Friday, June 5, 2015

Happy 150th, Carl Nielsen!

This year marks the 150th birth anniversaries of two giants of Scandinavian music - Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen. Sibelius' anniversary won't be for another six months, but Nielsen's is this Tuesday, June 9, and so I present two early recordings of his music - one of them, as far as I can determine, the very first recording of a large-scale work by Nielsen, a youthful violin sonata as played by his son-in-law Emil Telmányi:

Nielsen: Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major, Op. 9
Emil Telmányi, violin, and Christian Christiansen, piano
Recorded October 13, 1935
HMV DB 2732 through DB 2734, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 59.79 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 35.36 MB)

The other offering is a mature piano work in a recording from late in the 78-rpm era:

Nielsen: Theme and Variations, Op. 40
Arne Skjold Rasmussen, piano
Recorded January 17, 1952
Tono A-177 and A-178, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 33.85 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 24.70 MB)

Apropos of Sibelius and Nielsen, the two appear to have been friends. And the Finn admired the Dane's music greatly; the story goes that Sibelius, perhaps embarrassed by the obvious disparity in their worldly success, generously told or wrote to Nielsen (sources seem to differ which), "I don't even reach as high as your ankles!"


  1. Alternate links:

    Sonata FLAC:

    Sonata MP3:

    Variations FLAC:

    Variations MP3:

  2. Thank you very much for these, I look forward to listening! I've never read that Sibelius story but if I come across it I'll let you know!

    Best wishes, Nick

    1. Thanks, Nick, but a trip to the library this afternoon solved the mystery. What Sibelius actually said was rather more picturesque than my poor old memory banks recorded - "I don't even reach as high as your ankles!" You'd think I'd remember words like that!

    2. Hi Bryan, Gosh, that's a fulsome compliment! Well done finding it. I'm very impressed by the Variations, which I've never properly listened to before - thank you again very much! Best wishes, Nick

  3. Thanks for sharing these treasures, Bryan!