Adam Oehlenschläger

Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger[1] (Danish pronunciation: [ˈøːˀl̩nslɛːɐ]; 14 November 1779 – 20 January 1850) was a Danish poet and playwright. He introduced romanticism into Danish literature.

Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger
Portrait of Adam Oehlenschläger by Christian Albrecht Jensen (1825)
Portrait of Adam Oehlenschläger by Christian Albrecht Jensen (1825)
Born14 November 1779
Copenhagen, Denmark
Died20 January 1850 (aged 70)
Copenhagen, Denmark
OccupationPoet, playwright

Adam Oehlenschläger - signature


He was born in Vesterbro, then a suburb of Copenhagen, on 14 November 1779. His father, a Schleswiger by birth, was at that time organist, and later became keeper, of the royal palace of Frederiksberg; he was a very brisk and cheerful man. The poet's mother, on the other hand, who was partly German by extraction, suffered from depression, which afterwards deepened into melancholy madness.[2]

Oehlenschläger and his sister Sophie were allowed their own way throughout their childhood, and were taught nothing, except to read and write, until their twelfth year. At the age of nine, Oehlenschläger began to make fluent verses. Three years later, while walking in Frederiksberg Gardens, he attracted the notice of the poet Edvard Storm, and the result of the conversation was that he received a nomination to the college called Posterity's High School, an important institution of which Storm was the principal. Storm himself taught the class of Scandinavian mythology, and thus Oehlenschläger received his earliest bias towards the poetical religion of his ancestors.[2]

Oehlenschläger was confirmed in 1795, and was to have been apprenticed to a tradesman in Copenhagen. To his great delight there was a hitch in the preliminaries, and he returned to his father's house. He now, in his eighteenth year, suddenly took up study with great zeal, but soon again abandoned his books for the stage, where he was offered a small position. In 1797 he made his appearance on the boards in several successive parts, but soon discovered that he possessed no real histrionic talent. The brothers Ørsted, with whom he had formed an intimacy that proved quite profitable to him, persuaded him to quit the stage, and in 1800 he entered the University of Copenhagen as a student. He was doomed, however, to disturbance in his studies, first from the death of his mother, next from his inveterate tendency towards poetry, and finally from the First Battle of Copenhagen in April 1801, which, however, inspired a dramatic sketch (April the Second 1801) which is the first thing of the kind by Oehlenschläger that we possess.[2]

Adam Gottlob Oehlenschlager by Julius Schultz in Søndermarken 1
Statue of Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger in Frederiksberg Gardens (Copenhagen)

In the summer of 1802, when Oehlenschläger had an old Scandinavian romance, as well as a volume of lyrics, in the press, the young Norse philosopher, Henrik Steffens, came back to Copenhagen after a long visit to Schelling in Germany, full of new romantic ideas. His lectures at the university, in which Goethe and Schiller were revealed to the Danish public for the first time, created a great sensation. Steffens and Oehlenschläger met one day at Dreier's Club, and after a conversation of sixteen hours the latter went home, suppressed his two coming volumes, and wrote at a sitting his splendid poem Guldhornene, in a manner totally new to Danish literature. The result of his new enthusiasm speedily showed itself in a somewhat hasty volume of poems, published in 1803, now chiefly remembered as containing the lovely piece called Sanct Hansaften-Spil.[2]

The next two years saw the production of several exquisite works, in particular the epic of Thors Reise til Jotunheim, the charming poem in hexameters called Langelandsreisen, and the bewitching piece of fantasy Aladdin (1805). At the age of twenty-six, Oehlenschläger was universally recognised, even by the opponents of the romantic revival, as the leading poet of Denmark. He now collected his Poetical Writings in two volumes. He found no difficulty in obtaining a grant for foreign travel from the government, and he left his native country for the first time, joining Steffens at Halle in August 1805. Here he wrote the first of his great historical tragedies, Hakon Jarl, which he sent off to Copenhagen, and then proceeded for the winter months to Berlin, where he associated with Humboldt, Fichte, and the leading men of the day, and met Goethe for the first time.[2]

In the spring of 1806 he went on to Weimar, where he spent several months in daily intercourse with Goethe. The autumn of the same year he spent with Tieck in Dresden, and proceeded in December to Paris. Here he resided eighteen months and wrote his three famous masterpieces, Baldur hin Gode (1808), Palnatoke (1809), and Axel og Valborg (1810).[2] Oehlenschläger had also made his own translation of Aladdin into German, adding some extra new material which does not appear in the 1805 edition; this revised version was published in Amsterdam in 1808. Ferruccio Busoni later used the text of this translation for the last (choral) movement of his Piano Concerto Op. 39. Later editions of Oehlenschläger's play do not contain this text.[3]

In July 1808 he left Paris and spent the autumn and winter in Switzerland as the guest of Madame de Staël at Coppet, in the midst of her circle of wits. In the spring of 1809 Oehlenschläger went to Rome to visit Bertel Thorvaldsen, and in his house wrote his tragedy of Correggio. He hurriedly returned to Denmark in the spring of 1810, partly to take the chair of aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen, partly to marry the sister-in-law of Rahbek, to whom he had been long betrothed. His first course of lectures dealt with his Danish predecessor Johannes Ewald, the second with Schiller. From this time forward his literary activity became very great; in 1811 he published the Oriental tale of Ali og Gulhyndi, and in 1812 the last of his great tragedies, Stærkodder.[2]

From 1814 to 1819 he, or rather his admirers, were engaged in a long and angry controversy with Baggesen, who represented the old didactic school. This contest seems to have disturbed the peace of Oehlenschläger's mind and to have undermined his genius. His talent may be said to have culminated in the glorious cycle of verse-romances called Helge, published in 1814. The tragedy of Hagbarth og Signe, (1815), showed a distinct falling-off in style. In 1817 he went back to Paris, and published Hroars Saga and the tragedy of Fostbrødrene. In 1818 he was again in Copenhagen, and wrote the idyll of Den lille Hyrdedreng and the Eddaic cycle called Nordens Guder. His next productions were the tragedies of Erik og Abel (1820) and Væringerne i Miklagaard (1826), and the epic of Hrolf Krake (1829). His last volumes were Tordenskjold (1833), Dronning Margrethe (1833), Sokrates (1835), Olaf den Hellige (1836), Knud den Store (1838), Dina (1842), Erik Glipping (1843), and Kiartan og Gudrun (1847). On his seventieth birthday, 14 November 1849, a public festival was arranged in his honour, and he was decorated by the king of Denmark under circumstances of great pomp. He died on 20 January 1850 and was buried in the cemetery of Frederiksberg. Immediately after his death his Recollections were published in two volumes.[2]


Oehlenschlaeger and Tegner
Oehlenschläger being hailed with laurels as "The Nordic Poet-king" by his Swedish contemporary Esaias Tegnér as a gesture of reconciliation between the two peoples

With the exception of Ludvig Holberg, no Danish writer before 1870 has exercised so wide an influence as Oehlenschläger. His great work was to awaken in the breasts of his countrymen an enthusiasm for the poetry and religion of their ancestors, and this he performed to so complete an extent that his name remains to this day synonymous with Scandinavian romance. He supplied his countrymen with romantic tragedies at the very moment when all eyes were turned to the stage, and when the old-fashioned pieces were felt to be inadequate. His plays, partly no doubt in consequence of his own early familiarity with acting, fulfilled the stage requirements of the day, and were popular beyond all expectation. The earliest are the best: Oehlenschlager's dramatic masterpiece being, without doubt, his first tragedy, Hakon Jarl. In his poems and plays alike his style is limpid, elevated, profuse; his flight is sustained at a high pitch without visible excitement. His fluent tenderness and romantic zest have been the secrets of his extreme popularity. Although his inspiration came from Germany, he is not much like a German poet, except when he is consciously following Goethe; his analogy is rather to be found among English poets than his contemporaries. His mission towards antiquity reminds us of Scott; he sometimes has touches of exquisite diction and of overwrought sensibility which recall Coleridge. In his wide ambition and profuseness he possessed some characteristics of Robert Southey, although his style has far more vitality. With all his faults he was a very great writer, and one of the principal pioneers of the romantic movement in Europe.[2]

