The two solo violin works by Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) have been largely overlooked since their composition in the 1920s. These pieces are representative of Nielsen's mature style, combining elements of classical form (the Theme and Variations) as well as processes more commonly found in the twentieth century (through-composition and non-tonal harmonic language). This paper is designed to bring these long-neglected works to light and make them more approachable for violin students, teachers and performers. As Denmark's leading composer, Nielsen was well regarded in his lifetime, although his isolation from mainland Europe created obstacles in his path toward international fame. Rather than following trends in post-romantic music, he remained true to his own musical ideals. This choice often isolated him further during his career, but his unique blend of chromatic harmony, driving rhythms and juxtapositions of character captivates modern listeners. Although small in scope compared to his symphonies and other large works, the enthusiastic spirit and indomitable energy of the solo violin works reflect Nielsen's character at its best. Combining a high level of virtuosity with solid structural integrity, textural variety and musical interest, these works deserve a much more prominent place in the standard violin repertoire.
- A performance guide for two solo violin works by Carl Nielsen: Prelude, Theme and Variations, Op. 48 and Preludio e Presto, Op. 52
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by Michelle Vallier