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Four Fantasy Pieces for Clarinet or Violin & Piano, Op.43
Niels Gade (1817-1890) was born in Copenhagen and began his career as a concert violinist, later taking a position with the Royal Danish Orchestra. Mendelssohn, who was much impressed by and premiered Gadeís First Symphony, invited him to teach at the famous Leipzig Conservatory. After Mendelssohnís death in 1847, Gade was appointed director of the Conservatory and also conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra. The next year, in 1848, he returned to Copenhagen when war broke out between Prussia and Denmark. In Copenhagen, Gade became director of the Copenhagen Musical Society and established a new orchestra and chorus. He was widely regarded as Denmark's most important composer from the mid-Romantic period. He taught and influenced several Scandinavian composers, including Edvard Grieg, Carl Nielsen and Otto Malling. His own music often shows the influence of both Mendelssohn and Schumann.
Gadeís Fantasy Pieces were composed in 1864 and take his friend Schumann, the founder of the genre, as his model. The three of the four pieces are written in the mid-romantic style popularized by Schumann and Mendelssohn. However, the third piece, and the only one with a title, Ballad, is a stylized version of a Nordic folktale. The work was during Gade's lifetime, one of his most popular and received several arrangements although it was originally intended for either Clarinet or Violin. We have been unable to find a recording with violin and used a viola recording which still give a good idea of how it sounds for a stringed instrument.
Any of these pieces would make a fine encore and together an excellent program recital piece.