Swedish Modern Music

By | August 23, 2021

On the threshold of the 20th century are the works of Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (* 1867, † 1942) with their songs inspired by Swedish folk music, the lyrical pieces for piano and his operas influenced by R. Wagner , including »Arnljot «(1909) assumed the status of a national opera. His generation includes: Wilhelm Stenhammar (* 1871, † 1927; also pianist and conductor), who found his way from late romantic beginnings to a tart, simple musical language inspired by folk music; H. Alfvén, who with his »Swedish Rhapsodies« was long considered the epitome of Nordic music; K. M. Atterberg with his national romantic symphonies and the song composer AJT Rangström. The music of the late romanticists Natanael Berg (* 1879, † 1957) and Oskar Lindberg (* 1887, † 1955) also had national traits.

Parallel to this late romantic work, an increasing confrontation with contemporary European modernism began in the 1920s. H. Rosenberg   – who shaped generations of Swedish composers as a central musical personality – and G. A. Petterssondealt with twelve-tone technique, while Gösta Nystroem (* 1890, † 1966), inter alia. from impressionism and – like L.-E. Larsson and Dag Ivar Wirén (* 1905, † 1986)  - Neoclassicism inspired by I. Stravinsky’s successor.

The generation of post-war composers, who have now also gained increasing recognition abroad, is led by K.-B. Blomdahl, who with Rosenberg fellow students S.-E. Bäck and I. Lidholm as well as with Sven-Eric Johanson (* 1919, † 1997) foundedthe avant-garde »Måndagsgruppen« (»Monday group«), inspired by P. Hindemith and his »Instruction in composition« and with his space opera »Aniara« (1959) caused a sensation. Against the modernism perceived as dominant and rigorous by this group emerged, inter alia. by the traditionalists Jan Carlstedt (* 1926, † 2000) and Hans Eklund (* 1927, † 1999) a counter-movement with a return to national romantic sounds. Swedish music since the middle of the 20th century has been characterized by a pluralism of styles. B. Hambraeus, who is considered a pioneer of contemporary organ music, used electronic techniques as well as non-European influences in his works and experimented with spatial music, while Jan Sandström (* 1954) inter alia. is considered an advocate of minimalism (minimal music) and Sven-David Sandström (* 1942, † 2019) strives for a new simplicity in works such as the »Missa da Requiem«.

According to militarynous, a Swedish specialty is the “text-sound music” developed at the Institute for Electroacoustic Music in Stockholm. Lars-Gunnar Bodin (* 1935, † 2021) experiments. Other representatives of electronic works are B. Nilsson , Ralph Lundsten (* 1935)and J. W. Morthenson. The composer and musicologist G. Bucht plays a key role, who, like Arne Mellnäs (* 1933, † 2002), who is still waiting to be discovered, primarily writes (extensive) symphonies.

One of the (still) controversial Swedish composers of the 21st century is Anders Eliasson (* 1947, † 2013), whose works are anchored in the Renaissance as well as in modern times and who works with a floating tonality beyond the major-minor boundaries. Contemporary Swedish opera composers include Lars Johan Werle (* 1926, † 2001) and Daniel Börtz (* 1943). The younger generation of Swedish composers, like Karin Rehnqvist (* 1957) and Anders Hillborg (* 1954), are inspired by folk music without being popular.

Swedish Modern Music

Folk, pop, rock and jazz music

In addition to art music, there is a diverse folk, pop, rock and jazz music scene. The traditional folk music, which in earlier centuries was firmly rooted in everyday life and accompanied both the work (shepherd music of the dairymen) and the minstrels’ festivals and ceremonies, has experienced a renaissance since the 20th century. Typical, made of simple materials in some instruments were or are the nyckelharpa or nyckelharpa, chanter, Holzschuh violin, bark trumpets and animal horns, Jew’s harp, bagpipe and flute nuclear fission (“spilåpipa”).

In (innovative) pop and rock music, Sweden drew attention to itself in the 1970s with the group ABBA and since then has played with bands such as The Cardigans, Ace of Base or The Hives, the pop duo Roxette and soloists such as Pandora (* 1970) or Nicolai Dunger (* 1968) claims on an international level. Jazz has been at home in Sweden since the 1920s and has been or will be among other things. Maintained by the band leader Arne Hülphers (* 1904, † 1978), the singers Alice Babs (* 1924, † 2014) and Viktoria Tolstoy (* 1974) as well as the saxophonist Lars Gullin (* 1928, † 1976) and the Bobo Stenson Trio. In addition, the jazz scene has been exciting since the 1960s, among others. worldwide attention with the Umeå International Jazz Festival and the Kristianstad Jazz Festival.

The center of Swedish musical life is Stockholm with its music academy, the Royal Opera House and the Volksoper (Folkoperan), symphony orchestras and the Stockholm Chamber Choir founded by E. Ericson in 1945 (since 1988 Eric Ericson Chamber Choir) as well as the folk song archive and the Swedish music information center STIM. The Polar Music Prize, regarded as the unofficial Nobel Prize in Music, has also been awarded annually in Stockholm since 1992. International Swedish (opera) stars include B. Nilsson, N. Gedda and AS von Otter .