Niels Wilhelm Gade

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Niels Wilhelm Gade, lithograph by Johann Georg Weinhold , 1845
Niels Wilhelm Gade

Niels Wilhelm Gade (born February 22, 1817 in Copenhagen ; † December 21, 1890 there ) was a Danish composer and conductor .


Gade's musical career began as a violinist in the Royal Chapel in Copenhagen. At the same time he studied composition privately with Andreas Peter Berggreen . His overture Nachklänge von Ossian , later published as Op. 1, won a prize advertised by the Copenhagen Music Association in 1841 .

In 1843 he went to Leipzig with a royal scholarship for further training , where Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy became his mentor. Through his mediation, he was able to perform his Ossian overture and two symphonies in C minor and in E major in the Leipzig Gewandhaus . For the season 1844/45 he took over the direction of the Gewandhaus concerts, which he performed alternately with Mendelssohn in the following winter. With his death, Gade led the orchestra alone again.

In the spring of 1848, when the Schleswig-Holstein War broke out , he settled permanently in Copenhagen, where he was employed as an organist along with the title of professor and at the same time - until his death 40 years later - took over the management of the Copenhagen Music Society , which was part of the Regular concerts held during the winter months. In 1861 he was appointed court conductor . In 1867 he founded the Copenhagen Conservatory ( Det Kongelige Danske Conservatory of Music ) together with his father-in-law, the composer Johann Peter Emilius Hartmann .

Gade was the inspiration for some of Edvard Grieg's early works , including his first symphony in C minor.


Gade began his career as a composer with works in a nationally influenced style: He was inspired by Nordic literature and tended to Nordic folk-song melodies. Pronounced most clearly this is in his Ossian - Overture and his first symphony . The Ossian Overture made him famous when he won a composition competition with it, which the Copenhagen Music Association organized. The first symphony was premiered in Leipzig (conducted by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy ; the symphony is influenced by Mendelssohn's compositions); she was very successful and found an enthusiastic advocate in Robert Schumann . After the Leipzig years (from 1843 to 1848) his personal style changed and became more continental, which he was occasionally accused of by the Danish music receptionist and not least by his Norwegian colleague Edvard Grieg .

A common prejudice about Gade is that his later works were characterized by classical equilibrium and the avoidance of dramatic conflicts. However, the fifth and eighth symphonies also show other character traits. Even the use of the piano in the orchestral setting is idiosyncratic in the fifth symphony.

The national element appears less pronounced in his vocal works, the cantatas Comala , Erlkönig's Daughter , Spring Message , The Crusaders and others. The cantata Baldur's Traum , in which Gade approaches Richard Wagner's tonal language, is remarkable .

Chamber music

  • Scherzo c sharp for piano quartet (1836)
  • String Quartet - Movement A (1836)
  • Quintet for 2 violins, 2 violas and violoncello f (1837)
  • Piano trio B, incomplete. (1839)
  • String quartet F, incomplete. (1840)
  • Sonata for violin and piano A op.6 (1842)
  • Quintet for 2 violins, 2 violas and violoncello e op.8 (1845)
  • Octet for 4 violins, 2 violas and 2 violoncellos F op. 17 (1848–49)
  • Sonata for violin and piano d op. 21 (1849)
  • String quartet f (1851)
  • Novellettes for piano trio op.29 (1853)
  • Piano trio F op. 42 (1862–63)
  • String sextet E flat Op. 44 (1863–64)
  • Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet and Piano op.43 (1843)
  • String quartet e (1877, rev. 1889)
  • Sonata for violin and piano B Op. 59 (1885)
  • Folkedanse for violin and piano op.62 (1886)
  • String Quartet D op. 63 (1887–89)

Orchestral music (selection)

  • Efterklange af Ossian ( echoes of Ossian , overture, 1840)
  • Symphony No. 1 in C minor, op.5 (1842)
  • Symphony No. 2 in E major, op.10 (1843)
  • Symphony No. 3 in A minor, op.15 (1847)
  • Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, op.20 (1850)
  • Symphony No. 5 in D minor with piano, op.25 (1852)
  • Symphony No. 6 in G minor, op.32 (1857)
  • Hamlet op.37 (concert overture, 1861)
  • Symphony No. 7 in F major, op.45 (1865)
  • Symphony No. 8 in B minor, op.47 (1871)
  • Capriccio for violin and orchestra (1878)
  • En sommerdag paa lands op.55 ( A summer day in the country , orchestral suite , 1879)
  • Concerto for violin and orchestra op.56 (1880)
  • Holbergiana op.61 (orchestral suite , 1884)

Dramatic works and cantatas (selection)

  • Alladin ( incidental music , 1839)
  • Agnete og havmanden ( Agnethe and the Aquarius , incidental music, 1838–42)
  • Siegfried and Brünnhilde ( opera , fragment, 1847)
  • Elverskud ( Erlkönig's daughter , cantata , 1853)
  • Baldur's drøm ( Baldur's dream , cantata, 1858)
  • Foraars Budskab ( Spring Message , Cantata, 1858)
  • Korsfarerne ( The Crusaders , Cantata 1865–66)
  • Psyche (cantata, 1880–81)
  • Der Strom (Cantata after Mahomet by Voltaire in the translation by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , 1889)

Piano music (selection)

  • Sonata in E minor op.28 (1840, rev. 1854)
  • Watercolors and New Watercolors (1850, 1881)
  • Folkedandse ( folk dances , 1855)
  • Fantasistykker ( Fantasy Pieces , 1862)

Organ music (selection)

  • Three clay pieces op.22 (1851)
  • Funeral march
  • Andante con moto in D minor
  • Andante in G minor
  • Festive prelude for organ, trumpet and trombone on the chorale Lobet den Herren (new edition Sonat-Verlag , Kleinmachnow, 2015)
  • Three chorale preludes (one about How beautifully does the morning star shine and two about Who only lets God rule )
  • Variations on the Partita Sey greeted Jesus graciously by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 768) for organ four hands (1859)


  • Niels Bo Foltmann:  Gade, Niels Wilhelm. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second edition, personal section, volume 7 (Franco - Gretry). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 2002, ISBN 3-7618-1117-9 , Sp. 379–388 ( online edition , subscription required for full access).
  • Gade . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 6, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 824.
  • A. Csampai: The concert guide . Zurich 1989.
  • Klaus Henning Oelmann: Grieg's relationship to Niels Wilhelm Gade . In: Edvard Grieg - An attempt at an orientation . (= Deutsche Hochschulschriften , vol. 485.) Egelsbach and St. Peter Port (UK) 1993, ISBN 3-89349-485-5 .
  • Yvonne Wasserloos: Culture Tides. Niels W. Gade and CFE Horneman in Leipzig and Copenhagen . Hildesheim, Zurich and New York 2004.
  • Yvonne Wasserloos: "Formula doesn't keep us bound, our art is called poetry". Niels W. Gade and Robert Schumann - Transitions between the poetic and the national . In: Henriette Herwig, Volker Kalisch, Bernd Kortländer, Joseph A. Kruse, Bernd Witte (eds.): Transitions. Between arts and cultures. International congress on the 150th year of the death of Heinrich Heine and Robert Schumann. Stuttgart and Weimar 2007, pp. 521-540.
  • Yvonne Wasserloos: "Hearing through eyes, seeing through ears." Nation and landscapes in the works of Niels W. Gade, Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen . In: Studia Musicologica Norvegica , Volume 33 (2007), pp. 42-52 ( electronic version ).
  • Yvonne Wasserloos: Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890) . In: European History Online . Published by the Leibniz Institute for European History , 2011 (accessed November 3, 2011).
  • A complete edition of Gade's works is published by Bärenreiter-Verlag .

Web links

Commons : Niels Wilhelm Gade  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Thomas Roland: A German in Denmark and a Dane in Germany - Two portraits of composers . In: Manfred glasses , Ingrid Sudhoff (eds.), Not just sauerkraut and smørrebrød! Germany and Denmark in the 19th and 20th centuries , Schmidt-Römhild, Lübeck 2005, pp. 81–85, p. 85.
  2. Details here (
  3. UP (1996)