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8.225263 - LUMBYE: Orchestral Works, Vol. 8
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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’s 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 seven hundred 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 hotblooded 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 nineteenth 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. 8

[1] Velkomsthilsen, March [Welcome March] (En avant, Marche) (1851)
The Welcome March, which also bears the subtitle ‘Welcome to the Danish Soldiers’ in its earliest versions, was composed as a tribute to the soldiers returning home from the Danish-German war of 1849-51. It was first heard at a festival performance in the Casino Theatre for the returning soldiers on 4th February 1851, and quickly became so popular that it also entered Lumbye’s permanent repertoire at Tivoli, where it was played for the first time on 29th July of the same year, but now with the title En avant, Marche. It offers a fine example of Lumbye’s sure grasp of the genre of military music, and since its first performance has also become a permanent element in Danish military music in arrangements for brass ensemble.

[2] Döbler’s Zauber Galop [Döbler’s Magic Galop] (1841)
Inspired by the so-called “evening entertainments” of the magician Louis Döbler on the stage of the Royal Theatre and Court Theatre in the spring of 1841, Lumbye composed his Magic Galop, which was first performed at a concert in Rosenborg Gardens on 31st August of that year. Döbler, with his arts of prestidigitation and his so-called “dissolving views”, was one of the most famous magicians of the time, and toured the whole of Europe, appearing before royalty, the nobility and the general public. His visit to Copenhagen in 1841 gave the impulse to a whole series of visiting professional conjurers. Lumbye’s bubbling galop clearly reflects the enthusiasm created in the public for Döbler’s magic performances, and counts among his finest galops. It was published shortly after the first performance in a piano arrangement and as part of a collection of favourite dances under the general title of Terpsichore.

[3] Alhambra, Romantisk Vals [Alhambra, Romantic Waltz] (1847)
It was for an Arabian festival at Tivoli that Lumbye composed his Alhambra suite of romantic waltzes, which were first performed at a concert there on 6th August 1847. The set is introduced by an Andante, followed by five waltzes and a finale, in which many motifs from the second waltz recur, among others. The suite of waltzes is characterized by its very lyrical, and almost mystical, introduction, together with great diversity between the individual waltzes, which together give the suite the character of a miniature tone poem. With the constant shifts in character in each waltz, the work also stands out as one of the most distinctive suites of waltzes that Lumbye wrote.

[4] Tivoli Bazar Tsching-Tching Polka (1843)
At the opening of the Tivoli Garden in the summer of 1843, one of the attractions contained the “Bazaar”, where many Far Eastern booths offered their attractions and exotic goods for sale to visitors. The Chinese booth in the Bazaar, which was allegedly built according to a drawing “sent by the Chinese Emperor to the Manager”, was among the most popular attractions for the public. Lumbye soon composed his Tsching-Tching Polka as a tribute and an advertisement for this exotic booth. It was completed on 8th September 1843, and first performed at a concert at Tivoli a week later, on 15th September.

[5] Les Zouaves, Galop (1859)
The Zouaves were an elite regiment of French infantry, established after France’s conquest of Algeria in 1830. This regiment was enlarged in 1831 to three battalions, and in 1852 Napoleon III made an additional regiment out of each battalion, while the imperial guard from that year itself created a Zouave regiment with two battalions. From that time, the Zouave regiments consisted predominantly of specially selected soldiers from Paris, who had participated and fought with distinction in their country’s war. Lumbye composed his bubbling military galop, Les Zouaves, on 8th May 1859 as a tribute to the elite French regiments. His inspiration came from a visiting corps of Zouaves, who appeared in late 1858 in a series of mimed scenes and tableaux vivants at the Folketeater in Copenhagen, where the regiment’s achievements on the battlefield were represented to great public acclaim. The work, which was first performed at a public concert in the Tivoli concert hall on 28th May of that year, counts among his best and most brilliantly orchestrated galops. Coda, ging in die Geschichte des Balletts als Dänemarks Beitrag zu diesem Genre ein. La Lithuanienne wurde rasch so erfolgreich, dass das Stück auch in Privattheatern in Kopenhagen getanzt wurde, zunächst im Casino- Theater am 5. Mai 1847, später auch bei Gastspielen in Norwegen und Schweden.

[6] Kong Georg den 1.s Honneur Marsch [King George I’s March of Honour] (1863)
It was in connection with the visit to Copenhagen in the summer of 1863 of a Greek deputation sent by the liberating hero, Kanaris, that Lumbye composed his King George I’s March of Honour, in honour of the Greek king. As a Danish prince, he had accepted the offer of the Greek throne from the Greek national assembly on 6th June 1863, and began his reign in Athens on 31st October of that year. Lumbye’s march in honour of this first Greek monarch of the house of Glücksborg was first published in a piano arrangement in September 1863.

[7] Rosenborg Polka-mazurka (1849) For a public benefit concert in Rosenborg Garden “for the benefit of the indigent Jutlanders” in Denmark’s war with Germany, the ballet-master August Bournonville choreographed a series of dances for his youngest pupils, and these were all performed to music newly composed by Lumbye. As an intermezzo between these dances, Lumbye also composed his charming little Rosenborg Polka-Mazurka, which was dedicated to Bournonville in connection with his becoming a Knight of the Dannebrog that year. The dance, which was first performed in Rosenborg Garden on 16th August 1849, is one of many products of the close and fruitful friendship that united the two artists, and that resulted in a whole series of beautiful dances and ballet-divertissements around the middle of the nineteenth century.

