Obscure Music Monday: Gade's Hamlet Overture

Niels Wilhelm Gade (Feb. 22, 1817 - Dec. 21, 1890) born in Copenhagen, was the son of an instrument maker. Gade, a violinist, composer, and conductor, started his career with the Royal Danish Orchestra as a violinist, and was able to see compositions of his played by the orchestra. Felix Mendelssohn was an early champion of Gade's work, and they became close associates. Robert Schumann was a good friend as well, and the influence of the significant composers of the German Romantic style (Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn) can be heard in his works. Gade went on to influence other composers himself, such as Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen. Despite being considered one of the most important Danish composers, Gade's works are not programmed very often. 

Gade's Hamlet Overture was written in 1861, and is a tone poem based on the Shakespeare play. It starts of with a funeral march-like entrance, plodding its way til it opens us to a dramatic theme in the brass, which then gives way to a tumultuous, angry theme. A love theme (in a major key) makes its way in to the work (thought to represent Hamlet and Ophelia), and material from earlier is presented again, before the work ends similar to how it began, with the funeral march. Around ten minutes long, it's full of drama from start to finish!

Here's a recording of this work for you to enjoy!

The Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra

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