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Hans Christian Andersen and Music Introduction

Hans Christian Andersen and Music – a web presentation

Amongst many other things, Hans Christian Andersen was also interested in music. He had a good singing voice and would have liked to become a singer at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, but his talent was not quite adequate. Instead, he later became a keen theatregoer, and in Denmark as well as in the course of his travels abroad he sought out and attended operas, any number of concerts and also more intimate musical performances. His knowledge of music and interest in it were also valuable to him when choosing songs for his vaudevilles and romantic comedies. The best known of the Danish composers of the period had a relatively close relationship with Andersen, and he also knew a number of foreign composers and musicians personally.

The selection
Andersen’s poems, dramatic texts and fairy tales have inspired a great many composers. This presentation covers a small selection of his poetic texts in their interplay with musical interpretations. The selection focuses on various forms of song such as operatic arias, vaudeville songs, a national anthem, a song for children, a Christmas song, etc. Both foreign and Danish composers are represented – Andersen’s contemporaries as well as later artists.

Some information is given about the text of each title and the history of the music. In addition the printed music is shown and in several instances also the composer’s autograph MS and Andersen’s autograph handwriting. An example of the music composed for a number of the songs is also made available.

The Royal Library’s web presentation of Hans Christian Andersen and Music has been drawn up and edited by Anne Ørbæk Jensen, research librarian in the Music and Theatre Department (the texts covering composers, works and illustrations), Jens Egeberg, head clerk in the Music and Theatre Department (sound, music and illustrations) and Bruno Svindborg, research librarian in the Manuscript Department (illustrations, implementation and project responsibility).

This English version of H.C. Andersen og musikken is translated by David Hohnen. Both versions have received financial support from the HCA2005 Foundation


Some technical details
The musical examples are in pdf format. This requires an Adobe Reader, which can be downloaded gratis..

The musical examples must be played with RealPlayer.

Further reading
For further information about Hans Christian Andersen’s texts, please consult The HCA2005 website, subside Literature.

Information about the composers and references to literature about them can be found in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Further information especially about Hans Christian Andersen and music can be found at the special page of The Music and Theatre Department about the subject.


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