Ole Schmidt (1928-2010)

Ole Schmidt was not only a composer, he was also a conducter, jazz pianist, educator and Carl Nielsen expert. Schmidt received a degree in piano, composition and conducting from The Royal Danish Academy of Music in 1952 and debuted as a composer and conductor in 1955.

Amongst others, Schmidt was at The Royal Danish Theatre from 1959-65, chief conductor of Hamburger Symphoniker 1969-70, Danish Radio Sinfonietta (1971-1974) and artistic director of Aarhus Symphony Orchestra 1978-84. In addition to that, he was a principal guest conductor at the Royal Northern College of Music i Manchester. In 1973 and 1974 he drew critical acclaim and international recognition when he became the first conductor to record as well as conduct a cycle of Carl Nielsen's symphonies performed by London Symphony Orchestra at Church of St. Giles. Ole Schmidt actually started his career as a jazz pianist and his production of music ranges from orchestra, chamber and choir music to theatre, ballet and film music. He famously composed the music for Carl Theodore Dreyer's 1928 silent film "The Passion of Joan of Arc" in 1983, which he toured the world with. Ole Schmidt received the Carl Nielsen award.

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Dougie Scarfe, Chorus and Orchestra Director of Opera north, said about Ole Schmidt and his music for "The Passion of Joan of Arc":

"Schmidt was a wonderful conductor – he famously recorded the first complete cycle of Nielsen Symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra in the 60’s – but was also a distinguished jazz pianist, a great educator, a significant composer and hugely entertaining man to be around. He conducted his score for this film all over the world and when I originally talked about this film to our Projects Director Dominic Gray about five or six years ago, I had hoped that when we did it, Ole would conduct. Sadly the great man passed away recently. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have played for the great Ole Schmidt on a number of occasions whilst at the RNCM, including Nielsen’s 4th Symphony and Janáček’s From the House of the Dead."

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