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Svend Asmussen (28 February 1916 - 7 February 2017) was a jazz violinist from Denmark, known as "The Fiddling Viking". A Swing style virtuoso, he played and recorded with many of the greats of Jazz, including Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Stephane Grappelli. He played publicly until 2010, his career spanning 8 decades.

Asmussen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, raised in a musical family, and started taking violin lessons at the age of 7. At age 16 he first heard recordings by jazz violin great Joe Venuti and began to emulate his style. He started working professionally as a violinist, vibraphonist, and singer at age 17, leaving his formal training behind for good. Early in his career he worked in Denmark and on cruise ships with artists such as Josephine Baker and Fats Waller. Asmussen later was greatly influenced by Stuff Smith, whom he met in Denmark. Asmussen played with Valdemar Eiberg and Kjeld Bonfils during World War II, during which time jazz had moved to the underground and served as a form of political protest.

In the late 1950s, Asmussen formed the trio Swe-Danes with singer Alice Babs and guitarist Ulrik Neumann. The group became very popular in Scandinavia for their music hall style entertainment and also toured the United States. Asmussen also worked with Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Duke Ellington. Asmussen was invited by Ellington to play on his Jazz Violin Session recording in 1963 with Stéphane Grappelli and Ray Nance.

In 1966 Asmussen appeared alongside Grappelli, Stuff Smith, and Jean-Luc Ponty in a jazz Violin Summit in Switzerland that was issued as a live recording. He made an appearance at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival, which included a celebrated violin summit with him, Ray Nance and Jean-Luc Ponty. In 1969 he guested on "Snakes in a Hole," an album by the jazz-rock band Made in Sweden. He was still active playing violin at the age of 94. He turned 100 in February 2016.

Asmussen's collection of jazz music, photographs, posters and other material is held in the jazz collections at the University Library of Southern Denmark. Asmussen's son, Claus Asmussen, is a guitar player in Denmark and a former member of the band Shu-Bi-Dua.


Solo albums
1951: Svend Asmussen (Angel Records)
1953: Plays Hot Fiddle (Parlophone)
1955: Svend Asmussen And His Unmelancholy Danes (Angel Records)
1955: Svend Asmussen And His Unmelancholy Danes, Vol. 2 (Angel Records)
1955: Skol! (Epic Records)
1956: Asmussen Moods (Philips Records)
1961: Spielt Welterfolge (Telefunken)
1965: Evergreens (Odeon Records)
1966: & De Gode Gamle (Metronome Records)
1968: Svend Asmussen Spelar Nordiskt 20-30-Tal (Sveriges Radio)
1975: Spelar Nordiskt 20-30-Tal (Sveriges Radio)
1979: Dance Along With Svend Asussen (EMI International)
1983: String Swing (Sonet Records), featuring Ulf Wakenius
1983: June Night (Doctor Jazz Records)
1984: Svend Asmussen at Slukafter (Phontastic Records)
1989: Fiddler Supreme (Intim Musik)
1994: Fiddling Around (Imoge Records)
1999: Fit as a Fiddle (Dacapo Records)
2002: Still Fiddling (Storyville Records)
2008: When You Are Smiling (Universal Music)
2009: Rhythm Is Our Business (Storyville Records)
2009: Makin' Whoopee…and Music! (Arbors Records)
2011: The Jazz Man Hitler Failed to Silence (Roastin Records)


With Ulrik Neumann
1959: Danish Imports (Collectables Records, Warner Bros. Records)
1962: En Kväll Med Svend Och Ulrik (RCA Records)
With Jan Johansson
1968: Jazz På Ungerska (Megafon Records)
With Toots Thielemans
1972: Toots & Svend (Sonet Records)
1973: Yesterday And Today (A&M Records)
With Eric Ericson and Kammarkören
1972: Kammarkören & Eric Ericsson Möter Svend Asmussen (RCA Victor)
1973: Kammarkören & Eric Ericson Möter Svend Asmussen Igen (RCA Victor)
With Putte Wickman and Ivan Renliden
1975: Musik I Kyrkan (EMI Records)
1976: Telemann Today (Polydor Records), including with Niels Henning Ørsted-Pedersen
1977: Spelar För Er (EMI Records)

With others
1962: European Encounter (Atlantic), with John Lewis
1964: Scandinavian Songs With Alice And Svend (Swe Disc), with Alice Babs
1965: Be»Swing«Te Party (Discoton Records), with Bent Fabric
1966: Violin-Summit (SABA), with Stuff Smith, Stéphane Grappelli and Jean-Luc Ponty
1966: Swing With Svend (Victoria Records), with Dieter Reith
1968: Two Of A Kind (Polydor Records), with Stéphane Grappelli
1975: Amazing Strings (MPS Records), with Christian Schmitz-Steinberg presenting Svend Asmussen
1978: As Time Goes By (Sonet Records), with Lionel Hampton
1978: Prize/Winners (Matrix Records), with Kenny Drew, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Ed Thigpen
1982: Garland (Storyville Records), Dr. L. Subramaniam featuring Svend Asmussen
1987: On The Good Ship Lollipop (Doctor Jazz), with Teresa Brewer
1988: Svingin' With Svend (Zebra Acoustic Records), with David Grisman Quintet featuring Svend Asmussen

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