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8.225223 - LUMBYE: Orchestral Works, Vol. 6
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Hans Christian Lumbye (1810-1874)

Hans Christian Lumbye (1810-1874)

Hans Christian Lumbye, 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 nineteen 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 Stadsmusikantorkester 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 he composed some 700 dances over the next thirty years, first and foremost polkas, waltzes and galops — 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 his jovial figure remained a popular ingredient in Copenhagen’s musical life until his death on 20th March 1874.

H. C. Lumbye’s importance in the 19th 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.

Knud Arne Jürgensen

Translation: James Manley

Complete Orchestral Works Vol. 6

[1] 5th June, March (Entry March) (1853)

On 5th June 1853 Denmark’s new Constitution finally came into force. To celebrate this national occasion Lumbye, through the years, wrote a whole series of festive dances. In 1853 on 3rd June he composed his Festive March of 5th June, also called Entry March, that was first played at a concert in Tivoli on the Constitution Day. The march was played again the year after at Eremitagesletten, as a citizens’ march, and was choreographed by August Bournonville on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the drawing up of the Constitution. Lumbye’s other constitution dances date from the years 1859, 1861 and 1865. They all show Lumbye’s importance in the celebration of major national occasions.

[2] Little Prince Christian Carl’s Waltz (1871)

As a musical tribute to the almost one-year-old Prince Carl Christian, who, many years later, was to accede to the throne as King Christian X, Lumbye wrote in 1871 the short and simple waltz suite Little Prince Christian Carl’s Waltz. It opens with a so-called Entry followed by four waltzes, and closes with the repetition of the first waltz. As in many of Lumbye’s other dances the glockenspiel plays a prominent part in the orchestration. First performed at a public concert in Tivoli on 14th May 1871, the waltz suite is one of many examples of how Lumbye was in a position to provide new and fresh compositions for red-letter days of the royal house.

[3] The Dream of the Warrior, Fantasy (1856)

The programme of The Dream of the Warrior, an orchestral fantasy, is taken from an anonymous poem of four verses, printed together with a piano version. In this the story is told of a soldier who is returning home after the victories of the war, to meet his betrothed. Resting in a wood he sees her in a vision, her life in danger, and his nightmare wakes him. Avoiding the dangers of the war, he rushes back home, his energy renewed, to join her. In this tone picture, the title that Lumbye himself liked to give to his orchestral fantasies, he uses a highly refined orchestration to illustrate the soldier’s vision. The score is filled with peculiar sound-effects, the sound of an anvil, a thunder sheet and the call of the nightingale. The work in many ways follows the form of the orchestral fantasy Lumbye developed in 1846 with his Dream Pictures. It was first performed at a concert in Tivoli on 1st July 1856 and was published in September the same year in a piano version, including the text programme.

[4] Regards to the Fredericians, Galop (1861)

The galop Regards to the Fredericians was composed in celebration of the many people from the provinces who came to the capital in the summer of 1861 and amongst others visited Tivoli. On this occasion a big delegation of citizens of the fortress city Fredericia attended the première of this galop, composed in their honour, at a concert in Tivoli on 7th August. The galop opens with a quotation from Peter Faber’s and J.O.E. Hornemann’s immensely popular patriotic song from 1848, Dengang jeg drog af sted, but here played pianissimo. This well known tune is followed by a joyful and optimistic galop, typical of Lumbye in character and instrumentation.

[5] Harvest Flower, Polka, Op. 208 (1856)

Harvest Flower, a short and very feminine polka, is one the very few dances of Lumbye with an opus number. Charming and bright in tone, the polka is a typical example of Lumbye’s light, almost chaste dance-music style, here in the form of a simple polka tune, that repeatedly returns during the dance. Composed on 7th March 1856 for one of the first concerts in the Tivoli season, it was first played on 12th May the same year, and the next month published in a piano version.

[6] Sadness Waltz (La résignation) (1844)

Sadness, a waltz suite, is a typical example of Lumbye’s early skills in the orchestration of his compositions. It was not until later in his life that he allowed especially trusted members of the orchestra to undertake the task for him. The suite opens with a refined pizzicato-introduction followed by a long and very peculiar cadenza for solo clarinet. After this follow five waltz movements, and the suite closes with an unusually long finale in which the first waltz and parts of the third waltz are repeated. The waltz, which was first heard in Tivoli on 3rd June 1844, was highly successful and quickly became a popular piece abroad, especially in Sweden and Germany, where it was published in various versions for piano in 1845 and 1846 respectively.

[7] Echo from the Old Gods at Tivoli Island,

Galop (1844)

Echo from the Old Gods at Tivoli Island belongs to a series of galops, each describing a place in the Tivoli amusement park. It is also one of the most peculiar works of its kind. It depicts the Greek gods of song and wine surrounded by Muses and Graces, keeping state together on the Tivoli Island. Their presence in the amusement park creates increasing enthusiasm and delight. Even the surly onlooker, Vulcan, has to join the fun by beating time on the anvil in a bacchic galop. Lumbye’s purpose here was to persuade the audience to buy tickets to visit the island. In this he was successful, with a galop, that was first played at a free concert in Tivoli on 9th June 1844, under the title Musical Entertainment.

