Danish Culture Canon

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The Danish Culture Canon (Danish: Kulturkanonen) consists of 108 works of cultural excellence in eight categories: architecture, visual arts, design and crafts, film, literature, music, performing arts, and children's culture. An initiative of Brian Mikkelsen in 2004, it was developed by a series of committees under the auspices of the Danish Ministry of Culture in 2006–2007 as "a collection and presentation of the greatest, most important works of Denmark's cultural heritage." Each category contains 12 works although music contains 12 works of score music and 12 of popular music and the literature section's 12th item is an anthology of 24 works.[1][2]


The committee for architecture was asked to choose 12 works covering both buildings and landscaping. It was decided that works could either be in Denmark designed by one or more Danes or abroad designed by Danish architects. The committee consisted of: Lone Wiggers (chair), Carsten Juel-Christiansen, Malene Hauxner, Lars Juel Thiis and Kent Martinussen.[3]

Building Location Year Architect Image
Hover Church near Ringkøbing, Jutland 12th century Unknown Hover kirke
Glorup Manor near Nyborg, Funen 12th century
Philip de Lange,
Christian Joseph Zuber
Nicolas-Henri Jardin
Glorup herregård
Frederiksstaden Copenhagen 1749–1771 Nicolai Eigtved Amalienborg
Church of Our Lady Copenhagen 1811–1829 C.F. Hansen Vor Frue kirke
Dyrehaven Klampenborg, Zealand 1846 Rudolph Rothe Vesthus
Lægeforeningens boliger—Brumleby Østerbro, Copenhagen 1854–1856 Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll
Vilhelm Klein
Lægeforeningens boliger
Mariebjerg Cemetery Gentofte, Zealand 1925–1935 G.N. Brandt Mariebjerg kirkegård
Aarhus Universitet Århus 1931 Kay Fisker,
C.F. Møller,
Povl Stegmann
C.Th. Sørensen
Aarhus Universitet
Aarhus City Hall Århus 1937–1942 Arne Jacobsen
Erik Møller
Århus Rådhus
Finger Plan Copenhagen 1947 Peter Bredsdorff Fingerplanen
Sydney Opera House Sydney 1957–1973 Jørn Utzon Sydney Opera House
Great Belt East Bridge Zealand and Funen 1991–1998 Dissing+Weitling Storebæltsbroen

Visual arts[edit]

The committee for visual arts decided that only works of artists who had completed their oeuvre could be included. They also decided that members of the committee could each select a work they especially appreciated. In this way the committee first selected seven works whereafter five members selected one work each. The committee consisted of Hein Heinsen (chair), Hans Edvard Nørregård-Nielsen, Bente Scavenius, Bjørn Nørgaard and Sophia Kalkau.[4]

Work Location Year Artist Image
Sun chariot National Museum of Denmark c. 1300 BC Unknown Sun chariot
The Resurrection Undløse Church c. 1440 Union Master Frescoes in Undløse Church
Bordesholm Altar Schleswig Cathedral Completed 1521 Hans Brüggemann Bordesholm Altar
Frederik V on Horseback Amalienborg Completed 1771 Jacques Saly Statue of Frederik V
Jason with the Golden Fleece Thorvaldsens Museum Completed 1828 Bertel Thorvaldsen Jason with the Golden Fleece
A View through Three of the North-Western Arches of the Third Storey of the Coliseum Statens Museum for Kunst 1813–1816 C.W. Eckersberg View through three of the northwesterly arches in the Colosseum's third storey
Autumn Morning on Lake Sortedam Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek 1838 Christen Købke Autumn Morning on Lake Sortedam
Dust Motes Dancing in Sunbeams Ordrupgaard 1900 Vilhelm Hammershøi Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams
Summer Day by Roskilde Fjord Randers Kunstmuseum 1900 L.A. Ring Summer Day by Roskilde Fjord
The Great Relief J.F. Willumsens Museum 1923–1928 J.F. Willumsen
Standing Woman Göteborgs konstmuseum 1937–1943 Astrid Noack
Stalingrad Museum Jorn, Silkeborg 1957–1972 Asger Jorn

