Svend Asmussen Biography
b. February 28, 1916 - Copenhagen, Denmark.
An institution in danish jazz and an icon of staying power Asmussen has been a recording artist for 8 decades and is still active.
Asmussen started playing violin at age seven, got his professional debut in 1933 and made his first recording as a leader in 1935. At first the studied to become a dentist when not playing gigs, but from 1937 he became full-time musician, playing with visiting stars as Josephine Baker, Fats Waller and The Mills Brothers. He started gaining a reputation in both London, Paris and Berlin but the outbreak of war halted planned tours. Due to the nazi's hate of jazz music it was used as a political protest in occupied Denmark (and elsewhere) and Asmussen got arrested.
He still succeeded in recording a string of singles for the Odeon label through the first half of the 40'ies. Later shifting to the Tono label. From the early 40'ies he also became active as an actor in both films and on theater, mainly in comedies.
In 1945 he formed a new sextet and started touring Europe as a jazz artist, while still making pop music for films, radio and TV - and from the 50'ies touring and recording with the popular Swe-danes.
Strict immigration laws kept Asmussen from touring the US and hence he has stayed little known stateside. He did, over the years, record with Lionel Hampton, John Lewis, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington and appeared in the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival "violin summit" with Ray Nance and Jean-Luc Ponty. And when a dozen or more american jazz artist started moving to Copenhagen he formed groups with Ed Thigpen, Kenny Drew.
Asmussen recorded with his contemporary fellow-violinist Stéphane Grappelli and with Toots Thielemans on a couple of LP's.
In later years Svend Asmussen has both played live and recorded with guitarist Jacob Fischer and Aage Tanggaard. At 96 Asmussen is still fiddling.
He is the father of guitarist Claus Asmussen.