has been elevated to higher level. Bar 22 begins like unvaried repeat of b. 16, but swiftly leads in new harmonic directions: through A major towards F minor. The repeated semiquavers in bb. 23 and 25 gesturally parallel the earlier ‘obstinate’ Abs in bb. 16–17. Bar 25 represents the apex of the theme’s harmonic dysfunctionality: the tritone opposition of F and B minor triads initiates a chromatic descent that ends on E, leading to a brief, syntactically hollow reprise of the opening two bars on an incongruous Bb. This unresolved tension between E§ and Bb echoes the final bars of the introduction. The irony is that, whereas in b. 14, the prelude’s dissonant F§s have become consonant, the effect of the compressed chromatic voice-leading in b. 21–3 means the high f1s in b. 25 sound dissonant once again, and the closing cadential Bb triad has lost all sense of authority as tonic. The theme, in other words, seems premised on a series of harmonic contradictions. Nielsen is operating here not with conventional diatonic tonal polarities, but rather with the tension between degrees of chromatic displacement and instrumental character. As in the earlier Theme and Variations for piano, subsequent variations are based on the idea of disruption and contradiction rather than straightforward ornamentation and embellishment. Nielsen’s energetic organicism here becomes a comic device. The music’s openness to incursion from seemingly unrelated ‘rogue’ elements permits a maximal stylistic and expressive range that constantly threatens to undermine the overall sense of balance and control. The first variation, for example, begins with a mock-serious two-part counterpoint in the oboes, almost in the manner of a Baroque stylistic exercise. But the theme is already chromatically distorted, and the woodwind group’s response is registrally unpredictable and diverse:

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Cosmic Variations 283 the bassoons suddenly hammer out an anticipation of their final entry on Bb in b. 41. The emphasis here is on textural contrast rather than Brahmsian fullness. A rising chromatic figure in the first oboe (b. 39), derived from the voiceleading in bb. 21–5, becomes a new cadential idea that closes the variation in the clarinets (calando, b. 44–5) without suggesting any sense of resolution. The second variation is similarly varied, but more extreme. The upper horns open with a solemn white-note version of the opening head motif, evoking a momentary sense of cadential order and stability. But the first appearance of the strings replies with percussive open-string slaps and a sneering trill in the piccolo and lower horns (pointedly on Bb–A), which entirely shatter the pastoral calm of the opening gesture. Ab returns at the start of the second half of the variation, in an uneasy oscillation in the upper woodwind, and the repeated semiquaver motto from b. 41 becomes increasingly prominent as the music develops, attempting to assert closure through sheer insistence alone. This increasingly violent sense of the grotesque signals not simply an aggressive attitude or expressive edge, as Simpson’s analysis sometimes suggests. Rather, it offers a comprehensive musical world-view. The carnivalesque spirit here is similar to Bakhtin’s notion of the clown or jester. Such mythic figures, Bakhtin suggests, ‘create around themselves their own special little world, their own chronotope.’ For Bakhtin, these stock characters represent an archetype: a particular mode of being or motion through narrative time and space, which forges ‘a vital connection with the theatrical trappings of the public square, with the mask of public spectacle’. The essence of such figures, Bakhtin argues, is their particular symbolic character: ‘their very appearance, everything they do and say, cannot be understood in a direct and unmediated way but must be grasped metaphorically. … They are life’s maskers; their being coincides with their role, and outside this role they simply do not exist.’ 81 Heard from this perspective, the symphony’s thematic and gestural associations with Nielsen’s opera, Maskarade, and its Holbergian play with different conventions, genres, and musical styles, take on a sharper significance. The stage work becomes not merely a point of self-reference; it begins to inhabit and frame the symphony, invading the orchestral ensemble with its own array of characters and comic dialogue. Such dialogues are ultimately liberating, Bakhtin suggests: They grant the right not to understand, the right to confuse, to tease, to hyperbolize life; the right to parody others while talking, the right to not be taken literally, not ‘to be oneself’; the right to live a life in the chronotope of the entr’acte, the chronotope of theatrical space, the right to act life as a comedy and to treat others as actors, the right to rip off masks, the right to rage at others with a primeval (almost cultic) 81 Ibid., 159.

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284 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism rage – and finally, the right to betray to the public a personal life, down to its most private and prurient little secrets.82 Nielsen’s finale is similarly theatrical and revealing, its gestures swinging between rage, parody, and earnestness. Indeed, it is possible to hear the individual variations as operatic numbers or masque sequences, each with their own marked entry and departure from the stage. Variations 3–5, consequently, are run together to form a larger dramatic complex.83 Variation 3 opens as a fugue (in the style, Simpson notes, of a ‘ghostly scherzo’), but with a grotesquely overextended subject. The primary motivating factor for this idea is the repeated semiquaver figuration from b. 25. But here the music is so stretched that it almost completely runs out of energy and momentum (b. 81), and there is barely sufficient space for the answer in the second violins before the next variation begins. As Simpson notes, ‘it is the “countersubject” on firsts that is really the variation on the second half of the theme.’ 84 As in the first movement, the fugue’s traditional associations of scholarly counterpoint, compositional mastery, and musical order are here undermined by its distorted realisation. Variation 4 marks the beginning of a third entry, but is characterised more obviously by the metrical counterpoint between upper and lower strings, echoed by the brioso entry of the brass at beginning of Variation 5. The whole sequence embodies the opposite of normative fugal behaviour, directed more towards collision than accumulation, even as the music seemingly remains rooted on its putative tonic, Bb. Variations 6–7 are similarly run together, but begin from a very different starting point. Variation 6 is a blithe waltz, a topic that, for Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, invokes the familiar image of Nielsen as farm lad or trouba­dour: ‘the provincial Funen musician is never denied in Carl Nielsen’, they suggest, ‘now that he stands as his country’s great composer, memories of Funen and the barn dances rise up once again, and he casts himself into the fun and games with unfailing good spirits and writes a clog-waltz, almost as one would have encountered it in the good old days.’ 85 The waltz’s distinctive triple-time step had already been suggested by the polymetric patterning of the accompaniment in Variation 5 (bb. 150ff), without ever quite settling into a stable metre. But as the dance develops, it gradually becomes caught 82 Ibid., 163. Emphasis original. 83 In Nielsen’s draft score (CNS 67a), the music originally stopped after b. 133, and there was no composed link between variations 4 and 5. The idea of linking the three variations together was therefore an afterthought. 84 Simpson, Symphonist2, 132. 85 ‘Den fynske Landsbyspillemand fornægtede sig aldrig i Carl Nielsen; … Nu, da han staar som sit Lands store Komponist, dukker Mindelsene om Fyn og Bondeballerne op igen, og han kaster sig ud i Løjerne med et ukueligt Humør og skriver en Træskovals, omtrent som den kunde forekomme i gamle Dage.’ Meyer and Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen, 2, 245–6.

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Cosmic Variations 285 in circles: the tail of the first phrase, for example, is once again unnaturally extended (bb. 173–83), so that any sense of regular periodic phrase rhythm is momentarily blurred. Though the variation recovers enough balance to be able to reprise the second half of the theme (bb. 184–96), the end of the first phrase returns and becomes increasingly moronic in its repetitiveness, as though Nielsen’s country waltz has grown steadily more inebriated as the dance has progressed. Only the sudden entry of the trombones and percussion at the beginning of Variation 7, who walk into the middle of the waltz like a village marching band, succeeds in prompting a more dynamic response. This is, in fact, a massive gesture of disruption, a crude breakthrough ultimately related to the incursion of the ‘meaningless’ Abs in b. 16, but on a hugely amplified scale.86 The increasingly violent tussle between the march and waltz generates the movement’s greatest metrical dissonance as each group vies for ascendancy. But for Simpson, this constitutes ‘the last and most disruptive evasive tactic. At length the waltz cannot sustain its illusion of ­gaiety and wishful thinking, against the hard fact that stares it in the face.’ 87 The music simply fades away rather than resolving any of its tensions. The progressive structure of the variations, their sense of narrative thread, has been lost. For Bakhtin, however, this process of dissolution is inevitable. ‘It is necessary to destroy and rebuild the entire false picture of the world, to sunder the false hierarchical links between objects and ideas, to abolish the divisive ideational strata’, he argues. ‘It is necessary to liberate all these objects and permit them to enter into the free unions that are organic to them, no matter how monstrous these unions might seem from the point of view of ordinary, traditional associations’.88 Simpson partly agrees: ‘there is no sentimentality in the collapse of the waltz. Nielsen is objectively describing what is (was?) necessary’.89 Variation 8, accordingly, begins a process of restitution, unfolding a similar mode of ‘regenerative’ slow counterpoint as in the Fourth and Fifth symphonies and the opening of the Proposta Seria, spotlighting an anguished lament on muted trombone (bb. 295–8). Though this introduces a momentary brightening, marked by the return of the glockenspiel, the music collapses once again when it reaches the final stage of the theme (b. 304), the final cadence closing determinately in the minor mode. The variation that follows is a dead march, complete with the bony skeletal sounds of the xylophone and the morbid snarl of a solo tuba in its lowest register. It also replays the transition from the closing bars of the first movement into the pantomime gestures of the Humoreske. Nielsen described the bass drum to 86 A similar band walks unexpectedly into the middle of the third movement of Mahler’s First Symphony, though it disrupts a funeral march rather than a village waltz. 87 Simpson, Symphonist2, 133. 88 Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, 169. 89 Simpson, Symphonist2, 133.

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286 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Thorvald Nielsen as ‘death knocking at the door’, and claimed that he ‘wished to defy death with the concluding fanfare’.90 But it also recalls the entry of Corporal Mors in the final act of Maskarade, summoning the party-goers to gather round and cast their masks into his black cauldron, announcing the end of the masque – the moment at which they all ‘turn once more to dust and ashes’.91 As the opera makes plain, the end of the masque is marked by sadness, but it also becomes the pivotal point of rebirth, the shedding of an old regime and the triumph of a new order. It marks both the passing of a generation, and simultaneously the triumph of young love, the circular process of decay and renewal swept up in the whirling motion of the closing Kehraus. The Symphony’s concluding fanfare, in effect a tenth variation, is therefore as inevitable as the striding finale of the Sinfonia espansiva or the closing bars of Fynsk Foraar, discussed in Chapter 5 above: not as a preordained tonal goal (as Simpson’s inverted progressive tonal model implies), but rather as a consequence of its own inherent narrative trajectory or plot archetype. It too marks the turning of the seasonal cycle, the dawning of a new musical spring. But for many commentators it remains deeply problematic. Kramer, for example, hears the ending as ultimately deceptive: ‘the final bars seem triumph­ant on the surface, but in fact this is hardly a grandiose conclusion. The good humour and stability are illusory.’ The possibility of a positive conclusion, a sense of balanced closure and symmetry, is thus denied. ‘The music seems carefree,’ Kramer asks, ‘but how can that be? Because of the expressive paradigm, we have been led to distrust simplicity throughout. Can we now trust it at the end?’ At the heart of the work, for Kramer, therefore lies a bleak sense of (post)modernist irony. ‘This may be simple music, this may be consonant music, but it is not normal music. it deconstructs the very idea of a final cadence.’ 92 Kramer’s interpretation, as I have argued strenuously above, nevertheless seems unnecessarily pessimistic. It reveals more a late twentiethcentury sense of angst, perhaps, or a fundamental distrust of the discursive synthesising force of comedy, than a proper reflection of the work’s countenance.93 Simpson finally comes closer to the spirit of the closing bars in the 90 ‘… døden, der banker på porten, … han ville trodse døden med den afsluttende fanfare.’ Nielsen, Symphony no. 6, ed. Michelsen, xviii. 91 ‘Kast jer Maske/Og bliv atter Støv og Aske!’, Maskarade, Act 3. 92 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 341. Kramer adds: ‘in its extraordinary juxtapositions of opposite kinds of music, in its sardonic parodies of other styles, and above all in its use of simplicity to destroy simplicity, the symphony goes beyond modernism towards a postmodernism that few people could have forseen in 1925.’ (p. 342). 93 It is worth noting here that in CNS 67a Nielsen sketched a provisional version of the ending, reproduced in the Appendix below, which closed with a simple da capo return of the opening bassoon theme. It is unclear whether he ever seriously contemplated completing the symphony in this way, or if it was simply a provisional conveniency as he worked on the earlier variations.

