|Published: 2001-06-12 by Stellan Sagvik
by Lennart Reimers,
originally published in World New Music Magazine no 4, 1994
Battles and bulges
The end of World War II is, for natural reasons, often regarded as a landmark in many respects, including the development of contemporary music. For many reasons - and after many seasons (of tragedy, turbulence and isolation) - new life horizons seemed to open. In Sweden, where, until the second half of our century the national romanticism continued to be an important part of the music production, the situation in the second half of the fourties is often described in terms of a battle between postromanticism and modernism. In some ways it was, but at the same time this picture represents less than a half-truth.
Because the first battle did not take place during and immediately after the Second World War, but in the twenties and thirties, when Hilding Rosenberg (1892-1989) and Gösta Nystroem (1890-1966) entered the arena as a more or less expressionistic avantgarde. Parallel to this, in the thirties, waves of "Neue Sachlichkeit" including neobaroque, neoclassic and partly neoromantic ideals (Dag Wirén, Gunnar de Frumerie, Lars-Erik Larsson, Erland von Koch ...) represented a front both against Rosenbergs and Nystroems modernism and against romantic traditions with older roots (carried on by such personalities as Kurt Atterberg, Wilhelm Peterson-Berger and Oskar Lindberg ...).
So when peace broke out, most of the composers who at that time made their first public appearances (they were born around 1920) had different stilistic points of departure, whereas Hindemith, Stravinsky and Bartķk were important sources of inspiration, often serving as thresholds leading - very soon! - to new rooms waiting to become habitated. These different stilistic stratas were sometimes presented within the music language of one and the same composer, perhaps most evident in the case of Ingvar Lidholm.
And: there was much more than music behind this scenery. Even if many of the most distinguished composers had the same (private) teacher - Hilding Rosenberg - their human properties were all but identical. Some of them became known as the Monday group - the simple reason being that they met, in the second half of the forties, on Mondays to discuss new scores and textbooks, especially the kind that was absent in the teaching at the Royal Academy of Music. But they did not really represent a "school". The contexts around them, their personal backgrounds, their mentalities and activities in, around and on the sidelines of the creative field were quite different. The reason why they were seen as a "group" was simply that those who were against them (in the same sense that a famous English bishop was "against sin") agreed to be one. Their ambition was to climb (or jump) over the shelters of the cultural establishment, to proceed (as did the streetfighters in the revolution in Paris 1848), a v a n t l a g a r
d e. As we shall see they later became "established" themselves.
Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-68) was a leader and a forceful personality, also as a pedagogue (professor in composition, writer of articles, radio programs) and administrator (he was to become head of the music department of the Swedish Radio and a driving force behind the establishment of the Electronic Music Studio). He showed an attitude that was principally antiromantic and instrumental in works in which contrapuntal patterns and clear form strategies dominatied. Characteristic works: Symphony No. 3 "Facettes" (ISCM Festival, Frankfurt am Main 1951), Chamber Concerto for piano, wind players and percussion (ISCM Festival Baden-Baden 1955). In "Facettes" a tonal (!) twelve-tone series was used melodically. At the same time, as well as later on, Blomdahls creative thoughts became more and more focused on vocal and dramatic means of expression, above all with the oratorios "I speglarnas sal" (In the Hall of mirrors), based on Erik Lindegrens poem (ISCM Festival Oslo 1953), "Anabase" (1956), based on Saint John Perse's work, and the first "space opera" "Aniara" (1958), based on Harry Martinson's text. His musical attitude was full of energy, moving and acting in broad gestures. Characteristic for Blomdals life situation was also the juxtaposition of music, general esthetics (including intimate and productive contacts with literary authors, sculptors, painters ...) and the intellectual world.
