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Danish people: Carl Dreyer - Søren Kierkegaard - Scandinavia - Lars von Trier

Scene from
Vampyr (1932) - Carl Theodor Dreyer [Amazon.com]
Image sourced here.

Culture of Denmark

Perhaps the most famous Dane is actually a mythical figure: Hamlet, the title character of William Shakespeare's greatest play. The Dane most well-known in other countries is probably Hans Christian Andersen, a writer mostly famous for his fairy tales, such as The Emperor's New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denmark#Culture [Aug 2005]

Denmark has a rich cultural and intellectual heritage. The astronomical discoveries of Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), Ludwig A. Colding's (1815-1888) neglected articulation of the principle of conservation of energy, and the brilliant contributions to atomic physics of Niels Bohr (1885-1962) indicate the range of Danish scientific achievement. The fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75), the philosophical essays of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55), the short stories of Karen Blixen (penname Isak Dinesen, 1885-1962), and the dense, aphoristic poetry of Piet Hein (1905–1996), have earned international recognition, as have the symphonies of Carl Nielsen (1865-1931). Danish applied art and industrial design have won awards for excellence. The name of Georg Jensen (1866-1935) is known worldwide for modern design in silver. The Royal Danish Porcelain Factory ("Royal Copenhagen") and Bing & Grøndahl, renowned for the quality of their porcelain and ceramics, export their products worldwide. Ceramic designs by Bjørn Wiinblad also are well known and popular. In recent years, Danish movies have attracted international attention, especially those associated with Dogme 95. However the country has alwyays had a strong tradition of movie making and in Carl Theodor Dreyer has produced one of the world's greatest film directors. In software engineering, Danes have made significant contributions through Bjarne Stroustrup (inventor of C++) and Anders Hejlsberg (architect of Turbo Pascal and Delphi).

Visitors to Denmark will discover a wealth of cultural activity. The Royal Danish Ballet, an exceptional company, specializes in the work of the great Danish choreographer August Bournonville (1805-79). Danes have distinguished themselves as jazz musicians, and the Copenhagen Jazz Festival has acquired an international reputation. The modern pop and rock scene is not as well developed as that of, say, Sweden but has still produced a few bands of note (for example, The Raveonettes). International collections of modern art enjoy unusually attractive settings at the Louisiana Museum north of Copenhagen and at the North Jutland Art Museum in Aalborg. The State Museum of Art and the Glyptotek, both in Copenhagen, contain treasures of Danish and international art. The Museum of Applied Art and Industrial Design in Copenhagen exhibits the best in Danish design.

Among today's Danish writers, probably the most well-known to international readers is Peter Høeg (Smilla's Sense of Snow; Borderliners) and the most prolific is Klaus Rifbjerg– poet, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. Benny Andersen writes poems, short stories, and music. Poems by both writers have been translated into English by the Curbstone Press. Kirsten Thorup's Baby, winner of the 1980 Pegasus Prize, is printed in English by the University of Louisiana Press. The psychological thrillers of Anders Bodelsen also appear in English. Suzanne Brøgger and Vita Andersen focus largely on the changing roles of women in society. In music, Hans Abrahamsen and Per Nørgård are the two most famous living composers. Hans Abrahamsen's works have been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC.

Sexual equality is a high priority in Denmark. Danes are quite liberal and tolerant towards sexual minorities.

Copenhagen is a popular destination for lesbian and bisexual travellers. It has an active gay community and lots of nightlife options. The main gay and lesbian festival of the year is the Mermaid Pride parade, a big Mardi Gras-like bash that occurs on a Saturday in early August. There's also the Copenhagen Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, held each year in October. Danes have a high degree of tolerance for 'alternative' lifestyles of all sorts, and gays are as free as anyone to express themselves. The LBL (Landsforeningen for Bøsser og Lesbiske)(a national organisation for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals) was established in 1948, and in 1989 Denmark became the first country in Europe to offer gay partners most of the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. Adoption laws are liberal compared to other Western countries and public displays of affection between people of the same sex are unlikely to provoke ire. Lesbians wishing to have access to artificial insemination do not provoke the sort of scandals that can occur in other societies. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Denmark#Cultural_Achievements [Aug 2006]

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