|About this Recording
8.223743 - LUMBYE: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1
Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–74)
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.
 Salut for August Bournonville, Galop (1869)
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.
 Dronning Louise Vals (1868)
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.
 (Berliner) Vauxhall Polka (1867) (Berlin) Vauxhall Polka
 Kong Christian d. 9.’s Honnørmarch (1864) King Christian IX’s March-Past
 Københavns Jernbanedamp Galop (1847) Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop
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.
 En Sommernat på Møns Klint, Fantasi (1843)
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.
 Cæcilie Vals (1852) • Cæcilie Waltz
 Columbine Polka-Mazurka (1862)
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.
 Britta Polka (1864)
 Kanon Galop (1853) • Cannon Galop
 Amélie Vals (1846) • Amélie Waltz
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.
 Dagmar Polka (1866)
 Deborah Polka-Mazurka (1857)
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.
 Kunstner-Drømme, Fantasi (1865) Artist Dreams
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.
 Otto Allins Tromme-Polka (1864)
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
Close the window