Subscribe to Dacapo's newsletter

Otto Malling


Otto Malling was a Danish composer and organ player and the pupil of J.P.E. Hartmann and Niels W. Gade. Otto Malling was held in high esteem in Danish musical life at the turn of the century, and as a cathedral organist in Copenhagen and principal of the Royal Danish Academy of Music became the official heir to the Odin-like figure J.P.E. Hartmann.

Otto Malling mainly composed organ works and vocal music, but he also wrote one of the most appealing Danish piano trios and one of the few Danish piano concertos of the Romantic period. His grasp of music was impressively sure, and he could operate with Late Romantic effects with an inevitability that few Danish composers possessed. Otto Malling's technical skill in composing was so great that he wrote the first Danish textbook in orchestration (still the only one of its kind).

The organ works brought Otto Malling success abroad, but paradoxically helped to ensure that after his death he was quickly forgotten in his native country. Malling's arch-Romantic programme music, in a harmonic idiom dominated by French Romanticism, was bound to be anathema to his contemporary, the church music reformer Thomas Laub.

Today, a less dogmatic age can see Otto Malling's works as a high point in Danish Romantic sacred music.