Four Dances from Aladdin
Composer: Carl Nielsen
Instrument: Two Flutes and Piano
Arranged by Toke Lund Christiansen
Duration: 12 min.
Carl Nielsen: from the music for the drama Aladdin (1918/19).
For many centuries composers have received inspiration from the oriental Fairy Tales from 1001 Nights. In Denmark C. E. F. Horneman composed a brilliant overture to Aladdin in 1864, but only added the remaining music for the drama many years later. The Royal Danish Theater never used new or original compositions for the drama of Oehlenschläger, but cut and pasted in existing compositions of Kuhlau and Gade. In 1918 the Royal Theater wanted a large-scale performance, a show, which would be played on two consecutive evenings with animals on the stage, several hundred actors and artists, and the possibility of using all their advanced technical equipment. For such a drama Carl Nielsen was commissioned to write the music. But what could have become an oriental play ended up a disaster with the staging headed straight towards complete failure. Even when divided to be played in two evenings, the play turned out to be too long. Half of the music of Carl Nielsen was cut and the orchestra was placed behind the stage. Carl Nielsen was so depressed that he asked not to be mentioned in the program notes and even threatened to withdraw the music! Nielsen was present at the first performance, but he was upset. „What was this?“ asked Knud Jeppesen, who was sitting next to the composer, when some strange sounds arose from behind the stage. „This was the last chord of a symphonic piece!“ answered the sad and discouraged Carl Nielsen.
But time has helped the colorful music of Aladdin – especially the four pieces which are here assembled as a small suite. I have chosen to arrange „Dance of the Morning Mists“, „Hindu-Dance“, „Chinese-Dance“ and the „African Dance“, which Carl Nielsen originally (1918) named „Negro-Dance“.
Many thanks to Toshinori Ishihara, András Adorján and Henrik Svitzer, who all have urged and encouraged me to arrange these small musical gems of Carl Nielsen. This publication was made possible by support of the Carl Nielsen Foundation.
Toke Lund Christiansen
Copenhagen, June 2015
Two Flutes and Piano
About the composer +
Carl August Nielsen (9 June 1865 – 3 October 1931) was a Danish musician, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as his country's greatest composer. Brought up by poor but musically talented parents on the island of Funen, he demonstrated his musical abilities at an early age. He initially played in a military band before attending the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen from 1884 until December 1886. He premiered his Op. 1, Suite for Strings, in 1888, at the age of 23. The following year, Nielsen began a 16-year stint as a second violinist in the prestigious Royal Danish Orchestra under the conductor Johan Svendsen, during which he played in Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff and Otello at their Danish premieres. In 1916, he took a post teaching at the Royal Academy and continued to work there until his death.
Front Cover graphics and layout: Gaia Gomes
Engraving: Toshinori Ishihara / Johan Svitzer
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark