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Champagne! The Sound of Lumbye and His Idols

H.C. Lumbye
Joseph Lanner
Johann Strauss I

Champagne! The Sound of Lumbye and His Idols

Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen

♥♥♥♥♥♥ »This album is a revelation« Politiken
Album of the Week – RBB Kultur

With the establishment of Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens in 1843, the Danish composer and conductor Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–1874) swiftly rose to fame as the city’s internationally acclaimed king of waltzes and galops, leading his orchestra from the violin. For this recording, Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Concerto Copenhagen – Scandinavia’s leading period instruments ensemble – studied Lumbye’s original scores and used instruments from the era to recreate an authentic sound. This collection showcases Lumbye’s enchanting music, along with popular pieces by his idols, Lanner and Strauss I.

Digipack packaging with an extensive accompanying booklet.

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Concerto Copenhagen © Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen
The results combine colour and movement with academic rigour and entertaining delight. Try it and be transported to 1840s Copenhagen
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
This album is a revelation. It's like being transported back to the Tivoli Gardens in the old days
Thomas Michelsen, Politiken
Vital and charming performances
Remy Franck, Pizzicato
Lumbye's music has been dusted off and revitalised by Concerto Copenhagen, and it is a solid rehabilitation of the often underestimated composer
Valdemar Lønsted, Dagbladet Information
Album of the Week
RBB Kultur
The resulting sound is in many ways a revelation. And the playing is superb
Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
Total runtime: 
65 min.

By Lars Ulrik Mortensen Artistic Director and Nikolaj de Fine Licht, Managing Director, Concerto Copenhagen

When we look back 40–50 years, the term Baroque orchestra referred to a genre limitation – they almost exclusively played music from the Baroque period. Today, a Baroque orchestra primarily denotes an orchestra with a modern and creative approach to the performance of classical music, regardless of the genre and era of the music. Therefore, it was natural for us in the Baroque orchestra Concerto Copenhagen to listen with interest when the author and music historian Henrik Engelbrecht visited us a few years ago, expressing his curiosity to experience how the music of H.C. Lumbye (1810–1874) might have sounded back in the 1840s when he began giving concerts with his own and others’ music at Hotel d’Angleterre and later in the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. Henrik Engelbrecht was finalising his book The Legacy of Lumbye about the history of music in Tivoli, and in that context, he had formed a precise picture of the orchestra size, repertoire, and more. It was evident to him that Lumbye’s music must have sounded different originally than what we normally hear today.

Not long after this visit, we were all hit by the restrictions that followed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Suddenly, all outward-facing activities came to a halt – we couldn’t perform concerts. We chose to use this peculiar vacuum to engage in various activities that we would otherwise have had difficulty finding time and resources for, and one of them was to immerse ourselves in Lumbye and his music, as well as the instruments on which the music must have been played when it was brand new. Visits to archives revealed several early works by Lumbye that had never been performed in recent times, and a repertoire began to take shape, consisting of both familiar and unknown works by Lumbye, as well as his two main sources of inspiration, Johann Strauss I (1804–1849) and Joseph Lanner (1801–1843).

Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Concerto Copenhagen playing H.C. Lumbye © Mathias Løvgreen

Based on Henrik Engelbrecht’s research, we were able to determine an orchestra size consisting of a string section of 3-2-2-2-2, along with 13 wind players and the many percussion instruments that are characteristic of Lumbye’s music. In other words, a quite different balance between strings, winds, and percussion than what we are accustomed to in modern symphony orchestra performances of the same music.

But which instruments would be relevant for recreating the music – which instruments would Lumbye’s musicians have had available in his early years as a composer and Kapellmeister? It is possible to establish that while there were primarily musicians from the tradition surrounding the Royal Danish Orchestra and the city musician’s apprentices among the string players, many of the wind players were military musicians who probably had fairly modern instruments available at the time.

To determine the appropriate instrumentation for the project, we relied on a resource that also characterises what we call a Baroque orchestra: the highly competent and knowledgeable musicians who know the history and development stages of their instruments down to the smallest detail! While for the string instruments, it was a matter of finding the right types of bows and strings to put on their historical instruments, significant research and immersion were required to identify the proper wind instruments.

