Hans Christian Lumbye

Lumbye: Champagne Gallop (in 'Maritana')

Hans Christian Lumbye was born in Copenhagen on 2 May 1810.

Already as a child, he moved to the Danish provinces because his father, a military officer, was stationed first in Jutland and later on in Odense. In Odense, Lumbye took his first genuine lessons in music. By the time he was 14, he had managed to land a job as the hornist in the local regiment orchestra. The following year, he received a certificate attesting to the completion of his apprenticeship as a skilled trumpeter. He returned to his native city as a 19-year-old. There, in Copenhagen in 1829 he was entrusted with a position as a trumpeter in the Royal Horse Guards. Through the 1830s, alongside this responsibility, Lumbye was a hard-working member of Copenhagen’s Town Musicians’ Ensemble; it is from this decade that his earliest surviving dance compositions originate.

In 1839, he assembled his own orchestra. He was inspired to take this step after having witnessed a series of concerts in Copenhagen presented by a music company from Steiermark in Austria, where Johann Strauss the Elder’s and Joseph Lanner’s latest dance melodies were played for the very first time in Scandinavia.

With his first Concert à la Strauss at the fashionable Raus Hotel (the present Hôtel d’Angleterre) in Copenhagen on 4 February 1840, Lumbye seriously ushered in his lifelong occupation as Denmark’s – and Scandinavia’s – uncontested leading composer of dance music. Three years later, when Tivoli Gardens opened its gates in the centre of Copenhagen, Lumbye, as the music director of the concert hall’s orchestra and Tivoli’s resident composer, obtained the steady and definitive base for his long and illustrious career as composer and conductor. For this orchestra, he composed around 700 dances over the course of the next thirty years: primarily polkas, waltzes, and gallops – the latter genre became virtually synonymous with his name. With these simple and popular musical dance forms, Lumbye, through his work in Tivoli, created a special Danish rendition of dance music that has come to be elevated and transferred into the domain of the symphony orchestra. At the same time, he composed a great many works in honour of the day’s latest technical inventions and advances, numerous orchestral fantasies, more than 25 ballet divertissements, a good many songs and incidental music for theatrical performances.

An extensive series of foreign tours to Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna and Paris (1844-46), St. Petersburg (1850) and Stockholm (1860) brought international recognition and fame to Lumbye.

To celebrate Lumbye's bicentenary three dances are made available in critical editions on line by DCM. The three works are: