Danish Diaries – Danes Away!

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Danish Diaries – Danes Away!

In all the writing about Denmark and the various things that I have come to learn about, I realised that there are many Danes who have contributed to the world in different ways. It can be surprising to know that few of the people that I want to talk about are well-known names to many. Their contributions are so many that I cannot list them all but here are a few of them.

Niels Bohr

Einar Wegene and Lili Elbe

Niels Henrik David Bohr who lived from 7 October 1885 to 18 November 1962, was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding the atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr developed the Bohr model of the atom. The Bohr model shows the atom as a small, positively charged nucleus surrounded by orbiting electrons. Bohr was the first to discover that electrons travel in separate orbits around the nucleus and that the number of electrons in the outer orbit determines the properties of an element.

Susanne Bier

Lili Ilse Elvenes, better known as Lili Elbe, was a Danish transgender woman and one of the first identifiable recipients of sex reassignment surgery. Elbe was born Einar Magnus Andreas Wegene and was a successful painter under that name. The name Lili Elbe was made up by Copenhagen journalist Louise ‘Loulou’ Lassen. Lili died from complications involving a uterus transplant.

Moving from to the past to the present in the world of arts, Denmark has given its share of talent. Recently, Susanne Bier won the Best Director Primetime Emmy Award for her series The Night Manager. She is best known for her feature films Brothers, After the Wedding, the Academy Award-winning – In a Better World and the TV mini-series The Night Manager. She is the first female director to win a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and a European Film Award. Actors from this land include Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Connie Nielsen, Viggo Mortensen Junior to mention a few. Some movies in which they have starred include:

Mads Mikkelsen

Mads Mikkelsen – Pusher, King Arthur, Casino Royale, Hannibal, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Doctor Strange.

Nikolaj Coster- Waldau

Nikolaj Coster- Waldau – Nightwatch, Black Hawk Down, New Amsterdam and Game of Thrones.

Connie Nielsen

Connie Nielsen – Rushmore, Nymphomaniac, Gladiator, Wonder Woman and Justice League.

Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen – Miami Vice, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, G I Jane and Lord of the Rings.

Lars Ulrich

Aqua (Band)

In the world of music, numerous people can make this list. Lars Ulrich born December 26, 1963, is a Danish musician, songwriter, actor, and record producer. He is best known as the drummer and co-founder of the American heavy metal band Metallica. He is the son of tennis player Torben Ulrich and grandson of tennis player Einer Ulrich. Along with this is Aqua, the Danish Eurodance group, best known for their 1997 breakthrough single ‘Barbie Girl’. The group formed in 1989 and achieved huge success around the globe in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The group released three albums: Aquarium in 1997, Aquarius in 2000 and Megalomania in 2011. The group sold an estimated 33 million albums and singles, making them the most profitable Danish band ever.

MØ – Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted

In the recent past, if you have danced or even sung to the song Lean on, then you have listened to the vocals of MØ. Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted (born 13 August 1988), known professionally as MØ is a Danish singer and songwriter, signed to Sony Music Entertainment.

Hans Christian Andersen

You cannot roam around Denmark without the mention of Hans Christian Andersen. H. C. Andersen; (2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875) was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen’s fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. Some of his most famous fairy tales include The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina.

Peter Schmeichel

In the world of sports, Danes have stepped their game. Peter Schmeichel is a Danish former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper and was voted the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper in 1992 and 1993. He is best remembered for his most successful years at English club Manchester United, whom he captained to the 1999 UEFA Champions League to complete the Treble, and for winning UEFA Euro 1992 with Denmark.

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki is a Danish professional tennis player. She is a former world No. 1 on the WTA Tour, having held this position for 67 weeks. She was the first woman from a Scandinavian country to hold the top-ranking position and 20th overall. She finished on top of the rankings in both 2010 and 2011.

Thomas Bjorn

Thomas Bjørn is a professional golfer from Denmark who plays on the European Tour. He is the most successful Danish golfer to have played the game having won fifteen tournaments worldwide on the European Tour. In 1997, he also became the first Dane to qualify for a European Ryder Cup team.

Tom Kristensen

Tom Kristensen is a former Danish professional racing driver. He holds the record for the most wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with nine, six of which were consecutive (from 2000 to 2005).

Bjarke Ingels

This Scandinavian country is also known for design, engineering and innovation. With constant output from Denmark, Bjarke Bundgaard Ingels is the founder and creative partner of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) since 2005. He is known for buildings that defy traditional architectural conventions and dimensions, ranging from representations of mountains to snowflakes. His designs incorporate sustainable development ideas and sociological concepts, along with sloped lines that are shaped to their surroundings. Since 2009, Ingels has won numerous architectural competitions. In October 2011, the Wall Street Journal named him the Innovator of the Year for architecture. It is not only in big structures, but Danes have also mastered the mini too. Lego is a line of plastic construction toys that are manufactured by The Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company’s flagship product, Lego, consists of colourful interlocking plastic bricks accompanying an array of gears, figurines called mini figures, and various other parts. The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891–1958), a carpenter from Billund, Denmark, who began making wooden toys in 1932. In 1934, his company came to be called “Lego”, derived from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means ‘play well’. In 1947, Lego expanded to begin producing plastic toys.


So, Denmark has slowly and silently spread its wings. It is surprising to know that we are aware a lot of these individuals and products but not knowing that they were Danish! Keep a look out; you may never know when you will be in touch with Denmark next. Till then, Vises naeste gang!

About The Author:

Athmika Ramachandra is currently continuing her post-graduation studies at Aarhus University, Denmark under student exchange programme of Manipal University Media and Communication Department. Athmika is Gold Medallist in BA from Mangalore University, enjoys photography, listening to music, reading novels and trying out new food. A bitten travel bug Athmika cherishes writing and poetry and she is the granddaughter of Late Padyana Gopalakishna (Pa.Go), Veteran Journalist & Kannada Columnist of yesteryears from Mangalore.

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