Since it was impossible to pinpoint the exact pitch that prevailed among the military musicians in Copenhagen in the 1840s, we decided on A = 430Hz as a suitable compromise. Not all wind instruments were in this pitch and had to be adapted and finetuned to be used. A particular challenge was two of the percussion instruments, the wooden xylophone and the carillon, for which we managed to find two instruments from around 1910 in the collection of Slagtøjscentret in Copenhagen, which were subsequently cut and sanded down to the correct pitch.

We extend a big thanks to all of Concerto Copenhagen’s musicians for their immense knowledge and significant dedication displayed in this work. Special thanks to Dr Ernst Schlader, who early in the process contributed his vast knowledge of wind instruments and the music in Vienna in the first half of the 19th century; to Robert Farley, Gavin Edwards, and Adrian France for their efforts in identifying and mastering the appropriate brass wind instruments, and to Jakob Weber for his extensive work in sourcing and adapting the right percussion instruments.

The concert hall in Tivoli as it appeared when The Tivoli Gardens opened in Copenhagen in 1843.

Top of the Pops in 1840s Copenhagen

By Henrik Engelbrecht

On 10 June 1839, a 29 year old Danish military musician, the trumpeter Hans Christian Lumbye, went to a concert in confectioner Knirsch’s grand hall at the Hotel d’Angleterre on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. Lumbye experienced a new kind of dance music for the first time here. It had spread like wildfire through Europe, first and foremost the Viennese waltz in sensual, swaying triple time, but also the more direct polka rhythms and the lightning-fast galops, which raised the pulse in dance halls and concert rooms everywhere at the close of the 1830s. The musicians came from the Steiermark region of Austria, 16 men led by music director Siegl from Vienna. Their programme offered French opera overtures, virtuoso variations for clarinet and, most important of all, three waltzes by Johann Strauss I and Joseph Lanner.

The musicians from Austria had enormous success and stayed in Copenhagen for a month. When they had left, Lumbye gathered a group of his colleagues and friends: their plan was to create a Danish orchestra which could fill the empty space the ‘Steiermarkers’ had left in Copenhagen’s musical life. In February 1840, Lumbye’s 20-member orchestra presented a concert at the Hotel d’Angleterre featuring music by Strauss and Lanner, as well as music by Lumbye himself.

Like many of his contemporaries, H.C. Lumbye was trained to play on a number of different instruments, and he had his violin to hand when he stood before his new orchestra. The Lumbye Society was, right from the start, a huge success. Copenhageners hummed, sang and bawled his music on the streets, and in record time Lumbye became the great pop star of Danish musical life.

One of the many Copenhageners who noticed the young Lumbye and his orchestra was Georg Carstensen, a restless man of ideas who, with inexhaustible energy, always had new plans on his drawing board. As editor of the journal Figaro, Carstensen invited people to celebrations, amongst others, with music in Kongens Have (The King’s Garden in central Copenhagen), and Lumbye was the clear choice as musical attraction. Carstensen was soon planning for a permanent amusement garden in the style of those he had seen abroad.

Lively music and coloured lights
On 15 August 1843, Georg Carstensen stood by the entrance to Copenhagen’s Summer Tivoli and Vauxhall, wearing fine white gloves and shaking hands with altogether 3,000 guests on the first day of opening. The name of the establishment was pure theft: Vauxhall was an amusement park in central London with an extraordinarily popular combination of live music, dance, dining, performances and atmospheric illumination in the evening, while Tivoli was the name of a number of similar establishments in Paris, Berlin and Hamburg, all named after a little town near Rome.

Georg Carstensen was a celebrity in Copenhagen in the years following the opening of Tivoli: if you bought vanilla chocolate from E. Aagaard’s steam chocolate factory, you could be lucky enough to find a card with Carstensen’s portrait in the package.

Carstensen obtained a royal privilege for five years to run an amusement garden in Copenhagen, and Tivoli’s greatest attraction was, from the very first, the music which was played in various places around the garden. For example, there were six wind players available at the carousel ride, which took the form of a little locomotive that ran on a round circuit with 15 small wagons trailing behind. The train was pulled by a horse which went around under the elevated floor of the attraction. At the centre there was a six-sided platform for each musician, most likely brass players, who played for every ride between 4 and 11 pm.

