Kai Normann Andersen

1900 - 1967

Danish

Summary

The Danish composer Kai Normann Andersen must be said to have left a strong imprint on Danish popular consciousness. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s seve­ral of his works were used in Danish films, musicals and revues, where his cheerful, swinging music proved particularly suitable. Hits like Titte til hinanden (Peeping at each other) (1932), Gå med i lunden (Into the green grove) (1932) and "Undskyld hr. – må jeg byde dem et kirsebær” (‘Scuse me, Sir – can I offer you a cherry, Sir?) (1933) represent just a small selection of Kai Normann Andersen’s extensive repertoire, which included over 900 songs. Timeless classics which to this day are still played on the radio and TV, and which exist in many interpretations. 

Kai Normann Andersen composed much of his music to texts by Mogens Dam and Poul Henningsen (PH). During the German Occupation in the 1940s his coope­ration with PH was manifested in a number of revue songs sung by Liva Weel. Among these was the tango by Normann Andersen to PH’s controversial text Man binder os på mund og hånd (Our lips are sealed, our hands are tied) (1940), which was used in the play Dyveke. The text bears clear marks of PH’s ideas of freedom of thought and speech, and went right to the limit of what the censors of the German Occupation permitted. The text of the third verse is therefore omitted in the original recording. Nevertheless the song is just one of several works that resulted from a close collaboration where getting the notes and rhythm to follow the content of the text was in focus, and where the spirit of the Danes was pivotal.
Critical Acclaim
...Kai Normann Andersen (1900-1967) was a one-man institution with tons of revue classics behind him. - Gaffa 


...Pige Træd Varsomt og Man Binder Os På Mund Og Hånd are titles that enable most Danes forever green reminiscense of the old days - Gaffa

Biography

Kai Normann Andersen was one of the leading, most productive songwriters and composers in Denmark in the first half of the twentieth century.  He trained originally as a banker. At the age of just 19, however, he terminated his bank job to travel around the provinces as a conductor. In his leisure time he composed catchy melodies, and by the time he was 22 he had become famous countrywide for a number of songs for the Copenhagen Scala Revue.

Throughout the 1920s Kai Normann Andersen wrote a long series of charming, bright, light songs, all the while perfecting his musical craftsmanship through studies in music theory. In 1926 he became the regular composer-in-residence for the revue troupe ‘the Co-optimists’ who included the writer Ludvig Brendstrup – one of Norman Andersen’s regular lyricists and working partners.

In the 1930s Kai Norman Andersen joined the creatives taff of both the Apollo and Dagmar revues in Copenhagen. From there it was not far to operettas and music for the theatre. Titles like Land­mandsliv (1933), Der var en gang på Frederiksberg (1938) and Når bønder elsker (1942) quickly became sure standards in the Danish operetta and vaudeville tradition.

Alongside music for revues and theatre, Kai Normann Andersen also wrote music for films. His effective hits meant that he quickly became a regular composer for several Danish film studios. Songs from films like Alle går rundt og forelsker sig, Man elsker kun én gang and Meet me on Cassiopeia still have a solid hold on the oldest generation of Danes, and the songs still find their way to the mass media in new musical garb, used as pop and jazz standards and in theatre concerts. 

World War II and the German Occupation of Denmark gave Kai Normann Andersen’s music a more serious tone. The writer Poul Henningsen (P.H.) and Kai Normann Andersen’s song Man binder os på hånd og mund from the revue Dyveke (1940) is an intimate, deeply felt expression of the Danish animosity and resistance towards the German occupying forces.

 His talent was solid and his work ethos high. On his death Kai Normann Andersen left more than 900 songs and melodies which more than any others can stand beside Carl Nielsen’s songs as Danish national heritage.

Hjarne Fessel 2014

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