Violin Sonata No.1 in A Major, Op.9
Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) achieved international recognition as a composer and even today is regarded as Denmark’s most important 20th century composer. For many years his symphonies were widely performed. Unfortunately, this was not the case with his fine chamber music. Nielsen was born on the island of Fyn (Funen), the seventh of twelve children. His father was a painter by trade, who also played the violin and cornet and as a result was much in demand as a village musician. Nielsen exhibited a talent for music at an early age. His father suggested he study a wind instrument so that he might pursue the career of a musician in a regimental band. Nielsen followed this path briefly but decided he wanted to study violin and to compose. So with the financial help of friends, he was able to attend the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen where he studied with Niels Gade.
Nielsen's First Violin Sonata was composed in 1895 and for the time was considered quite modern because of its then shocking tonalities and abrupt changes of subject. A case in point is the searching and powerful first movement, Allegro glorioso, which begins in A Major and within 2 measures suddenly moves into e minor. The dignified Andante which comes next has a solemn, almost religious quality to it. The sweeping finale, Allegro piacevole e giovanile, begins with a lyrical theme in the violin and a very unusual rhythmic accompaniment, while the second theme is somewhat more diffident and tonally searching, a dramatic and rhythmically energetic third subject changes the mood entirely.
Here is a first rate sonata, fresh-sounding and original in conception. It deserves to be heard in recital but is in no way beyond amateur players.