WorldView Episode 30: Nancy Dalberg

       The thirtieth episode of WorldView features Nancy Dalberg, a 20th century Danish composer best known as the first Danish woman to write a symphony. She produced a considerable catalog of orchestral and chamber works, composing avidly for four decades. 

       Nancy Dalberg was born on the island of Funen in July of 1881, the daughter of a prominent chemist and manufacturer. She learned piano as a child, but was prohibited from pursuing further study at the Copenhagen Royal Academy of Music. Nevertheless, Dalberg became a prominent local pianist, and continued lessons privately until an injury around 1908 ended her performance career. She shifted towards composition in her thirties, studying with conductor John Svendsen and Danish musical icon Carl Nielsen (WorldView episode six). Several of Nielsen’s pieces include instrumentations by Dalberg and other students. 

       In 1917, Dalberg wrote her “Symphony in C Minor”, the first symphony ever written by a female Danish composer. The work was monumental and well-received, and encouraged the artist to continue composing. Her first exposition of works featured several pieces, including “Scherzo for String Orchestra, Op. 6” and “Fantasy Piece for Cello and Piano”. Though her compositional method was influenced by Svendsen, Nielsen, and the German classical genre, her works reflect a unique and personal style. Dalberg composed for the rest of her life, organizing multiple programs of her works and traveling across Denmark and northern Europe. Though she remains one of the lesser-known Danish composers, her works have been featured more and more on recent albums. Dalberg died in 1949 at the age of 68. 

       Of all of Dalberg’s works, her three string quartets are the most widely performed. Episode thirty of WorldView includes a recording of her second string quartet, which was completed in 1922. It was published under the neutral name “N. Dalberg”, which helped it gain wider attention in musical circles. In this recording from Danish label Dacapo, the Carl Nielsen Quartet performs “String Quartet No. 2 in G Minor” by Nancy Dalberg. 

 

WorldView Episode Thirty Playlist:

Nancy DALBERG, “String Quartet No. 2 in G Minor”, {Carl Nielsen Quartet} – Dacapo

Zdenek FIBICH, “Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major”, {Josef Suk (vl), Josef Hala (pf)} – Supraphon

Elizabeth LAUER, “Sonatina”, {Margaret Mills (pf)} – Newport Classic

 

WorldView is a classical music radio show featuring composers from everywhere in the world – except Western Europe. Tune in to hear works by lesser-known artists such as Irving Fine and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and widen your knowledge of classical music. Hinke Younger hosts each week’s episode of WorldView on Mondays at 9AM and 6PM (with a rebroadcast Saturdays at 2PM) on Charlottesvilleclassical.org

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