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8.223743 - LUMBYE: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1
English 

Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–74)
Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

 

Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–74), today the internationally best known and most popular Danish composer of dances of the nineteenth century, was born in Copenhagen on 2nd May 1810. While he was still a child his family moved to the provinces, since his father, a military official, was posted first to Jutland and later to Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian’s later world-famous namesake, the fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.

In Odense Lumbye had his first real musical training and at the age of fourteen he succeeded in becoming a trumpeter in the local regimental band. The next year he received his diploma as a trained trumpeter, and at 19 he returned to his birthplace Copenhagen, where he was employed as a trumpeter in 1829 in the Royal Horse Guard. In the 1830s, besides holding this musical post, Lumbye was a busy musician in the Copenhagen Stads musikantorkester or City Orchestra, and his earliest preserved dance compositions come from these years.

In 1840 Lumbye put together his own orchestra. The inspiration to take this step had come after he had attended a series of concerts given in Copenhagen by a musical Society from Steiermark in Austria, where Johann Strauss’ and Joseph Lanner’s new dance tunes were heard for the first time in Scandinavia.

With his own first Concert à la Strauss at the fashionable Raus Hotel in Copenhagen (the later Hôtel d’Angleterre) on 4th February 1840, Lumbye definitively began his lifelong activity as Denmark’s and Scandinavia’s undisputed leading dance composer. Three years later, when the now world-famous amusement park Tivoli opened its gates in Copenhagen, Lumbye acquired the final, permanent setting for his long and prolific composing and conducting career as the leader of the concert hall’s orchestra. For this orchestra be composed some 700 dances over the next thirty years, first and foremost polkas, waltzes and gallops—the last of these genres almost became synonymous with his name. But with his numerous orchestral fantasias, too, and more than 25 ballet divertissements, Lumbye demonstrated his true mastery.

In the best of his works his orchestrations have a distinctive, lyrical, almost pristine Copenhagen sound that differs from the Vienna composers’ more hot blooded orchestral tone. Lumbye often has the violins accompanied by limpid flute sounds, while Johann Strauss, for example, liked to have the melody lines of the strings accompanied by instruments with a fuller sound like the oboe and clarinet. Lumbye also created a brighter and lighter orchestral sound than the Vienna composers thanks to his use of glockenspiel, triangle and brass.

A long series of tours abroad to Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, St Petersburg and Stockholm brought Lumbye international recognition and fame, but he never abandoned his post in the amusement park, where bis jovial figure remained a popular ingredient in Copenhagen music and entertainment life until his death on 20th March 1874.

H. C. Lumbye’s importance in the last century for the creation of a broad, popular musical culture in Northern Europe can hardly be overestimated, but his greatest importance perhaps lies in the fact that his innumerable dance tunes have up to our own day preserved their special freshness and artistic integrity.

[1] Salut for August Bournonville, Galop (1869)
Salute to August Bournonville the French-Danish ballet-master and choreographer, August Bournonville (1805–1879), belonged to the circle of Lumbye’s close friends and collaborators. Bournonville was one of the first to recognise Lumbye’s special talent for writing catchy dance and ballet-music. From the beginning of the 1840s and throughout the next thirty years Lumbye composed the music for more than 25 dances and ballet divertissements by the choreographer. So it was only natural that Lumbye wanted, in 1869, to pay musical homage to his artist friend on the occasion of the ballet master’s fortieth anniversary as a choreographer.

Bournonville himself writes in his diary that Lumbye often interrupted his concerts in Tivoli when he saw the ballet-master at a distance strolling past the concert hall in the amusement park, immediately getting his musicians to strike up his salute. The galop, which was first performed in a special show at the private Copenhagen theatre Folketeatret on 6th March 1869, has ever since been among Lumbye’s most popular works in this musical genre.

[2] Dronning Louise Vals (1868)
Queen Louise Waltz Throughout his long career Lumbye composed a number of marches and waltzes especially for the Danish Royal Family. Among his later works of this type is this waltz suite from 1868, which follows the traditional pattern with an Entré, here followed by four waltzes and a Coda which repeats the tune from Waltz No. 1. The suite was composed for the German-born Queen Louise (1817–1898). In 1842 she had married the Danish Prince Christian (1818–1906), and she became Queen of Denmark on her husband’s accession to the throne as King Christian IX in 1863.

The Queen Louise Waltz was composed for a court ball for the fifth anniversary of her accession and was first performed at a public concert in the Tivoli Concert Hall on 17th May 1868. It immediately became one of Lumbye’s most popular royal waltz suites and for the rest of the last century was a permanent musical feature of all the major official balls of the Danish court.

