Louis Glass and Carl Nielsen: Opposites in Danish Musical Life
Carl Nielsen and Louis Glass were close contemporaries, and their musical careers began in parallel. But their points of departure were different. Whereas Nielsen took off from Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorˇák and Svendsen, Glass was particularly inspired by César Franck and Bruckner. Around the time of World War One, the differences became pronounced. Nielsen gained great popularity with his folk-like songs, whilst Glass submersed himself in theosophy. Symbolic of the differences are Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony, The Inextinguishable, and Glass’s Fifth, Sinfonia Svastica, each of which foregrounds the concept of ‘Life’, but from a different point of view. Glass clearly perceived that he had become cast in Nielsen’s shadow, and in a short correspondence with him in 1923 he tried to plead his case that they were both working in the same direction but from different points of departure. He felt that they were complementary. Nielsen’s side of the correspondence has not survived, and we therefore do not know his attitude.
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