He started his career as a violinist in the Royal Danish Orchestra where he premiered Efterklange af Ossian (Echos of Ossian) in 1841. However, his first symphony was rejected for performance in Copenhagen, so Gade sent it to Felix Mendelssohn who loved it. In 1843 Mendelssohn conducted it in Leipzig where it received an enthusiastic reaction.
The Danish government fellowship then assisted Gade in his move to Leipzig where he worked at the Conservatory. When Felix Mendelssohn died in 1847 Gade replaced him as chief conductor, but unfortunately due to the war in 1848 he had to return to Copenhagen.
- Gade worked for his father as an instrument maker.
- The Romantic Nationalist school in Danish music was founded by Gade
- He wrote one violin concerto, eight symphonies, chamber music, piano and organ works, and several cantatas.
- He taught Edvard Grieg and many other Scandinavian composers.