Herman D. Koppel was a Danish composer and pianist. His major works include seven symphonies and several solo concertos, sonatas, chamber music, piano works and many vocal works. In addition, he composed film music, educational pieces and cabaret songs – almost 300 works in total.
Koppel was born to a Jewish tailor family who emigrated from Poland to Denmark. At age 18 he gained admission as a pianist to The Royal Danish Academy of Music. Koppel’s great inspiration was Carl Nielsen, but jazz music also played a significant role in his musical life. After studying Bartók, Stravinsky and Brahms, he found his own way of expression characterised by energetic rhythms and strong melodic lines.
As a Jew, the Second World War had a substantial impression on him, and he had a deep-felt desire to express human cruelty in major works like Three Psalms of David (1949) for soloist and chorus.
He was an important figure in Danish musical life due to his professorship at the Royal Danish Academy of Music from 1949-1978. Later in his life, he was awarded the Order of Dannebrog.