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Gade, Niels (Wilhelm)

Gade, Niels (Wilhelm)

Gade, Niels (Wilhelm), greatly significant Danish composer, conductor, and pedagogue, father of Axel Willy Gade; b. Copenhagen, Feb. 22,1817; d. there, Dec. 21, 1890. The son of a maker of instruments, he studied violin with F.T. Wexschall and theory and composition with A.R Berggreen. After making his debut as a violinist in 1833, he joined the Royal Orch. in Copenhagen in 1834. He first came to prominence as a composer with his concert overture Efterklange af Ossian (1840), which won the prize of the Copenhagen Musical Soc. This popular score was followed by his outstanding 1st Sym. (1841–42), which Mendelssohn conducted in its premiere performance in Leipzig at a Gewandhaus concert on March 2, 1843, with extraordinary success. Gade was appointed asst. conductor to Mendelssohn and the Gewandhaus Orch. He also joined the faculty of the Leipzig Cons. Upon Mendelssohn’s death in 1847, Gade was named Gewandhaus Kapellmeister. However, with the outbreak of the Schleswig-Holstein War in 1848, he returned to Copenhagen and quickly assumed a preeminent place in the musical life of his homeland. He reorganized the Copenhagen Musical Soc. And became its chief conductor in 1850, leading its orch. and choir in distinguished performances of his own music as well as that of other composers. In 1866 he helped to organize the Copenhagen Cons., and thereafter served as one of its directors; also taught composition and music history there. In 1876 the Danish government awarded him a life pension. Gade was an ardent admirer of Mendelssohn and Schumann and thus adopted the prevalent German Romantic style in his own works; his influence was nonetheless great in Denmark. His activities as a conductor and teacher were also extremely important. In 1990 the Danish Musico-logical Soc. organized a foundation for the purpose of publishing a critical edition of Gade’s works, which subsequently appeared in 12 vols. (Copenhagen, 1994–2000).


DRAMATIC S i n g s p i e 1 : Marietta (1848–49). B a 1 1 e t : Faedrelandets muser (The Muses of Our Father-land; 1840); Napoli (1842; Act 2 only); Etfolkesagn (1853–54; Act 2 by J.RE. Hartmann). OTHER: Incidental music. ORCH.: 8 syms.: No. 1, “Paa Sjolunds fagre sletter” (1841–42; Leipzig, March 2, 1843), No. 2 (1843; Leipzig, Jan. 18, 1844), No. 3 (1846; Leipzig, Dec. 9, 1847), No. 4 (Copenhagen, Nov. 16, 1850), No. 5 (Copenhagen, Dec. 11, 1852), No. 6 (Copenhagen, March 17, 1857), No. 7 (Leipzig, March 2, 1865), and No. 8 (Copenhagen, Dec. 7, 1871); Efterklange af Ossian (Echoes from Ossian), overture (1840; Copenhagen, Nov. 19, 1841); I hojlandene (In the Highlands), overture (1844); Nordisk soeterrejse (A Mountain Trip in the North), overture (1850); Festmarsch ved Kong ChristianIX.’s regjerings-jubilaeum (1850); Hamlet, overture (1861); Michel Angela, overture (1861); Sørgemarsch ved Kong Frederik d. 7des (Funeral March for King Frederik VII; 1863); 2 Novelletter: No. 1 for Strings (1874) and No. 2 (1883; rev. 1886); Capriccio for Violin and Orch. (1878); En sommerdag paa landet (A Summer’s Day in the Country), 5 pieces (1879); Violin Concerto (1880); Holbergiana, suite (1884); Ulysses-marsch: Forspil til Holberg’s Ulysses von Ithaca (1888–90). CHAMBER: 3 violin sonatas (1842, 1849, 1885); 2 string quartets (n.d., 1889); 2 string quintets (1845, 1851); Octet (1848); String Sextet (1863); Fantasiestucke for Clarinet and Piano (1864); Folkesdanse for Violin and Piano (1888); etc. Piano : Sonata (1840; rev. 1854); Foraarstoner (Spring Flowers; 1841); Akvareller (1850); Albumsblade (1850); Arabeske (1854); Folkedanse (1855); Idyller (1857); also organ pieces. VOCAL: C a n t a t a s : Comala (1846); Mindekantate over Fru Anna Nielsen (Cantata in Memory of Fru Anna Nielsen; 1856); Baldurs drøn (Baldur’s Dream; 1858); Fruhlings-Botschaft (1858); Mindekantate over Overhofmarschal Chamberlain Levetzau (Cantata in Memory of Count Chamberlain Levetzau; 1859); Mindekan-tate over skuespiller Nielsen (Cantata in Memory of the Actor Nielsen; 1860); Die heilige Nacht (1862); Ved solnedgang (At Sunset; 1863); Korsfarerne (The Crusader; 1865–66); Kalanus (1869); Gefion (1869); Zion (1874); Den bjergtagne (The Mountain Thrall; 1873); Psyche (1881–82); Der Strom (1889). O t h e r V o c a l : Friihlings-Fantasie for Solo Voices and Orch. (1852); Elverskud (Elf-King’s Daughter) for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch. (1853); etc.; songs.


R. Henriques, N. W. G. (Copenhagen, 1891); D. Gade, N. W. G.: Optegnelser og breve (Copenhagen, 1892; Ger. tr., 1894); C. Kjerulf, N. W. G. (Copenhagen, 1917); W. Behrend, Minder om N. W. G. (Copenhagen, 1930); J. Gade, Omkring N. W.G.: Breve fra fader og son (Copenhagen, 1967); N. W. G.—Katalog (Copenhagen, 1986); S. Oechsle, Symphonik nach Beethoven: Studien zu Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, und G. (Kassel, 1992).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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