In 1829 he was publicly crowned with laurel as the "king of Nordic poetry" and the "Scandinavian King of Song"[2] (by Bishop Esaias Tegnér, who would be his Swedish parallel) in the cathedral of Lund, Sweden, based on a vast production of poetry, theatre plays and prose, inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Gottlieb Fichte, and Friedrich von Schelling. (See also Jens Immanuel Baggesen)

He wrote the song "Der er et yndigt land", which is now the national anthem of Denmark.[4]



  1. ^ Oehlenschläger's name is written with Oe and a-umlaut (ä), not with the usual Danish Ø and æ.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGosse, Edmund (1911). "Öhlenschläger, Adam Gottlob" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 33–34.
  3. ^ Beaumont 1985, p. 62.
  4. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. "Not One but Two National Anthems". Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  5. ^ Handelsblad (Het) 27-11-1849


External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Jens Wilken Hornemann
Rector of University of Copenhagen
Succeeded by
Jens Møller
1779 in Denmark

Events from the year 1779 in Denmark.

1829 in Denmark

Events from the year 1829 in Denmark.

1850 in Denmark

Events from the year 1850 in Denmark.

Aladdin (play)

Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp is a play by Adam Oehlenschläger. The play was published in Poetiske Skrifter, bind 2 from 1805.

The play is based upon the story of Aladdin in One Thousand and One Nights.

Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp is part of the Danish Culture Canon, maintained by the Danish Ministry of Culture.

Axel and Valborg

Axel and Valborg (Danish: Axel og Valborg) is a tragedy in five acts by Adam Oehlenschläger. It was written in Paris in 1808 and printed in Copenhagen in 1810. There is an English translation by F. S. Kolle.

The story is taken from a Danish romantic ballad, the last verse of which Oehlenschläger used as a motto:

The ballad was well known throughout the Scandinavian countries long before Oehlenschläger's time. In Ludvig Holberg's poem “Peder Paars,” the bailiff's wife was almost drowned in a flood of tears because parts of it had been read to her.

The whole action of the drama takes place in the famous Trondhjem Cathedral, in Norway, during the reign of Haakon Herdebred. Axel and Valborg are cousins who love each other. In spite of the pope's dispensation removing the legal impediment, a scheming monk prevents their marriage. In this tragedy of a Northern woman's true and constant devotion, the beauty of the ballad is brought to its full fruition. In its simplicity, its pathos and tragic ending, it makes an almost overwhelming impression on the spectator. (Compare it with Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson's The Fisher Maiden.)

In his own generation, Oehlenschläger's Axel and Valborg was the most favored and admired of all his writings. Through it, the romantic-sentimental style of poetry gained general favor. When Baggesen, beginning his review in a critical and hostile spirit, reached the famous lines spoken by the pure and innocent Valborg, as she crowns her lover's initials with flowers: “I bid thee, my love, good morning,” he was absolutely carried away and praised the work in the highest terms.

Catiline (play)

Catiline or Catilina was Henrik Ibsen's first play. It was written during winter 1848–49 and first performed under Ibsen's name on 3 December 1881 at the Nya Teatern (New Theater), Stockholm, Sweden. The first performance of Catilina in Norway not under Ibsen's pseudonym (Brynjolf Bjarme) was at Det Nye Teater in Oslo on 24 August 1935.

Forced to support himself after his father's economic downfall, during a national economic crisis, Ibsen went to Grimstad as a pharmacist's apprentice. There he both prepared himself for university and experimented with various forms of poetry. While studying, he found himself passionately drawn into the Catiline orations, famous speeches by Cicero against the elected questor Catiline and his conspiracy to overthrow the republic. Ibsen chose this conspirator as the subject for his initial effort, finishing Catiline in 1849. Ibsen expresses in the prologue to the second edition (1875) that he was profoundly inspired by the contemporary political situation of Europe, and that he favored the Magyar uprising against the Habsburg empire. He explains that the case of Catiline had special interest for him, because "there are given few examples of historical persons, whose memory has been more entirely in the possession of their conquerors, than Catiline". Thus, Catiline can be read as one of Ibsen's troubled (and troubling) heroes, alongside Brand and Gregers Werle.

