Victor Borge is one of Denmark’s best known citizens. But he is not the only talented musician to call the small North European country home.
Violinist Svend Asmussen is also a favourite son. Asmussen died February 7 just three weeks short of his 101st birthday. While no official cause of death has been revealed, Asmussen had a stroke five years ago causing him to retire from performing music.
While a violinist, Asmussen played Jazz and over the years has performed with Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Toots Thielemans, Lionel Hampton, Django Reinhardt, John Lewis, the Mills Brothers, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Stephane Grappelli. Known as the Fiddling Viking; he, Ulrik Neumann and Alice Babs performed together as the Swing trio Swe-Danes.
He was born Svend Harald Christian Asmussen on February 28, 1916 in Copenhagen, Denmark. His first musical instrument was the piano at age five but turned to the violin at the suggestion of his piano teacher at age seven. At 16 he turned his hand to Jazz.
The outbreak of World War II found Asmussen limited to Scandinavia and he was later arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo. After the war and his release, Asmussen returned to performing.
Predeceased by his first wife Annegrete, Asmussen is survived by his second wife Ellen and his children.
Svend Asmussen Discography:
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“Svend Asmussen and His Unmelancholy Danes”
“Svend Asmussen and His Unmelancholy Danes, Vol. 2”
“Danish Imports: Intimate Jazz by Two of Europe’s Favorites”
“Duke Ellington’s Jazz Violin Session”
“Tow of a Kind”
“Svend Asmussen at Slukafter”
“Swingin’ with Svend”
“Fit as a Fiddle”
“Jazz Pa Ungerska/In Pleno”
“Alle Tiders Svend Asmussen: When You are Smiling”
“When You are Smiling”
“Makin’ Whoopee…and Music!”
“The Jazz Man Hitler Failed to Silence”
“The Incomparable Fiddler: 100 Years”
“Rhythm is Our Business”
“Jazz Pa Ungerska”
“Embraceable: ‘Le Petit’”