Carl Nielsen is born

Carl Nielsen is born on 9 June in Nørre Lyndelse, a small village a few kilometres south of Odense on the island of Funen, Denmark.


Position in Military Regiment

Gets a position as a trumpet player in Odense’s 16th Military Regiment.


Carl Nielsen in 1884


Attends the Royal Danish Academy of Music

Receives a scholarship to attend the Royal Danish Academy of Music. The director of the Academy is the composer Niels W. Gade.


Falls in love

Falls in love with the 14-year-old merchant daughter Emilie Demant Nielsen.

Played in public

In September, one of Nielsen’s works is played in public for the first time – two movements for string orchestra, performed by the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra.


Becomes a father

In January, a son is born to Carl.


Suite for strings

Suite for Strings op. 1 is premiered by the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra and received with great enthusiasm. The second movement, a waltz, had to be repeated. In October, Nielsen makes his debut as a conductor.


Violinist in the Royal Chapel Orchestra

Successfully auditions for a place as second violinist in the Royal Chapel Orchestra, a position he maintains for 16 years.


Educational trip through Germany, France and Italy

Nielsen is awarded the ‘Ancker Grant’ (Det Anckerske Legat) and embarks on an educational trip through Germany, France and Italy, remaining abroad for almost a year.


Carl Nielsen with his familily at Fuglsang Manor


Meets Anne Marie

Meets the Danish sculptor Anne Marie Brodersen in Paris and marries her in Florence on 10 May.


The couple’s first daughter, Irmelin, is born in December. Over the next four years, they have two more children: a daughter, Anne Marie (nicknamed Søs, equivalent to the English ‘Sis’), and a son, Hans Børge.


1st Symphony

Nielsen’s First Symphony is premiered in March.


Hymnus amoris

Hymnus amoris for soloists, choir and orchestra is premiered in April.



Nielsen and his young wife consider taking over the running of ‘Thygesminde’ farm, her birthplace near Kolding in Southern Jutland, but it is sold the following year.

ca. 1900

Carl Nielsen around 1900


Anne Marie is commissioned to create reliefs

Anne Marie is commissioned to create the reliefs for the new bronze doors of Ribe Cathedral in the Southwest of Denmark.


Saul and David

On 28 November, Nielsen conducts the world premiere of his opera Saul and David at the Royal Theatre.

2nd symphony, The Four Temperaments

Three days later, on 1 December, his Second Symphony The Four Temperaments is performed for the first time.



The Helios Overture is premiered in October.


Fuglsang Manor

Nielsen’s first visit to Fuglsang Manor on the small island of Lolland in southeast Denmark. For many years to come he would stay at the estate to find peace and quiet to work.
Problems with his marriage as well as with the Royal Theatre.

Anne Marie in Athens

Anne Marie returns to Athens and remains away from home for a long time.



Nielsen conducts the first performance of his opera Masquerade at the Royal Theatre.


Damgaard estate

The Damgård estate near Fredericia, a coastal town of in the southeastern part of Jutland, becomes a favourite haven for work and recreation. It is here Nielsen preferred to compose during his later years.

Anne Marie seriously ill

In the spring, Anne Marie becomes seriously ill and has to be hospitalized several times.


Anne Marie wins competition

Anne Marie wins the competition to create a monument to King Christian IX, who had died in 1906.


Fathers a daughter without the knowledge of his wife

In October, he allegedly fathers a daughter without the knowledge of his wife, a claim that has never been fully substantiated.

Becomes assistant conductor

Nielsen becomes assistant conductor at the Royal Theatre.

3rd symphony – Espansiva

In April, Nielsen notes that he has completed the first movement of his Third Symphony, Espansiva.


Carl and Anne Marie at Christiansborg in 1922


Denmark’s leading composer

Espansiva cements his position as Denmark’s leading composer and sparks interest in several countries abroad.

Espansiva the Violin Concerto

The Third Symphony and the Violin Concerto are premiered at the same concert on 28 February.


Anne Marie’s monumental statue of Queen Dagmar

In August, Anne Marie’s monumental statue of Queen Dagmar is unveiled in Ribe.

conflicts at the Royal Theatre

Nielsen’s conflicts at the Royal Theatre in connection with his role as conductor come to a head. He wishes to resign, but the theatre decides to let the matter rest.


