Swedish Music

By | August 22, 2021

Swedish music, about the Swedish music from pre-Christian times (up to the 11th century) there are only inadequate sources from which the use of primitive rattles, flutes, horns and bronze lurs and from the 8th century also of lyres emerges.

In addition, literary sources such as the Bósi saga provide information on musical practice in the Middle Ages, which prove the cultic anchoring and demonic influence of music. Older folk songs, which have been sparsely handed down, have their own Swedish character, based on church modes and dance rhythms and at the same time showing Norwegian and German influences. In the course of the Christianization of the country, which was met with bitter resistance, Gregorian chant wasestablished in the 11th century. At the same time, liturgical chants such as the “Cantus sororum” (song of the sisters), the one for the Order of St. Birgitta , were created in the 14th and 15th centurieswas created. The first evidence of vocal polyphony comes from this time. In the 16th century, Luther’s student O. Petri reformed not only the Swedish church, but also church music based on the German (Lutheran) model and published the first Protestant hymnbook in 1526. In addition, a rich musical life flourished at the court of the Wasa kings (1523–1654). from Germany, Italy and Poland. In instrumental dance music, remnants of the estampie of the 13th and 14th centuries have been preserved and the folk ballad (Folkvisa) flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries.

From court music to bourgeois concert life

According to mathgeneral, it was also a dynasty of musicians who immigrated to Sweden from Germany who significantly shaped Swedish music from their place of work in Stockholm during the so-called Great Power Period (1611–1718). Their era began in 1620 with the Sweelinck pupil Andreas (Anders) Düben d. Ä. (* 1597, † 1662), who, like his son Gustav (* 1624, † 1690), worked as organist and court music director. G. Düben was also a versatile composer who also used French and Italian stylistic devices and, according to V. Albricis (* 1631, † 1696) “Fader vår som är i heavenen” (1654–1658) with his “Fadher wår” (1663) created the second choral “Our Father” setting in Swedish. He also left an important collection of music, including with works by D. Buxtehude , which is now kept in Uppsala.

The Stockholm court was responsible for cultural life with its court orchestra founded in 1526 – especially during the reign of Queen Christine (1632–54) – which, however, mainly engaged French and Italian musicians and opera companies for its diverse musical events. Among them was Francesco Antonio Baldassare Uttini (* 1723, † 1795), court conductor since 1755 and not only composer of stage works in Italian and French, but also of two operas in Swedish.

In the 18th century, during the so-called Freedom Period (1718–71), concerts organized by the bourgeoisie developed, which were also predominantly performed by foreign artists. These influences are also reflected in the Swedish operas written by local composers such as Arvid Niclas von Höpken (* 1719, † 1778), which are entirely written in the Italian style. Carl Stenborg (* 1752, † 1813) drew attention to himself as the creator of the first Swedish Singspiel, while the works of the poet-composer C. M. Bellman were popular. J. H. Roman, also celebrated as the »Swedish Handel , is considered to be the leading local composer of the 18th centurywho, inter alia. through his “Swedish Mass” (1752) is considered the “father of Swedish music” and shaped musical life far beyond his time. In addition, in the late 18th century, based on German »harmony music«, a separate brass orchestra tradition established itself, which today is an important cultural bearer with numerous bands.

Golden Age and Romance

The arts flourished during the so-called Gustavian period (1771–1809). External testimony of this include, among other things. the establishment of the Stockholm Music Academy (1771) and the Swedish National Opera, which opened in 1773 with “Thetis och Pelée” (German “Thetis and Peleus”), the first opera in Swedish by the Italian court composer Uttini. In the years that followed, the reform of musical life was a central royal concern, including in the hands of the Germans J. G. Naumann, G. J. (Abbé) Vogler and J. M. Kraus. They worked in all musical areas and left significant traces, especially as stage composers; JG Naumanns Opera “Gustaf Wasa” (1786) even advanced to become the Swedish national opera for decades. The operas by Ivar Christian Hallström (* 1826, † 1901) have experienced a renaissance since the end of the 20th century. »Den bertagna« (1874, German »The seduced by the mountain spirit«).

The Finnish clarinet virtuoso Bernhard Henrik Crusell (* 1775, † 1838) stands at the transition from classical to romantic with his works for wind instruments (especially the clarinet). In the 19th century, a national character (influenced by folk music) became increasingly noticeable in Swedish music. Even if a broad repertoire was now cultivated on the Swedish opera stages, with the singspiel »Värmländingarne« (»The People of Värmland«) by Andreas Randel (* 1804, † 1864), Swedish folk music sounds entered this genre for the first time and the soprano J. Lind When the “Swedish nightingale” celebrated triumphs worldwide, the focus of vocal music in the Romantic period was on the genres of song and (male) choral music. The (unrelated) Adolf Fredrik (* 1801, † 1878) and Otto Jonas Lindblad (* 1809, † 1864) left significant traces here. While the former, inter alia. was celebrated as a “Swedish Schubert ” through the interpretation of his songs by J. Lind, the latter made outstanding contributions to the male choir literature as a conductor and composer.

The leading composer of this century with a pronounced personal style was F. A. Berwald, who was hardly recognized in his home country during his lifetime, with his extensive oeuvre (symphonies, string quartets, etc.). In addition, Fredrik Vilhelm Ludvig Norman (* 1831, † 1885), whose work is unmistakably influenced by German Romanticism, and Johan Andreas Hallén (* 1846, † 1925), who in his operas and orchestral works (»Die Toteninsel«, 1898) was influenced by the new German school. Both also reformed Swedish musical life, the former through his conducting activities and the latter through his pioneering work with the Swedish Bach -Reception. Among the representatives of a nationally romantic tonal language are Johan August Söderman (* 1832, † 1876), who, in addition to (grandiose) orchestral works, created the genre of the choral ballad (»The Pilgrimage to Kevlaar«, 1859–66) and with the »Katolsk messa« (» Catholic Mass «, 1875) made an elementary contribution to sacred choral music, as did Johan Gustaf Emil Sjögren (* 1853, † 1918) with his versatile and poetic songwriting.

Swedish Music