The article discusses how the concept of “national composer” was established and developed in Central and Northern Europe by looking into the attempted international careers of two Danish composers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The analysis focuses on the appropriation of national composers in relation to international recognition in order to reflect on how this changing relationship might have influenced the conditions for international recognition of Zoltán Kodály. In the 1840s, Leipzig was the place to obtain international reputation. It was in Leipzig that Niels W. Gade was first recognized as a composer with a “Nordic tone” and it was because of that reason that he had, a meteoric career and was ranked as an important European composer. In the early twentieth century, Carl Nielsen replaced Gade as the most revered Danish composer; however, at that time, being a national composer was not an advantage to an international career, it was an obstacle, if anything.