Niels Gade was a Danish composer. He came from a poor family and because of a lack of money did not start to study music seriously until he was 15. In 1840, he won the Copenhagen Music Society prize, which brought him to the attention of other composers, especially Felix Mendelssohn. In 1843, Mendelssohn hired Gade to work with him as assistant conductor of his orchestra in Leipzig, Germany. This group performed several of Gade’s earlier works.
After war broke out between Denmark and Germany, Gade returned to his native land where he established a permanent orchestra, taught at the Copenhagen Academy of Music and composed. His music has a Scandinavian character and includes nationalist themes as well as elements of Danish folk songs. He introduced some of the elements of Romanticism to Danish music, and played a major role in making his country’s music known in the wider world.
Gade’s most famous works are his cantatas, many of which have Danish folklore themes, symphonies and chamber pieces.