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Den Gamle By

The culture of Denmark is in general very closely linked to that of Germany. This is also true of the traditional Danish song, the origin of which can be traced back to external influences and above all to the German song (in particular that of J.P.A. Schultz, who lived between 1747 and 1800).

The revival of this Danish national song took place during the 20th century, through the work of authors such as Carl Nielsen and his pupils Oluf Ring, Thorvald Aagaard and Otto Mortensen.

Testimony to this small cultural phenomenon can be found in a new disc of choral music released by Naxos on 20 July 2018, which is entitled Forar Og Sommer I Den Gamle By.

In addition to several songs by Nielsen and the pupils already mentioned, various other Danish musicians who lived between the second half of the 19th century and the present day appear in the collection.

Nineteen songs in all, which set the scene for life lived in the streets of the old town in the past.

In fact, the meaning of the title is Spring and Summer in the Old Town. It is called Den Gamle By and it is a tourist attraction in Aarhus: as if on a journey back in time, the visitor finds himself in this perfectly reconstructed environment of ancient Denmark, divided into various eras. The oldest part is set in pre-1900, in a market town, complete with houses, gardens, shops and workshops. The people you meet there are figurants dressed as they were then.

More modern is the part set in 1927, with streets, cars, asphalt, street lamps, wall advertisements and public telephones.

Even newer is the 1970s neighbourhood, with hairdressers, gynaecological clinics, supermarkets, convenience stores, public kindergartens and private radios. In addition to traditional families, there is a commune. The cars are the Beetle and Citroen.

Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark, located in the Central Jutland region. It was European Capital of Culture in 2017 (along with Paphos, Cyprus).

From what Alessia told me, in Den Gamle By everything is perfect and absolutely fake. An imaginary city.

This reminds me of various things: Italy in Miniature where I used to go as a child in Viserba di Rimini, and the other amusement parks created to reconstruct an environment from the past (the Far West for example).

Bethlehem in miniature, commonly called the ‘nativity scene’.

The cities I used to build with Lego.

The Borgesian idea of a map as big as reality.

The set of a film or TV series set in the past. Or in which the characters travel through time.

Via Fondazza in Bologna, which is a real and current place, but so perfect with its series of traditional shops that it seems to have been built from scratch.

Games modelled on Dungeons & Dragons (‘Dungeons and Dragons’), which involve extensive and detailed historical re-enactments. In August 2018, an episode of Wikiradio on Radio3 Rai recounted precisely the birth and importance of Dungeons & Dragons for the world of games.

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