[8] Princess Thyra Polka (1871)

Lumbye’s Princess Thyra Polka was composed for the by then eighteen-year-old daughter of King Christian IX, Princess Thyra (b. 1853), who later married the German Duke Ernst August of Cumberland. The work was published in a piano version in March 1871, and was subsequently orchestrated and performed at a public concert in Tivoli on 5th May 1871. Lively, almost bluff in character, the dance is a fine example of Lumbye’s undiminished ability in writing beautiful and personal musical compliments to members of the Royal House.

[9] A Festive Night at Tivoli,

Musical Entertainment (1861)

In the late summer of 1861 several delegations of citizens from Danish provinces were visiting Tivoli. At a gala concert for such an occasion Lumbye composed for the new visitors his musical entertainment, A Festive Night at Tivoli, depicting the life of the place in sound. The work, first performed at a concert on 21st September, is quite distinctive, with numerous quotations from the rich musical repertoire of the pantomime theatre, besides a number of Danish children’s songs like Dancing, dancing, my doll, and excerpts from the most popular ballet music of that time, like the galop from the first act of Giselle. From lyrical pastoral evocation in the solo cello and clarinet to appealing dance movements, Lumbye offers a rich atmosphere, with many changes of mood in the Tivoli Garden in highly varied music, ending the musical entertainment with a wild, almost Offenbach-like final galop. The work soon won great popularity with audiences, and was also part of the repertoire at Lumbye’s winter concerts at the Casino Theatre, where it was played for the first time on 29th January 1862.

[10] Señora Ysabel Cuba’s Polka (1861)

Among the many Spanish guest dancers performing at the private theatres of Copenhagen in the 1850s and 1860s were Señora Ysabel Cuba and Señor Ximenes. They appeared together at the Casino Theatre during the winter season 1861 with numerous Spanish pas de deux and solos to the orchestral accompaniment of Lumbye. As a result of the great success of Ysabel Cuba with Copenhagen audiences, Lumbye, on 23rd January 1861, wrote this beautiful and lively polka, a personal musical tribute to her. The dance, which Ysabel Cuba never danced on stage, was first heard on 2nd February 1861 and is one of the finest examples of Lumbye’s brilliantly orchestrated dance music.





[11] Pomona Waltz (1853)

Pomona is the name of the Roman goddess protecting gardening and to whom flowers and fruits were sacrificed. She appears in the Metamorphoses of Ovid, described as a nymph clad in flowers, protecting her beloved flowers and trees. No doubt, Lumbye’s beautifully orchestrated and varied waltz suite in honour of the goddess was inspired by the overwhelming flower splendour of the Tivoli Garden, even so the suite was originally composed for a night entertainment at the Court Theatre, where it was played the first time on 4th October 1853.

[12] Tivoli Gondola Galop (1843)

At the Tivoli Lake the audience could buy a ticket for a sail in a gondola. Lumbye depicted this popular entertainment in a galop, which, after an opening Maestoso section, continues with a lyrical introduction for solo violin and orchestra. After this follows the galop itself, almost a concert movement in character, with two sections for solo violin and solo clarinet respectively, of which the latter originally was intended for a Czakan (a sort of stick flute), a very popular instrument of that time. The work was first heard at a concert in Tivoli on 1st September 1843 and shortly thereafter it was published for piano in the series of Tivoli galops by Lumbye.



[13] Pepita Polka (1858)

The Pepita Polka was written as a personal tribute to the famous Spanish dancer Pepita de Oliva, who successfully appeared at the Casino Theatre in Copenhagen in the summer of 1858. Her sensual Spanish dances created a furore in the capital, among people used to the more subdued character of the choreographic dance style of August Bournonville. Lumbye rewarded Pepita’s dancing, the colossal success she brought to the Casino Theatre, by writing this beautiful and refined polka, which according to his own notes in the original score, was completed at 2:30am on 19th August, 1858. The polka was performed for the first time at a public concert in Tivoli only two days later, on 21st August.

[14] Nordic Sworn Brother Galop (1862)

Influenced by the endeavours of the time to create a Scandinavian union, and on the occasion of the Nordic student meetings held in Copenhagen in the summer of 1862, Lumbye composed his Nordic Sworn Brothers Galop, first given at a public concert in Tivoli on 16th June that year. The galop is a typical example of Lumbye’s national festive music, including the national anthems of the Scandinavian countries. The galop quickly became very popular with audiences and was published for piano in different versions in all the Scandinavian countries.

Knud Arne Jürgensen

Translation: Henrik Rørdam

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