Jacob Thune Hansen Gade November 29, 1879 – February 20, 1963) was a Danish violinist and composer, mostly of orchestral popular music, who is remembered today for a single tune, the familiar “Jalousie”, also known as Jalousie ‘Tango Tzigane’ and Tango Jalousie. Gade was born in Vejle, Denmark, on November 29, 1879. He belonged to a family of musicians. His grandfather and his father used to go around the nearby villages to play at all kinds of parties. And it was natural that, since early age, he as well began to play and was another member of the musical group. He was 9 when he made his debut as trumpeter. He might have been an attraction because only a year later he was invited to Copenhagen to become a soloist in the orchestra of the Tivoli Garden, a famous amusement park. It was only at age 12 when he began to study violin, first with his father and later with teachers of greater knowledge. Soon he evidenced his ambition, he wanted to be recognized and for that he decided to move to the capital.
Gade began to compose country music, polkas and similar rhythms. With a scarce capital he dreamed of being an orchestra conductor, and of writing waltzes. He started to work at small cafeterias and, about two years later, when he was only 18, he began to be connected with people who summoned him to play at an operetta in Frederiksberg, the night center of entertainment at that time. In 1900, for the first time a toast song of his was published titled “Der er sollys i modne druer” (The sunshine on the ripe grapes), with lyrics by Lorry Feilberg. It turned out a very popular song and, among others, it was sung by Elna From, a theater actress. He joined several orchestras up to 1903 when he formed his own. In 1908 at Christiania, then capital of Norway, he married an actress, Mimi Mikkelsen, with whom he lived until she died in 1951.
In 1909, the recognition that Gade had achieved by his work caused him to be hired by the famous Hotel Bristol, located in front of the main plaza of Copenhagen. In order enhance his musical knowledge he turned to maestro Max Schlüler, an important concert player. Gade was already 30 and was too old to be accepted in the Royal Conservatory of Danish Music or become a concert instrumentalist of classical music. In 1914 he began to lead orchestras that played at theaters and as well at the most important cinema theaters as accompaniment to silent films. At the same time he performed a series of concerts as soloist including a Paganini’s composition. As composer he was in a period when he wrote waltzes with a title in French. He adopted several pseudonyms like Maurice Ribot, Leon Bonnard, James Wellington, Fred Marshall and Jascha Tjenko. The principal paper of the city mentioned him as the king of waltz.
In 1919 Gade traveled to New York, joined orchestras that played at cinema theaters, and put together orchestras that included up to 80 members and, soon he was chosen in a contest to join the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York. For two years he was devoted to playing only classical music. He returned to his country to conduct the orchestra of the Palads Cinema theater and to compose and arrange music to be played during the projection of movies. His tzigane tango “Jalousie” was composed at that time and became a worldwide hit. Written when Gade was leader of the orchestra of the Palads Cinema and performed for the first time on Monday, September 14, 1925, on the premiere of the silent era blockbuster American movie Don Q. Son of Zorro, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Astor, it placed Denmark in the world map of music, and was an instant international hit. It is said that the title was inspired when Gade was on leave in Christiania, near a windmill far from the city, and read in a paper that a man had murdered his wife because of jealousy.
Gade’s golden period lasted until 1929 when sound films arrived. But it scarcely affected him. In 1931 he opened the National Scala theater, and there he continued to play entertainment music. His career as orchestra leader and player before public audiences ended by his own decision. The royalties allowed Gade to devote himself to composition full-time for the rest of his life. After “Jalousie” he devoted solely to musical composition, retired, and lived in a country house. There, among others, were born “Rhapsodietta” and another tango “Romanesca” which were published in Copenhagen and in Paris. He returned to the United States in 1939 where someone offered to publish his whole output. On April 8, 1940 he returned to his country. The following day the Nazis invaded Denmark. He endured it by settling on the Fiskerleje Island where he continued composing. There a successful waltz was born named “Capricious,” along with other tangos such as “El matador,” “Tango charmeuse,” “Lille Mary Anne,” “Laila,” and “Tango Glamour.”
Arthur Fiedler made the first recording of “Jalousie” with the Boston Pops in 1935, further increasing Gade’s income. When talkies were introduced it was featured in numerous films. When the composer drew up his will in 1956, he included his wish that all his estate and future royalties were granted to a foundation that had to be created under his name to sponsor young talented musicians. The royalties now fund a foundation for young musicians. As a symphony composer Gade did not fare as well. In an interview two years before his death, Fiedler recalled that Gade came especially to Boston to thank him for recording “Jalousie.” Gade also presented Fiedler with a score of a symphony which Fiedler recalled as “one of the worst pieces of music I ever looked at.” Gade died on February 20, 1963, at Assens, Denmark. In 1998 Dacapo Recordings published a record with a part of his works—some unpublished—, performed by the Odense Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Mathias Aeschbacher featuring the soloist Bjarne Hansen on violin. Critics commented, “It is incredible that an unknown and so good music has been displaced because of the popularity of ‘Jealousy.’”
The following work by Jacob Gade is contained in my collection: