HCA NEWS Andersen celebration in Odense on 2 April

During the Fairytale Weekend 1- 3 April, the city of Odense had invited the Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors, members of the Danish Royal Family and the Danish government to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Andersen's birth at a festive event in Odense. Here the guests visited the Town Hall and the Hans Christian Andersen House and attended the Hans Christian Andersen Award Ceremony.

By Tina Kristensen - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 03 April 2005

On 2 April, the prominent guests were taken by a special Hans Christian Andersen train from Copenhagen to Odense where they were greeted at Odense Station at 10 am by the Mayor of Odense, Anker Boye. Also present welcoming the guests were the Andersen Parade and representatives of the Danish Railway Museum.

At 10:30 am the guests arrived at Odense Town Hall where Mayor of Odense Anker Boye held a welcome speech. Entertainment was featured at the Town Hall by an amateur choir from the Odense School of Music. They sang I Danmark er jeg født with lyrics by Hans Christian Andersen, and the guests were presented a buffet sponsered by Odense Marzipan. The guests then walked behind the Odense Girl's Parade Band through Odense to the Hans Christian Andersen House.

Councillor Jørgen Lund and Director of the Hans Christian Andersen House Torben Grønnegaard hosted a tour of the museum. The guests then continued to Concert Hall Odense where they attended the Hans Christian Andersen Award Ceremony. Between the Hans Christian Andersen House and the Concert Hall, the Hans Christian Andersen Parade formed a guard of honour featuring 50 fairytale characters.


The award ceremony at Concert Hall Odense took place at 1:30 pm in front of an invited audience. Local TV station TV2 Fyn broadcasted the event live.

Swiss Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Kurt Aeschbacher hosted the award ceremony, which commenced with a performance of the overture to Carl Nielsen's opera Maskarade by the Odense Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frank Strobel. Mayor Anker Boye then held the opening speech and the members of the Hans Christian Andersen Committee were presented with a dish from the official Hans Christian Andersen dinner service for their long-standing commitment to the Andersen Awards.

The members of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards Committee are: former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Helmuth Schmidt, former Director of the National Bank of Denmark Bodil Nyboe Andersen, translator Lin Hua, former Ambassador to Denmark Richard Nelson Swett, Danish author Johannes Møllehave and former Danish cabinet minister Arne Melchior.

After the tribute to the committee members, Danish actress and Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Ghita Nørby performed a reading of Andersen's fairytale The Travelling Companion accompanied by the Odense Symphony Orchestra.

Since 1996, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards Committee has offered annual donations to UNICEF. On behalf of the Hans Christian Andersen Award Committee, Benny Nybo presented this year's contribution of DKK 15,000 to the host, Kurt Aeschbacher, who is also Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF.

Following this, Susanne Elmark accompanied by Danish composer Bent Fabricius Bjerre performed a song from the composer's musical The Little Mermaid, which later this year will be performed on a floating stage in Copenhagen Harbour. Later in the programme, Susanne Elmark performed Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (the Queen of the Night aria) from Mozart's The Magic Flute accompanied by Odense Symphony Orchestra.

The First Lady of Chile and Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Mrs. Luisa Durán de Lagos then presented the book entitled H.C. Andersen svarer Neruda (Andersen answers Neruda). In her speech, the First Lady of Chile expressed her pleasure with the collaboration between Chile and Denmark on commemorating two great authors, Pablo Neruda and Hans Christian Andersen.

2004 marked the centenary of the birth of the Chilean author Pablo Neruda, and in the new book some of the questions posed by Neruda in his poems Libro de las preguntas (1974) (The Book of Questions) are answered with 19th century prose by Andersen. The book was presented to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Mayor of Odense Anker Boye.


For the tenth consecutive year, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards Committee presented Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Awards. These awards are presented to people or institutions who have helped promote the awareness of Andersen's work. In 2005, the three Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Awards were presented to the Danish film company A. film, Russian headmaster Sergey Semyonov and German author Günter Grass.

A. Film
The Mayor of the County of Funen, Jan Boye, presented the Honorary Award to Jørgen Lerdam who represented A. Film. The film company received the award for the animated film series The Fairytaler, which features 30 familiar and lesser-known Andersen fairytales. What is special about the animated films is that they adopt a new approach and adapt Andersen's fairytales quite freely, and since they are not given happy endings they still reflect Andersen's spirit. With A. Film's new adaptations, Andersen's fairytales are made accessible to new generations of children both in Denmark and internationally.

The animated films are a co-production between the Irish film company Magma Film, A. Film in Copenhagen, Estonia and Lithuania, Egmont Imagination, the national Danish broadcaster DR, and the Germany-language station Super RTL.

Sergey Semyonov
The Sebesj School in Russia for boys with special needs, represented by headmaster Sergey Semoyonov, was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award by the Danish Cultural Institute in Saint Petersburg and the Royal Danish Embassy in Moscow. The Honorary Award was presented to Sergey Semyonov by former recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, Italian translator Bruno Berni.

At the closed institution for 111 delinquent boys in the small village of Sebesj in the Pskov District, headmaster Sergey Semyonov has proved that Hans Christian Andersen can make a difference in real terms. The school logo is a duckling shielded by a large white swan, and the fairytale The Ugly Duckling represents the school's educational method. The school helps the boys find hope and a sense of purpose so they can create a better life for themselves. Hans Christian Andersen's empathy and compassion for the most unfortunate in society is communicated to the pupils. The aim - to transform ugly ducklings into beautiful swans - is accomplished through personal encouragement and by boosting their sense of self esteem.

Günter Grass
Günter Grass was nominated for an Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Award by the Royal Danish Embassy in Berlin, the Goethe Institute in Copenhagen, the German Embassy in Denmark, Galleri M and Per Øhrgaard. The award was presented by the Danish Minister of Cultural Affairs Brian Mikkelsen.

Author and Nobel laureate Günter Grass created his first illustrations to works by Hans Christian Andersen in 2001, which led to the publication of 96 illustrations of Andersen's fairytales in 2004. With these illustrations, the fairytales were rendered a new and unique dimension which mirrors Günter Grass' personal engagement and understanding of the fairytales. The illustrations bring Andersen out of the nursery room into the realm of the adult world as they emphasise the more dangerous and complex aspects of the fairytales as well as Andersen himself. With his illustrations, Günter Grass narrows in on the inner soul of the great storyteller.

The Odense City Hans Christian Andersen Award presented to Harold Bloom

For the fourth consecutive year, Odense City has awarded the Odense City Hans Christian Andersen Award worth 50,000 Euros. The award is presented on the basis of future projects and former recipients include Danish filmmaker Bille August, who was awarded for his upcoming Hans Christian Andersen film. The 2005 recipient is the American author and literary critic Harold Bloom. The award was presented by Mayor of Odense Anker Boye. Harold Bloom was introduced by Professor Jørgen Dines Johansen from the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.

Harold Bloom has over the past 40 years published 25 books on literature. Bloom's principal works, The Western Canon (1994) and How to read and why (2003) are passionate introductions to the authors who, according to Bloom, are the most eminent in world literature. Bloom is an accomplished and particularly critical reader who advocates getting involved as a reader in a cognitive, emotional and even bodily way.

Harold Bloom was introduced to Andersen's work at the age of 9 and his fascination of Andersen still endures. According to Bloom, Andersen is one of the most modern authors of the 19th century. On 1 April, prior to the award presentation, Harold Bloom held a lecture on Andersen at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.