Sven-Erik Bäck (1919-1993) came from a religious milieu, and the constellation text-music-message was central for him. Vocal music was what he called "the eternal correlate". However, this attitude should not be overemphasized or simplified. He was an excellent violinist and string quartet player, and a part of his "message" was often combined and identified with the two Swedish concepts "spel" and "lek" which in many languages are covered by one and the some word ("Spiel", "Play", "Jeux"). A typical example is "A game around a game" for orchestra (commissioned by the Donaueschinger Musiktage in 1959), where the serial way of thinking is obvious - jointly with a certain nordic lyricism and ornamental patterns with roots in the late baroque. His opera "Tranfjädrarna" (The Crane feathers) written in 1956 and based on a Japanese play by Kinoshita revised by Bertil Malmberg was very successful. In his gospel motets for mixed choir a cappella (1959-81), among them "Lo, we go up to Jerusalem", "Behold, I am maki
ng all things new", and "I am the bread of life", Bäck made a very important contribution to Swedish church music of our century. Their continuation in "In principio" (1969) for tape has sometimes been called an "electronic motet". Among his later works, the octet for strings (1980) is remarkable.
Ingvar Lidholm (born 1921 ) started as a musician and conductor and kept an intimate relation to the "performable" through means of expression that went through many metamorphoses - from the neoclassical Pianosonata (1948) via the choral works named an "a cappella book", in which every piece is based on one and the same twelve tone row and "Canto LXXXI" (1956, text by Ezra Pound) is a high point and the also serially constructed "Ritornell" for orchestra (1955, ISCM Festival Stras bourg 1958) to the imaginative Poesis (ISCM Festival Stockholm 1966) with improvisational and theatrical ingredients. The orchestral work "Kontaktion" (1978) and the opera "Drömspelet" (A dream play) (1993), based on Strindberg's drama, have become very successful.
Many other composers were active in the periphery of the "Monday group", among them Sven Eric Johansson (1919-1997) - with a rich production of orchestral (thirteen symphonies!) and chamber music work, operas, choral music and electronic compositions. Many of them - but not all! - have tight contrapuntal structures, many are written with a very personal serial technique.
Also belonging to this group were Klas Thure (Claude Loyola) Allgen (1920-1992) with his autonomous esthetic, materialised in extremely long and consistently elaborated works (above all chamber music) and Göte Carlid (1920-53) with the lyrical "Hymne ā la Beaute" (ISCM Festival Salzburg 1952).
In and around the circles of the Monday group one also finds such important personalities as the choral conductor Eric Ericson (born 1918), the pianist Hans Leygraf (born 1920) as well as the musicologists Ingmar Bengtsson (1920-1991 ) and Bo Wallner (born 1923).
Already in the fifties Bengt Hambraeus (1928-2000) was the "real" introducer in Sweden (as composer, radio producer and writer) of the Darmstadt school, of integrated serial techniques and electronic music. To his important works belong "Visions on a Swedish Folktune" for tape (1959), the series "Constellations I-III" for organ and tape (No. III: ISCM Festival, Amsterdam 1963), the orchestral work "Transfiguration" (ISCM Festival Stockholm 1966), belonging to a family of "Trans..."-works, "Carillon" for piano (1974) and "Livre d'orgue I-IV", composed in Canada where Hambraeus has been active, also as composition professor, since 1971. One of the most significant qualities in his music is the concentration on timbre structures and floating sound events.
Åke Hermanson (1923-1996) represents a stilistic atmosphere with more pathos in heavy, expressive works such as "In Nuce" (ISCM-Restival Madrid 1965) and "Ultima" (1971-72). He is somewhat of an outsider, who never has been really "in", but who has stubbornly followed his path without compromising - he was, like Blomdahl, Bäck, Lidholm and Johanson, a pupil of Hilding Rosenberg.
Lars-Johan Werle (born 1926) was a pupil of the Rosenberg-pupil Sven-Erik Bäck and thus a "bud" of the so-called rose buds (Rosenknopparna). He was actually the first to write choral music in which the syllables of the text were divided over different voices, thus creating a transfer of the "Punktuelle Musik" to vocal pointillism. The opera "Drömmen om Therese" (The dream of Therese) (1964) had electronic ingredients; the operas "Die Reise" (Resan) and "Tintomara", based on texts by Carl Jonas Love Almquist ( 1973) - as well as the choral piece "Canzone 126 di Francesco Petrarca" ( 1967) - can be said to represent a polyphonic style.
