Frederik Carl Lemming (1782-1846)

Frederik Carl Lemming was a virtuoso guitarist and violinist, born in Denmark but travelled widely to South Africa, Rio de Janeiro, and elsewhere.  His Grande Fantaisie for guitar solo is now available in Tecla.

Here is an extended biography of Lemming, by Jens Bang-Rasmussen.

Frederik Carl Lemming was born in Denmark. His father was the captain of a small ferryboat on one of the islands in Denmark. Thanks to his restless nature and his original character, Lemming dropped out of his studies and began to travel the world. In South Africa he learned to master the guitar, and he travelled for much of the rest of his life, living in Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Copenhagen, Oslo, different cities in Norway, and in Stockholm.

In February 1818 he was honoured with the title Royal Chamber Musician by King Frederick VI of Denmark.

He was a very successful musician, and wherever he was in the world, he became a leading figure in musical life. He performed as a guitar virtuoso, a violin virtuoso, a conductor, a harpist, and he played on an instrument of his own invention, a glass harmonica.

Lemming taught the violin to the young Norwegian Ole Bull, who is known as one of the greatest of Scandinavian musicians, and Lemming's technique affected Ole Bull's playing for the rest of his life. Lemming's Etudes Fantastiques for solo violin, which are virtuoso studies in the style of Paganini, were in use for many years.

Lemming ended his life in a mental institution close to where he grew up in Denmark, a sad end for one of the greatest true originals of Danish nineteenth century music history.

The Grande Fantaisie pour la guitare is the only piece by Lemming known to have survived until today. He wrote solo and chamber music for guitar and other instruments, and it is known that a set of variations for guitar and orchestra by him existed.

The Grande Fantaisie, like many early nineteenth century guitar compositions, conserves some lute technique, for example with chords played with a stroke of the thumb, and melodies played with the m and i finger, very rarely the a finger.

The title-page of the original edition of this work reads as follows: Grande Fantaisie pour la guitare composée par Frederik Carl Lemming Musicien de la Chambre de Sa Majesté le Roi de Danemarc. Propriété de l'Auteur. Christiania [Oslo] chez H.T. Winther. The edition can be dated October 1822. Copy: private collection.

Thanks to Erling Møldrup for his research on Lemming and for giving me access to the original score. He has made a fine recording which includes this work, Guitaren et eksoisk instrument i den danske musik, Kontrapunkt/Steeplechase Productions EK6001, 1997.

Jens Bang-Rasmussen



Other Danish guitar composers in Tecla:

Soffren Degen (1816-1885)

Henrik Rung (1807-1871)

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Copyright 2009 by Tecla Editions. Errors and omissions excepted.