Design and crafts[edit]

The committee for design and crafts decided that selection should be based on works with a useful function which were relevant at the time they were created while remaining recognizable today. They should also fall into an international perspective. The committee consisted of Merete Ahnfeldt-Mollerup (chair), Erik Magnussen, Astrid Krogh, Ursula Munch-Petersen and Louise Campbell.[5]

Work Designer Year Image
Viking ship Skuldelev 2 Unknown c. 1042 Skuldelev 2
Flora Danica (book) and Flora Danica (dinner set) Georg Christian Oeder, Johann Christoph Bayer
several artists
1761–1883 Flora Danica
Thorvald Bindesbøll: life's work 1846–1908 Thorvald Bindesbøll
Knud V. Engelhardt: life's work 1882–1931 Knud V. Engelhardt
Marie Gudme Leth: life's work 1895–1997
PH lamp shade system Poul Henningsen 1925–
still being developed
PH lamp shade system
Tea service Gertrud Vasegaard 1956
Gedser experimental wind turbine Johannes Juul 1957
Panton chair Verner Panton 1960 Pantonstolen
Polyurethane chair Gunnar Aagaard Andersen 1964
Kevi wheel Jørgen Rasmussen 1965 Kevi wheel castor
Fiberline facade system Fiberline Composites and Schmidt hammer lassen 2006


In their selection, the committee for film focused on films reflecting Danish life with Danish actors. The included nevertheless the film Sult (Hunger) which takes place in Oslo and has Swedish actors. The committee consisted of Susanne Bier (chair), Vinca Wiedemann, Tivi Magnusson, Ole Michelsen and Jacob Neiiendam.[6]

Work Creator Year Image
Master of the House Carl Th. Dreyer 1925 Dreyer av Mandelmann
Day of Wrath Carl Th. Dreyer 1943
Ditte, Child of Man Bjarne Henning-Jensen 1946
Jenny and the Soldier Johan Jacobsen 1947
Hunger Henning Carlsen 1966
Benny's Bathtub Jannik Hastrup and Flemming Quist Møller 1971
Matador Erik Balling 1978–1982
Tree of Knowledge Nils Malmros 1981
Babette's Feast Gabriel Axel 1987
Pelle the Conqueror Bille August 1987 August
The Celebration Thomas Vinterberg 1998 Vinterberg
The Idiots Lars von Trier 1998 Trier


The committee for literature found it important to select works with a quality which had been appreciated over time. The selected works were also considered to have made an important contribution both to Danish literature and to Danish culture in the widest sense. They reflect an original and bold artistic approach to works of value. They are worthy of being preserved for posterity as they serve as reference points in a modern global context. The committee consisted of Finn Hauberg Mortensen (chair), Erik A. Nielsen, Mette Winge, Claes Kastholm Hansen and Jens Christian Grøndahl.[7]

Author Work Year Image
Leonora Christina Jammers Minde (literally Memory of Misery), translated as Memoirs of Leonora Christina 1673–1674, published 1869 Leonora
Steen Steensen Blicher The Rector of Veilbye 1829 Blicher
Hans Christian Andersen The Little Mermaid 1837 Hans Christian Andersen
Søren Kierkegaard Either/Or 1843 Kierkegaard
Jens Peter Jacobsen Fru Marie Grubbe 1876 J.P. Jacobsen
Herman Bang Ved Vejen 1886 Bang
Henrik Pontoppidan Lucky Per 1898–1904 Pontoppidan
Johannes V. Jensen The Fall of the King 1900–1901 Jensen
Karen Blixen Winter's Tales 1942 Blixen
Klaus Rifbjerg Og andre historier (And Other Stories) 1964 Rifbjerg
Inger Christensen Butterfly Valley 1991 Christensen