In other words: in the period from the mid-forties to the mid-sixties contemporary music life in Sweden had many components. This is one main reason for the accumulated tensions that built up and were exposed "face to face" in one of the most spectacular debates in Swedish music history, carried on in journals, in the radio and (above all) in daily papers during the winter of 1956-57. The starting point was the first performance of Blomdahls "Anabase", by some critics seen as a typical example of "asocial" music creativity. But very soon it became obvious that the underlying reasons for the turbulence had to do with the question about the position of new music in art and in society in general. Today, almost forty years fater, it seems clearer than ever that what it really "was about", was the deeply felt demand by those who lived in the world of the new art, that this art (music) should be treated (written about) in a competent way - corresponding to the treatment of new literature, the fine arts and the t
heater. In many respects the literature critic Bengt Holmqvist formulated for this debate the implicit world view of the young composers explicitly for this debate.
Thus, out of the battles during the circa twenty years after World War II many "bulges" crystallized, indicating different possible ways out of the labyrinth.
Traditions and transfers.
The Studio for Electronic Music, the EMS, started in Stockholm in 1964, at first as a project of young composers. Knut Wiggen (born 1927), its first director, articulated in music, words and actions the aims of the young composers of building up an experimental forum of their own. The studio was financially and administratively, supported as a foundation by the FST (The Swedish Composers Society), the experimental chamber music society Fylkingen, the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and The Swedish Royal Academy of Music. Later a collaboration developed with Svenska Rikskonserter (the Swedish National Concert Institute). When EMS, along with these societies and institutions, the Stockholm Cultur House and the Swedish Section of ICEM in 1994 (21-24 September), organized the sixteenth Stockholm Electronic Music Festival, "Sound and space", it could look back on an impressive history as producer, educator and administrator of both "pure" electroacoustic music and of many different kinds of live electronics a nd multi/inter media activities. Moreover, many important electronic works have also been performed by other institutions, especially by Swedish Radio and at the regular Festivals in Skinnskatteberg led by Ulf Stenberg, who has been the director of EMS since 1993.
Lars-Gunnar Bodin (born 1935) is one of the most important in the (relatively) "old" generation in these fields, also as a promotor - in many capacities - of electroacoustic music. Some characteristic works from different "epochs": several "Semikolons" (1963-65, ISCM Festival Reykjavik 1973), the large intermedia work "Clouds" (1973, ISCM Festival Tel Aviv 1980), "Dizcours" (1987), "Hälsningar från syrenbersån" (Greetings from the lilac garden), commissioned by Svenska Rikskonserter for the Electronic Music Festival in Stockholm in 1994.
Sten Hanson (born 1936) also belongs to the "old fighters" of Fylkingen, the Swedish ISCM Section and FST. He is not only a composer but also a poet, a text-sound artist, an intellectual and a humorist con bravura ("New York" for Sten Hanson, 1976). Some further examples from difterent periods: "Che" (1968), "L'Inferno de Strindberg" (1971), "Robespierre's last night" (1975) with song, tape and dance, "La Ultima palabra de Amor" (Elektronmusik-Festival in 1994).
Also belonging to the - by now - "old men" is Tamas Ungvary (born 1936) who has developed sophisticated computer programs, also with pedagogical relevance. For the Electronic Music Festival in 1994 he wrote "Grattis - med epilog" (Congratulations - with an epilogue).
As a matter of fact one finds, among the composers of electroacoustic music - many of whom are also occasionally active in France, Germany, Austria and the USA - a great number of younger and younger composers, mirroring an exciting variety of activities and creativities:
The pioneer Rune Lindblad (born 1923!), who often combines sounds with visual elements: "Optica" (1959-60), "Klockrondo" (Bell Rondo, 1973), "Alla Luna" (Elektronmusik-Festival 1994); Paul Pignon (born 1939): "Z"; Akos Rozmann (born 1939): "Rytmer och melodier" (Rhythms and melodies); Leo Nilsson (born 1939): "The series Viarp"2; Tommy Zwedberg (born 1946): "Exmex"; Ragnar Grippe (born 1951 ): "Le Mécanicien Effrené"; Rolf Enström (born 1951): "Sequence in Blue" (1978), "Myr" (Directions) (ISCM Festival Athens 1979), "Vigil" (EMS Festival 1994); Pär Lindgren, (born 1952): "Houdinism"; Åke Parmerud (born 1953): "Alias" (1990), "Strings & Shadows" (EMS Festival 1994); William Brunson (born 1953): "Evidence of things unseen"; Peter Lundén (born 1955): "Mesion M, Noises" (EMS Festival 1994); Anders Blomqvist (born 1956): "Delta A" (Skinnskatteberg), "Lag", "lops" commissioned by the Electronic Music Festival 1994; Thomas Bjelkeborn (born 1959): "Melqiades" (1987); Jonas Söderberg (born 1956): "Receiver"; Bo Rydberg (born 1960): "Cadena" (1988), "Lecon des choses" (Skinnskatteberg 1994), "Chanson de la Feraille" (EMS Festival 1994); Erik Mikael Karlssons (born 1967): "Först måste avfallet ske" (Apostasy) (1990), "Interiors and Interplays" (EMS Festival 1994) and, together with Jens Hedman (born 1962): "Anchoring Arrows".
