The woodwind music of Carl Nielsen
Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) was a Danish composer born on the island of Funen between Jutland and Sjaeland. His music covers a wide range of styles and genres, though he is remembered mostly for his six symphonies. In the fall of 1921, shortly after completing his fifth symphony, Nielsen placed a call to his friend Christian Christiansen, a pianist, who happened to be rehearsing with four of the five members of the Wind Quintet of the Royal Orchestra of Copenhagen. He was so struck by their rehearsal that he set out to compose a quintet for the ensemble, as well as a concerto for each instrument. Though he was not able to see the project through because of his death in 1931, he managed to write a flute concerto in 1926 and a clarinet concerto in 1928 for the members of the Wind Quintet of the Royal Orchestra. By looking at similarities between the woodwind writing of the wind quintet, flute concerto, and clarinet concerto, it is clear that Nielsen had the quintet members in mind when he wrote them and was able to capture the instruments’ idiomatic personalities in his writing.