The 12th item is an Anthology of lyrics consisting of the following 24 works:

Author Work Year Image
Anonymous folk song Ebbe Skammelsøn
Anonymous folk song Germand Gladensvend
Thomas Kingo Hver har sin Skæbne (Sorrig og Glæde...) Kingo
H. A. Brorson Den yndigste rose er funden 1732 Brorson
Johs. Ewald Til Siælen. En Ode 1780 Ewald
Schack von Staffeldt Indvielsen 1804 Staffeldt
Adam Oehlenschläger Hakon Jarls Død eller Christendommens Indførsel i Norge 1803 Oehlenschläger
N. F. S. Grundtvig De Levendes Land First published 1883 Grundtvig
Christian Winther Rosa unica 1849 Winther
Emil Aarestrup Paa Sneen 1838 Aarestrup
Holger Drachmann Jeg hører i Natten den vuggende Lyd 1877 Drachmann
Sophus Claussen Ekbatana 1896 Claussen
Jeppe Aakjær Aften 1912 Aakjær
Thøger Larsen Den danske Sommer 1914
Tom Kristensen Det er Knud, som er død 1936
Jens August Schade Læren om staten 1928 Schade
Gustaf Munch-Petersen det underste land 1933
Thorkild Bjørnvig Anubis 1955
Ole Sarvig Regnmaaleren 1943
Morten Nielsen Øjeblik 1945
Frank Jæger Sidenius i Esbjerg 1959
Ivan Malinowski Myggesang 1958
Per Højholt Personen på toppen 1985
Henrik Nordbrandt Violinbyggernes by 1985


The committee for music explained that, taking account of the wide range of Danish music, they gave focus to individual works rather than a composer's oeuvre. They presented two lists: one for what they called score music (classical), the other for popular music, although the two should be considered as a whole. The committee consisted of Per Erik Veng (chair), Jørgen I. Jensen, Torben Bille, Inger Sørensen and Henrik Marstal.[8]

Classical music[edit]

Composer/author Work Year Image
F.L.Æ. Kunzen Holger Danske 1789 Kunzen
C. E. F. Weyse Otte Morgensange and Syv Aftensange 1837 and 1838 Weyse
H. C. Lumbye Three galops: Telegraph Galop, Champagne Galop and Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop 1844, 1845 and 1847 Lumbye
Niels W. Gade Elverskud 1854 Gade
J. P. E. Hartmann Vølvens Spaadom 1872 Hartmann
Peter Heise Drot og marsk 1878 Heise
Carl Nielsen Maskarade 1906 Nielsen
Carl Nielsen Symphony No. 4: The Inextinguishable 1916
Rued Langgaard Antikrist 1923 Langgaard
Per Nørgård Symphony No. 3 1976
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen Symphony-Antiphony 1978

The 12th item titled Højskolesange (Folk High School Songs) consists of the following 12 songs:

Composer/author Work Year Image
C. E. F. Weyse (1826), words: N. F. S. Grundtvig Den signede dag med fryd vi ser 1826
Folk song, words rewritten by Svend Grundtvig Det var en lørdag aften 1849 Svend Grundtvig
Folk song from the Mariager area En yndig og frydefuld sommertid Published in A.P. Berggreen's Danske folkesange 1869
Music: Carl Nielsen, words: Ludvig Holstein Vi sletternes sønner Music 1906, words 1903
Music: Carl Nielsen, words: Jeppe Aakjær Jens Vejmand Music 1907, words 1905
Music: Thomas Laub, words: St.St. Blicher «Det er hvidt herude» Melodi 1914, tekst 1838
Music: Oluf Ring, words: Thøger Larsen Danmark, nu blunder den lyse nat Music 1922, words 1914
Music: Poul Schierbeck, words: Hans Christian Andersen I Danmark er jeg født Music 1926, words 1850
Music: Thorvald Aagaard, words: Laurits Christian Nielsen Jeg ser de bøgelyse øer Music 1931, words 1901
Music: Otto Mortensen, words: Helge Rode Du gav os de blomster, som lyste imod os Music 1939, words 1921
Music: Otto Mortensen, words: Alex Garff Septembers himmel er så blå Music and words 1949
Music: Peter Erasmus Lange-Müller/Shu-Bi-Dua, words: Holger Drachmann Vi elsker vort land Music 1887 and 1980, words 1885