H.C. Lumbye and his orchestra were the main attraction at the evening concerts in the concert hall, between 7 and 11 pm. There were now 22 musicians in the ensemble: twelve wind players (two flutes, an oboe, two clarinets, a bassoon, two horns, two trumpets, trombone and tuba) along with violins, probably three first and two seconds, two violas, a cello, a double bass and a percussionist. The concert hall had two bandstands, one each at either end of the elongated room. At one end, Lumbye’s orchestra played, with strings, wind and percussion, while at the other, Henrik Braunstein led his 17-member wind band with just wind instruments and percussion. The two orchestras relieved each other, so that there were no long pauses between the numbers.

A crowd puller?
Lumbye’s concert hall was 240 square metres, not overwhelming for us today, but an enormous room in 1840s Copenhagen. It was, like many of the other buildings in Tivoli, quickly erected from a coarse wooden skeleton and boarding. The roof was also made of board, covered with canvas, so if it rained heavily enough, it came through into the hall and the concert had to be interrupted. The front of the building was wholly open, so that people could hear the music nearly as well standing outside, or if they were simply taking a walk round Tivoli. Within, people could sit at small tables and eat cake and have a glass of wine while swaying with the music.

The public could not get enough. Many of Lumbye’s compositions were so popular that the audience shouted for encores. A veritable da-capo-fever raged, and the concerts gradually became longer and longer. In 1845 the management realised that it wasn’t possible to rely on the public’s good taste and preferences: in future, it was simply forbidden to repeat the numbers on the programme. There is nothing to suggest that the prohibition was enforced, and things quickly went back to the old ways.

H.C. Lumbye quickly gained a reputation abroad, especially after a successful tour to Paris, Vienna and Berlin in the winter of 1844–45, in which Lumbye earned great success in front of local orchestras in these major cities. In Paris, Lumbye received praise from no less than Hector Berlioz, while in Vienna, Lumbye met his great idol, Johann Strauss I, who also had kind words for his Danish colleague. His success followed him home, and Lumbye’s reputation travelled faster than the man himself. When he arrived in Berlin, he had no difficulty in getting an engagement at Joseph Kroll’s Winter Garden, an indoor Tivoli near the Brandenburg Gate which had opened in February 1844. There was room here for an audience of 6,000 as well as an orchestra of no fewer than 60 musicians. Once again, Lumbye met an excited public, and he returned home with new-found confidence and inspiration.

On contract
Lumbye gradually added more musicians to his own orchestra in Tivoli: by the opening of the 1846 season, it had grown to 33 musicians: four first violins, two second violins, two violas, two cellos, two double basses, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, a cornet, three trombones, a tuba and two percussionists. As a consequence the wind band which had played at the far end of the hall was removed; most people attended just to hear and see Lumbye and his orchestra.

A week after the opening day, Lumbye signed a new season’s contract with Tivoli. This committed him to keep the 33 musicians every evening through the season. He and the orchestra would perform 15 works each evening, divided into three sets. Each evening’s performance cost Tivoli 45 rix-dollars and 3 marks. On special festive occasions, the number of pieces performed was increased to 20, divided into four sets, with an additional payment of 4 marks to each musician.

Every Saturday, the management paid out 318 rix-dollars and 3 marks to Lumbye to distribute amongst the orchestra. If a performance was cancelled due to bad weather, though, there was no payment for the musicians that evening. The management kept a sharp eye on what they were getting for their money, and every evening an inspector counted the number of musicians on stage, subtracting 8 marks from the fee if a musician was missing. It was sometimes necessary to find someone capable of standing with a double bass or sitting with a trumpet without actually playing a note! Lumbye himself received 600 rix-dollars for the whole season, placing him on par with Tivoli’s accountant.

