Composer Spotlight: Carl Nielsen



Spotlight on the Little Suite for Strings, Op.1

Abigail Fenna, Principal Viola of the RPO says: ‘I am delighted that we will be performing one of my favourite string works in this concert. Nielsen’s Little Suite combines touching yet unsentimental Scandinavian Romanticism with youthful and ebullient optimism. String players are all familiar with Nielsen’s expertly written but sometimes fiendishly virtuosic parts, and this early work is no exception. There is a moment for every section to shine, whether it be dark and soulful melodies in the lower strings or radiant soaring violins in the finale!’



Regarded as one of the most original Scandinavian composers, Dane Carl Nielsen (1865–1931) took his first steps into music by joining a military band at the age of fourteen. He later gained a positon in the violins of the Royal Theatre Orchestra in Copenhagen, and through this role, he was able to travel and experience the music of influential composers like Wagner and Brahms. His fame today rests largely on his six symphonies and concertos for violin, flute and clarinet, though his output also includes many songs, incidental music, operas and some delightful chamber music. His musical style is often notably different to his Scandinavian contemporary Jean Sibelius, rich with long lines of melody and expansive sounds, and combining the influences of Western composers with his own childhood memories and the colours of Danish landscapes.


More music to explore…

Listen out for the Violin Concerto, Symphony No.3, ‘Sinfonia Espansiva’ and the tone poem Helios.


Hear Carl Nielsen’s Little Suite for Strings, Op.1 in our Spotlight Series at Home concert on Thursday 4 March from 6pm on our YouTube channel.


Watch Principal Viola Abbie Fenna on Nielsen's Little Suite


Discover other composers featured in the Spotlight Series here.