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Copnhagen Academy Orchestra & Chorus (Choir & Orchestra)

Orchestra Founded: 1899 - Copenhagen, Denmark
Choir Founded: 1935 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Academic Orchestra was founded in Copenhagen in 1899 and in 1935 Academic Choir was formed. It is an ensemble rich in tradition, and the Choir especially has managed to bring these traditions into the present.

Although originally a student ensemble Academic Choir today is a diverse group of about a hundred singers.

Throughout the years Academic Orchestra and Choir has performed many of the major choral works and the Choir is particularly renowned as an oratorio choir.

Danish: Akademisk Orkester og Kor; German: Akademisches Orchester und Chor Kopenhagen


Academic Orchestra was founded in 1899, and was directed by Walter Meyer-Radon from 1931. After the choir of the Cecilia Society (Cæciliaforeningens) and the Music Association (Musikforeningens) had ended, there was a need for a new big concert choir, and on Wednesday, January 16, 1935, Academic Choir was formed with Walter Meyer-Radon as conductor. From the start there were 125 singers in the choir, but already at the first concert a few months later was the number 160.

The choir firstly performed in the so-called Wagner Hall in the Palace (Wagner-sal i Palæ-lokalerne), Klerkegade 2, ie the current Musicology Institute, which in recent years has served as an alternative rehearsal room for the choir. After a while, the choir moved to Borgerdyd School (Øster Borgerdyd Skole).

A highlight of the early years was the choir's contribution to a revival in 1942 of L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Royal Chapel (Kongelige Kapel) conducted by by Thomas Jensen. The concert took place in the KB HalL. Kai Flor wrote the following day in Berlingske Tidende: "Beautifully sounded Academic Choir". Due to the great audience interest, the concert had to be repeated the same place a few days later. The following year, the Academic Orchestra and Choir performed in the Odd Fellow Palace (Odd Fellowpalæet), Haydn's Creation with, among others, Aksel Schiøtz as a soloist. However, the concert was interrupted by air alarm after the start of the last part.

The membership of the choir has continued to grow over the years, so that after the occupation there were about 200 singers, almost twice as many as today.

On March 6, 1946, the choir sang for the first time the George Frideric Handel's Messiah in a concert at Copenhagen Cathedral (Københavns Domkirke). The soloists were Edith Oldrup, Else Brems, Aksel Schiøtz and Einar Nørby. The work was sung in Danish. Ever since, the choir has performed the Messiah in December (except for a single detour in 1951 to J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorium (BWV 248)), and it was only from 1964 that the English text was used. It is enough for these Christmas concerts that the choir is best known, and it has become some performances over time, even exactly to 75! The 50th anniversary of the association in 1949, like the choir's 60th anniversary, was now marked with a concert at the Cathedral with J.S. Bach's Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244). On Walter Meyer-Radon's 25th anniversary in 1957, Elverskud was performed, and the choir was reinforced with the Handelsstandens Kor, so there were no more than 200 singers in Academic Choir at that time. There is a gramophone recording with extracts from the work.

In 1962, the choir moved to Frederiksberg Gymnasium (the present Ny Hollændervejens Skole), but since 1994 the choir started practicing at Falkonergårdens Gymnasium.

In fierce competition with none other than the Wiener Philharmoniker, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, who gave a concert at the Falcon Center (Falkonercentret) on April 3, 1962, there was the same evening in the Odd Fellow Palace (Odd Fellowpalæet) farewell concert for Walter Meyer-Radon, where Verdi's Requiem was listed at ticket prices from 6 to 12 DKK against H.v. Karajan's 10 to 45 kr.!

The new conductor was Ringoldas Kaufmanas, which was replaced by Peter Petersen in 1971, followed in 1974 by Steen Lindholm. From autumn 1975 the conductor has been Morten Topp. His great merit has been that the choir, under his skillful and inspiring leadership, must again be said to be a good oratorio choir.

A highlight in recent years has been two performances in 1983 and 1985 of Haydn's Creation at Tivoli's Concert Hall (Tivolis Koncertsal) and in the Odd Fellow Palace (Odd Fellowpalæet). The soloists in both were Inga Nielsen, Erland Hagegård and Robert Holl. In Information, Hansgeorg Lenz wrote after the first concert: "That is Academic Choir, which has presented them [ie. Inga Nielsen and Robert Holl] is an initiative that is honored in the full sense of the word." In 1987 the choir had Danish first performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem in the Cathedral. Never at any of their concerts has been so much attention from the musicians, who did not like the work, but praised the performance. The first of the two concerts was broadcast by the radio.

The rehearsals of the choir has been handled by Hans Meyer-Petersen, Gregers Gamborg, Inger Marie Thomsen and Ulla Kappel. It will be too far to mention all co-instructors, but the latest has been Stefan Haugland. Presidents of the Academic Orchestra & Choir have since 1935 been Leif Gamborg, Bjørn Gamborg, Hans Olsen, Ernst Philipson, Oscar Lenslev, Bente Didriksen and Mogens Detlif.


Walter Meyer-Radon (1931-1962)
Ringoldas Kaufmanas (1962-1971)
Peter Petersen (1971-1974)
Steen Lindholm (1974-1975)
Morten Topp (1975-Present)


Source: Akademisk Orkester og Kor (Author: Mogens Detlif, Srptember 14, 1995), English translation by Aryeh Oron (July 2017)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2017)

Walter Meyer-Radon: Short Biography | Copenhagen Academy Orchestra & Chorus | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Akademisk Orkester og Kor (Official Website) [mostly Danish]

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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Last update: Friday, October 06, 2017 14:31