Nielsen, Saul and David and the Symbolist Movement

Cultural-Historical Perspectives


  • Marie-Louise Zervides



This article explores the position of Nielsen and his first opera Saul and David in the European symbolist movement of the 1890s. Through a study of Nielsen’s published letters and diary entries from the period, it is possible to present the composer’s wide interest in art and engagement with artists – both in Denmark and on his extensive European travels – at a time when symbolism was dominating the modern art scene. Furthermore, one can trace artistic strategies in Nielsen’s early work – in this case, the opera Saul and David – that correspond to different ideas of symbolism. This includes combining archaic materials with contemporary techniques, as well as creating a subjective expression through mood and simplified, non-naturalistic styles.

Author Biography

Marie-Louise Zervides

Marie-Louise Zervides is a freelance writer, lecturer and dramaturge working in opera and classical music. Her research focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century opera with an interdisciplinary approach encompassing fields such as literary theory, cultural and identity politics, and performance studies. She holds an MA in Modern Culture and a BA in Musicology from the University of Copen-hagen.




How to Cite

Zervides, M.-L. (2020). Nielsen, Saul and David and the Symbolist Movement: Cultural-Historical Perspectives. Carl Nielsen Studies, 6.