[8] Ole Lukøje, Galop phantastique (1851)
The most unusual and extensive of Lumbye’s galops, the Galop phantastique, Ole Lukøje was written as an orchestral fantasy intended to illustrate Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, Ole Lukøje. A dramatized version of this tale was performed in the Casino Theatre on 1st March 1850, and Lumbye did not let the chance slip of providing this popular production with appropriate intermezzi. He wrote this galop phantastique, which seems to depict the many diverse images that unfold in Andersen’s tale, in the same year. The galop expresses all the moods in the plot of the tale, and was also dedicated to Andersen. It was completed in March and April 1851 and first performed in the Casino Theatre on 21st May that year. The galop is in three sections, with each section originally intended as the introduction to each of the three acts of the dramatization. To Lumbye’s great sorrow, however, it was never used for actual performances of Ole Lukøje, but survived only as a concert piece.

[9] Tivolis Damp-Carouselbane Galop [Tivoli Steam Carousel Galop] (1843)
After an introductory starting bell, the Tivoli Steam Carousel Galop depicts the new, and for the public of that time enormously fascinating, steam-driven merry-go-round. This was one of the main attractions of Tivoli in the opening season of the garden. In his musical depiction of this attraction, Lumbye allows both the musicians and the public to give voice to their enthusiasm for this novel technical marvel with a series of shouts and stamps in time with the music. The galop was one of many similar musical galops depicting Tivoli’s amusements at the opening of the garden, and was published shortly after the first performance on 13th September 1843 in a piano version with a lithographed cover illustration of this popular entertainment.

[10] Agnes Polka (1850)
The Agnes Polka was dedicated to Agnes Lange, only nine years old at the time, who many years later became famous as an actress appearing at the Royal Theatre, and who was married still later to the opera singer Jens Larsen Nyrop. Lumbye’s musical tribute to her is a polka, charming and energetic, reflecting both her vivacity and her girlish charm. The polka was first performed at a concert in the Casino Theatre on 22nd March 1850.

[11] Alexandra Polka (La Lithuanienne, Pas seul) (1844)
The composition of the charming Alexandra Polka, with its numerous triplet figures and syncopations, was completed on 8th January 1844, and it was first performed publicly with the title of the Alexandra Polka at a concert at Tivoli on 7th June that year. It was under another name, however, that the polka became best-known and most popular, namely as the balletdivertissement La Lithuanienne. On 5th November 1844, the solo dancer Augusta Nielsen performed a dance of this type to Lumbye’s Alexandra Polka at the Royal Theatre. This was choreographed and produced by the French dancer and choreographer François Lefèbvre, and was performed in Lithuanian national costume. The dance was one of the long series of little national dance miniatures that were so enormously popular in the days of Romantic ballet. Lumbye’s Alexandra Polka, transformed into a ballet-divertissement with an extended coda, by this token entered the history of ballet as Denmark’s contribution to the genre. La Lithuanienne quickly became so popular that it was also performed in private theatres in Copenhagen, first in the Casino Theatre on 5th May 1847, and later also in ballet guest performances in Norway and Sweden.

[12] Den lille trompet, Galop (La petite trompette) [The Little Trumpet] (1847)
The Little Trumpet Galop is a sparkling, youthful work, with solos for high trumpet. It was apparently composed for a talented young performer on this instrument. Lumbye, who was himself a trained trumpeter and had in his youth served in the orchestra of the Royal Horse Guards, did not stint himself in this work, which clearly shows his great preference for brass instruments. The galop was first performed at a concert at Tivoli on 13th August 1848, and as a result of its great popularity was published in many versions for piano in Denmark and Germany for many years subsequently.

[13] Alberta Vals [Alberta Waltz] (1855)
The Alberta Waltz begins, as one of very few Lumbye waltzes, with a con moto introduction in the minor, almost Slavonic in character. This is followed by five lyrical waltzes in major keys, alternating with more lively passages, and a short finale, in which parts of the first waltz are repeated. The suite of waltzes, which was first performed at Tivoli on 15th September 1855, is one of many works by Lumbye named after ladies whose identity is unknown today. The work is one of several Lumbye compositions published only outside Denmark, in a piano arrangement, by the well-known German music publishers, Breitkopf & Härtel.

[14] Tivolis Rutschbane Galop [Tivoli Roller-Coaster Galop] (1843)
The most popular attraction in the newly-opened Tivoli was the roller-coaster. As a link in the long series of festival galops that describe each of the garden’s many attractions, Lumbye also composed a fine, impressive Roller-Coaster Galop referring to this entertainment. With its many glissandi and scale passages the music clearly reflects the many ups and downs of the roller-coaster. The piece, which was composed on 11th August 1843, was first performed at the opening of the Tivoli Garden on 15th August that year, and long remained one of Lumbye’s most popular galops. It appeared shortly afterwards, like his many other Tivoli galops, in a version for piano with a lithograph illustration of the roller-coaster on the cover.

Knud Arne Jürgensen

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