The play appeared in Christiania the following spring under Ibsen's early pseudonym, Brynjolf Bjarme.The main character in this historical drama is the noble Roman Lucius Catilina, based on the historical figure of Catiline. He is torn between two women, his wife Aurelia and the Vestal virgin Furia. As characteristic of Ibsen's early work, the play is in blank verse.

Although Catiline may not be among Ibsen's best plays, it foreshadows many of the themes found in his later works. Catilina, full of doubts and torn between love and duty, is similar to protagonists in John Gabriel Borkman and The Master Builder.Furia is also the prototype of some of the later female characters, such as Hedda Gabler.

Ibsen was not the first playwright to dramatize the story of Catiline. Ben Jonson wrote a tragedy on the subject, called Catiline, His Conspiracy, in 1611.

Asked later what he had read when he wrote Catiline, Ibsen replied that he had read only the Danish Norse saga-inspired Romantic tragedian Adam Oehlenschläger and Ludvig Holberg, "the Scandinavian Molière". [BBC Radio 4's In Our Time from Thursday, May 31st, 2018]

Danish Golden Age

The Danish Golden Age (Danish: Den danske guldalder) covers a period of exceptional creative production in Denmark, especially during the first half of the 19th century. Although Copenhagen had suffered from fires, bombardment and national bankruptcy, the arts took on a new period of creativity catalysed by Romanticism from Germany. The period is probably most commonly associated with the Golden Age of Danish Painting from 1800 to around 1850 which encompasses the work of Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg and his students, including Wilhelm Bendz, Christen Købke, Martinus Rørbye, Constantin Hansen and Wilhelm Marstrand, as well as the sculpture of Bertel Thorvaldsen.

It also saw the development of Danish architecture in the Neoclassical style. Copenhagen, in particular, acquired a new look, with buildings designed by Christian Frederik Hansen and Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll.

In relation to music, the Golden Age covers figures inspired by Danish romantic nationalism including J. P. E. Hartmann, Hans Christian Lumbye, Niels W. Gade and the ballet master August Bournonville. Literature centred on Romantic thinking, introduced in 1802 by the Norwegian-German philosopher Henrik Steffens. Key contributors were Adam Oehlenschläger, Bernhard Severin Ingemann, N. F. S. Grundtvig and, last but not least, Hans Christian Andersen, the proponent of the modern fairytale. Søren Kierkegaard furthered philosophy while Hans Christian Ørsted achieved fundamental progress in science. The Golden Age thus had a profound effect not only on life in Denmark but, with time, on the international front too.

Der er et yndigt land

"Der er et yndigt land" (Danish pronunciation: [tæɐ̯ ˈæɐ̯ et ˈøntit ˈlænˀ] or [ta -]), commonly translated into English as "There is a lovely country", is one of the national anthems of Denmark.


HF-Centret Efterslægten (Danish, "future generations") was founded as Efterslægtselskabets Skole by the philanthropic society Selskabet for Efterslægten on 4 March 1786 as a lower middle school and started teaching on 3 January 1787. In 1881 it also became a Latin school (grammar school) and in 1886 the first students with the Danish Studenter-eksamen graduated. In 1919 the institution was taken over by the Copenhagen Municipality, and 1958 the school began admission of girls. In 1991, the school changed name into "HF-Centret Efterslægten", and in 1993 the last students were graduated with Studenter-eksamen, as now the Higher Preparatory Examination (HF) is offered instead, both as a two-year programme and as individual courses for young people and adults. School motto: Non nobis (Latin: Not for our own sakes).

Adam Oehlenschläger described his time at the school with great satisfaction.

From 1790, Efterslægten was housed in a beautiful renaissance building, demolished in 1913 to make room for the department store Illum. The demolition contributed to endeavours to legislate about conservation of cultural heritage buildings in Denmark, successful in 1918. Since 1940, the school has been housed in its buildings near Utterslev Mose in Brønshøj.

