Awards

The musical line of the Foundation has been determined over the years by Karl Bjarnhof, Robert Naur and Nils Schiørring, who became attached to the Board in 1975. The assistance given by the Foundation can take various forms: sometimes exceptional talents, such as, for example, the virtuoso recorder player Michala Petri and the violinist Nikolaj Szeps Znaider, come to the attention of the Trustees at a very early stage and to begin with are helped first and foremost to get qualified teaching. If their development then is up to expectation, they may later receive one of the major awards (as did the two mentioned). Jacob Gade’s major grants, now of the value of 100,000 DK each, are awarded each year to 3 - 6 young musicians. A surprising number - indeed, most - of the recipients of these awards have gone on to achieve successful careers and belong today amongst the leading figures in Danish musical life.

In the mid-1970s the Trustees became aware that there was a great need among young music students to travel abroad in order to study, perhaps with particular teachers, for shorter or longer periods of time. Since then the Foundation has awarded travelling scholarships of 10 - 15,000 DK each to 15 - 20 music students each year. These are advertised and awarded on application. The Foundation also makes contributions to groups and activities of various kinds, including grants to enable musical organizations to make concert tours abroad.

Thus in grants and other forms of support the Foundation every year makes awards amounting to between 500,000 and 1,000,000 DK to Danish musical life. Since it began its work in 1963 approximately 20,000,000 DK have been given out.

What do the young musicians themselves say about the significance to them of the Jacob Gade Awards?

Ingolf Olsen, guitarist, award 1965:

“It was a wonderful surprise to learn that I had been granted a Gade award. I was very young and had just got involved in a project concerning Pierre Boulez’ Le marteau sans maïtre, conducted by Tamàs Vetö. No guitarist could handle the guitar part and then it was given to me to try. At the time I was actually serving an apprenticeship as organ-builder with the firm of Frobenius. The others taking part in the performance were musicians from the Royal Chapel orchestra - and I was an 18 - 19-year-old organ-builder apprentice! Now I was noticed; I was one of the first to receive a grant and it started me on my career - I might otherwise have been an organ-builder today. I was given a helping hand, I got the money - and as it was an honour, one didn’t even have to pay tax on it at that time. It meant peace in which to work and since then I have been able to make a living by playing the guitar and teaching for 25 years at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music.”

Michala Petri, recorder virtuoso, has received the award several times, first in 1969:

“I was only 11 years old and didn’t really understand at that time how important it was for me to receive Jacob Gade’s award, nor could I grasp how large the amount was - 10,000 DK seemed an astronomical sum and I suddenly felt very grown-up and accepted in the musical world. It happened on my mother’s 40th birthday. I came to Assens and played and met many interesting people - Ove Bisgaard, Robert Naur and Karl Bjarnhof, Amalie Malling and Henrik Sachsenskjold. I played a concerto in C by Vivaldi, I remember, and the following year I performed at the awards ceremony at Faldsled Inn. Later I received a grant of 30,000 DK to cover my travel expenses to and from Hannover, where I went for lessons once a week. The trip cost 495 DK then.

But the grant meant much more to me than the money. It attracted attention to my name and strengthened my decision to become a professional musician - something I had never considered before. It was, so to speak, a stamp of approval on my talent.”

Peter Bastian, bassoonist, award 1969:

“When I received Jacob Gade’s grant, I was at the point of having to make a fundamental decision. I didn’t know whether to choose a future in physics or music, even though I was already at that time playing professionally in the Danish Woodwind Quintet. The grant came to play a very important rôle in my development. It gave recognition to one who had not attended the conservatory and was thus something of an upstart - and of course it was a financial support of great significance.“

Morten Zeuthen, cellist, award 1973:

“I was very young, only 19, and regarded the grant as evidence of acceptance by the world of music. My education had not followed the usual course - I had not gone to the conservatory - and it was therefore of great importance to be made the focus of public attention in this way. I received 30,000 DK, which I used to buy a new cello. I have never regretted that, though it did cause problems, as I was not aware that I was required to pay tax of the grant and when the bill came from the tax office all the money had been spent.

What was perhaps most important was that I was discovered - that and my new cello. These were two good tickets that gave admission to a life in music, a nice pat on the back.”

Michael Schønwandt, conductor, award 1977:

“It was something of climatic shock to come to Italy from Denmark in June 1977. Early in the morning on the day after my debut concert in Tivoli’s concert hall I boarded the train to Italy to work as musical assistant at the performances of Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera Maria Golovin. The days in the beautiful Umbrian town passed in a round of rehearsals, pasta and wonderful weather and thanks to the legendary speed of the Italian postal service it didn’t take more than a couple of weeks for a letter to arrive from my family with reviews of my Tivoli concert. So Denmark seemed rather a long way away, when a few days later I got a telegram! Now, in the age of fax-machines, telegrams have become something quite exotic, but 20 years ago too it was an event to receive a telegram. In a few excited words my family at home informed me that according to the newspapers I had been awarded Jacob Gade’s grant for 1977.

To receive the Gade-award was a great pat on the back to me after I had taken the plunge into the pool at the deep end. It could just as well have gone all wrong at my debut concert. As a young conductor, one is by definition just beginning to learn what the art of conducting is really all about and as a Gade-award winner I felt I had received recognition of the first steps I had taken on a journey without end and ‘good wishes for the future’. I will never forget the Gade Foundation for that.”

Katrine Gislinge, pianist, award 1989:

“I received Jacob Gade’s award at a very fortunate time. I was planning a trip to New York to study with Seymour Lipkin when, a couple of months before I was supposed to leave, a letter from Jacob Gade’s Foundation dropped into my letter-box which made it possible for me to extend my period of study in New York to a whole year. It was a real cachet to receive a Gade-award so early in one’s career and it means something for one’s future chances of receiving grants and awards. It is a grant of recognition, not something one seeks, and Jacob Gade’s award was the first big prize I received.”