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Music as Life: Authority and Meaning in Nielsen's Fourth Symphony

Carl Nielsen has left us in an odd predicament. He “explains” his music in ways that defy being taken literally despite their tone of frank earnestness. At the same time, he works within established idioms and tropes that evoke meanings hard to reconcile either with his explanations (even taken figuratively) or, in some cases, with their host works. Thus, for example, his timpani duel in the Fourt…