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Cosmic Variations 287 second edition of his book, when he writes that Nielsen’s finale in fact ‘is less like that of the Eroica than it is like that of the second finale of [Beethoven’s] Bb Quartet, op. 130. In his Third Symphony Beethoven is contemplating heroism; in the quartet piece, the last thing he completed, he was being heroic, achieving a gaiety beyond all reason, expressed with perfect organisation.’ 94 Even if the canonic comparison begins to wear thin, here, at least, is a more generous notion of late style, one which accepts and even embraces the idea of laughter as an integral part of a more equivocal leave-taking. And it supports a sense of structural coherence that Kramer’s reading otherwise resists. After the Technicolor ‘Hollywood’ fanfare95 and the strings’ energetic extended pick-up, the brass enter with a mock-heroic version of the theme (once again invoking the Eroica). This leads to a further antagonistic tussle (bb. 357–60) based on the imitative figuration from the end of the second variation and the Humoreske percussion of the ninth. The coda then offers one final resolution of the end of theme, the penultimate E chord prolonged tantalisingly by string and flute trills and pulsating semiquavers in the trumpets before the comically heavy lopsided I–V steps of bb. 365–9. In its sense of a palpitating dissonance, held till the very last instant, this sequence also gathers up and resolves the moment of crisis from the first movement: the high semitonal trills in the upper parts inevitably bring back memories of the earlier passage when the symphony threatened to fall apart and collapse. Appropriately, with disaster narrowly averted, it is left to the first bassoon quietly to mark closure with an augmented version of the theme’s head motif, closing with its familiar triadic cadential formula 4–ˆ ˆ 2–ˆ5–ˆ3–ˆ1 for the last time (bb. 369–72). With balance provisionally restored, the strings swiftly flare up once again and the symphony tumbles towards the final bars. The bassoon’s flatulent closing note is both an affectionate and characteristically disconcerting raspberry in the face of Nielsen’s sixtieth birthday critics and a final, lusty sounding of the ­priapic carnival horn. In its balletic feeling for gestural symmetry and balance, its sense of poise, grotesquery, and tragedy, and ultimately its all-pervading humour, the Sixth Symphony is a remarkably complex and ambiguous document. But it also remains true to its problematic subtitle, Sinfonia semplice. Nielsen’s symphony is a popular work – not in the sense that it is in any way complacent or an easy listen (far less an easy play, especially for the strings), but rather in its desire to embrace multiple levels of style and identity simultaneously, and in its attempt to gather together and celebrate a democratic and diverse musical worldview. Even while this places enormous strain on the work’s musical fabric, so much so that it has lost and bewildered many of its closest and most committed critics, it also serves, in the wider sphere, to expand and 94 Simpson, Symphonist2, 135–6. 95 Kramer, ‘Unity and Disunity’, 340.

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288 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism regenerate the genre. The process of breakthrough here is in fact no different in essence to that of the Sinfonia espansiva or the Fifth Symphony, works that, by comparison, offer more seemingly straightforwardly heroic symphonic narratives. But the Sixth also assumes a peculiarly mythic quality, to which the key lies in its forcefully comic vision. Bakhtin traces this process back to seventeenth-century French theatre and beyond, to its popular roots in the ritual of carnival. ‘The extraordinary force of laughter in Rabelais, its radicalism’, he writes, ‘is explained predominantly by its deep-rooted folkloric base, by its link with the elements of this ancient complex – with death, the birth of new life, fertility and growth.’ 96 Rabelais was the principal dramatic influence on Ludvig Holberg; and Holberg, of course, was in turn the starting-point for Maskarade. So Vilhelm Andersen’s Holberg-inspired closing sequence in Nielsen’s opera provides a poignant template for the symphony, the traditions of masque and pantomime which underpin the opera also become the symphony’s fundamental mode of representation and expression. As the opera’s chorus circle round and sing: ‘For life is a shooting star./When Death announces his departure/amid Life’s tumult,/so Heaven and Earth resound/ All stars must fall’,97 the symphony spirals onwards, revolving and renewing itself once again throughout the perpetual motion of its cosmic variations. We are invited simply to join in the dance.

96 Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, 237. 97 ‘Thi Livet er et Stjerneskud./Naar Døden raaber sit Kørud/i Livets Basseralle,/saa Jord og Himmel gjalde,/maa alle Stjerner falde.’ Maskarade, Act 3.

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8  Conclusion

A

nne marie carl-nielsen’s memorial figure  of her husband, Den fløjtespillende Pan (Musikkens Genius) (‘The Flute-playing Pan (Music’s Genius)’), unveiled on 17 December 1939, eight years after the composer’s death,1 stands almost unnoticed in what was once one of the most atmospheric quarters of Copenhagen (Fig. 8.1). Now a traffic island at the junction of Store Kongensgade and Grønningen, constantly shaken by vehicles streaming in and out of the city, it is occasionally possible to gain a sense of the location’s former character. Situated at the apex of the green triangle formed by the western corners of the citadel, Kastellet, one of the favourite haunts of early nineteenth-century Golden Age painters such as Christen Købke, and opposite the old naval terraces (Nyboder barracks) built by Christian IV in 1631–41 decorated in their distinctive ochre paint, the statue looks across the highway towards the pavilion designed by Jens Ferdinand Willumsen for Den frie Udstilling (The Free Exhibition) in 1898. Though the pavilion was originally sited at Aborreparken, further to the south, it was moved to its present site in 1913–14, where it remains (slightly dilapidated), in use as a temporary exhibition space and as a venue for arts functions. The conjunction of Willumsen’s pavilion and Anne-Marie Carl Nielsen’s monument is more significant than their apparently coincidental proximity initially suggests. It was in Willumsen’s atelier in Paris in 1891 where Anne Marie and Carl Nielsen first met, and Willumsen remained an important presence in the young couple’s artistic life after they returned to Copenhagen, at least until the early 1900s. Even if Willumsen’s aristocratic Nietzschean manner later seemed remote from the democratising thrust of Nielsen’s music, in the 1890s they shared a common interest in European art and literature, symbolism, and the spirit of Georg Brandes’s idea of the modern breakthrough, which was such a powerfully formative influence in Danish cultural life at the turn of the century. Nielsen retained a healthy respect for Willumsen’s individuality, and his artistic ambition, throughout his life, even if their personal relationship had become increasingly strained and distant.2 Anne-Marie Carl

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1 The unveiling ceremony is described by Anne-Marie Telmányi in Mit Barndomshjem: Erindringer af Anne-Marie og Carl Nielsen skrevet af deres Datter (Copenhagen: Thaning & Appel, 1965). 2 In a letter to his wife dated 3 September 1921, for example, Nielsen wrote: ‘Yes, Willumsen is of course always charming to talk with, and it’s precisely – as you say – that there’s something alluring about him the whole time that suggests higher ambition. I wish that I had been there in that discussion!’ [Ja, Willumsen er naturligvis altid morsomt at tale med og der er netop – som Du siger – noget lurende over ham som hele Tiden tyder paa højere stræben. Jeg vilde ønsker, jeg har været med i den Diskussion!] Dagbøger, 2, 446.

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290 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism

Fig. 8.1  Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen: Carl Nielsen memorial, Oslo Plads

Nielsen’s memorial is itself a striking piece. Not a conventional portrait, the sculpture depicts a lithe young man in his early twenties (around the age when Carl and Anne Marie met in Willumsen’s apartment), rather than the composer in his maturity, seated bare-backed upon a horse, leading thoughts inevitably back to Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen’s monumental equestrian statue of Christian IX which stands on Christiansborgs Slots Ridebane in the heart of the old city. The figure of the composer turns slightly to the left, with a pipe at his lips, maintaining his gaze into the distance while the horse seemingly marches forwards. The memorial is partly a deeply personal tribute, Anne Marie’s own internalised memory of her husband as a young artist, and partly also a mythic vision, the Classical figure of Pan wandering through the world accompanied by his own acoustic imagination. It also refers more specifically to elements of Nielsen’s music – particularly to the two late wind concertos and his tone poem, Pan og Syrinx (1917), with their prominent individualised writing for solo flute and clarinet. But the earthy figure of the horse looks towards the curious Neo-classical/Egyptian facade of Willumsen’s pavilion, with its gilded golden frieze of the winged horse Pegasus suspended over the

Nielsen.indb 290

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Conclusion

291

portico, ridden by a young man whose arms are raised ecstatically towards the sky. Here is a powerfully symbolist representation of the spirit of art, a sense of euphoria that is both rooted in a vision of nature and also a flight or escape from the world. The conjunction of the two mounted figures – Willumsen’s pavilion and Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen’s memorial statue – is in some senses a dialogue between two opposed notions of art, the mythic and the grounded. But it also traces the shifting cultural environments in which Nielsen’s music was conceived and first heard: the symbolist correspondences of the 1890s, which gives way to Vilhelm Andersen’s carnivalesque march of Bacchus across the North, towards the vitalist energetics of Niels Finsen’s light therapy and Niels Bohr’s model of nuclear fission. These shifting waves of Danish modernism, in counterpoint with broader currents in European science and culture, provide a rich context for hearing the multiple voices of Carl Nielsen’s music. Yet it is frequently the figure of the composer himself that acts as a constant reference point, not so much as an authorial presence, but rather as a fulcrum around which these modernist waves constantly collide, break, and renew themselves. Emilie Demant Hatt sensed this strangely centrifugal quality when she wrote in her memoir that ‘whenever something happened, Carl was always the midpoint – as little as he was!’ This sense of the diminutive composer – Jensen’s problematic idea of the Great little Dane – remains pervasive. But, as Demant Hatt explains, this sense of scale is ultimately deceptive: ‘Carl Nielsen was certainly little, but it was smallness that cannot be overlooked. He was a concentrated human shape, well formed from top to bottom, natural and harmonised in every movement’.3 A similar sense of choreographic poise characterises Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen’s statue – the muscular tension created by the figure’s left-turn counterbalanced by his outstretched right hand upon the horse’s neck, perfectly capturing the monument’s play of opposed forces: vertical and horizontal, stationary and dynamic. And it is this balletic feeling for balance, sometimes precariously or painfully maintained, that underpins and propels much of the structural and expressive tension in Nielsen’s music. Anne Marie’s memorial reinforces other elements of Carl Nielsen’s reception, especially the figure of the Funen farm lad, tied to the working routine of the farm and soil: the composer of ‘Jens Vejmand’ and Fynsk Foraar. This in turn suggests a more complex and ambivalent attitude towards modernism. Similar tensions can be perceived in much writing about Nielsen in the years immediately following his death, as commentators and colleagues struggled to shape and interpret his musical and cultural legacy. Svend Godske-Nielsen, for example, wrote in a 1935 essay in Tilskueren that:

Nielsen.indb 291

3 ‘Naar noget gik for sig, var Carl altid Midtpunktet – saa lille som han var! Javist var Carl Nielsen lille, men det var en Lidenhed, man ikke oversaa. Han var en koncentreret Menneskeskabning, velformet fra øverst til nederst, naturlig og harmonisk i alle Bevægelser.’ Demant Hatt, Foraarsbølger, ed. Fellow, 40.

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292 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism even if no-one would maintain that Carl Nielsen’s music is traditional in character, it is nevertheless the case that the element of continuity or tradition in its positive sense, which is a prerequisite for all good art, is unmistakeably found in the majority of Carl Nielsen’s works. It was this which made a deeply individual artist into a new creator, and not merely an experimentalist. Yet the desire for experimentation lay deeply in his blood, and his restless urge to renew did not diminish with the years. It is therefore understandable that, in the years after the First World War when a musical modernism broke through that completely severed the connection with the past and as a consequence of which has until further notice been reduced to activity based on experimental foundations, to a certain extent met Carl Nielsen already prepared. Many of his later works to a greater or lesser degree are related to these directions, but one’s past is one’s past and cannot so easily be left behind, and Carl Nielsen was still tied with strong bonds to his earlier mode of expression and writing.4 Godske-Nielsen’s account is a particularly revealing document – not least as an early memoir of Carl Nielsen from one of his pupils. But his essay also draws attention once again to the ways in which Nielsen’s critical reception became appropriated after his death. Godske-Nielsen presents the composer as an original, independent genius – a lone artistic voice, whose provincial background in turn becomes a sign of artistic truth and integrity. He recounts some of the obstacles and difficulties that Nielsen encountered in his early years and then dwells extensively on Nielsen’s collaborations with Thomas Laub – which were ultimately more significant, for Godske-Nielsen, than his work with Vilhelm Andersen on Maskarade. Little attention is paid

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4 ‘Selv om ingen vil kunne sige, at CNs Musik er traditionelt præget, saa er det dog givet, at det Moment af Kontinuitet eller Tradition i god Forstand, som vel er en Forudsætning for al god Kunst, i umiskendelig Grad findes i Størstedelen af CNs Værker. Det var dette, der gjorde en dybt egenartet Kunstner til en Nyskaber og ikke blot en Eksperimentator. Lysten til Eksperiment laa ham dog i Blodet, og hans rastløse Trang til Fornyelse tog ikke af med Aarene. Det er derfor forstaaeligt, at den i Aarene efter Verdenskrigen frembrydende MusikModernisme, der ganske afbrød Forbindelsen med Fortiden, og som Følge deraf indtil videre er henvist til en Virksomhed paa eksperimentalt Grundlag, til en vis Grad traf CN forberedt. Flere af hans senere Værker er i større eller mindre Grad beslægtet med disse Retninger, men sin Fortid løber man som bekendt ikke helt let fra, og CN var stadig med stærke Baand bunden til sin tidligere Udtryksog Skrivemaade.’ Svend Godske-Nielsen, ‘Nogle Erindringer om Carl Nielsen’, Tilskueren 52 (June 1935), 414–30, at 430. Godske-Nielsen studied with the composer during the 1890s, at the very beginning of Nielsen’s professional career, and maintained a correspondence with composer throughout his life: Nielsen last visited Godske-Nielsen a couple of months before his death, on the way back from lunch with Vilhelm Andersen, and he invited Godske-Nielsen to attend an early run-through of his new organ piece, Commotio.

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Conclusion 293 to the earlier symbolist side of Nielsen’s work; rather, Godske-Nielsen is keen to stress its anti-Romantic continuity. The idea of tradition is introduced only cautiously on the final page – Nielsen’s work is clearly not traditional in a literal sense, Godske-Nielsen suggests, but points towards a deeper sense of tradition (in a more positive context), that which is self-evidently a property of all good art. Hence, the idea of tradition itself becomes normative, part of a process of canonisation and retrospective historiography. Godske-Nielsen’s attempts to account for Nielsen’s later, more difficult modernist works seem strained and awkward by comparison. The First World War is cited as the root cause of a wider break with earlier stylistic categories and assumptions in European musical circles – hence, modernism is framed primarily as a response to external events. But once again Godske-Nielsen stresses the continuity of Nielsen’s work, rather than its sense of breakthrough. The late works themselves are not named – with the exception of Commotio. The two wind concertos and the Sixth Symphony are all the more striking for their absence, and they become merely a marginal part of Nielsen’s musical legacy, elided and ultimately subsumed within a broader compositional project. GodskeNielsen merely attempts to assimilate them with an earlier, more amenable vision of Nielsen’s music. Their difficult edges are smoothed out. Analysing such patterns of reception foregrounds many of the tensions, both within Danish musical culture, and also within the idea of modernism as a broader category in music history. As this study has attempted to show, Nielsen’s modernism is fundamentally multi-voiced, a complex carnivalesque play of identities directed towards the notion of music as a performative force. In this sense, Nielsen’s musical modernism has many parallels with that of his European contemporaries such as Mahler. But whereas, as Adorno explains, Mahler’s ‘experiential core, brokenness, the musical subject’s feeling of alienation, seeks to realize itself aesthetically by articulating the outwards form not as immediate but as also broken, a cipher of the content, which is reciprocally influenced by the fractured form’,5 Nielsen’s music gathers such fragments energetically together, and celebrates a more democractic, and inclusive musical world view: the spectacle of the Kehraus or round dance that concludes Maskarade and the Sixth Symphony. If we remain sceptical about attempts to embrace such diversity, our response is more perhaps a product of our own critical bias, a desire for irony, complexity, and negation, rather than an accurate reflection of the spirit and tone of Nielsen’s music. The need to engage in a properly critical dialogue with the playfulness of works such as the Sixth Symphony has therefore never seemed more pressing. But it is never an easy process. The idea of modernism in Nielsen’s music remains elusive, or masked. Nielsen simply stands before us, with an equivocal expression upon his face, a distant glance, a wry smile.

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5 Adorno, Mahler, 33.

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Appendix  Sketches for the Sinfonia semplice

N

ielsen’s innovative approach  to musical form and structure prompts many questions about design and compositional method. Surviving source materials suggest that he did not generally work with extensive precompositional sketches but preferred to work with extended continuity drafts, often of an almost improvisatory character, from which the eventual shape of the final work would gradually begin to emerge. Indeed, as Michael Fjeldsøe and others have observed, Nielsen often remained unclear about the way in which a work might end until he was well advanced with the drafting process.1 This working method has created numerous challenges for the editors of the Carl Nielsen Complete Works, since it is sometimes difficult to establish an absolute Fassung der letzten Hand for Nielsen’s scores – Nielsen was frequently open to suggestions for changes from colleagues, friends, and family,2 and he sometimes adopted a pragmatic attitude to consistencies of notation and even, at times, instrumentation (which is not to say that he was similarly relaxed about practical standards of musical realisation or interpretation – quite the contrary, as his correspondence reveals).3 And for musicologists, especially analysts, it is almost impossible to trace how Nielsen’s large-scale structures were planned or emerged, prior to a relatively complete draft stage. However, the source materials for the Sixth Symphony, held in the Carl Nielsen archive at the Royal Library, Copenhagen, do provide some insight into Nielsen’s thoughts as the compositional work progressed. All of the available documents have been described in detail in Thomas Michelsen’s editorial preface to the relevant volume of the Complete Works, and in the accompanying critical commentary.4 The Stichvorlage has naturally served as





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1 See Michael Fjeldsøe’s discussion in ‘Carl Nielsens 5. Symfoni. dens tilblivelse og reception i 1920rne’, Dansk Årbog for Musikforskning 24 (1996), 51–68, especially p. 53. 2 See Niels Krabbe’s account, for example, of the changes Ebbe Hammerik made to the finale of the First Symphony, which were apparently approved by Carl Nielsen: ‘Ebbe Hameriks Påståede Korrumpering af Carl Nielsens Første Symfoni, eller Om Nytten af Kildestudier’, Fund & Forskning 39 (2000), 121–47. 3 For discussion of this issue, see Mina F. Miller, ‘Some Thoughts upon Editing the Music of Carl Nielsen’, Current Musicology 34 (1982), 64–74. See also Emil Telmányi’s comments on his close collaboration with many of Nielsen’s scores, in Af en Musikers Billedbog (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag – Arnold Busck, 1965), and the numerous accounts of changes in the editorial commentaries to volumes of the Carl Nielsen Complete Works. 4 Thomas Michelsen, Editorial Preface, CNU II/6 (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, 2001), xi–xxv, and 126–51.

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Appendix: Sketches for the Sinfonia semplice 295 the primary source for this edition. However, a collection of fragments and sketches donated to the library in 1958 by the composer’s daughter, Irmelin Eggert Møller (CNA 67c), includes some interesting materials which are not reproduced in Michelsen’s edition. Some of these are transcribed below in the order in which they appear in the manuscript source. The sketches comprise: Ex. A1  An early sketch for the first movement (5 bars), corresponding with bb. 25–32, later expanded and transposed in the final draft.

b &b ˙ ? bb œ˙

œ œœœ

?

Ó

œ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ œ

œw

b˙ # ˙ n˙˙ ˙˙ & &

Es dur

bw œ ˙

bw w

˙w

w œ nw w ˙

[?]

w w

Ex. A2  A preliminary sketch for the ending of the finale, consisting of a return of the opening bassoon theme (similar, gesturally, to the return of the opening Aria at the close of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations), with a short (c. 5-bar) coda, closing in Bb.

? b œ Ob R J ?

5

œ œ œ œ

bœ ≈ œ œ ≈ œ bœ ≈ œ œ œ œ œ œ

œœ œ nœ #œ n œ œ bœ œ œ ™ œ O

Nielsen.indb 295

bb R

?



˙

˙

˙

b˙ b

Œ

b &b

Œ

&b



œ

˙

œ

˙

o.s.v.









˙ ˙

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296 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Ex. A3  A more extended sketch for the close of the first movement, corresponding with the Più Lento, bb. 257–65. This was originally only six bars long, but Nielsen had already begun to expand the passage with an insertion marked ‘istedfor … bedre’ (‘instead of…better).

bTo w O &R w fag 1 solo œ œ w nœ b ˙ b˙ ˙ bœ w Ó ‰ Œ pp Fl III

? &

w

w

œ ‹œ œ b˙ ™

w

w bw bw

w

w

nœ ™ #œ #œ œ #œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ & ‰ bœ bœj œ bœ bœ œ œ con sord.

B

con sord.

?

Ó

Andantino Slutning af 1st Sats

ì&

œ œ#œ œ œ œ œ œœ˙

* istedfor

bedre

Ó



bœ ‰ Œ bw J

pp



pp



bœ ?

?

Nielsen.indb 296

w w

* poco rall: nœ ™ #œ #œ b œ bœ œ b œ b œ œ œ #œ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ œ ‹œ œ b˙ ™ & ‰ J

bw w



œ œ nœb ˙ bœ w œ b˙ ™ Œ &

Ó

w w

˙˙

w w

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Appendix: Sketches for the Sinfonia semplice 297 Ex. A4  A series of more complex sketches, including a quaver passage from early in the first movement (top system), similar to that in the violas and cellos, bb. 41–9; some material from the finale, including var. 6 (bb. 218–24); and the climax of var. 7 (bb. 266–c. 269), and other ideas not used in the final draft).

œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ#œ œ œnœ œ #œ#œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœnœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ Ó ? c bœ œ nœ œ œ œ œ œ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ &c

‰ œ œ ∫œ œ œ ‰ œj ‰ œ œ œ bœr ≈ œr ≈

œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ

4?

3

œ œ œ & #œ œ œJ ‰ #œ œ œ #œ œ 3

? ‰

‰ #œ œ #œ.



3

‰ #œ œ œ.

œ œ œ œ œ œ œ & bœœ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ

œœ bœœ œ œ..

#œ œ œ #œ.

œœ œœ œœ

‰ nœ œ ‰ bœ œ ‰ nœ œ ‰ bœ œ bœ. nœ. bœ. œ.

3

œ œ bœœ œ œ

b œ œ. œ b œ œ œ œ b œ ? bb œ. œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ J O R ? bb b bœœ.. œœ œœ œœ bbœœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ b bœœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ O R b œ. œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ? bb O R

œ

œ.

œ



#œ œœ œ œ #œ. œœ #œ œ œ œœ

œœ œœ

œ œ. œ œ œ œ. œ œ œ

&J

&

œ J

œœ bœœœ bœœ œœ œœ œœ œ

œœ

œœ œœ

œ

œœ

œœ œœ

œ. œœ

œ

œ

G moll

Ex. A5  An abbreviated sketch of the finale’s closing string fanfare, corresponding with bb. 377–9, which presumably postdates and supersedes the earlier sketch for the ending (Ex. A2).

œ œœœ b œœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœœ œœbœœœœbœœœœbœœœœœœ œœœœœœ œ ≈‰ O & b R œ œœœœœœ œœœ œœœ œœ j b O &b R œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œ œ

Ex. A6  A short sketch for the augmentated version of the first movement’s opening theme, rhythmically corresponding with the F# major version heard in bb. 110–13, but which appears here in G. The withholding of this G-statement of the opening theme in the final version of the first movement, of course, has crucial implications for the work’s subsequent trajectory.

# O& R Œ ˙

Nielsen.indb 297

œ

œ œ œ™

j œ œ™

œœœ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ œ bœ œ

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Select Bibliography Abrahamsen, Erik, ‘Carl Nielsen og “den danske sang”’, DMT 2/1 (1926), 11–17 Adorno, Theodor W., Philosophy of Modern Music, trans. Anne G. Mitchell and Wesley Bloomster (New York: Seabury Press, 1973) —   — Introduction to the Sociology of Music, trans. E. B. Ashton (New York, Seabury Press, 1976) —   — Mahler: A Music Physiognomy, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992; repr. 1996) [originally published as Mahler: Eine musikalische Physiognomik (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1960)] Andersen, Vilhelm, Bacchustoget i Norden (Copenhagen: Schubotheske Forlag, 1904) —   — ‘Teatrene’, Tilskueren 22 (1905), 84–94 —   — ‘Holbergs Henrik’, Tilskueren 23 (1906), 59–74, 132–42 Bakhtin, Mikhail, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981) —   — Rabelais and his World, trans. Hélène Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984) Balzer, Jürgen (ed.), Carl Nielsen: Centenary Essays (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag  – Arnold Busck, 1965) [published in Danish as Carl Nielsen i Hundredåret for hans fødsel (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag, 1965)] Bergson, Henri, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (New York: Zone Books, 1991) [originally published as Matière et Mémoire (Paris: Universitaires de France, 1896)] Berman, Patricia G., In Another Light: Danish Painting in the Nineteenth Century (London: Thames & Hudson, 2007) Bjørnum, Birgit, and Klaus Møllerhøj (eds), Carl Nielsens Samling: Katalog over komponistens musikhåndskrifter i Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Copenhagen: Det Kongelige Bibliotek Museum Tusculanums Forlag, 1992) Bonde, Hans, ‘Den vitalistiske sport’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner (2008), 88–105 Bradbury, Malcolm, and W. James McFarlane (eds), Modernism: A Guide to European Literature, 1890–1931 (London: Penguin, 1976; repr. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991) Brandes, Georg, Det moderne Gjennembruds Mænd, rev. 2nd edn (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1891) [first published November 1883] —   — Friedrich Nietzsche, trans. A. G. Chater (New York: Macmillan, 1914) Brower, Candace, ‘Paradoxes of Pitch Space’, Music Analysis 27/1 (March 2008), 51–106 Bürger, Peter, and Christa Bürger, The Institutions of Art, trans. Loren Kruger, with an introduction by Russel A. Berman (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992) Castle, Terry, Masquerade and Civilisation: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-Century English Culture and Fiction (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986) Clausen, Karl, ‘Carl Nielsen og Max Brod’, in Oplevelser og Studier omkring Carl Nielsen (Tønder: Danmarks Sanglærerforening og Th. Laurens Bogtrykkeri, 1966), 9–36

Nielsen.indb 298

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Select Bibliography 299 Cohn, Richard, ‘Maximally Smooth Cycles, Hexatonic Systems, and the Analysis of Late-Romantic Triadic Progressions’, Music Analysis 15/1 (March, 1996), 9–40 Cumming, Naomi, The Sonic Self: Musical Subjectivity and Signification (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000) Dahlhaus, Carl, Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. Bradford Robinson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989) Dam, Anders Ehlers, ‘Den vitalistiske strømning i dansk litteratur omkring år 1900’ (PhD Dissertation, Aarhus University, 2006) —   — ‘“Musik er Liv”: Carl Nielsens vitalistiske musikfilosofi’, in, Livslyst, ed. HvidbergHansen and Oelsner (2008), 276–85 Damgaard, Ellen, ‘Thøger Larsens Mindesten’, in Du Danske Sommer, ed. Linell Ipsen (2008), 83–92 Dansk Litteratur Historie, vol 4: Fra Georg Brandes til Johannes V. Jensen (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1977) Daverio, John, Nineteenth-Century Music and the German Romantic Ideology (New York: Macmillan, 1993) Demant Hatt, Emilie, Foraarsbølger, ed. John Fellow (Copenhagen: Multivers, 2002) Devoto, Mark, ‘Non-classical Diatonicism and Polyfocal Tonality: the Case of Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony, First Movement’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller (1994), 257–88 Dolleris, Ludvig, Carl Nielsen: en Musikografi (Odense: Fyns Boghandels Forlag – Viggo Madsen, 1949) Eskildsen, Karsten, Carl Nielsen: Livet og Musikken (Odense: Odense Bys Museer, 1999) Eysteinsson, Astradur, The Concept of Modernism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990) Fanning, David, ‘Progressive Thematicism in Nielsen’s Symphonies’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller (1994), 167–203 —   — ‘Nielsen’, in A Guide to the Symphony, ed. Robert Layton (London: Oxford University Press, 1995), 351–62 —   — Nielsen: Symphony no. 5 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) —   — ‘Carl Nielsen and Early Twentieth Century Music/Aesthetic Theory’, CNS 1 (2003), 9–17 —   — ‘Nielsen under the Influence: Some New Sources for the First Symphony’, CNS 3 (2008), 9–27 Fellow, John, ‘Carl Nielsen, Wien und die europäische Wende: Von psychischer Expansion bis Wertezerfall’, Österreichisches Musikzeitschrift 51 (1996), 11–62 [repr. in Danish as ‘Carl Nielsen, Wien og det Europæiske Vendepunkt: fra Psykisk Ekspansion til Værdisammenbrud’, Fund og Forskning 36 (1997), 193–251] —   — (ed.), Carl Nielsen til sin Samtid, 3 vols (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1999) —   — ‘A Patriotic Song with Consequences: “Du danske Mand” through Hundred Years’, CNS 3 (2008), 28–45 Fjeldsøe, Michael, ‘Carl Nielsens 5. Symfoni; dens tilblivelse og reception i 1920rne’, Dansk Årbog for Musikforskning 24 (1996), 51–68 —   — ‘Den fortrængte modernisme – den ny musik i dansk musikliv, 1920–1940’ (PhD dissertation, University of Copenhagen, 1999) —   — ‘Ferruccio Busoni og Carl Nielsen – brevveksling gennem tre årtier’, Musik og Forskning 25 (1999–2000), 18–40

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300 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Frisch, Walter, German Modernism: Music and the Arts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005) Frogley, Alain, ‘Constructing Englishness in music: national character and the reception of Ralph Vaughan Williams’, in Vaughan Williams Studies, ed. Alain Frogley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 1–22 Giles, Steve (ed.), Theorizing Modernism (London: Routledge, 1993) Godske-Nielsen, Svend, ‘Nogle Erindringer om Carl Nielsen’, Tilskueren 52 (June 1935), 414–30 Gomard, Luise, ‘Rudolph Tegner og Livskraften’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner (2008), 126–33 Grimley, Daniel M., ‘Organicism, Form and Structural Decay: Nielsen’s Second Violin Sonata’, Music Analysis 21/2 (July 2002), 175–205 —   — ‘Modernism and Closure: Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony’, Musical Quarterly 86 (2002), 149–73 —   — ‘Analytical and Aesthetic Issues in Nielsen’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra’, Carl Nielsen Studies 1 (2003), 27–41 —   — ‘“Tonality, Clarity, Strength”: Gesture, Form and Nordic Identity in Carl Nielsen’s Piano Music’, Music & Letters 86 (2005), 202–33 Halm, August, Harmonielehre, [2nd edn] (Leipzig: Sammlung Göschen, 1905) —   — Von zwei Kulturen der Musik, 3rd edn (Stuttgart: Klett, 1947) [originally published 1919] Halse, Sven, ‘Vitalisme – fænomen og begreb’, Kritik 37/171 (2004), 1–9 —   — ‘Den vidtfavnende vitalisme’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner (2008), 46–57 Hamburger, Poul, ‘Formproblemet i vor tids musik med analyse af Carl Nielsens Sinfonia Espansiva (1. Sats)’, DMT 6/5 (May 1931), 89–100 —   — ‘Carl Nielsen som Orgelkomponist’, DMT 7/1 (Jan 1932), 26–33 Harper-Scott, J. P. E., Edward Elgar: Modernist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) —   — ‘“Our true north”: Walton’s First Symphony, Sibelianism, and the Nationalization of Modernism in England’, Music & Letters 89 (2008), 562–89 Harrison, Daniel, ‘Non-conformist notions of nineteenth-century enharmonicism’, Music Analysis 21/2 (July 2002), 115–60 Heerup, Gunnar, ‘Vejen til den ny musik’, DMT 4/4 (February 1929), 21–5 Hepokoski, James, Sibelius: Symphony no. 5 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) —   — ‘Beyond the Sonata Principle’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 55 (2002), 91–154 —   — ‘Back and Forth from Egmont: Beethoven, Mozart, and the Nonresolving Recapitulation’, 19th-Century Music 25 (2002), 127–54 —   — ‘Beethoven Reception: The Symphonic Tradition’, in The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music, ed. Jim Samson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 424–59 —   — and Warren Darcy, Elements of Sonata Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) Hiatt, James S., ‘Form and Tonal Organisation in the Late Instrumental Works of Carl Nielsen’ (PhD dissertation, University of Indiana, 1986)

