Symphonic Fairytales


As part of the Hans Christian Andersen 200th anniversary celebrations in 2005, Edition·S initiated a large-scale, global partnership program called Symphonic Fairytales.

Ten Danish composers created orchestral works based on Andersen’s fairytales that were launched on his birthday, April 2nd 2005. The new works were performed worldwide throughout the year by a large number of orchestras – from Hanoi to Santiago de Chile, Sydney to Reykjavik. More than ten thousand children and their families enjoyed one of the 70+ concerts, and the music was broadcast to approximately 200 million TV viewers and radio listeners.

FOUR ways of telling a story
The Symphonic Fairytales catalogue contains four main types of orchestral work – all based on Hans Christian Andersen’s writing.

The integrated work
A large-scale concept that integrates children in the performance (singing or playing percussion) – also with solists, narrator, SATB choir. This type of work opens great opportunities for outreach involving local music education and community networks. See John Frandsen’s The ShadowBent Lorentzen’s The Tinder-Box, Svend Nielsen’s The Swine Herd, and Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen’s Thumbelina.

The read tale
A bullet-proof format for narration with orchestral accompaniment written in the tradition of Peter and the Wolf and other much-loved pieces. Symphonic Fairytales includes several works of this kind – Fuzzy’s The Travelling Companion and Morten Olsen’s The Little Match Girl and Other Tales.

We also recommend Fuzzy’s The Woman with the Eggs (1992/97) – a very enjoyable tale of high hopes that all come crashing down! There’s also Sven Erik Werner’s The Most Incredible Thing (1997).

The Orchestral Lied
The personal side of the writer Andersen. Experienced symphonic composers such as Sven Erik Werner Fabliau (soprano solo and orchestra) and Ib Nørholm Impressions (version for piano and mixed choir) have contributed to the catalogue with inventive compositions that use both poems, personal letters and the travel diaries of Andersen, showing his highly complex and interesting personality.

Tone Poem 
The purely instrumental – perhaps with visuals developed in a local partership? Recommended for both young and more adult audiences. Jesper Koch works out the complicated, dream-like aspects of The Snow Queen in an almost 30 minute long composition for full orchestra.

A creative event can be organized around a work like Finn Høffding’s It’s Quite True! (1943) – the story of how gossip makes a single feather swell till it is as big as five fowls. Or consider Knudåge Riisager’s Klods-Hans (1929) based on the legendary Jack the Dullard.