By Finn Gravesen, writer and editor, 2006
Every Dane knows the opening of the Champagne Galop. A fanfare on the trumpets succeeded by the resounding POP of a champagne bottle - followed by three or four great tunes in a festive orchestral arrangement. Fun and colour! But one always gets a surprise when the champagne pop comes! Listen to it for yourself and you’ll see what we mean!
The composer Lumbye and the Tivoli Amusement Park in Copenhagen belong together. He was the gardens’ very first music director back in 1843, and his tunes were sung and whistled everywhere round town by all and sundry. Lumbye wrote a lot of music specially for the new Tivoli Gardens - at the beginning this amounted to one galop for each of the park’s attractions: The Big Dipper Galop (Rutschebane-Galop), The Merry-Go-Round Galop (Carouselbane-Galop), The Tivoli Bazaar Galop (Tivoli-Bazar-Galop), The Tivoli Steam Merry-Go-Round Galop (Tivoli Damp Carouselbane-Galop) and a plethora of others. Galops were also composed later in honour of other innovations of the period - for example The Telegraph Galop and The Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop - the latter complete with the lifelike chuff-chuffing sound of a steam locomotive!
People were mad about Lumbye’s melodies, which came to play a major role in Copenhagen life. His music was played everywhere - in cafés, dance halls and at concerts - as well as at home in the sitting rooms of the middle class, where it became normal to have an upright piano and tinkle Lumbye on the ivories.
Waltz - big dance craze
Lumbye’s music was the height of fashion. A craze for the waltz spread all over Europe and everyone was wild about the dance form. Rarely had such abandon been experienced in the annals of music! You grasped your partner and cast aside all prudishness to indulge in the glory of the waltz. And Lumbye also wrote waltzes for some of the most famous women of his era: The Johanne Louise (Heiberg) Waltz (Johanne Louise-Vals) for the eponymous literary salon hostess, the Jenny Lind Waltz (Jenny Lind-Vals) for the famed Swedish singer and the Queen Louise Waltz (Dronning Louise- Vals) for the Danish monarch’s much loved commoner wife. In Lumbye, Copenhageners felt they had their very own orchestral conductor, a man capable of composing music “à la Strauss” - Vienna’s immortal Johann Strauss, the great beau idéal.
Festivity, peace and quiet
Also the Danish king was happy about Lumbye. Revolutions were rumbling round Europe, but as long as the Danes had their Tivoli Gardens and their Lumbye, peace prevailed and there was no danger of domestic insurrection. And a few years later King Frederik VII voluntarily dropped the absolute monarchy in Denmark.
Did you know?
Until sometime in the 1970s, no notes were handed out when the Champagne Galop was played in Tivoli. One was not in doubt for a second that everyone knew the voice they were going to play!
The committee's justification
By the Committee for Music, 2006
Telegraph Galop, 1844, Champagne Galop, 1845, Kjöbenhavns Jernbane Damp Galop, 1847. H. C. Lumbye is the best example of in Danish music progressing from the popular and entertaining, something that all art begins with, to more complex forms. Certainly, Johan Strauss – the elder, not the Strauss of Viennese Waltz fame, who had a career running parallel with Lumbye’s – was an inspiration. However, at the Tivoli Gardens, where he served as composer in residence and music director from 1843 until 1872, Lumbye created a particularly Danish version of music where popular dance forms were elevated to the world of the symphony orchestra.
The real pearls are the ‘galops’ with their rapid tempo and almost infinite melodic invention. The Champagne Galop is widely known; however, it remains a mystery why Lumbye decided to use the xylophone in a symphony orchestra, which didn’t arrive in orchestras outside of Denmark for another two decades. The two other galops – one better known, one less familiar – are exceptional examples of how the bright and inventive composer was able to unite the tempo of the galop with an incredibly tuneful tonal image. He could compose music about the new inventions of the world as it was then. It really is music of its time.