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301

Hinton, Stephen, The Idea of Gebrauchsmusik: A Study of Musical Aesthetics in the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) with particular reference to the works of Paul Hindemith (New York: Garland, 1989) Hvidberg-Hansen, Gertrud, and Gertrud Oelsner (eds), Livslyst: Sundhed, Skønhed, Styrke i Dansk Kunst 1890–1940 (Fuglsang Kunstmuseum and Fyns Kunstmuseum, 2008) [includes ‘Livs Triumf’, 10–45] Hvidt, Kristian, ‘Københavns Rådhus – “et Gesamtkunstwerk”’, in Drømmetid, ed. Wivel (2004), 214–27 Hyde, Martha, ‘Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses in 20th Century Music’, Music Theory Spectrum (1996), 200–35 Høffding, Finn, ‘Dansk og international musik’, Tilskueren 44 (Sept 1927), 166–70 Høffding, Harald, ‘Platos Symposion: Foredrag ved det første Møde i Græsk Selskab’, Tilskueren 23 (1906), 143–52 Ingwersen, Niels, ‘The Modern Breakthrough’, in A History of Danish Literature, ed. Rossel (1992), 261–317, at 268–71 Jameson, Fredric, A Singular Modernity: Essays on the Ontology of the Present (London: Verso, 2002) Jensen, Johannes V., ‘Fyn og Fynboerne’, Aarbog 1917 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1917) Jensen, Jørgen I., Carl Nielsen: Danskeren (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1991) —   — ‘At the boundary between music and science: from Per Nørgaard to Carl Nielsen’, Fontes Artis Musicae 42/1 (1995), 55–61 —   — ‘Carl Nielsen: Artistic Milieu and Tradition: Cultural – Historical Perspectives’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller (1994), 58–77 —   — ‘At eksplodere i en form – Commotio og Grundtvigskirken’, in Dansk Musik i tusind år, ed. Eva and Bo Holten (Copenhagen: Musica Ficta, 1999), 88–9 Jeppesen, Knud, Counterpoint: The Polyphonic Vocal Style of the Sixteenth Century, trans. Glen Haydon (New York: Prentice Hall, 1939; repr. New York: Dover, 1992) Johnson, Julian, Mahler’s Voices: Expression and Irony in the Songs and Symphonies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) Jørgensen, Johannes, ‘Romantikken i moderne dansk Literatur’, Tilskueren 22 (1905), 97–114 Ketting, Knud (ed.), Carl Nielsen: The Man and the Music, CD ROM (Copenhagen: AM Multimedia, 1998) —   — ‘Helios og Typhonen: om Carl Nielsens og Anne Marie Carl-Nielsens ophold i Athen 1903’, Fund & Forskning 40 (2001), 168–98 —   — ‘Nielsen and Tivoli’, CNS 1 (2003), 88–101 Knudsen, Henrik, ‘Carl Nielsen: Sinfonia Espansiva’ [Analytical Guide] (Leipzig: C. F. Kahnt, 1913) Korsyn, Kevin, Decentering Music: A Critique of Contemporary Musical Research (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) Kramer, Jonathan D., ‘Unity and Disunity in Nielsen’s Sixth Symphony’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller (1994), 293–344 Krebs, Harald, ‘Tonal Structure in Nielsen’s Symphonies: Some Addenda to Robert Simpson’s Analyses’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller (1994), 208–49 Krebs, Wolfgang, Innere Dynamik und Energetik in Ernst Kurths Musiktheorie (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1998)

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302 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Kurth, Ernst, Grundlagen des linearen Kontrapunkts: Bachs melodischen Polyphonie (Berne: Drechsel, 1917; repr. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1977) —   — Romantische Harmonik und ihre Krise nach Tristan, 3rd edn (Berlin: Max Hesse, 1923) [originally published 1919] —   — Bruckner, 2 vols (Berlin: Hesse, 1925; repr. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1971) —   — Selected Writings, ed. and trans. Lee Rothfarb (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) Larsen, Peter Nørgaard (ed.), L. A. Ring: On the Edge of the World (Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2006) Lawson, Jack, Carl Nielsen (London: Phaidon, 1997) Levy, Janet M., ‘Covert and Casual Values in Recent Writings on Music’, Journal of Musicology 5 (1987), 3–37 Linell Ipsen, Malene, Du danske sommer: Fynbomalerne og de jyske forfattere i samklang (Kerteminde and Kongens Lyngby: Johannes Larsen Museet and Sophienholm, 2008), 83–92 Maegaard, Jan, ‘Den sene Carl Nielsen’, DMT 28/4 (April 1953), 74–9 —   — ‘Når boet skal gøres op efter Carl Nielsen’, DMT 40/4 (May 1965), 101–4 —   — ‘Arnold Schönberg og Danmark’, Dansk Årbog for Musikforskning 6 (1968–72), 141–58 Maekelae, Tomi, Sibelius: Poesie in der Luft (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 2007) Maus, Fred Everett, ‘Music as Drama’, Music Theory Spectrum 10 (1988), 56–73 McCreless, Patrick, ‘An Evolutionary Perspective on Nineteenth-Century Semitonal Relations’, in The Second Practice of Nineteenth-Century Tonality, ed. William Kinderman and Harald Krebs (Lincoln: Nebraska, 1996), 87–113, at 96 —   — ‘Elgar and the Theory of Chromaticism’, in Elgar Studies, ed. Julian Rushton and J. P. E. Harper-Scott (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 1–49 —   — ‘Ernst Kurth and the Analysis of the Chromatic Music of the Late Nineteenth Century’, Music Theory Spectrum 5 (1983), 56–75 Mersmann, Hans, Angewandte Musikästhetik (Berlin: Max Hesses Verlag, 1926) Meyer, Torben, and Frede Schandorf Petersen, Carl Nielsen: Kunstneren og Mennesket, 2 vols (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag – Arnold Busck, 1948) Michelsen, Thomas, ‘Carl Nielsen og den græske musik’, Fund & Forskning 37 (1998), 219–31 Miller, Mina F., Carl Nielsen: A Guide to Research (New York: Garland, 1987) —   — (ed.), The Nielsen Companion (London: Faber, 1994), includes Introduction, 16–30; ‘Interlude 1: Motivic Consistency in the Third Symphony’, 204–7; ‘Interlude 2: Recapitulation and Tonality’, 250–6; ‘Interlude 3: Tonality, Tempo Relations and Performance’, 289–94; ‘Interlude 4: Interpreting Nielsen: Nielsen’s Interpreters’, 345–9; ‘Interlude 5: Nielsen’s Compositional Process’, 454–9 Monrad, Kasper (ed.), Det moderne gennembrud i dansk malerkunst 1870–1890 (Copenhagen: Golden Days in Copenhagen, 2002) Mortensen, Otto, ‘Musik og musikliv’, DMT 6/7 (September 1931), 172–5 Mygind, Holger, ‘Om Erindring og Fantasi, aforistiske Bemærkninger’, Tilskueren 1 (1894), 361–78 Nørgaard, Per, ‘Om Sibelius’ og Carl Nielsens’ femte symfonier’, DMT 40/4 (May 1965), 111–13

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Select Bibliography 303 Carl Nielsen, Levende Musik (Copenhagen: Martins Forlag, 1925) —   — Min fynske Barndom (Copenhagen: Martins Forlag, 1927) —   — Carl Nielsens Breve, selected and with comments by Irmelin Eggert Møller and Torben Meyer (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1954) —   — Dagbøger og Brevveksling med Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, ed. Torben Schousboe, 2  vols (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1983) —   — Carl Nielsen Brevudgaven, ed. John Fellow, 5 vols (Copenhagen: Multivers, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Nietzsche Reader, ed. and trans. Keith Ansell Pearson and Duncan Large (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006) Oelsner, Gertrud, ‘Den sunde Natur’, in Livslyst, ed. Hvidberg-Hansen and Oelsner (2008), 159–97 Olwig, Kenneth, Nature’s Ideological Landscape (London: Allen & Unwin, 1984) —   — ‘Danish Landscapes’, in Nordic Landscapes: Region and Belonging on the Northern Edge of Europe, ed. Michael Jones and Kenneth Olwig (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 3–11 Petersen, Elly Bruunshuus, ‘Carl Nielsen, Søvnen, opus 18, En Musiktekst bliver til’, Fund og Forskning 43 (2004), 405–22 Petersen, Emil, ‘Energie og materie’, Tilskueren 17 (1900), 309–22 Ravnkilde, Svend, ‘Stravinsky i København, sommeren 1924 – et strejftog med Finale 1924’, DMT 56 (1981/2), 258–69 —   — ‘Himmel og hav og jord og sol: musik er liv’, DMT 59 (1984–5), 48–54 —   — ‘Nielsen hier, Hindemith dort: Aufpassen Arnold, Du mußt Dir ein eigenes Bläserquintett einfallen lassen!’, Österreichisches Musikzeitschrift 51 (1996), 77–81 —   — ‘Finn Høffding erzählt: “München, Paris, oder was? Unbedingt Wien, denn da ist im Moment so unheimlich viel los!’, Österreichisches Musikzeitschrift 51 (1996), 82–91 Reger, Max, Beiträge zur Modulationslehre (Leipzig: C. F. Kahnt, 1909; repr. 1917) Rehding, Alexander, ‘August Halm’s Two Cultures as Nature’, in Music Theory and Natural Order from the Renaissance to the Early Twentieth Century, ed. Suzannah Clark and Alexander Rehding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 142–60 —   — Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) Reynolds, Anne-Marie, ‘The Early Song Collections: Carl Nielsen Finds his Voice’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller (1994), 399–454 —   — ‘Carl Nielsen Unmasked: Art and Popular Musical Styles in Maskarade’, CNS 1 (2003), 137–55 —   — Carl Nielsen’s Voice: his Songs in Context (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2010) Riley, Matthew, Elgar and the Nostalgic Imagination (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) Rossel, Sven H. (ed.), A History of Danish Literature, A History of Scandinavian Literature 1 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992) Rothfarb, Lee, Ernst Kurth as Theorist and Analyst (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988) —   — ‘August Halm on Body and Spirit in Music’, 19th Century Music 29/2 (2005), 121–41

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304 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Rowell, Lewis, ‘Carl Nielsen’s Homespun Philosophy of Music’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller (1994), 31–57 Schenker, Heinrich, Counterpoint, trans. John Rothgeb and Jürgen Thym, ed. Rothgeb (New York: Schirmer, 1987) [originally published as Kontrapunkt, 2 vols, 1910 and 1922] —   — ‘A Counter-example: Max Reger’s Variations and Fugue on a theme by Bach, op. 81, for piano’, trans. John Rothgeb in The Masterwork in Music: A Yearbook (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), vol. 2, 106–17 Schoenberg, Arnold, Fundamentals of Musical Composition, ed. Gerald Strang and Leonard Stein (London: Faber, 1967) —   — Style and Idea, ed. Leonard Stein, trans. Leo Black (London: Faber, 1975) Simonsen, Rudolph, ‘Carl Nielsen som Symphoniker’, DMT 2/1 (October 1926), 7–11 Simpson, Robert, Carl Nielsen: Symphonist, 1st edn (London: Dent, 1952), 2nd rev. edn (London: Kahn & Averill, 1979; repr. 1983) —   — ‘Carl Nielsen Now: A Personal View’, in The Nielsen Companion, ed. Miller (1994), 78–95 Spencer, Herbert, ‘The Origin and Function of Music’, in Literary Style and Music (London: Watts & Co., 1950), 45–106 [first published Fraser’s Magazine, 1857] Stallybrass, Peter, and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (London: Oxford University Press, 1986) Sutcliffe, W. Dean, ‘Chopin’s Counterpoint: the Largo from the Cello Sonata, opus 65’, Musical Quarterly 83 (1999), 114–33 Taruskin, Richard, ‘Back to whom? Neoclassicism as Ideology’, 19th-Century Music 16 (1993), 286–99 Telmányi, Anne Marie, Mit Barndomshjem: Erindringer af Anne Marie og Carl Nielsen skrevet af deres Datter (Copenhagen: Thaning & Appel, 1965) Telmányi, Emil, Af en Musikers Billedbog (Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag – Arnold Busck, 1978) —   — Vejledning til Indstudering og Fortolkning af Carl Nielsens Violinværker og Kvintet for Strygere (Copenhagen: Wilhelm Hansen, n.d.) Vestergård, Karen, and Ida-Marie Vørre, ‘Danishness in Nielsen’s Folkelige Songs’, CNS 3 (2008), 80–101 Weinstein, Arnold, Northern Arts: The Breakthrough of Scandinavian Literature and Art, from Ibsen to Bergman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008) White, Tyler G., ‘“The Music’s Proper Domain”: Form, Motive, and Tonality in Carl Nielsen’s Symphony no. 4, op. 29 (“The inextinguishable”)’ (DMA dissertation, Cornell University, 1991) Whittall, Arnold, Musical Composition in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) Williams, Raymond, The Country and the City (London: Chatto & Windus, 1985) Wivel, Henrik, Den Store Stil: Dansk Symbolisme og Impressionisme omkring år 1900 (Copenhagen: Fogtdal, 1995) —   — (ed.), Drømmetid: Fortællinger fra det sjælelige gennembruds København (Copenhagen: Gads Forlag, 2004) Zenck, Martin, ‘Reinterpreting Bach in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’, in The Cambridge Companion to Bach, ed. John Butt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 226–39

