Kai Mortensen

Born: December 27th, 1908, Odense (Denmark)
Died: March 9th, 1989, Helsingør (Denmark)
Nationality: Danish

Kai Mortensen was a violinist, composer, and conductor. He went to music school in Odense; later, he took lessons with Max Schlüter. When he was 16, he was already touring as a violinist and a conductor in different bands. In subsequent years, he played for Jens Warny and Teddy Petersen. In 1948, he became the conductor of the Kabaret Orkester. Three years later, he took up the baton of the light entertainment orchestra of Danish Radio, the DR Unterholdningsorkester. With his orchestra, he accompanied many radio and television shows. He presented the radio programme Meloditimen himself. As a composer, he wrote several light classical works, the most famous one being ‘Den drilartige violin’ (The teasing violin). He conducted studio orchestras for recordings with many Danish artists, amongst whom Gustav Winckler. He was musical director of the 1974 animation film ‘Fra poetens pen’.

Kai Mortensen was one of the usual guest conductors in the early years of the Eurovision Song Contest. From Denmark’s first participation in 1957 until 1964, he conducted all the entries submitted by the Scandinavian country. He wrote the orchestrations to at least three of those entries. During all those years, he also was the musical director of the Danish preselection, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. In 1963, he belonged to the Danish team that won the contest in London with ‘Dansevise’ (sung by Grethe and Jørgen Ingman). When, the year after, the contest was staged in Copenhagen, all songs were accompanied by the Unterholdningsorkester and Kai Mortensen was the musical director. Because Portugal had not sent along a guest conductor, Mortensen also conducted the – very first – Portuguese entry, ‘Oração’, which had been arranged by Joaquim Luís Gomes and Armando Tavares Belo. After 1964, Mortensen never participated in the contest anymore. All in all, he conducted nine Eurovision songs.

In due course, a more extensive biography of Kai Mortensen will be published on this website


Songs conducted
1957: Skibet skal sejle i nat
1958: Jeg rev et blad ud af min dagbog
1959: Uh, jeg ville ønske jeg var dig
1960: Det var en yndig tid
1961: Angelique
1962: Vuggevise
1963: Dansevise
1964: Sangen om dig
1964: Oração

Musical director
1964: Copenhagen