About this Recording
8.556843 - LUMBYE (THE BEST OF)



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 2 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-musik-antorkester 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 4 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 music and entertainment life until his death on 20 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] Champagne Galop No. 1 (1845)
Lumbye’s musical visiting card above all others is his Champagne Galop. It was originally composed for the ‘birthday’ of Tivoli on 15 August 1845, but since the celebration had to be postponed because of bad weather the galop did not appear on the programme until 22 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 galops, 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 15 April 1847.

[2] Dronning Louise Vals (Queen Louise Waltz) (1868)
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 17 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] Københavns Jernbanedamp Galop (Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop) (1847)
The first passenger steam railway was opened in England on 27 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 galops, depicts a trip on the first stretch of railway in Denmark, which was inaugurated on 24 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-Galopp, 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 29 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.

[4] Drømmebilleder, Fantasi (Dream Pictures, Fantasia) (1846)
The orchestral fantasia Drømmebilleder (Dream Pictures) is Lumbye’s most famous composition, and can stand alone as a trade-mark of his musical inventiveness and fine orchestration. Ever since its first performance at Tivoli on 27 June 1846, this fantasia has also been among the surest successes with the public in Lumbye’s whole repertoire. Like many of his other “tone pictures” it is a piece of programme music, which, whether or not one is familiar with the underlying programme, lives through the freshness and vitality of the music itself. Shortly after its first performance, the fantasia was provided with a printed explanatory text, which was available before each concert at which Drømmebilleder was on the programme. In this leaflet, the “action” of the music is described in the form of an eight-verse poem. This was composed by a lawyer, Carl Nielsen, Lumbye’s impresario and close friend, and describes a young girl who relives “Everything that was Dear to Her in her Life” in a dream at sunset. From her memories of childhood in an idyllic flowery meadow, the dream takes her to a glittering ballroom and on again to a church festival. Next we see how the girl travels far from home, to the Austrian Alps, where a zither plays, and her heart is touched at an encounter with a young man, whom “Her Heart has Chosen”. This lovers’ meeting ends unresolved, and the young girl is cast into melancholy, until she suddenly wakes up from her dream and realises how deeply “The Heart can be Moved in a Dream”. Musically Lumbye depicts all the many changing moods in impeccable fashion, despite the fact that the fantasia is assembled in reality from such widely differing and contrasted genres as the waltz, chorale, galop, minuet, march and polka. Besides its central passage for solo zither, Drømmebilleder is also remarkable in its original version in containing a section for other distinctive instruments, such as the three-keyed csakan (flute shaped like an oboe, for amateurs). The work quickly set out on a triumphal progress throughout Europe, and accordingly belongs to those of Lumbye’s orchestral works which were published in the largest print runs and in the most diverse musical arrangements.

[5] Salut for August Bournonville, Galop (Salute to August Bournonville) (1869)
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 recognize 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 balletdivertissements 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 6 March 1869, has ever since been among Lumbye’s most popular works in this musical genre.

[6] Concert-Polka for two violins (1863)
The Concert-Polka for two violins ranks as one of Lumbye’s most important works. It was composed in 1863 for his two talented young sons, Carl, aged twenty-two and Georg, twenty, who performed it under the direction of their father at a public concert in Tivoli on 31 May 1863. The work, almost a little double concerto for two violins and orchestra, is characterized by its simultaneously dancing and concertante nature. The soloists’ contributions alternate between parallel passages in thirds to more independent and imitative sections. The orchestra clearly plays an accompanying rôle here, with just a few soloistic interjections from the first violins. Thanks to the light and simple nature of the work, it has, since its first performance, remained one of Lumbye’s most frequently played works.

[7] Amélie Vals (Amélie Waltz-Suite) (1846)
With this suite comprising 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 on 10 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 object 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.

[8] Krolls Ballklange, Vals (Sounds from Kroll’s Dance Hall, Waltz-Suite) (1846)
On his return to Copenhagen from his second, highly successful concert tour of Berlin in the winter of 1845–46, Lumbye completed the Waltz-Suite Krolls Ballklange (Sounds from Kroll’s Dance Hall), dedicated to the well-known Berlin establishment Krolls Wintergarten. This was one of the city’s largest entertainment establishments with room for over 6,000 patrons, where Lumbye had received acclaim from, amongst others, Berlin’s General Music Director at the time, the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. The suite begins with a stately moderato introduction in 4/4-time, which leads into a presto section in 3/8. Next come the suite’s five waltzes which display a warm, rounded orchestral sound and several subtle effects, especially in the first, third and fourth waltzes. A Finale concludes the work with a complete reprise of the first waltz. In Denmark Krolls Ballklange quickly became one of Lumbye’s most popular suites, occupying a central position in the concert repertoire at Tivoli.

