HERE & NOW Hans Christian Andersen 2005 in the US

The Lincoln Center Festival, Museum of Modern Art and Penguin Books are among the US cultural partners joining the world-wide celebration of Hans Christian Andersen's bicentenary

By on - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 01 February 2005

Literary critic Harold Bloom to receive the prestigious Odense City's Hans Christian Andersen Award 2005

Travelling exhibition on the life and works of Hans Christian Andersen opens at the UN Building in New York

The Hans Christian Andersen celebrations support girls' education in third-world countries

HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark attended the press launch at the New York Public Library of Hans Christian Andersen 2005, the international bicentenary celebration of the beloved Danish storyteller, on February 1st 2005 at 11 am.

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75), the Danish storyteller renowned the world over for such enduring tales as The Princess and the Pea, The Little Mermaid, and The Ugly Duckling, will be celebrated throughout the United States in 2005, it was announced today at a press conference held in the South Court of the New York Public Library by Lars Seeberg, Secretary General of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation. 

Commemorating Hans Christian Andersen's birth, 200 years ago on April 2, 1805 in the small Danish town of Odense, theatrical, musical, cinematic, television, and childrens' events in America will form part of a worldwide series of cultural tributes launched by the HCA2005 Foundation to commemorate and explore Andersen's life, art, and broad humanity. 

Hans Christian Andersen once wrote a song with the refrain: "What a pity that America lies so far away from here!' Even though the widely traveled Andersen never managed to visit America, he often dreamt and wrote about this distant fairytale continent. Little did he know that two hundred years after his birth, the USA would be among the most prominent countries celebrating his bicentenary," says Secretary General Seeberg.

HRH Crown Prince Frederik announced at the press launch today that American author and literary figure Harold Bloom would be the recipient of the Odense City's Hans Christian Andersen Award for 2005. The award is given to persons in recognition of their commitment to promote the wider awareness and appreciation of Hans Christian Andersen in connection with his 200th birthday. The award of of $60,000 will be presented to Mr. Bloom by the City of Odense on Andersen's birthday.

Harold Bloom, HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard.  His more than twenty-five books include Hamlet; Genius; How to Read and Why; Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human; The Western Canon: The book of J: and The Anxiety of Influence. His latest book is Where Shall Wisdom be Found? 

Mr. Bloom is a MacArthur Prize Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the Academy's Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, The International Prize of Catalonia, and the Alfonso Reyes Prize of Mexico.

To ensure the legacy of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 bicentenary, the Hans Christian Andersen-abc Foundation (HCA-abc Foundation) has been established with the aim of supporting the fight against illiteracy on a global level. Hans Christian Andersen himself struggled with reading difficulties, but with the aid of a patron, he received an education and the gift of writing. 

At the press launch in New York, Mette Holst, director of the HCA-abc Foundation, announced the newly established cooperation between the HCA-abc Foundation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The HCA-abc Foundation will support UNICEF's programs aimed especially at illiteracy among girls. World-wide, 115 million primary-school age children are out of school. UNICEF's efforts are directed toward ensuring that all children realize their right to complete a quality education. Girls' education has become a priority within this framework, since girls are often most likely to become excluded from learning.

To mark the launching of the HCA2005 celebrations in the US as well as the cooperation between UNICEF and the HCA-abc Foundation, HRH Crown Prince Frederik opened a travelling exhibition on Hans Christian Andersen on Monday 31st of January at the United Nations Building in New York. The exhibition will be open to the public during July and August of 2005 at the UN Building. The exhibition, which is produced by Odense City Museums in Denmark, focuses on the life and works of the fairytale writer as well as on illiteracy and UNICEF's efforts to ensure a quality education for girls in the poorest countries in the world. Following the opening at the UN Building, the exhibition will be travelling all over the US.

Scheduled for 1 p.m. today, HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark will preside over a visit to the Hans Christian Andersen School Complex in Harlem, P.S. 242, at 134 West 122nd Street (between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard) where the winner of a Storytelling Contest will be announced. The winner and chaperones will be flow to Copenhagen, Denmark, in April 2005 to participate in the three-day opening ceremonies of the celebration of Hans Christian Andersen's 200th birthday.

The Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation, which is funded by the Danish Ministry of Culture and the Danish Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs along with the Municipality of Odense, the County of Funen, and the Bikuben Foundation for a total of $40 million, produces and coordinates the cultural projects exploring Hans Christian Andersen's legacy through film, television, music, dance, exhibitions, multimedia, literature, opera, and the visual arts during Andersen's bicentenary in 2005. Under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark, HCA 2005 has engaged many major venues worldwide - from the Sydney Opera in Australia to New York's Lincoln Center - to mount Andersen-related cultural presentations during the Bicentennial Year. 

In order to serve as a reminder of the irreplaceable function of storytelling in our lives, high profile storytellers in the United States - such as singer, Harry Belafonte, actress Susan Sarandon, jazz musician McCoy Tyner, singer Suzanne Vega, ballet master Peter Martins, actor Boyd Gaines, and actress Connie Nielsen have been appointed as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation to serve as the public face of the worldwide campaign celebrating the Danish author during the 200th anniversary of his birth. They join over 100 Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors around the world, which include soccer legend Pelé, author Isabel Allende, former president Vaclav Havel, actor Derek Jacobi, and author Dame Antonia S. Byatt. 

The Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors also support the Hans Christian Andersen-abc Foundation's battle against illiteracy.

Although Hans Christian Andersen is most famous for his fairytales, these are more than childrens' stories. Like the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, Andersen had a knack of turning ideas into tales in a particularly Nordic, melancholy, and at the same time witty way. His fairy tales are philosophical, told with amazing narrative joy and sparkling imagination in beautiful, elegant language. Yet these stories have the special quality of being able to speak to children and adults alike, on two different levels. For adults, his tales often have a darker side, revealing to the reader the author's insecurities, engendered by the humiliations of being born to poverty, of thinking he was an "ugly duckling" himself, of having difficulties in his romantic attachments, and of being hostage to a host of anxieties, most notably an unreasoning fear of fire. Yet with all of this, Andersen would retain his love of life, of travel, and keep up a lively interest in the technological innovations of his time, particularly railway travel and photography (he was one of the most photographed celebrities of the 19th century).

In reviewing the newly published Tiina Nunnally translation from the Danish of Andersen's fairytales, published by Penguin and edited by Jackie Wullschlager, A.S. Byatt of the Financial Times characterizes perfectly the universality of this great Danish author: "Andersen had the true storyteller's gift of making the imagined world brilliantly concrete - he can make us see a palace of ice, a forest of seaweed, a mechanical nightingale, a naked king clothed in imaginary clothes, a princess on a tower of mattresses over a pea, so that it is in many cases our first lesson in invention." Financial Times, January 15-16, 2005.

The following are the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 activities programmed for the US

Musical events
Concerts with music based on the writings of Hans Christian Andersen will include:

The American Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Leon Botstein on Friday, March 11, 2005 on the Great Performers series at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.  The American Symphony Orchestra celebrates Andersen's bicentenary with four works inspired by Andersen's magical tales: Alexander Zemlinsky's "The Mermaid;" Karel Husa's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier;" Paul Klenua's "Little Ida's Flowers;" and Stravinsky's "The Song of the Nightingale."

Poetica Musica performs "Hans Christian Andersen's World" at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, Wednesday, March 16, 8pm, with chamber works by Nielsen, Koppel, Prokofiev, Berg, Loeffler and more. 

The New York Scandia Symphony under Danish conductor Dorrit Matson, will perform the United States premiere of Poul Schierbeck's "The Tinderbox", based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen, at New York's Trinity Church, Broadway and Wall Street, on Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 1 pm. The distinguished actor Michael York will be the narrator. Works by Jean Sibelius are also programmed. 

The Kronos Quartet joins with renowned baritone, composer, and conductor Paul Hillier to present an evening of contemporary music. The centerpiece, the world premiere of "Moving Still," a new work by Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, based on texts by Hans Christian Andersen, was written expressly for the Kronos Quartet and singer Paul Hillier. The world premiere will be presented in Scandinavia in October 2005 and in the United States in 2006. The Kronos members are David Harrington, violin; John Sherba, Violin; Hank Dutt, viola; Jennifer Culp, cello. 

Edition SAMFUNDET, with support from the Danish government and the Royal Ministry of Culture, has launched project "Symphonic Fairytales". Throughout 2005, leading symphony orchestras around the world will perform ten new compositions by Danish composers who all draw inspiration from a fairytale or poem by Hans Christian Andersen.  "Symphonic Fairytales" is currently planning to work with a major American orchestra for performances in the United States. Please visit for more information.

