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Peter Erasmus Lange-Müller

composer
1850
1926

The composer Peter Erasmus Lange-müller was the master of intimacy in Danish Romantic music. However, a lifelong eye affliction gave him such severe chronic headaches that his musical career already had to be broken off in his youth. Conducting too proved too much for him. But in the private salons that Lange-Müller frequented he made intimacy a virtue. Lange-Müller is known today almost exclusively for his songs (he wrote about 250), but his piano music, chamber music and choral songs too have the same original melodic appeal, handled by the best ear for harmony in the Danish music of the age. Lange-Müller's musical language is blended with melancholy and the sound of folk music, arranged with an economy of resources and great charm in a style that can be described as Danish art nouveau. Lange-Müller strove for success as an opera composer, but both the French-inspired Spanske Studenter (Spanish Students) and the Wagner-inspired Vikingeblod (Viking Blood) were failures. On the other hand, his music and songs for Holger Drachmann's fairytale comedy Der var engang (Once Upon a Time) were hugely successful for many generations.