The Life of Carl Nielsen – His Desires, Vices and Longings

In this series of programmes, Claus Berthelsen paints a picture of Carl Nielsen’s life in thematic highlights underscored by the moods of some of his songs.

The story is told by many voices, prime among them Carl Nielsen scholar John Fellow, who relates specific events and issues in Carl Nielsen's life based on the Danish composer's letters.

The series consists of six programmes of approximately 20 minutes each.Together, they describe the mission Carl Nielsen set himself and the role his many songs played in that context.Along the way, we get glimpses of Carl Nielsen's life, focusing on six overarching themes:

1. The known legacy - Carl's memoirs of his youth2. His education and first articulation of a musical ideology3. His Swedish friends and resistance to the embrace of nationalism4. His popular breakthrough and educational project5. Carl and Anne Marie, soul mates and life partners6. Damgaard, longing and death

Overall title: The life of Carl Nielsen - his desires, vices and longings

1. The known legacy - Carl's memoirs of his youth

We know Carl Nielsen the person from his autobiography "My Childhood", but a look at his grave monument and his letters adds valuable nuances to the image of the plucky country fiddler who became a great symphony composer. Is he really a modern democrat who used popular song as a weapon?

Cast: John Fellow, author, editor of "Carl Nielsen: The Letter Edition"; Erik Steffensen, artist; Pernille Sejlund, songwriter, musician; and composer Harald Haugaard

2. His education and his first articulation of a musical ideology

Carl Nielsen is educated and works in Copenhagen, where he frequently rubs people the wrong way. He is in opposition, not least to what he calls the mode of feeling in music. He wants to get back to a purity that will put an end to sentimentality.

Cast: John Fellow, author, editor of "Carl Nielsen: The Letter Edition"; Pernille Sejlund, songwriter

3. His Swedish friends and resistance to the embrace of nationalism

Part of the myth of Carl Nielsen is that there is something uniquely Danish about him that cannot be exported. But Carl wanted to de-romanticize, not nationalize, music and in actuality found more understanding for his ideas abroad.

Cast: John Fellow, author, editor of "Carl Nielsen: The Letter Edition"; Pernille Sejlund, songwriter; Harald Haugaard, musician and composer

4. His popular breakthrough and educational project

Carl has a nationwide hit with his song about Jens the Roadman and realizes that a little song can be a way to reawaken the people's musical consciousness.

Cast: John Fellow, author, editor of "Carl Nielsen: The Letter Edition"; Pernille Sejlund, songwriter; Harald Haugaard, musician and composer; Sara Indrio, songwriter

5. Carl and Anne Marie, soul mates and life partners

Carl is in a strong intellectual union with his wife, the sculptor Anne Marie, but their marriage is threatened from within, and at one point Anne Marie has had enough.Cast: John Fellow, author, editor of "Carl Nielsen: The Letter Edition"; Sara Indrio, songwriter; Erik Steffensen, artist

6. Damgaard, longing and death

In the last half of his life, Carl stays for long periods at Damgaard near Fredericia, Jutland. It is a place where many people come to die, the present owner says. Late in life, Carl writes some of his most powerful songs there.

Cast: John Fellow, author, editor of "Carl Nielsen: The Letter Edition"; Kirstine Roepstorff, artist; Harald Haugaard, musician and composer; Pernille Sejlund, songwriter

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