In Bourges and other centers for electroacoustic music Swedish works have continuously for thirty years, been very attentively received. A special Electronic Arts Award has been given by the EMS since 1991. In 1993 the very successful composer Åke Parmerud received it for his "Jeu Imaginaire" (Skinnskatteberg 1994).
Generally it can be said that many of the creators of Swedish electroacoustic music have an ambition to realize a new concept of art and that they also endeavour to realize esthetic form patterns which speak direct, a "general" (but not vocal or instrumental) music language. The hemispheres of our head are interactive. No brain is an island.
Bo Nilsson (born 1937) also speaks a "general music language" in that sense. He grew up in the "deep north" of Sweden but became rapidly familiar with the the new signats from Darmstadt, above all through the radioprograms from Köln. He had spectacular success with "Frequenzen" (ISCM Festival Zurich, 1957), followed by the "Oswald Cantatas - Mädchentotenlieder", "Ein irrender Sohn", (ISCM Festival Rom/Neapel, 1959), "Und die Zeiger seiner Augen wurden langsam zuruckgedreht" (based on Swedish poems by Gösta Oswald, German versions by Ilmar Laaban) and by "Scene I, II" (ISCM Festival Madrid, 1965) and "Scene III" for chamber orchestra, as well as piano pieces (especially well known: "Quantitäten"). In "Zwanzig Gruppen" he introduced space, position and direction as musical parameters combined with alternative choices for the three players. These works may give the impression of beeing serially constructed, but they are not. They show, aurally, the "Darmstadt sound", but "rows" of clear traditional form arches are imbedded in the structures, as well as a certain musicianship, above all through the melodic patterns and the flavour of late Swedish national romanticism in the harmonic gestures. In the past circa twenty-five years he has followed this path in which the original romantic roots often have been more and more evident.
Spectacular in other ways were, from the beginning of the sixties and onwards, many works by Folke Rabe (born 1935) and Jan Bark (born 1934). Together with two other trombone players they formed "Kulturkvartetten" (The Culture Ouartet). In their art movements, actions, words and light projections were combined and integrated with vocal, instrumental and electronic sounds, often in collaboration with the Bel Canto Choir and it's conductor Karl-Eric Andersson - sometimes also with "external" sounds, for instance from pipe lines. These designs were developed independently of the scenic art of Mauricio Kagel. "Bolos" (ISCM Festival Copenhagen 1964) for four trombones was followed by "Polonaise" (commissioned by the Warsaw Autumn Festival) and "Va??" (Pardon??) for tape. Rabe's Piece, composed with author Lasse O. Månsson, was the first Swedish speech choir. His "Rondes" was one of the first choral works in which movements (but not choral dance! And no theatre!) are integrated into the musical structures. Bark's "Light Music" ("light" referring to "live" candle lights) was also part of a series of whole evening performances, such as "Wahrheit" (Donaueschingen), "Atmosphärische Störungen" (Wiener Festwochen), "Electricity and Trombones" (ISCM Festival Graz 1972). In the second half of the seventies a "Nya Kulturkvartetten" (New Culture Ouartet) was founded ("Das Narrenschiff" being one of the most prominent works). Many traits in the art of Rabe and Bark, including vocal clusters and ambigious sonorities, were experienced as some kind of "transfer" from the electronic sound world. Among Rabe's later works, "Basta" for solo trombone (ISCM Festival Montreal, 1984), the trombone concerto "All the lonely people" (1990) and the french horn concerto "Nature, Herds and Relatives" with a lappish "vuolle" (1992) can be mentioned as especially characteristic.