Popular music[edit]

Composer/author Work Year Image
Kai Normann Andersen A selection of 12 songs: Musens sang, Den allersidste dans, Pige træd varsomt, Å hvor jeg, ih, hvor jeg, uh hvor jeg vil, I dit korte liv, Man binder os på mund og hånd, Alle går rundt og forelsker sig, Gå ud og gå en tur, Glemmer du, Titte til hinanden, Drømmeland og Gå med i lunden 1925–1959
Dansk Guldalderjazz Dansk Guldalderjazz Vol. 1–4 1940–1949
Savage Rose The Savage Rose 1968
Kim Larsen Værsgo 1973 Kim Larsen
Benny Andersen and Povl Dissing Svantes Viser 1973 Dissing
Gasolin' Live sådan 1976
Kliché Supertanker 1980
C.V. Jørgensen Tidens Tern 1980 Jørgensen
Sebastian Stjerne til støv 1981 Sebastian
Palle Mikkelborg with Miles Davis Aura 1984/1985
tv·2 Nærmest lykkelig 1988

The 12th item Evergreens is an anthology consisting of the following works:

Composer/author Work Year Image
Sven Gyldmark/Poeten Solitudevej – sung by Elga Olga Svendsen. From Cirkusrevyen 1953
Sven Gyldmark & Erik Leth Er du dus med himlens fugle – sung by Poul Reichhardt. From the film Vagabonderne på Bakkegården 1958
Vidar Sandbeck & Peter Mynte – single Heksedans (her kommer mutter med kost og spand) – sung by Raquel Rastenni. 1960
Bjarne Hoyer & Ida From To lys på et bord – sung by Otto Brandenburg From Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, 1960
Otto Helge Francker & Sejr Volmer-Sørensen Dansevise – performed by Grethe Ingmann and Jørgen Ingmann. From Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, 1963
Bent Fabricius-Bjerre & Klaus Rifbjerg Duerne flyver – sung by Cæsar. From the film Jeg er sgu min egen, 1967
John Mogensen Så længe jeg lever – sung by John Mogensen. Single 1970, also in the album John Mogensen: John, 1973
Anne Linnet Smuk og dejlig – performed by Shit & Chanel. From the album Shit & Chanel, 1975 Linnet
Peter A. G. Nielsen/Gnags Under Bøgen – performed by Gnags. From the album Er du hjemme i aften, 1977 Nielsen
Shu-bi-dua Danmark – performed by Shu-bi-dua. From Shu-bi-dua 78'eren, 1978
Frans Bak & Per Nielsen Danse i måneskin – performed by Trine Dyrholm & Moonlighters. From Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, 1987
Lars Lilholt Kald det kærlighed – performed by Lars Lilholt Band. From Lars Lilholt Band: Portland, 1986 Lilholt

Performing arts[edit]

The committee for performing arts explained that their selection was based on works of unique creativity representing something new for their time while still remaining meaningful today. The committee consisted of Flemming Enevold (chair), Karen-Maria Bille, Jokum Rohde, Sonja Richter and Erik Aschengreen.[9]

