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Carl Nielsen (June 9, 1865 – October 3, 1931) was a Danish composer, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as his country's most prominent composer. He was born in Sortelung near Nørre Lyndelse, south of Odense on the island of Funen. His father, Niels Jørgensen, was a house painter and traditional musician who, with his abilities as a fiddler and cornet player, was in strong demand for local celebrations. Nielsen described his childhood in his autobiography Min Fynske Barndom (My Childhood on Funen). His mother, whom he recalls singing folk songs during his childhood, came from a well-to-do family of sea captains, while one of his half-uncles, Hans Andersen (1837–1881), was a talented musician.
Nielsen studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen from 1884 until December 1886. He premiered his Op. 1, Suite for Strings, in 1888, at the age of 23. His early works were influenced by the Romantic composers, but he soon developed his own unique style, which was characterized by its use of folk music, its Danish nationalism, and its formal innovations.