Arne Mellnäs' (born 1933) personality - like Folke Rabe's - is characterized by a sublime sense of humour. His work list contains at the same time a very broad spectrum of esthetic attitudes and work categories: solo works - such as "Expansion and Echoes" for piano (1984), chamber music - such as "Endymion" for chamber ensemble, choral works - such as "Aglepta", "Dream", "Ten proverbs" (1981 ) and "L'Infinito", the operas "Minibuff", "Erik the Saint and Doktor Glas" (1993, based on a novel by Hjalmar Söderberg) and electronic compositions. One of his most important early works is "Aura" for orchestra (ISCM Festival Prag, 1967), among the successful works from later years are his Symphony No. 1, "Ikaros" (1986), "Rendez-Vous 1" for clarinet and bass clarinet (ISCM Festival Köln 1989) and the flute concerto "Intimate games" (1992).
One finds different compositional techniques in the works of Mellnäs, sometimes including improvisation and aleatoric elements, iterative microstructures, and new sonorities through original instrumental - vocal - electronic juxtapositions. His individuality is also very apparent in his characteristic way of building up short as well as long form arches.
With Jan W. Morthenson (born 1940) we meet a composer with an unusually rich flow of ideas. He entered the public arena in the beginning of the sixties as a very "singular" artist, feeling a conscious distance from both the Darmstadt style and from all "neo-isms". His aim was a destruction of those elements in music which had an "interjectional" character - that is: having lines of developments, gestures, designs, figures. In works like "Coloratura I-IV" for orchestra (IV performed at the ISCM Festival Stockholm, 1966) the music consists of a continuous stream of colours without rhythms, accents, or melodic elements. He also described his esthetic philosophy in a book in German: "Nonfigurative Musik".
Later a series of meta-music-works (music on music) stood in focus - among them "Decadenza II" and "Morendo" (ISCM Festival Brussels, 1981) for orchestra, "Labor" for chamber orchestra (in which the individual musicians struggle against all odds), "Down" for solo flute (where the instrument, as well as the cultural situation, is against the music and the musician) and the string quartet "Ancora" (ISCM Festival Toronto, 1984). "Ancora" has become a definitive success and is on the repertoire of several strinq quartet ensembles in different countries. In this work Morthenson treats folk music elements from the Balkan as "counter points" to the avant garde. Will these music worlds survive? Perhaps they still have a life time - ancora. One of the later orchestra works to have won special attention is "Contra" for orchestra. Last but not least: Morthensons organ works constitute a significant part of the modern history of Swedish organ music: "Some of these", "Pour Madame Bovary" and "Restantes" - as do, for t
he history of wind orchestra and wind ensemble musics, "Paraphonia" and "Energia I".
In the circles around the composers appearing during the sixties we also find the pianist and organ player Karl Erik Welin (1934-1993), who above all was extremely important as an interpreter and a creative realizer (also of graphic scores) of works by Bengt Hambraeus, Bo Nilsson, Jan W. Morthenson and many others, the pianists Mats Persson (born 1943, "Refractions", ISCM Festival Athens 1979) and Kristine Scholz as well as such representatives of text-soundart - where the text was the music - as Lars Gunnar Bodin (see above) and Bengt Emil Johnson (born 1936): "Speech to the people".
However, from the beginning of the sixties and onwards we also meet more traditional stilistic ideals going back to the "classics" of our century, perhaps above all Bartķk and Shostakovitch. As a complement to the "spearhead" Fylkingen, the chamber music society "Samtida musik" (Contemporary Music), refusing to accept the Fylkingen "monopoly" of representing new music, was founded in 1960. Fylkingen means something like "battle array" or "order of battle" and is similar to the formation used by migratory birds when flying together. The mark "Samtida musik" indicated that many birds can fly: there are many kinds of contemporary phenomena.