Anne Marie realizes Nielsen’s infidelity

In early summer, Anne Marie realizes that her husband’s infidelity has involved one of her closest friends as well. This triggers a marital crisis that leads to a ‘pro forma’ relationship between Carl and Anne Marie for the next eight years.

Leaves his position at the Royal Theatre

In May, Nielsen leaves his position at the Royal Theatre for good.

Collaboration with Laub

Nielsen begins his collaboration with Thomas Laub to write simple, Danish songs with popular appeal.


Collection of 23 popular songs

Together with Laub he publishes En snes danske viser, a collection of 23 popular songs.


Fourth Symphony – The Inextinguishable

On 1 February, Nielsen conducts the premiere of his Fourth Symphony, Det uudslukkelige (The Inextinguishable).


During the summer he composes his Chaconne for solo piano, a work that was followed by two additional major works for piano in the course of a few years.


Hans Børge moves in with foster parents

Nielsen’s mentally retarded son Hans Børge moves in with foster parents near Damgård and remains there until shortly before his death in 1956.

Summerhouse in Skagen

Nielsen buys a summerhouse in Skagen.

Conductor in Gothenburg

In April, Nielsen commences his position as conductor of the Concert Association in Gothenburg, a city that would be his second home for a number of years.


Composes the incidental music to Adam Oehlenschläger’s play Aladdin.



In June, Anne Marie requests a separation.


Springtime on Funen

Nielsen is commissioned to write the choral work Fynsk forår (Springtime on Funen). The first performance takes place in Odense in July of the following year with 900 singers and an audience of 8000.


Heart attack

In May he experiences his first major heart attack, and Anne Marie decides to resume her life together with Carl.


Fifth Symphony

On 15 January Nielsen completes his Fifth Symphony and conducts the first performance on 24 January.

The Wind Quintet

His Wind Quintet is completed only three months later.


Avid motorist

In the summer, both Nielsen and his wife take driving lessons in Skagen and obtain a driving license. A Renault is given as a gift to Nielsen by a patron, and he becomes an avid motorist.


Artists, musicians and composers at a party for Igor Stravinsky side by side with Carl Nielsen, Nimb december 2 1925


60th birthday celebration

Nielsen’s 60th birthday is celebrated with a concert, a banquet at Tivoli and a torchlight procession through Copenhagen. For a charge, anyone can sign the guest list, which includes many of the country’s most distinguished names.

Living music

The essay collection Levende musik (Living music) is published, and gala concerts continue throughout the year.

Sixth Symphony

In October, Nielsen completes his Sixth Symphony.


experiences yet another massive heart attack

Nielsen experiences yet another massive heart attack and increasingly needs to adapt to a life of rehabilitation. Frequently he leaves for spa visits abroad.

Concert in Paris

An orchestral concert with works by Nielsen, organized by Danish benefactors, takes place on 21 October in Paris, and receives major attention.

Flute Concerto

In late summer, while staying in Tuscany, he begins work on his Flute Concerto.


Anne Marie’s equestrian monument is unveiled

On 15 November, after twenty years of hard work and complications, Anne Marie’s equestrian monument of King Christian IX is finally unveiled.

Furtwängler performs the Fifth Symphony

On 1 July, Wilhelm Furtwängler performs the Fifth Symphony at the ISCM Music Festival in Frankfurt, and later that year with his own Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig.

My Childhood on Funen

The greater part of Nielsen’s childhood memories, Min fynske barndom (My Childhood on Funen, published as My Childhood in English) are written in the spring.


The Clarinet Concerto and experiments

Some of Nielsen’s most experimental works – Preludio e presto for solo violin, the Three Piano Pieces op. 59, and the Clarinet Concerto – are written during this year.

Carl Nielsen


Saul and David is re-staged

Saul and David is re-staged by the Royal Theatre.

Three Motets

Nielsen composes his Three Motets for a capella choir.



Nielsen begins to compose his last major work, Commotio for solo organ.


Dies as a result of his failing health

During the last 9 years of Nielsen’s life, his heart disease – angina pectoris – has steadily taken a turn for the worse, and on 3 October he dies as a result of his failing health, 66 years of age.