They drank a lot in the concert hall, not just the public but the orchestra too, both during the rehearsals and the evening concerts. It was pretty much the same in every working environment during the 19th century, and alcohol was a regular companion for the Tivoli musicians. Many of them met during the long intervals in the premises of Madame Meyer, in a restaurant by the theatre, where they were able to buy their drinks at staff rate. After hours a number of them went on to the adjacent hostelry in Kattesundet nearby. This hard life impacted on Lumbye’s health, but still he stood before his orchestra, through the summer in Tivoli and on tour in the provinces during the winter, as well as in the Folk Theatre and the Casino, right through to 1872. He died only two years later at the age of 64, leaving an exceptional mark on Danish musical life.

Edvard Lehmann (1815–1892) painted this snapshot from a ball in an affluent home in Copenhagen in 1853. The orchestra consisted of a flute, clarinet, two violins, cello and trumpet.

A fresh offer
These days we are accustomed to hear the Champagne Galop and Lumbye’s other works played by a modern symphony orchestra of 60 or even more musicians. All Danish orchestral musicians are familiar with the galop featuring the popping champagne corks, and today it is still one of the most frequently offered encores when there is an extra reason for celebrating, for example at a New Year’s concert. But how did the music sound in Lumbye’s own time?

Lars Ulrik Mortensen and the musicians of Concert Copenhagen, hand-picked specialists from all over Europe, worked for many months with the sheet music of these pieces, and looked for instruments which Lumbye and his musicians would have recognised, as they were used in Copenhagen in the 1840s, whether in the Royal Danish Theatre which controlled the city’s only securely employed orchestra with the personnel to perform symphonies, or by the city’s military orchestra. The result of this effort is a presentation of the sound of Danish popular music as it was in the 1840s, or as close as we can come to achieving that today. It is a sound which no one has heard for more than 150 years.

Lumbye: Champagne Galop, Op. 14 (1845)
Entirely beyond its competitors, this is the most played work by Lumbye, composed to celebrate Tivoli’s second birthday on 15 August 1845. But the rain was so heavy that the piece could not be performed that evening, and instead received its first performance on 22 August, when it was a great success. This was, in part, due to its embedded special effect: we don’t know whether Lumbye’s musicians used real champagne bottles or something like the bicycle pump-based device used by orchestras today.

Lumbye: Andante cantabile e Tarantella (1843)
In July 1843, Lumbye and his orchestra received permission to perform at the prestigious Royal Danish Theatre – the Royal musicians were on their summer holiday – and gave a concert with the renowned Swedish opera singer, Henriette Nissen, as soloist. Lumbye composed a ‘musical divertissement’ with the Italian title Andante cantabile e Tarantella for the occasion. After the concert, Henriette Nissen was given a brilliantly set bracelet by the Queen, in addition to her fee. We don’t know what Lumbye and his orchestra received for their efforts.

Lanner: Die Mozartisten, Walzer, Op. 196 (1842)
The joy of recognition was something which Lumbye and his idols were happy to call upon. One section of a Lumbye concert in the 1840s nearly always began with a popular opera overture, while other well-known opera excerpts would be placed at other points in a programme. In Joseph Lanner’s waltz entitled Die Mozartisten(‘The Mozartians’), the composer makes use of recognisable themes from both Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute , reworked in waltz time. Lanner himself wrote on the title page of the sheet music that it was a ‘waltz after Mozartian melodies, not for dancing, but rather dedicated to admirers of the immortal master’.

Strauss I: Champagner-Walzer, Op. 14 (1828)
The elder Johann Strauss was Lumbye’s greatest inspiration, and the Danish musician eventually obtained the master’s acknowledgement, decidedly not an ordinary thing for a musician from a small country in the far north. In 1845, Lumbye was working as guest conductor of the orchestra at the theatre in Leopoldstadt, Vienna, and found Johann Strauss and some musicians from his orchestra sitting in the hall. They expected to boo and whistle at the competition from Denmark, but after they had heard Lumbye’s Vemodsvals (Melancholy Waltz), everyone could see Strauss applauding excitedly.

