Nielsen, Carl (nēlˈsən, Dan. nĭlˈsən) [key], 1865–1931, Danish composer. Nielsen was a pupil of Niels Gade at the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen. Considered Denmark's foremost composer, he is known internationally primarily for his six symphonies. Nielsen also composed one concerto apiece for flute, clarinet, and violin; two operas, Saul and David and Maskarade ; a woodwind quintet; four string quartets; songs; incidental music; and many other chamber, choral, and piano pieces. His orchestral writing is extremely dense in texture. His music is frequently polyphonic and often strongly melodic. Although he never abandoned tonality, he built works from contrasting key centers, so that they give little sense of a tonic key. Nielsen's books include Living Music (1925, tr. 1953) and My Childhood (1927, tr. 1953).
See M. Miller, The Nielsen Companion (1995); biography by K. Eskildsen (1999); studies by R. Simpson (1952 and 1965).