Carl Nielsen: Symphonist

Robert Simpson

Simpson’s book has established itself as the standard text on Carl Nielsen. As well as the symphonies, his development and all his other great works are covered.






Dealing with Nielsen’s symphonies and other works, Simpson compares Nielsen and Sibelius as symphonists. It is a classic study of Nielsen’s music in which the author excels in pointing out the particular aspects of each piece of music which mark it as one of Nielsen’s, and describing how tonality is used within the major pieces (particularly the symphonies) in a revolutionary way.



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About the Author

Robert Simpson studied with Herbert Howells and was a prolific symphonist in his own right. He has written books on Bruckner, Beethoven and this book on Nielsen for which he was awarded the Carl Nielsen Gold Medal.


1. The Growth of the Artist
2. The First Symphony (1891-2)
3. The Second Symphony – The Four Temperaments (1901-2)
4. The Third Symphony – Sinfonia Espansiva (1910-11)
5. The Fourth Symphony – The Inextinguishable (1914-16)
6. The Fifth Symphony (1920-22)
7. The Sixth Symphony – Sinfonia Semplice
8. The Three Concertos – Violin, Flute and Clarinet
9. Lesser Orchestral Works
10. The Chamber Music
11. The Keyboard Music
12. The Human Voice
13. Some General Observations
14. Sibelius, Nielsen and the Symphonic Problem
A Biographical Sketch
List of Nielsen’s Works
Index of Names


This analysis focuses on Nielsen’s great symphonies, but also illuminates all of his other works including orchestral, chamber, keyboard, and vocal compositions.
Music Educators Journal