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Index Aagard, Thorvald, 109n, 171 Aakjær, Jeppe, xix, 144, 147, 148, 149, 160, 176, 178 ‘Jens Vejmand’, 76, 154, 155, 171, 175 Rugens Sange, 147, 151, 153, 154, 156, 168 ‘Stensamlersken’, 153 ‘To mørke høje’, 155 Aarhus Cathedral (Jutland), 226 Abrahamsen, Hans, 245 Adorno, Theodor W., 130 on Durchbruch, 19, 23, 58, 59, 60, 106 on Mahler, 43, 59, 237, 254–5, 260, 261, 293 negative dialectics, 131 on novelistic character of music, 20 Philosophy of Modern Music, 3 Amsterdam, Concertgebouw, xix, 161, 162n, 168 Andersen, Hans Christian, 14, 18, 21, 23, 86, 135, 158, 260–1 Andersen, Vilhelm, xix, 84, 85, 87, 88, 93, 94, 95, 131, 261, 288, 291, 292 Bacchustoget i Norden, 84 arabesque, 44–5, 47, 132, 134, 160, 165, 190 Arcadia, 64, 69, 81, 144, 150, 159, 164, 170, 178, 251 Aristotle, concept of energeia, 97 Athens, 61n, 65, 70, 76, 79 Acropolis Museum, 65 Conservatoire (Odeion Athinon), 65 Atlantis (journal), 144 Bach, Johann Sebastian, 78, 110, 111, 114, 120, 129, 169, 180, 181, 182, 188, 192, 195, 203, 219, 220, 222, 223, 225, 226 Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, bwv542, 230 Goldberg Variations, 295–7 Partita for solo violin, bwv1004, 186, 189, 192 Passacaglia in C minor, bwv582, 188 Das wohltemperirte Clavier, 184, 192

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Bakhtin, Mikhail, 20, 85, 94, 256, 278–80, 283, 285, 288 Balzer, Jürgen, 245 Bangert, Emilius, 226 Bartók, Béla: Piano Concerto no. 1, xix Baudelaire, Charles, 26, 29 Bayreuth (Germany), 85 Beckman, Bror, 160 Beethoven, Ludwig van, 3, 15, 16, 18, 111, 121, 169, 181, 248 Egmont Overture, 103 ‘Eroica’ Variations for piano, 276 Piano Sonata in Ab, op. 110, 230 String Quartet in Bb, op. 130, 287 Symphony no. 3 (Eroica), 276, 287 Symphony no. 9, 171 Behrend, William, 12n, 49 Bendix, Victor, 278n Berg, Alban, 224 Bergson, Henri, 30 Matière et mémoire, 98 model of perception, 98–9, 120 reception of work in Denmark, 98n Berlin, xviii, 3, 25n, 27, 48n, 49, 65, 77, 115n, 186n, 188, 192 Technische Hochschule, 115n Zum Schwarzen Ferkel, 49 Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, xix Berlingske Tidende (newspaper), 7n Berlioz, Hector, 55 La Damnation de Faust, 55 Harold en Italie, 55 Symphonie fantastique, 55 Berman, Patricia G., 137 Berntsen, Aage, 135 Berntsen, Klaus, 50n, 135 Bierring, Viggo, 135 Bindesbøll, Thorvald, 50 Bjørnson, Bjørnstjerne, 25 Blicher, Steen Steensen, 139, 148 Blüthner Orchestra, 77

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306 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Bohr, Niels biographical note, 98n model of atomic structure, 98, 99, 121, 291 Bondemalerstrid (Farm Painter controversy), 146, 149, 170 Bornholm (Danish island), 137 Botstein, Leon, 3, 4, 5 Bournonville, August, 265 Napoli, 86n Bradbury, Malcolm, and James McFarlane, Modernism, 8, 23, 30 Braga (music society), xviii, 16, 18, 158 Brahms, Johannes, xviii, 12, 52, 55, 188, 195, 196, 282 Academic Festival Overture, 64 Ein deutsches Requiem, 31n Symphony no. 1, 64, 229 Symphony no. 4, 188 Variations on a Theme of G. F. Handel, 196 Variations on a Theme of Haydn, 196 Vier ernste Gesänge, 188 Bramstrup (Funen), 153, 156 Brandes, Edvard, 25 Brandes, Georg, 8, 25–7, 29–31, 47–8, 50–2, 54, 60, 64, 67, 71, 106, 142, 289 ‘Aristokratisk Radikalisme’, 30 biographical note, 25n Mennesker og Værker i nyere europæiske Literatur, 26 Det moderne Gjennembruds Mænd, 8, 25, 26, 30, 60 ‘Det store Menneske, Kulturens Kilde’, 30 breakthrough, 8, 19, 23, 24, 25, 43, 47, 50–4, 58–60, 64, 67, 83, 96, 99, 100, 106, 144, 147, 156, 176, 178, 221, 237, 254, 256, 257, 266, 285, 288, 289, 293 Brændekilde (Funen), 14 Brindisi (Italy), 65 Brodersen, Anne-Marie. See CarlNielsen, Anne Marie Brod, Max, 169–70, 180 ‘On the Beauty of Hateful Pictures’, 170 on Symphony no. 3, 225 Brower, Candace, 120

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Bruckner, Anton, 113, 114, 121, 128, 129, 130 Budapest, 3 Bull, Hjalmar, 17 Bürger, Peter, 6, 9 Busoni, Ferruccio, xviii, xix, 77, 78 Bach chaconne transcription, 192 Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst, 77, 78 Fantasia Contrappuntistica, 195 Piano Concerto, 78 Buxtehude, Diderich, 180, 188, 226, 230 Byron, Lord, 52 Caballero, Carlo, 6 Carl-Nielsen, Anne Marie, xviii, xix, 49, 65, 70, 71, 149, 166, 240, 289–90 Den fløjtespillende Pan, 135n, 289–90 Hymnus Amoris, cover illustration, 166 sculpture for Copenhagen town hall, 5 carnivalesque, 85, 90, 93–5, 178, 246, 252, 283, 288, 291, 293 Christensen, Jens E., 229 Christian II, 167 Christian IV, 289 Christian IX, 154, 290 Christiansen, Einar, xviii, 135 Claussen, Sophus, 28 Cohn, Carl: Nøgle til Løsning, 199 Cohn, Richard, 38n Cologne, Hochschule für Musik, 115 Colonos (Greece), 65 commedia dell’arte, 88 Copenhagen, 5, 6, 11, 18, 25, 26, 28, 49, 50, 52, 65, 71, 82, 86, 90, 136, 145, 147, 154, 157, 187, 225, 240, 242, 248, 261, 273, 274, 289 Blågårds Plads, 5, 131 Christiansborg Slot, 154, 226, 290 National Museum, 63, 140n Nordiske Industri-, Landbrugs- og Kunstudstilling, 51 Nørrebro, 5 Nyboder barracks, 289 Østerbro, 70 Odd Fellows Palace, 76 Oslo Plads, 290

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Index 307 Copenhagen, continued Royal Danish Conservatoire, xviii, 10n, 18, 25, 48, 63, 135, 142, 157, 199 Royal Opera, xviii Royal Library, 21, 142, 239, 280, 294–7 Royal Theatre, xix, 10, 76, 85, 135, 149, 179, 211, 269n St Andreas Kirke, 188 Tivoli Gardens, Theatre and Concert Hall, xviii, 93, 243 University, 30, 139, 245 Vor Frue Kirke, 187, 188 Courbertin, Pierre de, 69 Dahlhaus, Carl, 12 Dalberg, Nancy, 135 Dalgas, Enrico Mylius, 146n Danish landscape, 14–16, 86, 94, 132, 135, 137–44, 146–62, 165, 167–8, 174–6 Danish-Prussian wars, xviii, 29, 146, 149 Danish Radio, 62, 82 Danishness, 1, 2, 10, 11, 18, 19, 21, 23, 63, 85, 171, 178, 224, 256 Dansk Filharmonisk Selskab (Danish Philharmonic Society), 241, 275n Dansk Koncert-Forening (Danish Concert Society), 76 Dansk Korforening (Danish Choral Society), 135 Dansk Musiktidsskrift (periodical), 227 Darcy, Warren, 54n, 102 Darwin, Charles, 29n On the Origin of Species, 31, 72 theory of evolution, 81, 101 Debussy, Claude, 12, 178, 185 Images: ‘Hommage à Rameau’, 185 Delius, Frederick: Fennimore and Gerda, 26 Delphi (Greece), 65 Demant Hatt, Emilie, xviii, Foraarsbølger, 21, 48, 142, 143, 144, 146, 147, 149, 150, 160, 168, 176, 291 Derrida, Jacques, 8n Descartes, René, 97 Detmold (Germany), 154 Dorpfeld, Wilhelm, 65 Drachmann, A. G.: ‘Det sædelige ligedskrav’, 27

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Drachmann, Holger, 25, 28n Dresden (Germany), 49 Dreyer, Dankvart, 138, 143 Dreyfus, Alfred, 25n Durchbruch, see breakthrough Dyrehaven, Friluft Teatret, 63, 164n Eckersberg, Christoph Wilhelm, 93, 138 Eggert Møller, Irmelin (Carl Nielsen’s daughter), xviii, 187, 203, 246, 295 Ehlers Dam, Anders, 166 Elgar, Edward, 2, 3, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 130, 178, 216, 237 The Apostles, 17 Dream of Gerontius, 17 ‘Enigma’ Variations, 17, 20 Falstaff, 20 Pomp and Circumstance marches, 20 Symphony no. 1, 130 Symphony no. 2, 20 Eskildsen, Karsten, 196 Eysteinsson, Astradur, 5, 6 Faaborg (Funen), 145, 153, 156 Falster (Danish island), 71 Fanning, David, 44, 55, 56, 165, 205, 266 Fauré, Gabriel, 55 Fellow, John, 2, 4, 14, 15, 21, 90, 142, 178 Finsen, Niels, 291 First World War, effects of, 26, 179, 211, 293 Fjeldsøe, Michael, 243 Flaubert, Gustave, 26 Florence (Italy), xviii Franck, César, 49, 55 Chorale no. 3, 188 Piano Quintet, 49 Frankfurt (Germany), 79, 221 Freud, Sigmund, 71n, 174 Frie Udstilling, Den (The Free Exhibition), 52, 65, 68, 289 Frisch, Walter, 181, 184, 202 Frydenlund (Funen), 151, 153 Funen (Danish island), xviii, 14–21, 23, 25, 49, 50n, 54, 81, 94, 132–77, 150, 157, 158, 284, 291 Funen school (Fynbomalerne), 18, 145, 146

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308 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Furtwängler, Wilhelm, xix, 221 Fyens Stiftstidende (newspaper), 136 Fyns Tidende (newspaper), 17, 277n Fyns Ventresblad (newspaper), 274n

Hanherred (Jutland), 142 Hansen, Carl August (Carl Nielsen’s son), xviii Hansen, Peter, 14, 145 Pløjemanden Vender, 175 (Fig. 5.2), 176 Hansen, Svend, 27 Gade, Niels W., xviii, 11, 12, 54 Hanslick, Eduard: Vom MusikalischElverskud, 63 Schönen, 72 Garborg, Arne, 27 Harder, Knud, 15, 198, 201 Gauguin, Paul, 50 Harper-Scott, J. P. E., 9 gennembrud (modernist breakthrough), Hartmann, J. P. E.: Liden Kirsten, 86 23, 60, 237; see also Brandes, Georg; Hauch, Gunnar, 243 breakthrough Hauer, Joseph Matthias, 79 goblets, Danish Bronze Age, 140n Haydn, Joseph, 18, 110 Godske-Nielsen, Svend, 65, 291–2 Symphony no. 101, 260 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 26, 28 Heerup, Gunnar: ‘The Way to the New Gogh, Vincent van, 49, 50 Music’, 12–13, 16 Golden Age painters, 93, 138, 139, 143, 289 Heiberg, Johan Ludvig, 71 Goncourt, Edmond and Julles de, 26 Heidegger, Martin, 9 Gothenburg (Sweden), xix Heine, Heinrich, 38 Symphony Orchestra, xix Hellener-Mappen (Hellenist manifesto), Græsk Selskab (Greek Society), 71 68 Grainger, Percy, 79 Hellenerne (The Hellenists), 68 Greece, xix, 65, 69, 75, 76, 80 Hellenism, 60, 61–95, 96, 100, 131, 166, 178 Grieg, Edvard, 249 Hepokoski, James, 12, 54n, 102, 178, 180, Grundtvig, N. F. S., 13 189, 212, 221 ‘Herunden er de gamle Dage’, 281 concept of content-based form, 54n, 102 Grundtvig, Svend, 49 heteroglossia, 279 Hetsch, Gustav Hába, Alois, 79 ‘Lidt om Kunst’, 27 Halm, August, 9, 111–13, 115, 129, 217 ‘Om Gralsagnet og Richard Wagners Parsifal’, 27 Harmonielehre, 111, 113 Himmelbjerg festivals, 148 Von zwei Kulturen der Musik, 111 Himmerland (Jutland), 142 Hamburger, Poul, 245, 271 Hindemith, Paul, 11 on Commotio, 227–31 Høeberg, Georg, 136 concept of static and dynamic musical form, 116 Høffding, Finn, 221–5, 227, 243n ‘Formproblemet’, 100, 102, 110, 111, 128, Høffding, Harald, 26, 71, 72n 129 ‘Filosofi som Kunst’, 30 on Symphony no. 3, 100, 102, 109–11, Psykologi i Omrids paa Grundlag af 113, 116, 120–9, 223 Erfaring, 26 Hammerich, Angul, 52 Holbæk (Zealand), Sct Nicolai Kirke, 226 Hammerik, Ebbe, 294n Holberg, Ludvig, 84, 288 Hammershøi, Svend, 28, 68 Julestuen, 84 Hammershøi, Vilhelm, 28, 50 Maskarade, xix, 84–9, 93–4, 283, 288 Hamsun, Knut, 27, 69, 170 Peder Paars, 87 Hollaender, Alexis, 182 Sult, 27

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Index 309 Holstein, Ludvig, 28n, 76, 154 Holst, Hans Peter, 146n Homer: Odyssey, 88, 95 Honegger, Arthur, xix Hunter, Ian, 8n Huysmans, Joris-Karl, 30 À rebours, 28 Hvidberg-Hansen, Gertrud, 166 Hyde, Martha: ‘Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses’, 185–6, 189, 192, 195, 211, 220, 225, 235 Ibsen, Henrik, 25, 26, 27 Impressionism, 50 Ingemann, Bernhard Severin: ‘I Østen stiger Solen op’, 63 Ingwersen, Niels, 31 International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM), xix, 79, 221 Italy, 49, 65 Ives, Charles, 79

Jørgensen, Johannes, xviii, 25, 28, 29, 31, 48, 60 ‘En ny Digtning’, 30 ‘Nutidens danske Literatur’, 28 ‘Sønderjyllands Amputation’, 29 Søvnen, 31 ‘Symbolisme’, 28 Jørgensen, Niels (Carl Nielsen’s father), xviii, 13, 15, 16, 152, 158 Jugendstil, 52 Jutland (region of Danish mainland), 11, 21, 29, 137, 142, 146–9, 152, 168, 171 Jyske bevægelse (Jutland Movement), 145, 146, 154

Kafka, Franz, 27 Kalundborg (Zealand), 68 Kant, Immanuel, 9, 97, 98 Kehraus (round dance), 86, 95, 286, 293 Kerteminde (Funen), 145 Ketting, Knud, 65 Kierkegaard, Søren, 29, 84n Jacobsen, Jens Peter, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31, 35n, Kjær, Ingrid, 65 49, 142 Kjerulf, Axel, 136, 241 ‘En arabesk’, 44–5, 47 Kjerulf, Charles, 12n, 53, 54, 60, 103, 184, ‘Genrebillede’, 38, 42 186, 206 Gurresange, 26 Klenau, Paul, 275n ‘Har Dagen Sanket al sin Sorg’, 35–6, 38 Knudsen, Henrik: on Symphony no. 3, 100, 102–4, 106, 108, 109, 160–2, ‘I Seraillets Have’, 31 164–5, 168–9, 171–2, 174 ‘Irmelin Rose’, 31 Knudsen, Jakob: ‘Se, nu stiger Solen af Niels Lyhne, 26 Havets Skød’, 82n ‘Solnedgang’, 48 København (periodical), 186, 243 ‘Til Asali’, 31 Købke, Christen, 93, 138, 289 Jameson, Fredric, 6–9, 18, 23, 24, 36, 99 Körperkultur, 69, 95 Jantelov (Law of Jante), 11, 20, 21 Korsyn, Kevin, 248 Jelling Stones (Jutland), 141n Kramer, Jonathan D.: on symphony no. 6, Jensen, Johannes V., 144, 145, 147, 149, 252–4, 256–8, 260, 261, 266, 268–70, 154, 160, 178 271–3, 277, 286–7 Kongens Fald, 31n, 148n, 167–8 Krebs, Harald: on Symphony no. 3, 101, Jensen, Jørgen I., 2, 4, 11, 15, 16, 23, 49, 52, 108, 109, 123, 125, 126, 127, 130 67, 84, 86, 89, 93, 96, 121n, 179, 237 Kristensen, Evald Tang, 13 Jensen-Klint, Peder Vilhelm, 235 Kuhn, Thomas, 8n Jeppesen, Knud, 10n, 219–21 Kurth, Ernst, 9, 111, 113–15, 120, 123, 128, biographical note, 220n 130, 190, 191, 217–19 Kontrapunkt, 219, 224 Bruckner, 114 Jerndorff, Peter, 76 Romantische Harmonik und ihre Krise, 114 Jones, Michael, 141

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310 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism McCreless, Patrick, 102, 108, 113 Medial Caesura, 54n Melbye, Anton, and Johannes Dam: Sommerrejsen, 93 Menton (France), 240 Merker, Der (periodical), 169 Mersmann, Hans, 9, 111, 129 Angewandte Musikästhetik, 115 biographical note, 115n wave form model of musical structure, 115–20, 123, 130, 190, 191, 223 diagrams, 117 (Fig. 4.1), 119 (Fig. 4.2) Meyer, Torben, 244, 245, 246, 266, 269, 271, 284 Michaëlis, Sophus, 27, 28n, 135 Michaelsen, Carl, xix, 239 Michaelsen, Vera, xix Michelsen, Thomas, 61n, 71, 75, 238, 243, 269, 294 Milhaud, Darius, xix Miller, Mina, 252 Mill, John Stuart, 26 Molière, 88 Mortensen, Otto, 10, 12, 14 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 15, 16, 18, 78, 110 Le nozze di Figaro, 93 Müller, J. P.: Mit System, 69, 70, 71, 95 Müller-Reuter, Theodor, 182 Munch, Edvard, xviii, 69 Munich (Germany), 198 Musik, Die (periodical), 15, 181, 182, 225 Musikpædagogisk Forening (Music Education Association), 109n, 115, 129 Madsen, Karl, 146, 147 Mygind, Holger Maeterlinck, Maurice, 26 on Bergson, 98n Mahler, Gustav, 2, 12, 19, 20, 24, 36, 43, 75, ‘On Memory and Fantasy: Aphoristic 130, 131, 159, 216, 237, 254–5, 271 Remarks’, 30 Des Knaben Wunderhorn, 159 Nagel, Wilibald, 181–2 Symphony no. 1, 59, 60, 285n Symphony no. 4, 255n, 260, 261 (Ex. 7.3) Napoleon, 48 National Socialism, 69 Symphony no. 6, 20 Nationaltidende (newspaper), 243, 273 Symphony no. 7, 130, 261 Nervenkunst, 26, 30, 48 Symphony no. 10, 20, 257 New Grove Dictionary, 3 Mallarmé, Stephane, 30 New Organ Movement, 187, 225 Malling, Otto, 10n Nice (France), xix, 240, 241n Mann, Thomas, 1, 26, 170

Lange-Müller, Peter: Agnete og Havmanden, 136 Larsen, Johannes, 145 Larsen, Thøger, 144 ‘Landskab’, 144, 146 Laub, Thomas, xix, 10, 13, 75, 76, 79, 80, 81, 131, 214, 215, 225, 245, 292 Folkehøjskolens Melodibog, 1 Folkeviseaften, 76 En Snes danske Viser, xix, 14n, 75, 186 Tolv Viser og Sange af danske Digtere, 212 ‘Lebewohl’ figure, 42 Lehmann, Julius, 66 Leipzig (Germany), 11, 48n, 49, 192n Gewandhaus, 196n Thomaskirche, 187 Lerdahl, Fred, 102 Levy, Janet M., 183 Limfjord (Danish strait), xviii, 142, 144, 146, 149, 150, 168, 271 Limfjord digtere (Limfjord poets), 144, 145, 146 Lindström, Georg, 1 Liszt, Franz, 188 London, Queen’s Hall, xix Los Alamos Research Institute, New Mexico, 98n Lübeck, Marienkirche, 226 Lumbye, Hans Christian, 93 Lundbye, Johan Thomas, 138, 141, 143, 148 Landskab ved Arresø, 138 (Fig. 5.1) lurs (trumpets), 63, 164

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Index Nielsen, Anne Marie (Carl Nielsen’s wife). See Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen Nielsen, Carl Anckerske Legat scholarship, xviii, 48, 65 as mythic Nordic smith, 51, 103, 120 memorial, 290 (Fig. 8.1) photographs, xx (Figs. 1.1, 1.2), 1, 10, 20, 21, 22 (Fig. 1.3) l music 29 smaa Præludier, 179 Aladdin, incidental music, 78, 136, 202n, 239n Amor og Digteren, incidental music, 135 Andante tranquillo e Scherzo, xviii Chaconne, xix, 180, 186, 187, 189–94 (Ex. 6.1, 6.2), 195, 196, 203, 205, 206, 211, 215, 219, 225, 226, 237 Commotio, xix, 180, 188, 225–36 (Ex. 6.6, 6.7), 246, 256, 292n, 293 Concerto for clarinet, xix, 7, 15, 230, 252, 290, 293 Concerto for flute, xix, 15, 272, 290, 293 Concerto for violin, xix, 229, 238n, 275n Digtning i Sang og Toner, 70 ‘Du danske Mand’, 2, 90 Fantasy for clarinet and piano, xviii Fem Klaverstykker ‘Arabesk’, 44–7 (Ex. 2.4) ‘Humoreske’, 44, 45 Folkehøjskolens Sangbog (Folk High School Songbook), xix, 1, 245 Fynsk Foraar (Springtime on Funen), 132–6 (Ex. 5.1), 150, 155, 160, 164, 167, 168, 174, 176, 286, 291 Hagbarth og Signe, incidental music, 63, 164n Helios Overture, xix, 61–7 (Ex. 3.1, 3.2), 70, 71, 76, 78, 82, 83, 90, 95, 100, 167, 178, 189 Holstein Sange: ‘Sang bag Ploven, 76 Hymnus Amoris, xviii, 166 Klavermusik for smaa og store, 179 Little Suite for Strings, xviii Maskarade, xix, 1, 84–95 (Ex. 3.3), 178, 183, 243, 245, 256, 260, 262–3 (Ex. 7.4), 283, 286, 288, 292, 293 Moderen, incidental music, 149, 150

