My favorite things Danish

1. Movie: A strong category for this country.  Babette’s Feast used to be one of my favorite movies, though it now strikes me as sentimental.  I much prefer The Celebration, or the recent After the WeddingThe Best Intentions, with a Bergman screenplay, is directed by Dane Billie August.  Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc is technically a French movie but the director is Danish, in any case it is one of cinema’s greatest achievements.  Ordet has splendid shots but I can’t bear the ending.  I don’t rate Lars von Trier with these other creators though I did like his recent The Boss of it All, a study in the social construction of leadership.

2. Short story: "The Caryatids, An Unfinished Tale," by Karen Blixen [Isak Dinesen], in Last Tales.  This one shows the influence of the now-sadly-taken-for-granted Hans Christian Andersen; read it.

3. Novel: Smilla’s Sense of Snow, by Peter Hoeg; lovely and mysterious, yet driven by plot.  His History of Danish Dreams I find too baroque.

4. Composer: Poul Ruders, one of the most listenable contemporary composers, writes compelling melodies and offers a broad palate of sound colors.  I most prefer his Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Concerto in Pieces, the guitar music, Tundra, and Gong.  His major influences are Brahms, Berg, Sibelius, and Hindemith.  I’ll buy anything by him, though I’ve never much enjoyed his operas.

5. Popular music: Help!

6. Philosopher: Kierkegaard’s Either/Or is the place to start, and don’t skip over "Diary of a Seducer" or the discussion of Don Giovanni.  There are few philosophers who think more like an economist, or who use more metaphors from economic life.

7. Painting: Danish Impressionism is one of the most underrated fields in art, noting that the subtle textures and colors do not reproduce well on the web.  Try this picture.  Here is a nice landscape, here is a nice door.  This one is lots of fun, too.


Dane/popsters Junior Senior, the proggish indie band Mew, and the rockabilly-by-way-of-the-Jesus-and-Mary-Chain Ravonettes are all Danish. Also, the band Aqua, famous for that inane/catchy/embarrassing international hit "Barbie Girl."

What? No Nielsen for music?
(Sorry, he is just another classical... )

Popular music: Aqua.


"Novel: Smilla's Sense of Snow, by Peter Hoeg"?
Started out well. "Lovely and mysterious" as you say.
But half way through the author ran out of "lovely
and mysterious" and switched to a silly over-the-top science-fiction plot-line.

What about the Kingdom? I know its a TV series but its still fantastic albeit unfinished.

"5. Popular music: Help!"

Actually that was by an English musical group whose name I can't seem to recall.

Among my favorite things Danish is Steen Eiler Rasmussen, for his book Experiencing Architecture. It's the kind of book I give to friends, saying, "You have to read this."

How about large women?

Tyler, pick up Høeg's Borderliners if you get a chance. A short read in the vein of Smilla's Sense of Snow.

Had to look it up, and, damn, Kings of Convenience are Norwegian. Thought I had a good answer for you.

Slaraffenland - especially the songs "Watch Out" and "Polaroids

The album is Private Cinema



When there was a united Scandinavian kingdom, its capital was Copenhagen.
The Danish royal family is the oldest in the world, dating back to Gorm in
the 800s, only outdated by the Japanese imperial family. So, there is more
of an aristocratic tradition, although there is a monarchy and aristocracy in
Sweden, which became independent earlier. Denmark ruled Norway until much more
recently, and their languages are much closer than either of theirs is to
Swedish, although the others joke that Danish sounds like something spoken
by a strangled goose. The Norwegians have no aristocracy. The others tend
to think of the Swedes as being a bit too full of themselves, with their
neutrality in WW II somewhat undercutting their high self image.

Regarding popular music - that is always a question of taste but I would go for:

* C.V. Jørgensen (a sort of Danish Ray Davies): Lediggang Agogo (1983)
* TV2 (an andult pop band which had a TV network named after it): Rigtige mænd gider ikke høre mere vrøvl (1985), Yndlingsbabe (1998), De første kærester på månen (2005)
* Lars Hug/Kliché (Kraftwerk + crooner): Supertanker (1980), Okay okay boys (1982), City Slang (1984), Kopy (1989)

Hmm - nothing much post-1989 here...

Literature this post fails to mention Denmark's greatest contribution to world literature, the fairy tales by H.C. Andersen.

Danish culture "Hygge" (=enjoyment, pleasure) usually means having a good time, usually by sitting in the garden enjoying good BBQ food while drinking Carlsberg and Tuborg beer.

Movies The Danish Dogma 95 generation of directors makes the best movies of the Nordic countries, and among the best in Europe. As mentioned by others, "Kingdom", "Italian for beginners",

Classical music Denmark's most famous piece of music for orchestra is the Champagne Galop by the one-hit-wonder Hans Christian Lumbye

The Danish-German composer Dieterich Buxtehude made fairly decent baroque church music, but is now most well known for being one of J.S. Bach's greatest influences.

Science Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics.

Social Science The anti-malthusian Esther Boserup.

Business LEGO

Engineering Bjarne Stroustrup, inventor of the C++ programming language that drives a large part of all computer programs, games and OSes.

Food Julefrokost lavish Christmas lunch that lasts for many houres.

Art The classical style sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. His works are on display in the Thorvaldsen museum in Copenhagen.

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