Nielsen on the Boulevard: Modernism and the Harlequinesque in 'Cupid and the Poet'

  • Daniel Grimley

Abstract

Carl Nielsen’s music for Sophus Michaelis’ festival play Cupid and the Poet , written in 1930 for the 125th anniversary of H C Andersen’s birth, is one of his most immediately engaging but neglected late scores. The story of an old poet whose heart is pierced by Cupid, disguised as a bedraggled young boy, suggests an obviously autobiographical interpretation, which locates Carl Nielsen once more in the familiar surroundings of his native land. But the overture, which has gained some mileage as an independent concert piece, is startlingly cosmopolitan, and invites a number of more searching analytical interpretations, especially in the light of other pieces such as the Sixth Symphony and the two Wind Concertos. In this paper, I will offer a close reading of the overture, drawing particular attention to the (ambivalent) presence of Carl Nielsen’s European modernist contemporaries Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky among the work’s richly complex array of musical characters.
Published
2012-10-01
How to Cite
Grimley, D. (2012). Nielsen on the Boulevard: Modernism and the Harlequinesque in ’Cupid and the Poet’. Carl Nielsen Studies, 5. https://doi.org/10.7146/cns.v5i0.27766
Section
Articles