Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (1926)

Carl Nielsen (1865-1931)

Program note written by Jacob Farmer

I. Allegro moderato
II. Allegretto un poco – Adagio ma non troppo – Allegretto – Poco adagio – Tempo di marcia

Approximate Performance Time:
18 minutes

Advanced – appropriate for upper college undergraduates and master students

Emmanuel Pahud, Sir Simon Rattle & Berliner Philharmoniker. Flute Concerto. EMI Records Ltd, 2007. MP3.

Source Article:
Nelson, Amy Catherine. “The Flute Concerto by Carl Nielsen and the Contributions of Holger Gilbert-Jespersen.” Order No. 3104059 University of Colorado at Boulder, 2003. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 1 Oct. 2016.

Carl Nielsen, born 1865, is a Danish composer born of a painter and a local musician. He performed as a child, giving him attention by staff at the Copenhagen Conservatory as violinist. It was there that he developed his unique composition style. Nielsen composed six symphonies, with The Four Temperaments, his second, being the best known. His concertos for flute, clarinet, and violin are considered some of the most important selections for solo instruments. Nielsen also wrote numerous piano pieces, Theme and Variations for example, despite not being a pianist himself, although he has experience with piano at Copenhagen. Nielsen died in 1931. 

Piece Information:
Carl Nielsen’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra was one of five planned compositions. Nielsen wanted to write a concerto for each member of a woodwind quintet, but ended up only finishing the flute and clarinet concertos before passing away. This piece was written for Holger Gilbert-Jespersen, a flutist and colleague of Nielsen. While working on the piece directly with Jespersen, Nielsen became ill before the first premiere of the piece in 1926 and had to supply a temporary ending for the unfinished work. The piece was completed the following year with the premiere in Copenhagen with Holger Gilbert-Jespersen as the flute soloist. The most interesting part about this piece is that during the cadenzas, there is a dialogue with other solo instruments in the orchestra. Some of these instruments include clarinet, bass trombone, and timpani.