Author(s): Finn Benestad; Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe; William H. Halverson (Translator)
Music | No Category
Johan Svendsen was one of the most important musical figures of the late Romantic period. His reputation spread rapidly after his international breakthrough in the late 1860s, and from then until 1883, when he became musical director at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen, his fame as a composer grew steadily. His list of compositions includes, in addition to two fine symphonies, such orchestral masterworks as the four Norwegian Rhapsodies, Carnival in Paris, Festival Polonaise, Zorahayda, Norwegian Artists’ Carnival, and the famous Romance for Violin and Orchestra. Until about 1890 Svendsen was the Nordic composer whose works were performed most frequently outside Scandinavia. As a conductor he was also instrumental in launching the careers of his contemporaries, Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius.
In 1898 Svendsen was invited to become musical director of both the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic orchestra. Svendsen, however, did not wish to risk his secure position in Copenhagen for an uncertain future in a foreign environment.