January 26, 2017



Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Where words fail, music speaks,” and he could not have been more spot-on. Music is such an important part of every culture. It is one of man’s greatest creations. From Roskilde to Coachella, music inspires. It touches the soul of both old and young, breaking down boundaries and uniting people from different background and creed.



Roskilde Festival is the largest music and culture event in Northern Europe. (source)


In both American and Danish culture (and every culture in between), music is used to sooth our young, celebrate joyous occasions, mourn our dead, rejoice in our faith, and express our emotions.


With his year being the Danish Home’s 125th celebration, I was inspired to shed some light on some of the greatest contributions Scandinavians have made throughout history. (Read last week’s post the10 Greatest Scandinavian Inventions).


This week, I am continuing this edition with some of the greatest contributions in music.

Here are a notable few:


Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His use and development of Norwegian folk music in his own compositions put the music of Norway in the international spectrum.



Edvard Grieg in 1888. (photo credit: Elliot & Fry)


Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) grew up on Funen, often referred to as Denmark’s ‘Garden Island’. He was the seventh of 12 children.  From age 3, he showed interest in melody, pounding songs on log piles and learning violin to herd sheep. He made money as an orchestral violinist for 16 years. His Symphony No. 1 premiered in 1894, at the age of 28. Eventually, he became a national hero, and his picture graced the front of the Danish 100 kroner bill. However, it wasn’t until 20 years after his death that his music began to attract foreign audiences and garner the attention it so deserves.



Nielsen on the Danish kroner


Lauritz Melchor (1890-1973) was a Danish and later American opera singer. He studied at the Royal Opera School in Copenhagen and was the pre-eminent Wagnerian tenor of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. He had received many decorations from many nations, and held the title of “Singer To The Royal Court” (Kammersanger) in Denmark. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is considered the epitome of his voice type.



Lauritz Melchior (photo credit:Clarence Bull/MGM)


Victor Borge (1909-2000) was a Danish-American comedian, conductor, and pianist who achieved great popularity in radio and television in the United States and Europe. Borge was born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen in 1909 to musicians. He began piano lessons at the age of two and it was soon apparent that he was a prodigy. At the age of 9 he was awarded a full scholarship at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Borge used physical and visual elements in his live and televised performances, which earned him nicknames such as “The Clown Prince of Denmark and “The Great Dane.” (Watch one of Borge’s most amusing performances on the Dean Martin Show).


Borge was a guest on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. (source)



Other Notable Scandinavian Musicians:


The 1970s: ABBA (1970s & 80s)

The 1980s: a-ha, Roxette, and Europe

The 1990s: Ace of Base, The Cardigans, Robyn, Bjork

2000s: Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Icona Pop, Tove Lo



How does music inspire you?




Click here to learn about ongoing 125th events this year, and how you can “Catch the Spirit” and the prize!


See you back here next week!