Lumbye: Echo from the Old Gods at Tivoli Island, Galop (1844)
Right from the start, when H.C. Lumbye became established as Tivoli’s main musical attraction, he presented small advertisements for some of the other attractions, including a shooting range, restaurants, skittle-bowling and many others. In 1844 Lumbye wrote a galop aimed at improving ticket sales for the island which lay in Tivoli’s lake. This was home to the ‘singers’ pavillion’, and Lumbye’s imaginative contribution to the promotion was a galop in which we find the gods of song and wine surrounded by graces and muses, opening bottles of champagne and making toasts all the while. Even Vulcan, the blacksmith’s god, is there, hammering his anvil until a storm breaks lose at the end.

Lumbye: Silver Wedding Waltz (1840)
King Christian VIII and Queen Caroline Amalie celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary in 1840. H.C. Lumbye, who throughout his life was very attentive to the members of the Royal house and their events, marked the occasion a week later with a silver wedding waltz. It was first performed at a concert at the Hotel d’Angleterre on 28 May. The piece allows listeners to enjoy the well-known royal tune from Kong Christian stod ved højen mast (‘King Christian Stood by the Lofty Mast’). Seven months later, the waltz was published in an arrangement for piano, alongside two other of Lumbye’s earlier compositions, under the title Festive Dances.

Lumbye: Bellman’s Feast on Djurgården (1844)
In the 1840s, Danish and Swedish students began to dream about the idea of a reunited Scandinavian region, shared governance in the Scandinavian lands. The annual student meetings also involved the exchange of songs from both sides of the Øresund. In 1844 Lumbye gathered eight of Carl Michael Bellman’s unaccountably popular Fredman’s Epistles(nos. 50, 2, 9, 13, 25, 28, 30 and 82) into a suite which he performed first in the Tivoli concert hall to mark the celebration held by the Swedish Bellman Society every year on the Djurgården Island in central Stockholm.

Lumbye: Figaro Waltz (1841)
In 1841, Georg Carstensen served as editor of the magazine Figaro, in which one might read the latest news on French fashion, and follow the thrilling serialised stories spanning several issues. As an additional attraction for the magazine’s subscribers, Carstensen came up with the idea of arranging special parties to which the subscribers would have free entrance, all aimed at maximising the circulation. Carstensen received permission to borrow and close off the whole of Kongens Have (King’s Garden) for this occasion. The music was provided by Lumbye who even composed a Figaro Waltzfor the Figaro party, cleverly sending a musical greeting to Rossini’s Sevillian Figaro.

Lumbye: Tivoli Bazaar Tsching-Tsching Polka (1843)
Already in the first short season in Tivoli in 1843, only lasting seven weeks, Lumbye wrote galops named for the roller-coaster, the gondola ride, the theatre, the circus, the hall, the shooting gallery and the carousel track, as well as an advertisement for one of the boutiques in Tivoli’s bazaar building. In the bazaar’s 20 boutiques one could buy snaps, chocolate, cigars, flowers and fruit, a pair of gloves, conch shells decorated by French galley slaves – and the piano reductions of Lumbye’s latest hits. In the Chinese boutique in the bazaar one could buy exotic things and dream of places that virtually no Danes had any chance of seeing for themselves. The title of Lumbye’s advertising-galop should direct our thoughts towards his contemporaries’ perceptions of China.

Release date: 
August 2023
Cat. No.: 
Track count: 


Recorded at Dronningesalen, Den Sorte Diamant (The Black Diamond), Copenhagen, on 13-16 November 2022

Recording producer: Preben Iwan
Engineering, editing, mixing and mastering: Preben Iwan

℗ & © 2023 Dacapo Records, Copenhagen

Top of the Pops in 1840s Copenhagen, by Henrik Engelbrecht, translated from the Danish by Colin Roth
Proofreaders: Jens Fink-Jensen, Hayden Jones

Concerto Copenhagen,
General manager: Nikolaj de Fine Licht
Orchestra manager: Benedicte B. Balslev
Project manager: Frode Andersen
Production assistant: Kirsten B. Larsen
PR & communication: Sabrina S. Solis

Concerto Copenhagen is supported by the Danish Arts Foundation.

With support from Augustinus Foundation, Beckett Foundation, Frimodt-Heinike Foundation, Knud Højgaard Foundation, Solistforeningen af 1921, Weyse Foundation and Aage og Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond.