Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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THE CARL NIELSEN CD-ROM CARL NIELSEN - The Man and the Music (Mennesket og Musikken) A multi-media reference about the composer, Carl Nielsen and his music - in words, pictures, sound and film. AM Production Multimedia K/S CD-ROM ISBN 87-986907-0-1 Price UK: £24.95 plus postage £1.00 UK Price USA: $39.95 plus postage $2-3.00 depending on where in USA


THE CARL NIELSEN CD-ROM CARL NIELSEN - The Man and the Music (Mennesket og Musikken) A multi-media reference about the composer, Carl Nielsen and his music - in words, pictures, sound and film
Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0 only (does not e.g. work with 3.1 or NT3.51).
Editor-in-Chief: Knud Ketting
Co-production: Danish Music Information centre, The Royal Library, The Carl Nielsen Museum, Museum Odense, Orfeus, Edition Wilhelm Hansen
AM Production Multimedia K/S CD-ROM ISBN 87-986907-0-1
Price UK: £24.95 plus postage £1.00 UK Price USA: $39.95 plus postage $2-3.00 depending on where in USA

Executive Summary: a handsomely presented and entertainingly informative in-depth multi-media presentation on the music and life of the Danish composer Carl Nielsen. This disc is a pleasure to use and is extremely intuitive to operate. Recommended both for the casual music enthusiast and for the scholar. The latter is well served both within the materials on the CD and also by the research references/bibliography list.


I discovered Nielsen's music through the Fourth Symphony (a DGG Heliodor LP Markevich?) and the Violin Concerto (Menuhin). The muscular melodies and clarity of the concerto impressed me more than the dense sound of the symphony despite the symphony' memorable title Inextinguishable. Later I heard both the fourth and fifth symphonies in concert. The fifth is easily my favourite and was indelibly printed on my mind by two performances: Berglund and the Bournemouth SO live at the Colston Hall in Bristol and a radio tape I once had and played repeatedly (Netherlands Radio PO/Henk Spruit).

I knew also the First and Second Symphonies from CBS LPs and Helios (on that Heliodor LP?). Later I bought the gigantic Blomstedt box coupling all the concertos, symphonies and quite a few of the orchestral 'oddments'.

Sibelius and Nielsen together built and cemented my fascination with Scandinavian music.

Forgive this personal introduction as a prelude to considering this new CD-ROM.


The disc is presented, not in the usual CD jewel case but in a book style plastic case which you 'click' to open or close. The case will sit elegantly and comfortably on your bookshelf amongst other slim volumes. The case has a paper insert (sealed in) which, in subdued tones, carries a portrait of Nielsen and his signature blazoned prominently across the background.

The screen design is, as I say, rather sober and many will warm to this. Neon lights and animations are hardly Nielsen's style. However the text is legible and buttons to navigate are always on-screen. All the usual facilities are available.

Inside the plastic case is the single CD and a booklet which in Danish and English gives the installation instructions and maps out the structure of the disc.

The booklet introduces Nielsen (though anyone who has bought the disc is likely to know more than the basics anyway) and sets out the salient details of his reputation.

His biography is given in detail via 115 soberly attractive screens deployed across eight chapters. Each screen is free-standing yet sequential screens can be viewed to follow the story of his life.

There are many photographs and other illlustrations. These make for an extremely attractive user experience.

The music is dealt with exhaustively. Analyses varying from the highly technical to the more colourfully subjective tackle 57 of his works. Amongst the nine contributors appears Gramophone contributor David Fanning.

The works are catalogued under a revised and cleaned up Dan Fog and Torben Schousboe list. The FS numbers have been suitably updated and the latest (March 1998) Nielsen scholarship reflected in the end-product. Full details of editions, arrangements, premieres, scoring, MSS location etc are given.

There is a bibliography organised by language and subdivided into books, correspondence, essays, newspaper articles, interviews, lectures, speeches and programme notes. The discography gives full details of all issues of a particular recording and spans the years 1903-1998. There are also circa 250 pictures and 65 brief audio samples. Four video clips are also given.

The text is full searchable and may be copied into your Windows word processor. Hyperlinks make casual browsing and pursuit of themes an easy and pleasurable process.

The written instructions are easy to follow.

The disc is filled to the maximum at 623Mb.


What about the technicalities? I ran my copy on a 3 year old 150Mhz pentium with 48Mb RAM. According to the booklet it will run on a 486 DX2/66Mhz though it prefers a 100Mhz Pentium.

It needs an SVGA graphics card with 1Mb RAM and certified for use with Windows 95 and Direct X. The monitor must be able to handle 800x600. To get the sound you need a 16 bit card. 8Mb RAM is the minimum plus a 4x speed (or better) CD-ROM and a minimum of 130Mb of free hard disc space. In these days of standard hard drives of 10Gb hard drives this may not be a problem. However not everyone has these and while some may have upgraded older machines to meet the other requirements in years gone by there may well be quite a few people who may be struggling to free up so much space to run the CD and continue use of the machine for other purposes. You can however run the reference off the CD but it will slow down access to the materials on the disc.

There is a brief troubleshooting section in the booklet.

Now I have hopes of similar CD-ROMs for Martinu, Bax and Sibelius. Alternatively how about a CD-ROM celebrating the lives of the many British composers who made up the British Musical Renaissance from say 1850-2000? I want it to be truly encyclopaedic covering the major figures (Elgar, Britten, RVW, Bax, Tippett) and the 'minor' ones (Foulds, Gibbs, Brian, Holbrooke, Moeran, Stanley Wilson etc etc).


Rob Barnett

Music Sales Ltd. Sales & Distribution Centre Newmarket Road,  Bury St. Edmunds Suffolk IP33 3YB United Kingdom Pnce: £24.95 + postage (£1.00 in UK)

Credit card orders by phone are possible

Shawnee Press, Inc.  49 Waring Drive  Delaware Water Gap PA 18327 U.S.A.

Price: $39.95 + postage ($2-3 depending on shipping location)

Credit card orders by phone are possible


Rob Barnett

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