Many of those who founded and vitalized the chamber music society Samtida Musik were pupils of the first holder of the first chair in composition at the Royal Academy of Music: Lars-Erik Larsson, such as:
Jan Carlstedt (born 1926) was and is one of the most important personages in this group. Particularly his string quartets (No. 4 must be regarded as important) represent characteristic contributions in the field of modern Swedish instrumental chamber music.
Maurice Karkoff (born 1927) has been extremely productive both with orchestral and chamber music, solo concertos and choral music. His Epitafium for nonett may stand here as one of many possible examples of his versatile production.
Hans Eklund (1927-1999) has won deep respect for his "Musik för orkester" (Music for orchestra, 1960). He has continued his path of musical thinking in a consistent way and has also made an important contribution to the study of composition at the Royal College of Music.
Bo Linde (1933-1970), with his all too-limited life span, has become highly recognized as showing real individuality in his songs and his violin concerto.
Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist (1920-2000) has not only been successful with his attractive film music but also with orchestral works and concertos (one for accordeon).
Csaba Deák (born 1933) has written many wind music works (just one example: "Klarinettofoni" with electronic sounds) and Laci Boldemann (1921-69) had fine successes with orchestral and chamber music works, as well as children's songs like "Möss i månsken" (Mice in moonlight).
Gunnar Bucht (born 1927) developed a synthetic music language with many components, in which in some works Wagner (!) is an important background. "The Big Bang and After" for orchestra, the Violin Concerto and the eight Symphonies [by now, 1998, 12 symphonies], above all the Seventh, are regarded as particularly important.
Lars Edlund (born 1922) wrote "Nenia" (referring to Monteverdis "Lasciate mi morire") and "Gloria", both choral works of great importance for a "choral country" like Sweden.
Without being directly connected with either Fylkingen or the Samtida musik-milieus several other composers with different personalities appeared in the fifties, sixties and seventies.
Hans Holewa (1905-1987) came to Sweden in 1937 from the circle around Alban Berg in Vienna. At that time it was, however, "too early" for a break-through of the second Viennese school in Sweden. Only after the sixties and seventies did Holewa's music become known - some examples: the string trio from 1959 and the higly expressive Music for orchestra from 1963.
The Hindemith pupil Werner Wolf Glaser (born 1910 in Germany) wrote eleven symphonies [by now 13 symphonies] and many other works in different genres - just one example: "Trilogia II" per orchestra. He is also a poet and a pedagogue and represents in many respects continental European esthetic and intellectual traditions.
Allan Pettersson (1911-1980) had a remarkable break-through in the middle of the seventies, particularly with his symphonies - alltogether sixteen. The seventh is often regarded as especially typical for his combination of heavy pathos and expressionism with contrasting long arcs of postromantic melodies.
Sten Broman (1902-1983) was active as a violinist, conductor, critic, musicologist, and president of the Swedish ISCM Section, as well as a composer (nine Symphonies!). He brought Sweden into the ISCM family in 1923. His second string quartet was performed at the ISCM Festival in London in 1946.
Hilding Hallnäs (1903-1984) wrote orchestral works, chamber music, choral music, songs (Cantata for soprano, clarinet, cello and piano).
Siegfried Naumann's (born 1919) "II Cantico del Sole" for soloists, choir, orchestra and tape was performed at the ISCM Festival in Stockholm in 1966. This work and his "Bombarda" for organ and percussion can be regarded as two of his "strong" compositions.
Torsten Nilsson (1920-1999) synthezises in his music elements from gregorian chant, serial structures and improvisation - often with very dramatic accents: "On the Threshold" for piano, wind instruments and percussion, "Signals" for organ and five percussion players, church operas, choral and organ works. There are indeed many transfers from deep human personal experiences into the compositional techniques of Torsten Nilsson's musical world view.
Lennart Hedwall (born 1932) has composed mostly chamber music, organ music, choral music and songs;
Stig Gustav Schönberg (born 1933), chamber and organ music;
Eskil Hemberg (born 1938), choral works and a choral opera (Love); and Roland Forsberg (born 1939) choral, chamber and organ music.
Lars-Erik Rosell (born 1944) has produced quite personal eurythmic church dramas, chamber music and organ works (including an organ concerto). He is, while these lines are bing written, occupied with an opera based on Thomas Mann's "Mario och Trollkarlen" (Mario and the Magician).