[9] Petersborg Champagne Galop fra suiten Erindringer fra St Petersborg (St Petersburg Champagne Galop, from the suite Memories of St Petersburg) (1850)
With the enormous popularity Lumbye achieved with his first Champagne Galop in 1845, it was only natural that he should try his hand once more at another work in the same genre. The inspiration for this came to him during his stay in St Petersburg in the summer of 1850, where his lengthy concert tour turned into a veritable triumphal procession. For a concert in the Casino Theatre on 16 October 1850 he composed this Petersborg Champagne Galop, which in every respect follows the same formula as in his First Champagne Galop, concerning both the form and the orchestration of the individual musical sections. The galop became enormously popular, especially abroad, and Lumbye’s French colleague Philippe Mussard always featured it in his concert repertoire in Paris. In Denmark the work appeared shortly after its première in a piano arrangement, as the second number in the suite Memories of St Petersburg.

[10] 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 28 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 practising 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.

[11] 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 27 February 1862, has ever since been one of his most popular works in the polka-mazurka genre.

[12] Telegraph Galop (1844)
During the first years of the history of Tivoli, the musical life of the amusement park was strictly divided between Lumbye’s orchestra (The Lumbye Society) and the wind band of the 1st Brigade, conducted by the regimental musician Henrik Braunstein (the so-called Braunsteinske Wind Orchestra). These two ensembles often appeared in musical competition with one another. As a playful comment to this musical rivalry, Lumbye composed the Telegraph Galop on 10 May 1844, and both orchestras performed this together, placed at each end of the Concert Hall. The galop is skilfully crafted, with reciprocal action between the two orchestras, musically “telegraphing” various melodies to each other. In the beginning the connection between the orchestras is rather unclear as they play in different keys, slowly, before starting to find each other in the same key and finally united in perfect harmony. The Telegraph Galop, which was first given at the Tivoli Concert Hall on 11 June 1844, was dedicated to the founder of Tivoli, Georg Carstensen. Thanks to Lumbye’s musical ingenuity this soon became one of his most popular works.

[13] Hesperus (Klänge), Waltz-Suite (1858)
Hesperus was the name the Greeks gave to the planet Venus when it appeared in the evening sky immediately after sunset. Lumbye’s waltz suite of this name was composed on 9 February 1858 during a period when he was giving concerts with his orchestra at the country restaurant known as Restaurant Sommerlyst, beautifully situated in the Copenhagen suburb of Frederiksberg. The suite, which was first performed at Sommerlyst the same year, won wide immediate popularity and was played once more at a public concert in the Tivoli Concert Hall on 24 September 1858. It starts with an undulating Andante con moto section, followed by five rocking waltz tunes and ending with a brief finale, which among other things brings back the first waltz.

[14] Finale-galop from the ballet “Livjægerne på Amager” (The Guardsmen of Amager) (1871)
Between 1840 and 1871 Lumbye wrote music for a total of 26 dances and ballets-divertissements by August Bournonville, and his Finale-galop to the ballet Livjægerne på Amager (The Guardsmen of Amager) was the last collaboration between the two outstanding artists. In Bournonville’s ballet the galop comes at the end of a costumed ball and can therefore be regarded as a carnival galop. At the end of the dance, in reference to the events in the ballet, Lumbye quotes the Drikkevise (Drinking-Song) from Eduoard Dupuy’s operetta Ungdom og Galskab (Youth and Folly), which was extremely popular at the time. Shortly after the ballet’s première on 19 February 1871 the galop was used in several costume balls in Copenhagen and from the following summer onwards gained a central place in the concert repertoire at Tivoli. The work is a fine example of the unfailing musical inventiveness and energy that Lumbye, even in his last years, could impart to the finale of a sparkling ballet-score.

Knud Arne Jørgensen
English translations by James Manley
(for the introduction and tracks 1–3, 5, 7 10–11)
Geoffrey Chew (for tracks 4, 9)
Henrik Rørdam (for tracks 12–13)
Andrew Smith (for tracks 6, 8, 14)

Close the window