Jacob Gade

1879 - 1963



Jacob Gade was a high-profile composer, an innovator in film music and a popular Danish musician and personality who was able to put Danish film music on the world map. At the age of 16 Jacob Gade left his home town Vejle to seek his fortune in Copen­hagen. With experience as a local folk musician in his father’s band Jakob was able both to compose and to play the violin with great talent, and that was enough to get him the job as conductor at some of the biggest restaurants and theatres in Copenhagen. 

It was during his work as conductor at the Palads Cinema that Jacob Gade really made his name on the inter­national music scene, when he wrote the tango Jalousie. Tango Tzigane in 1925. The tango was played for the first time at the Copenhagen premiere of the film Don Q, Son of Zorro, and almost immediately aroused international attention after Arthur Fiedler’s recording of it with the famous Boston Pops Orchestra. Since then the tango has been con­si­dered one of the biggest ‘standards’ in musical history. It has been used in several Holly­wood productions, and has been recorded by among others Placido Domingo and Yehudi Menuhin.
Critical Acclaim
...His many light compositions, salon music ad well as revue songs, made him one of the most popular entertainment composers in the city - Dacapo Records

Jacob Gade's Tango Jalousy is the best known piece of music written by any Dane - Dacapo Records


Jacob Gade is the composer behind what is probably the most frequently played piece of Danish music of all: Jalousie. Tango Tsigane (1925) – better known as Jealousy.

Jacob Gade was born in the Danish provincial town of Vejle. His father was a folk musician and as early as the age of 9 Jacob Gade played the trumpet in his father’s band. Later Jacob Gade learned to play the violin and travelled at the age of 16 to Copenhagen to seek his fortune as a musician in the city’s restaurants and hotels, After a few years his career as both a musician and composer began to pick up speed in earnest. In 1919 Gade travelled to the USA and competed for a place in the orchestra that was later to become the New York Philharmonic.

 In 1921 Jacob Gade returned to Denmark and his glory days as an orchestral leader and composer began. With a 24-man orchestra he played for silent films at the Palads Theatre in Copenhagen. It is from this time that Tango Jalousie comes – originally written in 1925 for the film Don Q with Douglas Fairbanks in the leading role. Other examples of Jacob Gade’s film music are the suites of cinema music that can be found in editions for piano solo and lounge orchestra.

The emergence and spread of the talkies around 1930 meant the end of this ‘Kino’ music and the presence of the big light orchestras in the cinemas. Jacob Gade retired as a conductor and lived for the rest of his life as a composer. The dramatic nerve of the film music faded out through the 1930s in favour of a more roman­tic, sentimental idiom. This can be heard for example in the orchestral suite Leda and the Swan from 1940.

The earnings from Tango Jalousie and Gade’s other works form the financial basis of the Jacob Gade Grant, which is awarded once a year to talented Danish musicians undergoing a musical education. The succession of musical talents who have been given an economic helping hand this way over time includes the recorder player Michala Petri, the conductor Michael Schønwandt, the harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen, the con­ductor Thomas Dausgaard, the violinist Nikolaj Znaider and the pianist Katrine Gislinge. In this way the Jacob Gade Grant has made its mark as one of the most important music awards.

Hjarne Fessel 2014


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