Theatre events
A highlight of the upcoming theatrical events will be the Lincoln Center Festival production in July 2005 of My Life As A Fairytale by Chen Shi-Zheng (music and lyrics by Stephen Merrit, and script by Erik Ehn), a musical theater piece that explores Hans Christian Andersen's experimentation with language and storytelling. My Fairy Tale of a Life was the title of Andersen's autobiography. The Chinese-American director Chen Shi-Zheng takes it very literally, creating a story that weaves the famous and not so famous fairytale characters together with elements from the poet's own enchanted, yet tortured, life's story. The bittersweet songs are by the New York composer Stephen Merritt, from the alt-rock band The Magnetic Fields, known for such successful albums as "69 Love Songs."

Among other theatrical offerings will be a co-production between the Danish theater Kaleidoscop, Swedish Cirkus Cirkörs, and the University of California, Berkeley, of a theatre/dance piece based on The Little Mermaid. Since 1995 Cirkus Cirkörs, which performs worldwide, has become one of the most popular new circus troupes in the Nordic countries. 

The celebrated Canadian theatre director Robert Lepage will visit Los Angeles in 2006 with his solo performance "The Dryad" inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's visit to the 1867 World Expo in Paris.  

Film events
New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will present four programs of film versions of The Little Match Girl, one of the Andersen's most well-known and beloved stories.  This series, organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator of the department of Film and Media, will put an imaginative variety of styles on view, ranging from 1915 to the present and illustrating how filmmakers as diverse as Jean Renoir, Aki Kaurismaki, and Andrew Meyer (with the help of Andy Warhol) interpret Andersen's fertile imagination. 

An animated film, "The Story of a Mother", from Sleeping Hero Productions will also be screened. This story will be presented by Sleeping Hero Productions as a short film in 3D computer animation. The cast includes award-winning actors from Broadway, film and television.

A major film offering will be a feature film on Andersen by famed Danish director Bille August. In addition, television productions relating to Hans Christian Andersen will be sold and distributed in the United States during the entire celebration of Hans Christian Andersen 2005.

Books and Literary Activities
Penguin Books is publishing a new translation of 30 tales and stories by Hans Christian Andersen translated by Tiina Nunnally, with a preface by Jackie Wullschlager, British author of the much-acclaimed biography Hans Christian Andersen - The Life of a Storyteller, in a collaboration with Penguin U.K. 

Overlook Press will publish Danish author and journalist Jens Andersen's new biography of Andersen

The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen: A New Translation from the Danish by author Jeffrey Frank and his Danish-born wife, Diana Crone Frank has been published by Houghton Mifflin. The volume is illustrated with the drawings by Vilhelm Pedersen and Lorenz Frølich, which accompanied the original Danish publication of Andersen's stories.

Dutton Children's Books The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Dennis Nolan explores the childhood and youth of Hans Christian Andersen

The Ugly Duckling Goes to Work, by Mette Norgaard, is a new book that derives motivational and management principles from Andersen's celebrated tale, published by the American Management Association.

Other Activities
The Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation  (HCA 2005) in cooperation with the National Education Association's "Read Across America Program" and the Every Child is Ours organization will hold the HCA 2005-USA Essay Contest, designed to encourage students to read and to help them improve their creative writing skills. At the end of the competition the essay contest winner (with parents or guardians) will be flown to Copenhagen, Denmark, to participate in the Hans Christian Andersen festivities in April 2005.  For information, please visit

The Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center has planned a series of readings and childrens' activities centered on a New York City celebrated landmark, the statue of Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park. 

Plans are also in preparation for the United Exhibits Group to have their exhibition, "The Greatest Fairy Tale: The amazing Life and Story of Hans Christian Andersen", tour the United States with the support of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation (for more information:

Scandinavia House will celebrate Hans Christian Andersen with a special interactive installation bringing Andersen's most beloved stories to life, through February 12, 2005, Tuesday through Saturday, 12-5 pm, free admission. Scandinavia House is located in The Nordic Center in America, 58 Park Avenue (between 37th and 38th Streets) in Manhattan.

Hans Christian Andersen in Schools: the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation has initiated a worldwide educational project for children and the young. The Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation has in association with the Danish Centre for Children's Literature produced inspiring educational resources on Hans Christian Andersen for children in the age group of 6 - 16 years of age. The resource material is available in numerous languages, and the English language version will be one of the first to be published on All resources are available free of charge.