[3] (Berliner) Vauxhall Polka (1867) (Berlin) Vauxhall Polka
This little polka was composed on 4th December 1867 during a six-month engagement in Berlin, where it was first performed at the then newly opened musical entertainment establishment Vauxhall. Lumbye, accompanied on this tour by the Danish violinist, Frantz Hillebrand (1842–1898), composed the work with a series of solo passages specially intended for this outstanding musician, who later became solo violinist in the Imperial Court Theatre Orchestra in St Petersburg. The polka was performed again with great success in Copenhagen at public concerts at the private theatre Folketeatret and in the Tivoli Concert Hall on 17th March and 17th May respectively.

[4] Kong Christian d. 9.’s Honnørmarch (1864) King Christian IX’s March-Past
In 1863 Christian IX (1818–1906) was crowned as the first Danish monarch of the house of Glücksburg. The year after his accession Lumbye composed a march-past, which was performed for the first time at a public concert in the Tivoli Concert Hall on 5th June 1864. It was also arranged for brass band and has ever since been an obligatory piece at all major official events and military parades attended by the Danish Royal Family.

[5] Københavns Jernbanedamp Galop (1847) Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop
The first passenger steam railway was opened in England on 27th September 1825. Not until 22 years later did this new technical miracle of transport reach Scandinavia. Lumbye’s Steam Railway Galop, one of his most popular gallops, depicts a trip on the first stretch of railway in Denmark, which was inaugurated on 24th June 1847 and linked the royal city of Copenhagen with the cathedral city of Roskilde, 31 kilometres away.

With this work Lumbye, who was always keenly aware of the latest technological advances of his age, created a charming sound-picture which, in just four minutes, depicts the departure of the steam engine from Copenhagen Station, the course of the journey, and the long braking of the train on its arrival at the terminal in Roskilde. With a number of special sound-effects—a steam whistle and various machine imitations—Lumbye’s galop, with its vitality, is a match for the Hungarian composer Josef Gungl’s Eisenbahn-Dampf. Galop, Op. 5. Gungl’s galop was played for the first time in Copenhagen by a visiting band from Steiermark in the spring of 1847 and immediately won great popularity among the Copenhageners. Lumbye quickly noticed this and shortly afterwards composed his own decidedly Copenhagen-style galop in praise of the railway. It was first performed at the Tivoli Concert Hall. On 29th June 1847.

Other contemporary works composed in praise of the railway included Johann Strauss’ Eisenbahn-Lust Walzer, Op. 89. However it is first and foremost Lumbye’s Copenhagen Railway Galop that remains on the concert programmes today in Denmark and abroad.

[6] En Sommernat på Møns Klint, Fantasi (1843)
Summer Night on the Møn Cliffs

In this galop fantasia Lumbye depicts a scene in the Danish midsummer night evocative of the magnificent scenery of the chalk cliffs, more than a hundred metres high, on the island of Møn, south-east of Zealand.

With an introductory Allegro sotto voce Lumbye hints at an almost Mendelssohnian midsummer night atmosphere, which however quickly gives way to typically Danish musical scenery where dancing elf maidens and the singing of the nightingale emerge almost true to life from the music. The mood later changes to that of an exhilarating galop finale which seems to reflect the joyous atmosphere that a group of night-time visitors brings to this remarkable natural beauty spot. The work, which was composed for Lumbye’s first concert season at Tivoli, is a fine example of his already very lively musical idiom. With a few choice resources he succeeds within a relatively short musical space in creating a distinctively Danish evocation of nature within the very strict formal constraints of the galop. A Summer Night on the Møn Cliffs was first performed at the Tivoli Concert Hall on 13th September 1843.

[7] Cæcilie Vals (1852) • Cæcilie Waltz
The waltz suite with this girl’s name is one of the few, among the more than a hundred Lumbye dances with such names, where the person to whom the work is dedicated can still be identified. In a contemporary German piano version it is dedicated to Frau Căcilie Geissler. She was the wife of the business manager of the well known music publishers Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, who between 1845 and 1855 published more than 140 of Lumbye’s compositions in both piano and score editions. The waltz suite begins with an energetic Allegro introduction, followed by a more lyrical, almost balletic Andantino for solo cello. Then come the five waltzes of the suite, whose individual characters shift between decidedly lyrical and very fiery waltz pieces. The waltzes, which in melody and instrumentation are strongly Viennese in character, end with a Finale where the lyrical Andantino movement of the suite is repeated, but now concluding with short repetitions of selected motifs from each of the preceding five waltzes. The Cæcilie Waltz was performed for the first time in Denmark at a matinee concert in the Tivoli Concert Hall on 28th July 1852.

[8] Columbine Polka-Mazurka (1862)
Among the Tivoli Gardens’ regular entertainments ever since it opened in 1843, “The Theatre”, where various artiste troupes performed mimes with their roots back in the Italian commedia dell’arte, was quickly to prove one of the amusement park’s surest audience hits. Up to our own day this mime tradition has remained very much alive and fresh at the Pantomime Theatre in Tivoli. As a tribute to one of the regular figures in the Tivoli mimes, the lovely Columbine, Lumbye composed this polka-mazurka in 1862. In the mimes Columbine is always represented as the very young girl who, after much squabbling with a father who is always promising her to old but rich suitors, overcomes all obstacles and is united with her one true love, the indigent young Harlequin.

In this musical tribute to the central female figure in the Tivoli mimes, Lumbye wanted to depict her always light-hearted, good-humoured personality. The dance, which was premièred at a fancy-dress ball at the Casino Theatre in Copenhagen on 27th February 1862, has ever since been one of his most popular works in the polka-mazurka genre.

[9] Britta Polka (1864)
This little polka was composed for and dedicated to a certain Miss Britta Rydberg, of whom we know little more than her name. The work, with its bright, light orchestral sound in which the glockenspiel, trumpet and trombone play a major role, is a typical example of Lumbye’s very own approach to sound-painting and orchestration. The polka, which was first performed at a concert in the Tivoli Concert Hall on 28th May 1864, has the special feature that its main theme is almost indistinguishable from the beginning of the theme of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous G major Fugue for organ, BWV 541. In the 1830s and 1840s this fugue was in fact published in several piano editions. We can therefore conjecture that Lumbye watched a young girl in his close circle of family or acquaintances practicing the Bach fugue at the piano, and may thus have been inspired to write what is perhaps his most charming and popular polka melody ever.

[10] Kanon Galop (1853) • Cannon Galop
In 1853 the Danish-German Three-Years’ War had been successfully concluded, and Denmark was to have almost a decade of peace and progress. The Schleswig-Holstein wars in Denmark in the mid-nineteenth century gave rise to strong national feelings, expressed in enthusiastic tributes to the army and its symbolic world. The happy atmosphere of peace that now prevailed in the country prompted Lumbye to write this festive and anything but warlike galop. The work is characterised by its many abrupt and syncopated cannon shots, interspersed everywhere in the riotous galop dance. The Cannon Galop was first performed at the Tivoli Concert Hall on 16th May 1853.

[11] Amélie Vals (1846) • Amélie Waltz
With this suite of an introduction, five waltzes and a finale Lumbye wrote what are perhaps his most popular waltz tunes ever. The work, dedicated to the German singer Amélie Hartmann (1825–1919), was composed during a concert tour to Berlin in the winter of 1845–1846 and was first performed in Denmark the next spring on 10th May 1846 at a ·public concert on the Ridehuset stage at Christiansborg Palace.

Amélie Hartmann, who later became a highly esteemed court singer in Dessau, became the abject in Berlin of the already-married Lumbye’s intense love; a feeling she undoubtedly returned, since she went with Lumbye to Copenhagen, where she performed at his concerts. For the next decade the mezzo-soprano was Lumbye’s muse, in whom he found inspiration for many of his most popular melodies, and to whose opinions on musical matters he was always particularly responsive. Amélie Hartmann’s good influence on Lumbye in this very productive period of his composing career can hardly be overestimated.

[12] Dagmar Polka (1866)
The Dagmar Polka was composed for a Royal gala ball held for the public at the Casino Theatre in Copenhagen on 9th November 1866 to mark the betrothal of Denmark’s twenty-year-old Princess Dagmar (1847–1928) and the Russian Grand Duke and heir to the imperial throne, the later Tsar Alexander III. The polka is built up of three melodies of eight bars each. Of these the first and last are presented in rhythmic as well as melodic and tonal variants. The work is thus a fine example of the way Lumbye, with even a very small body of melodic material, could compose a well turned piece developing through several dynamically contrasting sections.

