July 14, 1928 - March 6, 2010
The Danish conductor and composer Ole Schmidt is best known for the cycle of Carl Nielsen's six symphonies that he recorded in 1974 for Unicorn-Kanchana with the London Symphony Orchestra. It was much admired (not least by Gramophone's Robert Layton: Symphonies Nos 1-3 and Symphonies Nos 4-6) and went on to win the 1975 Nielsen Prize. It played an important role in establishing Nielsen's reputation outside his native country. The recordings also opened many doors to Schmidt and he fulfilled many conducting engagements outside his native country.
He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music (piano and composition – with such luminaries as Vagn Holmboe, Finn Høffding and Niels Viggo Bentzon) and later studied conducting with Rafael Kubelík and Sergiu Celibidache. His first major work was a Piano Concerto (1954) and was shortly after commissioned to write a ballet score, Behind the Curtain, for the Royal Danish Ballet.
His conducting appointments included the Royal Danish Opera's ballet company (1958-65), the Hamburg SO (1969-70), Danish Radio Sinfonietta (1971-73) and the Aarhus SO from 1975 to 1985. More recently he was permanent guest conductor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and also principal guest conductor of the Toledo SO in Ohio.
As well as the Carl Nielsen symphonies (now on Regis), he is well represented on Denmark's DaCapo label as both composer (including his seven string quartets and four of his concertos) and as conductor (in music by Bentzon, Svend Erik Tarp and Karl Aage Rasmussen).
He was married to the dancer Lizzie Rode.