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Svend Asmussen

Svend Asmussen
Svend Asmussen on the cover of
the Swedish weekly Se 1945
Background information
Born (1916-02-28) 28 February 1916 (age 101)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Violinist
Years active 1923–present

Svend Asmussen (born 28 February 1916 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a jazz violinist from Denmark, known as "The Fiddling Viking".


Svend Asmussen with The Swe-Danes
in 1961, including with Alice Babs central
and Ulrik Neumann to the right.

Asmussen was raised in a musical family, and started taking violin lessons at the age of 7. At age 16 he first heard recordings by jazz violin great Joe Venuti and began to emulate his style. He started working professionally as a violinist, vibraphonist, and singer at age 17, leaving his formal training behind for good.

Early in his career he worked in Denmark and on cruise ships with artists such as Josephine Baker and Fats Waller. Asmussen later was greatly influenced by Stuff Smith, whom he met in Denmark. Asmussen played with Valdemar Eiberg and Kjeld Bonfils during World War II, during which time jazz had moved to the underground and served as a form of political protest.

In the late 1950s, Asmussen formed the trio Swe-Danes with singer Alice Babs and guitarist Ulrik Neumann. The group became very popular in Scandinavia for their music hall style entertainment and also toured the United States.

Asmussen also worked with Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Duke Ellington. Asmussen was invited by Ellington to play on his Jazz Violin Session recording in 1963 with Stéphane Grappelli and Ray Nance.

In 1966, Asmussen appeared alongside Grappelli, Stuff Smith, and Jean-Luc Ponty in a jazz Violin Summit in Switzerland that was issued as a live recording. He made an appearance at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival, which included a celebrated violin summit with him, Ray Nance and Jean-Luc Ponty. In 1969 he guested on "Snakes in a Hole," an album by the jazz-rock band Made in Sweden. He was still active playing violin at the age of 94.[1]

Asmussen's collection of jazz music, photographs, posters and other material is held in the jazz collections at the University Library of Southern Denmark.

Asmussen's son, Claus Asmussen, is a well-known guitar player in Denmark, and a former member of the band Shu-Bi-Dua.

Discography (in selection)

Solo albums

  • 1951: Svend Asmussen (Angel Records)
  • 1953: Plays Hot Fiddle (Parlophone)
  • 1955: Svend Asmussen And His Unmelancholy Danes (Angel Records)
  • 1955: Svend Asmussen And His Unmelancholy Danes, Vol. 2 (Angel Records)
  • 1955: Skol! (Epic Records)
  • 1956: Asmussen Moods (Philips Records)
  • 1961: Spielt Welterfolge (Telefunken)
  • 1965: Evergreens (Odeon Records)
  • 1966: & De Gode Gamle (Metronome Records)
  • 1968: Svend Asmussen Spelar Nordiskt 20-30-Tal (Sveriges Radio)
  • 1975: Spelar Nordiskt 20-30-Tal (Sveriges Radio)
  • 1979: Dance Along With Svend Asussen (EMI International)
  • 1983: String Swing (Sonet Records), featuring Ulf Wakenius
  • 1983: June Night (Doctor Jazz Records)
  • 1984: Svend Asmussen at Slukafter (Phontastic Records)
  • 1989: Fiddler Supreme (Intim Musik)
  • 1994: Fiddling Around (Imoge Records)
  • 1999: Fit as a Fiddle (Dacapo Records)
  • 2002: Still Fiddling (Storyville Records)
  • 2008: When You Are Smiling (Universal Music)
  • 2009: Rhythm Is Our Business (Storyville Records)[2]
  • 2009: Makin' Whoopee...and Music! (Arbors Records)
  • 2011: The Jazz Man Hitler Failed to Silence (Roastin Records)[3]


With Ulrik Neumann
With Jan Johansson
  • 1968: Jazz På Ungerska (Megafon Records)
With Toots Thielemans
With Eric Ericson and Kammarkören
  • 1972: Kammarkören & Eric Ericsson Möter Svend Asmussen (RCA Victor)
  • 1973: Kammarkören & Eric Ericson Möter Svend Asmussen Igen (RCA Victor)
With Putte Wickman and Ivan Renliden
With others


  1. ^ Friedwald, Will (2010-07-08). "This Working Musician Is 94". Biography. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  2. ^ Mosey, Chris (2009-11-18). "This Working Musician Is 94". Musical reviews. All About Jazz. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  3. ^ "Svend Asmussen". Discography. AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  4. ^ "Svend Asmussen". Discography. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 

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