Johan Adam Krygell

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Born: 18 September 1835 — Naestved — Denmark
Died: 27 July 1915 — Copenhagen — Denmark
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  • Symphony no. 1 in E flat, King Gustav
  • Symphony no. 2 in c-minor
  • Symphony no. 3 in E flat, Tycho Brahe
  • 10 ouvertures
  • 6 orchestral suites

Chamber Music:

  • 24 string quartets in all keys


  • Minor and Major: 24 preludes and fugues *
  • Sonate pour Orgue *
  • Prelude, Fugato and Postlude on the name GADE *
  • Souvenir de Tycho Brahe: Les Quatres Tempéraments *
  • many smaller pieces

There are also various pieces for piano and violin and some religious songs for solo voice and for 4 part choir.

* = printed by Wilhelm Hansen, Copenhagen


J.A. Krygell was a pupil of Niels W. Gade and I.P.E. Hartmann. His instrument was the organ and he earned his living as an organist from the age of 22 until his death. He was from a poor family, son of a military musician in the province town of Naestved. Krygell was meant to be a craftsman, but illnes prevented him, and instead he learned to play the organ. In 1867 he was admitted to the new Conservatory of Copenhagen, where he spent 18 months. When he returned, he was appointed organist of the Herlufsholm boarding school. In 1880 he moved with his family (wife Ulrica and three girls) to Copenhagen and started as an organist in the newly opened Skt. Matthaeus: Church. He kept the job until his death. Krygell was a prolific composer with more than 150 works. The main body of his output are 24 string quartets, one in every key, as well as 3 symphonies and 10 orchestral ouvertures. He also wrote a lot of music for the organ, and this music was the most frequently performed in his own time. The most important work for organ is the 24 preludes and fuges. Krygell was never a big name in Danish musical life, first of all because his music with its blend of baroque writing and late romantic expressivity was too strange for danish music lovers, but also because Krygell himself apparently was quite a strange person. Coming from the province with no social contacts probably didn’t make things easier, and Krygell remained somewhat isolated from the main stream musical life in Copenhagen.

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Dying days:
(1774) Christoph Willibald von Gluck: Premiere of Iphigenie in Aulis, in Paris, France.
(1936) Alban Berg: Premiere of the violin concerto “Dem Andenken eines Engels”, in Barcelona, Spain.
(1964) Roger Huntington Sessions: Premiere of Montezuma, in Berlin, Germany.
(1967) György Sándor Ligeti: Premiere of the cello concerto, in Berlin, Germany.
(1971) Aribert Reimann: Premiere of Melusine, in Schwetzingen, Germany.

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