Creator Work Year Image
Ludvig Holberg Jeppe på Bjerget 1722 Holberg
Adam Oehlenschläger Aladdin 1805 Oehlenschläger
August Bournonville and Herman Severin Løvenskiold La Sylphide 1836 Bournonville
Henri Nathansen Indenfor Murene (Inside the Walls) 1912 Nathansen
Kaj Munk Ordet (The Word) 1932 Munk
Kjeld Abell Anna Sophie Hedvig 1939
Four revue numbers: Man binder os på mund og hånd (Liva Weel, 1940), Skolekammerater (Kellerdirk, 1956), Brevet til Bulganin (Osvald Helmuth, 1957), Fingernummeret (Dirch Passer, 1974) 1940, 1956, 1957 and 1974
Harald Lander and Knudåge Riisager Etudes 1948
Flemming Flindt and Georges Delerue Enetime 1963
Solvognen Julemandshæren 1974
Sort Sol Sort Sol live, Carlton og Wurst 1986–1987
Jess Ørnsbo Majonæse 1988

Children's canon[edit]

The committee was formed spontaneously as work proceeded in the other areas. It is therefore not an independent selection as suggestions were received from all the other areas.[10]

Creator Work Year Image
C.Th. Sørensen Children's building site 1931
Gunnar Nyborg-Jensen (ed.) De små synger 1948
Astrid Henning-Jensen Palle alene i Verden (Film) 1949
Carl Barks The Golden Helmet 1954 Barks
Nanna Ditzel High chair 1955
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen Lego brick 1958 Lego bricks
Cecil Bødker Silas og den sorte hoppe 1967
Halfdan Rasmussen & Ib Spang Olsen Halfdans ABC 1967
Katrine Hauch-Fausbøll Kaj & Andrea 1971 ff.
Anne Linnet Go' sønda' morn' 1980 Linnet
Søren Kragh-Jacobsen Gummi-Tarzan (Film) 1981
Steen Koerner Nøddeknækkeren 2003


According to press reports, the canon has had limited impact and has been ineffective in its stated goal of fostering integration between the Danes and the immigrant communities.[11] Berlingske pointed out, nevertheless, that the canon will remain a milestone as a non-socialist government had dared to "simply state that some works are better than others" and assert in that "this country may well be a modern society in a globalised world but that does not mean we have no merit as a nation or no right to national pride."[12] Erik A. Nielsen, a member of the canon's literature committee, is not surprised the literature canon has had such limited effect, faced as it is with a "tsunami of international, strongly commercial cultural interests." He points out that the only reason his students take an interest in Danish culture is that "they have to take exams in it. If they are free to choose culture themselves, they go for films, rock music and a whole lot more that is essentially English or American in origin.[13]


  1. ^ "Denmark/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate" Archived 2015-04-07 at the Wayback Machine, Compendium: Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Kulturkanon", Den Store Danske. (in Danish) Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Om kanon for arkitektur" Archived December 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Kulturkanonen. (in Danish) Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  4. ^ Hein Heinsen, "Om kanon for billedkunst" Archived December 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Kulturkanonen. (in Danish) Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Om kanon for design og kunstværk" Archived December 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Kulturkanonen. (in Danish) Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  6. ^ "Om kanon for film" Archived December 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Kulturkanonen. (in Danish) Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Om kanon for litteratur" Archived December 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Kulturkanon. (in Danish) Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Om kanon for musik" Archived December 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Kulturkanonen. (in Danish) Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Om kanon for scenekunst" Archived December 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Kulturkanon. (in Danish) Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  10. ^ Henrik Marstal, "Om kanon for bornekultur" Archived December 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Kulturkanonen. (in Danish) Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Denmark’s canon – a damp squib" Archived 2014-01-14 at the Wayback Machine, Presseurop, 27 January 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Regeringens kulturkanon blåstemplede retten til være stolt af det bedste i dansk kultur. Det er dens store og varige fortjeneste". Berlingske, 23 January 2011. (in Danish) Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  13. ^ Annegerd Lerche Kristiansen and Morten Runge, "Hvad blev der af kulturkanonen?", Danmarks Radio, 16 January 2013. (in Danish) Retrieved 17 January 2013.

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