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311

Nielsen, Carl l music, continued Musik til fem Digte af J. P. Jacobsen, xviii, 31 ‘Har Dagen sanket al sin Sorg’, 31–8 (Exx. 2.1, 2.2), 43, 45 ‘Irmelin Rose’, 31 ‘I Seraillets Have’, 31 ‘Solnedgang’, 48 ‘Til Asali’, 31 Pan og Syrinx, 239n, 290 Prelude, Theme and Variations, xix Preludio e Presto, xix Saga-drøm, 160, 239n Saul og David, xviii, 75, 76, 135 En Snes danske Viser, xix, 14n, 75, 186 Sonata no. 1 for violin, xviii, 52 Søvnen, 31 String Quartet in D minor, 12n Strofiske Sange, 76, 156 ‘Jens Vejmand’, xix, 1, 76, 156–7 (Ex. 5.3), 171, 291 Symphonic Rhapsody, xviii Symphonic Suite, xviii, 50 ‘Intonation’, 50, 81 Symphony no. 1, xviii, 24, 52–60 (Ex. 2.6–2.10), 64, 79, 101, 109, 122, 184 Symphony no. 2 (The Four Temperaments), xviii, xix, 1, 76, 77 Symphony no. 3 (Sinfonia espansiva), xix, 1, 5, 6, 14, 24, 94, 96–131 (Ex. 4.1–4.5), 155, 160–77 (Ex. 5.4, 5.5), 178, 180, 181, 188, 189, 217, 227, 244, 245, 256, 266, 286, 288 Symphony no. 4 (The Inextinguishable), xix, 1, 100, 121n, 155, 179, 205, 219, 225, 229, 230, 237, 244, 265, 285 Symphony no. 5, xix, 7, 135, 136n, 179, 205, 214, 219, 221, 225, 229, 230, 237, 239, 243, 244, 246, 252, 258, 265, 268, 285, 288 Symphony no. 6 (Sinfonia semplice), xix, 7, 15, 20, 21, 23, 24, 90n, 160, 179, 225, 238–88 (Ex. 7.1–7.3, 7.5–7.9), 293, 294–7 (Ex. A1–A6) Taagen letter, 149–50 (Ex. 5.2) Theme and Variations, xix, 180, 196, 202–11 (Ex. 6.3–6.5), 214, 216, 219, 221, 225, 237, 282

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312 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Nielsen, Carl l music, continued Tre Klaverstykker, xix Tre Motetter, 180, 221 Viser og Vers af J. P. Jacobsen, 38 ‘Genrebillede’, 38–45 (Ex. 2.3, 2.4) Wind Quintet, xix, 276 l writings ‘Form og Indhold i Musik’ (Form and Content in Music), 109, 114, 129 ‘Den fynske Sang’ (The Song of Funen), 158 Levende Musik (Living Music), xix, 139, 220 Min fynske Barndom (My Childhood on Funen), 14, 15, 17, 25, 151, 153, 155–8, 160, 183 ‘Musikalske Problemer’ (Musical Problems), 73 ‘Ord, Musik og Programmusik’ (Words, Music, and Programme Music), 72, 82, 139 Nielsen, Hans Børge (Carl Nielsen’s son), xviii Nielsen, Kai, 18 sculpture in Blågårds Plads, Copenhagen, 5, 131 Nielsen, L. C., 76, 154 Nielsen, Thorvald, 286 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 26, 30, 67, 68, 70, 84n, 142, 289 Also sprach Zarathustra, 27, 28, 36, 52, 67, 212 Der Fall Wagner, 64, 84 Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, 67 Die Geburt der Tragödie, 84 Nordic-German Organ Week, 226 Nørrebro (Copenhagen district), 5 Nørre Lyndelse (Funen), xviii, 15, 152 Ny Jord (New Earth, journal), 27, 30 Nykøbing (Jutland), 21 Nyrop, Martin, 5 Odense (Funen), xviii, 1, 136, 153, 156 Oehlenschläger, Adam, 84n, 139, 140 Aladdin, 78, 136, 202n ‘Guldhornene’, 140n Hagbarth og Signe, 164n Oelsner, Gertrud, 70, 166, 176

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Olwig, Kenneth, 137, 139, 141, 143, 176 Olympia (Greece), 65 Olympic Movement, 69 Oslo, City Museum, 166 Østerbro (Copenhagen district), 70 Ostwald, Wilhelm, 96 biographical note, 96n concept of energetic forces, 97, 99 Outzen (Carl Nielsen’s piano teacher), 183, 184 Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi da, 78, 110, 180, 181, 220, 222 Sicut cervus, 136 Palestrina Choir, 180, 221 Paludan-Müller, Frederik, 29 Paris, xviii, 3, 27, 48–9, 50, 51, 60, 65, 289 Salle Gaveaux, xix Patras (Greece), 65 Pedersen, Viggo: I den sene Skumringstime, 166 Petersen, Emil, 96, 97, 99 Pfitzner, Hans, 196, 216 Plato: Symposium, 71 plein air school, 68 Ploug, Hother, 64, 66 Poe, Edgar Allen, 30, 31 Politiken (newspaper), 29n, 51, 53, 86, 146, 149, 186, 212, 220, 241, 243, 248 progressive tonality, 55–8, 60, 246, 248, 252 Prokofiev, Sergei: Peter and the Wolf, 272 Proust, Marcel, 30, 135 Prussia, Danish territorial disputes with, 11 Prussian-Danish wars, xviii, 29, 146, 149 Puccini, Giacomo, 12 Rabelais, François, 256, 288 Rask, Rasmus, 14, 18 Ravel, Maurice, xix, 185 Le Tombeau de Couperin, 185 La Valse, 124 Ravnkilde, Svend, 63 Refsnæs (Jutland), 68, 69, 75 Reger, Max, 185, 187, 188, 196–211, 216, 222 Chorale Fantasy ‘Wachet auf’, 188

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Index Reger, Max, continued Suite for Organ in E minor, 188 Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Joh. Seb. Bach, 197, 202 Rehding, Alexander, 201 Renan, Ernest, 26 Reynolds, Anne-Marie, 36, 42, 43, 89, 156 Rheinberger, Josef: Organ Sonata no. 8, 188 Riemann, Hugo, 101, 106, 197, 200, 201 Beiträge zur Modulationslehre, 43n, 200 Systematische Modulationslehre, 200 Rilke, Rainer Maria: Das Buch der Bilder, 261 Ring, Laurits Anders, 158 Sommerdag, 168 Rode, Helge: Moderen, 149 Rodin, Auguste, 49 Rome, 75 Röntgen, Julius, xix, 196, 198, 206 Rosenborg, Margrete, 48 Rosenhoff, Orla, xviii, 48n, 199 Roskilde Cathedral (Zealand), 226 Rothfarb, Lee: on August Halm, 112, 114, 120 Rowell, Lewis, 16 runestones, 141–2 Russian Revolution, 26 Rutherford, Ernest, 98n, 121n Ryslinge (Funen), 109n, 277n Sachs, Albert, 48 Sachs, Emil B., 44, 48 Sachs, Thomas, 72 Sadolin, Gunnar, 68 Salling (Jutland), 142, 168 Salonkunst, 145 Sandemose, Aksel, 11 Scandinavia, 19, 25 Schandorf Petersen, Frede, 245, 246, 266, 269, 271, 284 Schenker, Heinrich, 54, 101, 111, 112, 119, 197, 198, 215–16 Der freie Satz, 38 Kontrapunkt, 217 Neue musikalische Theorien und Phantasien, 215

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Schlegel, Friedrich, 45 Schnedler-Petersen, Frederik, 243n Schoenberg, Arnold, xix, 3, 11, 12, 178, 224, 240, 241 Drei Klavierstücke, op. 11, 241n Gurrelieder, 26, 165 Kammersymphonie, 241n Schopenhauer, Arthur, 31 Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, 217 Schousboe, Torben, 87, 240 Schumann, Robert Arabeske, 45n Dichterliebe, 38 Second Viennese School, 12; see also Schoenberg, Arnold; Berg, Alban Seedorff Pedersen, Hans Hartvig, 70 Selde (Jutland), xviii Seligmann, Hugo, 243 Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 29n Sibelius, Jean, xviii, 3, 4n, 12, 178, 221 Symphony no. 6, 221 Symphony no. 7, 221 Siena (Italy), 5 Simonsen, Rudolph, 171 Simpson, Robert Carl Nielsen: Symphonist, 245–8 on Helios, 67 on Symphony no. 1, 55–6, 60 on Symphony no 3, 101, 103, 108, 120, 124, 126, 127, 246–8, 251n, 252, 254, 256–8, 265–9, 271–3, 276, 283–6 Skagen (Jutland), 238 Skovgaard, Niels, 65, 182 Skram, Erik, 25 Slesvig (region of Danish mainland), 149 Slott-Møller, Harald, 146, 147 Adam og Eva, 166 Smetana, Bedřich: The Bartered Bride, 86n solvogn (sun chariot), 63 Song of Seikilos, 61n Spencer, Herbert, 29n ‘On the Origin and Function of Music’, 72–3, 82 spliced sonata form structures, 109, 126, 130

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314 Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism Stallybrass, Peter, and Allon White, 85, 94 Steffens, Henrik, 139, 176 Stenhammar, Wilhelm, xix Stockholm, xix, 7, 96, 240, 241, 247 Stoffregen, Alexander, 186 Storebælt (Danish strait), 18, 25, 157 Straube, Karl, 187–9, 225 Strauss, Johann, 93 Strauss, Richard, xviii, 12, 75, 178, 185, 198, 216 Also sprach Zarathustra, 64 Elektra, 93 Stravinsky, Igor, 3, 178, 185, 224 L’Histoire du soldat, 274 Petrushka, xix, 243, 244, 252, 274, 275 Piano Concerto, 243 Strindberg, August, 26, 49, 67, 69 sun, as emblem of Nordic-Hellenist vision, 60, 64, 96, 100 Sutcliffe, W. Dean, 180, 181 Svendsen, Johan, xviii, 52, 55 Syberg, Fritz, 14, 145 symbolism, xii, 25–8, 52, 60, 147 Taarnet (The Tower, journal), 28, 30, 31 Tango, Egisto, 269n Tchaikowsky, Pyotr Ilyich, 216 Telmányi, Anne-Marie (Carl Nielsen’s daughter), xviii, 239 Telmányi, Emil, xix, 187, 225, 238, 240, 250, 268, 269n, 275n Thomsen, Peter, 226 Thorsen, Svend, 277n Thuille, Ludwig, 198 Tilskueren (The Spectator, journal), 30, 50, 67, 71, 72, 73, 84, 221, 291 Tivoli Orchestra, xviii, 85 Tofte, Valdemar, xviii Tolstoy, Leo, 29 Trundholm (Zealand), 63 Turgenev, Ivan, 29