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Johan Svendsen

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Johan Svendsen (30 September 1840 – 14 June 1911) was a Norwegian composer, conductor and violinist. Born in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway, he lived most of his life in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In stark contrast to his more famous contemporary and close friend, Edvard Grieg, Svendsen was famous for his skill of orchestration rather than that of harmonic value. While Grieg composed mostly for small instrumentation, Svendsen composed primarily for orchestras and large ensembles.

His most famous work is his romance for violin and orchestra. He was very popular in Denmark and Norway during his life both as a composer and a conductor, winning many national awards and honors. However this popularity did not translate into acceptance into the international repertory of classical music. He died in Copenhagen, aged 70.

Probably we have to go back to Franz Schubert to find a composer whose Opus 1 has attained the wide popularity of Svendsen’s, his A minor string quartet, while his octet, Opus 3, added to his fame. Though Svendsen was at one time intimate friends with Richard Wagner, the latter does not seem to have influenced his music, which includes two symphonies, a violin concerto, and the romance for violin, as well as a number of Norwegian rhapsodies for orchestra.

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