Danish conductor and dramatic composer; born at Copenhagen April 13, 1830; died at Weimar Jan. 15, 1904. His father was president of the Jewish Consistor of Belgium. In his twelfth year he entered the Conservatoire at Brussels, to which city his parents had removed in 1832, and after two years' study secured the first prize for pianoforte. In 1849 he received the second government prize for composition; in the following year, prizes at Ghent and Antwerp, and in 1851, for his cantata "Baltasar," the "Prix de Rome."
Lassen visited Düsseldorf, Cassel, Leipsic, Dresden, Berlin, and Weimar, sojourning for some time in the last-named city in order to receive the benefit of Liszt's instruction. Thence he went to Rome, where he remained until 1855. Returning to Brussels, he endeavored to secure a hearing for his first opera, "Le Roi Edgard," but only the overture was performed. Undismayed by this failure, the composer sent the score to Liszt, who greatly assisted Lassen in remodeling the work; and, under the title "Landgraf Ludwig's Brautfahrt," it was very successfully performed under the leadership of the composer himself at Weimar in May, 1857. Lassen soon afterward succeeded Götze as court musical director at Weimar, with which city he thenceforth became identified. From 1861 to 1895 he held there the position of court kapellmeister.
Lassen was a most able conductor, particularly of Wagner's operas, and one of the leading composers of his day. His principal works, in addition to those already mentioned, include: the operas "Frauenlob" (Weimar, 1860), and "Le Captif" (Brussels, 1865; in German at Weimar, 1868); the music to "Œdipus in Kolonus" (1874), to "Faust" (1876), to Pandora" (1886), to Calderon's "Circe" (in the German version: "Ueber Allen Zaubern Liebe" by Devrient), and to Hebbel's "Nibelungen" (11 characteristic pieces for orchestra); a Te Deum for chorus and orchestra (first performed at the Church of St. Gudule Dec. 16, 1860, in celebration of the birthday of Leopold I. of Belgium); vocal Bible scenes, with orchestral accompaniment; cantatas; a soprano scena with orchestra, entitled "Der Schäfer Putzte Sich zum Tanz"; 2 symphonies; overtures; and a march for orchestra.
It is, however, principally through his songs (comprising several hundred numbers) that Lassen has secured a world-wide reputation, his best productions in this field being the following: "Ich Hatte Einst ein Schönes Vaterland"; "Mit Deinen Blauen Augen"; "Das Alte Lied"; "Frühlings-Gruss"; "Der Fichtenbaum"; "Ich Hab' im Traum Geweinet"; "Zigeunerbub im Norden"; "In Deiner Nähe"; "Die Gletscher Leuchten im Mondlicht"; "Wenn der Frühling auf die Berge Steigt"; "Sommerabend"; "Sonntagsruhe"; "Sei Stille"; "Die Grossen Stillen Augen"; "Schlummerlied"; "Ich Weil' in Tiefster Einsamkeit"; "Nähe des Geliebten."
- Mendel, Musikalisches Konversations-Lexikon, s.v.;
- Champlin, Dict. of Music and Musicians, s.v.;
- Schirmer's Collection of Song Albums;
- Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, Jan. 22, 1904;
- Meyers Konversations-Lexikon.