Eline Heger

Eline (Ellen Marie) Heger, née Schmidt (13 December 1774 in Copenhagen – 6 June 1842 in Tårbæk), was a Danish stage actress.

She was the daughter of Thomas Schmidt and Anne Reinsdorf. Her mother washed clothes for a living, and placed her a student in the ballet school of the Royal Danish Theatre in 1789. She debuted as an actress in 1793 and was employed in 1794. She was to be famed as a tragic heroine on stage.

Among her admirers were Knud Lyne Rahbek and Henrich Steffen. Adam Oehlenschläger is considered to have used her as a role model for the Nordic heroine in his tragedies, and it is for her interpretations of his plays that she is most known. She retired after a stroke in 1832.

Married to the actor Stephan Heger in 1797, she was the mother of Elise Holst, who replaced her in the same parts she used to play at the theatre after her retirement.

Frederik Ludvig Liebenberg

Frederik Ludvig Liebenberg (August 16, 1810 – 23 January 1894), was a Danish literary historian, translator, critic and publisher. He is remembered especially for his editions of Ludvig Holberg and Adam Oehlenschläger.

Frederiksberg Church

Frederiksberg Church (Danish: Frederiksberg Kirke) is the oldest church building in the Frederiksberg district of Copenhagen, Denmark. Completed in 1734, it is built to an unusual octagonal design in Baroque style. It is situated at Frederiksberg Runddel in front of the main entrance to Frederiksberg Gardens, on the corner of Frederiksberg Allé and Pile Allé,

Hakon Jarl (Smetana)

Hakon Jarl (Op. 16) is a symphonic poem in C minor composed by Bedřich Smetana between 1860 and 1861. It is based on the historical tragedy of the same name by the Danish poet and playwright Adam Oehlenschläger. The play's protagonist and namesake is Håkon Jarl who ruled Norway in the late 10th century.

Hans Ernst Krøyer

Hans Ernst (sometimes Ernest) Krøyer (31 January 1798 – 24 March 1879) was a Danish composer.

Krøyer was born in Copenhagen and the son of Bernt Anker Krøyer and Johanne Margrethe (née Schrøder), as well as the brother of Henrik Nikolai Krøyer.

He is best remembered as the composer of today's Danish national anthem Der er et yndigt land (There is a Lovely Country) in 1835, after lyrics by Adam Oehlenschläger.He became cantor at the Royal Singers of the Chapel of Christiansborg castle in Copenhagen in 1844.

Krøyer died in Copenhagen.

List of compositions by Niels Gade

The following is a list of the compositions of Niels Gade (1817-1890).

List of songs composed by Carl Nielsen

This is a list of the songs and hymns composed by Carl Nielsen.

Schack von Staffeldt

Schack von Staffeldt (28 March 1769 - 28 December 1826) or Adolph Wilhelm Schack von Staffeldt was a Danish author of two collections of poetry. He is famous for "being late", publishing his collection of poetry intended to introduce Romanticism in Denmark a year after his younger rival, Adam Oehlenschläger did it. Staffeldt was not held in high regard in his own time but is acknowledged as one of the most important Romantic Danish poets by later generations.

Talking Statues

Talking Statues is a project that was started and invented by David Peter Fox in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2013, where 10 statues started talking though modern technology via a smartphone. The statue of Hans Christian Andersen in King's Garden in Copenhagen was the first talking statue in the world. Later the project was made in Helsinki, London, San Diego, Chicago, Vilnius and Berlin.

Vilhelm Andersen

Vilhelm Rasmus Andreas Andersen (16 October 1864 – 3 April 1953) was a Danish author, literary historian and intellectual, who primarily focused on the study of Danish literature. He was one of the first to use the term "Golden Age of Culture" to refer to the 1800s, and his focus on bringing Danish literature to the public earned him great popularity. Andersen was instrumental in the development of the School of Radio, as a means of disseminating public education to prevent loss of cultural identity and treasures.

Danish Golden Age (1800–1850)
Theologians and
Visual artists
Related topics

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.