[13] Deborah Polka-Mazurka (1857)
The Deborah Polka-Mazurka was called after the Austrian writer S. H. Mosenthal’s popular comedy Deborah of 1850, which was performed at the Casino Theatre in Copenhagen on 21st May 1856 with the title En Jødepige (A Jewish Girl) in a Danish adaptation by W. Haffner with interpolated songs and choruses by C. Brandt.

Lumbye often named his dances after the most talked-about work at the lime in the theatre repertoire. Sometimes he also used songs and tunes from the most popular plays and vaudevilles of the day as musical sources of inspiration. The dance, which was first performed at the Casino Theatre on 23rd January 1857, was played again at one of the first summer season concerts in the Tivoli Concert Hall on 24th May the same year.

[14] Kunstner-Drømme, Fantasi (1865) Artist Dreams
Lumbye’s orchestral fantasia was composed in the spring of 1865 and first performed on 1st April the same year at a concert in the Copenhagen entertainment establishment Thors Hal. In this concert venue, which opened in 1861, Lumbye performed regularly with his own orchestra in the winter seasons. He wrote several works especially for these popular winter concerts, and the orchestral fantasia Artist Dreams was one of the favourites. In those years Lumbye created some of his best works in the genre; with their captivating titles they left the audience enraptured at how much a symphony orchestra could evoke with sound.

The work, which is in twelve main sections, seems to use its highly varied keys and times and its many echo effects to depict the various emotions and changes of mood that the soul of an artist (perhaps Lumbye’s own?) lives through in his dreams. These moods range from the gentlest lyrical and melancholy feelings to the fieriest elevation of spirit felt by an artist. Halfway through the dream a ghostly military march appears, but is quickly succeeded by an odd, almost burlesque bassoon cadenza which in turn merges into a languishing clarinet solo and concludes with a concertante passage for solo violin, cello and horn in turn. The fantasia then ends with a brief, very poetic Andante pastorale, which with its clear imitations of birdsong depicts the celestial pastoral idyll with which the dream ends.

Artist Dreams quickly became one of Lumbye’s most successful sound paintings and was a regular programme item on his many concert tours in Germany and Central Europe at the end of the 1860s.

[15] Otto Allins Tromme-Polka (1864)
Otto Allin’s Drum Polka

This little polka was composed for a six-year-old musical child prodigy, Otto Allin (1858–1934). He was the son of a musician in the Tivoli Concert Hall Orchestra and performed several times as a child virtuoso at Lumbye’s concerts. Otto Allin was a natural genius as a percussionist, most of all on his favourite instrument: the snare drum. In his lively polka for this young artist Lumbye shifts between passages for solo drum, trumpet and glockenspiel, thus creating a special kind of military polka which never becomes showy, but is rather presented as a well balanced musical joke. The work was first performed at a concert in Tivoli on 3rd August 1864.

Champagne Galop (1845) Lumbye’s musical visiting card above all others is his Champagne Galop. It was originally composed for the “birthday” of Tivoli on 15th August 1845, but since the celebration had to be postponed because of bad weather the galop did not appear on the programme until 22nd August, after which it remained on the programme every day for the rest of the season.

The following story, as handed down by Lumbye’s grandchild, the conductor Tippe Lumbye, is told about the genesis of the work. One evening Lumbye had been invited to a prestigious gathering at the British Legation in Copenhagen, but on his way there he had to pass his favourite hostelry, and decided that he preferred to spend the evening in the familiar surroundings. On returning home to his family late in the evening he had to tell them how he had wallowed in champagne at the Legation (which he had in fact never visited). To illustrate this for the expectant family he sat down at the piano and improvised his way through what was later to become the world-famous Champagne Galop.

Lumbye later wrote three other champagne gallops, but none of these was ever to achieve the popularity of his first. One of the best contemporary descriptions of the galop comes from Lumbye’s personal friend and artistic colleague the ballet-master August Bournonville. In his memoirs he speaks of the work in these words: Far be it from me to encapsulate Lumbye’s whole fame in his Champagne Galop, but I must dwell for a moment on the impatient ferment that brews in the first part; the cork goes off with a pop and the glasses are filled in the second part; the toasts are drunk, the foaming nectar is quaffed in the third part; and giddy joy fills all of the fourth part until the welcome “Da Capo” puts a new bottle on the table and everything and everyone is drawn into a storming Bacchanal”. Incidentally Bournonville later used Lumbye’s popular galop as a finale number in his own ballet divertissement Maritana, a divertissement in the form of a carnival scene, which was first performed at the Copenhagen Court Theatre on 15th April 1847.

Knud Arne Jürgensen
Translation by James Manley


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