Sven-David Sandström (born 1942) studied with Ingvar Lidholm and became in 1986 the fifth professor [since 1998, Pär Lindgren is professor] in composition at the Royal College of Music at Stockholm (the earlier four being Lars-Erik Larsson, Karl-Birger Blomdahl, Ingvar Lidholm and Gunnar Bucht). He had, rather early, remarkable success with such "vocal" works as Agnus Dei for mixed choir a cappella, as well as with the more complex "Through and through" for orchestra (ISCM Festival Amsterdam 1974). The expressionistic Requiem can be regarded as his break-through-work. After that came operas (The emperor Jones), followed by more and more "romanticised" and often very large works such as the "Phantasia I" for solo piano (1989) and the Cello Concerto (1990).
Daniel Börtz (born 1943) has also developed a very personal attitude to traditions, often characterised by long, even "epical" lines - in works like the eleven "Monologhi" (1965-81) for different instruments, the eight symphonies [by 1998, 10 symphonies] and the very successful opera "Bachanterna" (The Bacchants, based on Euripides).
Miklķs Maros (born 1943) has also shown his professional abilities as founder and leader of the Maros Ensemble, which realised first performances of many Swedish and foreign works. As a composer he represents in many respects "absolute" music, also in vocal works like "Turba" for choir (ISCM Festival London, 1971).
Gunnar Valkare (born 1943) has as a teacher, music researcher and composer developed a personality of his own. His "Kinema" for orchestra aroused much attention.
André Chini (born 1945) founded in the seventies the chamber ensemble Euterpe which performed many contemporary works. Chini's experience as a conductor and musician is vividly mirrored in his activity as a composer, developing a very dynamic and occasionally virtuoso language. His "Mururoa" for orchestra won the very prestigious Christ Johnson Prize given by the Swedish Royal Academy of Music.
Anders Eliasson (born 1947) became internationally known through his "Disegno per Sestetto d'Ottoni" (ISCM Festival Boston, 1976). "Disegno" is a composition "family" including many solo and ensemble works. In "Disegno" for bass clarinet, performed many times by Kjell-Inge Stevenson, the nucleus is a mode, built up from fixed notes and intervals, forming phraseologies that stream through the whole piece.
The intrinsic pressures and tensions (the harmonies!) in his works are often very heavy - and differentiated. Some characteristic examples: Notturno for piano, bass clarinet and cello, Symphony No. 1, "Breathing Room: July" for mixed choir a cappella. "Breathing Room ..." is actually - without being so called - a choral symphony (text by Thomas Tranströmer, English version: May Swenson). Another remarkable work by Eliasson is "Ostacoli" for chamber orchestra.
In the late seventies certain nostalgic movements also appeared: The triad could be "tolerated", t r a d i t i o n a l formal structures could be "significant". At the same time: Multimedia (see above) became intermedia with interactions between sounding, optical, acting, instrumental, vocal, tape music-, poetry-, dance-, picture-, and filmingredients.
All in all: until the end of the seventies t r a d i t i o n s of different kinds were exposed in Swedish contemporary music, as well as t r a n f e r s between that which was "conserved" and the experiments. Lars Edlund (see above) published during this period both his textbook "Modus Novus" (Studies in reading atonal melodies) and his "Modus Vetus" (dealing with the "old ways"). This was significant for a musical and pedagogi cal world between revolution and nostalgia.
Freedoms and freaks
During the fifties and the sixties the scene had been new in a newer way than in 1945: The Stockholm chamber music society "Fylkingen", founded in 1933, had become, from the end of the forties, an exclusively radical forum for new music (and later also other arts), working closely with the Swedish ISCM-Section - as did, to a certain extant, "Levande musik" (Living music) in Göteborg and "Ars nova" in Malmö. At the same time the more traditional circles around Samtida musik were very active.
It should also be observed that a composer's lifetime normally exceeds the compass of one decade! All so-called periods are filled with contemporary music created by composers belonging to different generations. After the turbulence of the "heroic" times between 1945 and 1960 there came an epoch during which at least five esthetic positions were exposed: beneath swelling waves of integrated serial techniques the "old" expressionistic and partly "nordic" style areas, the Bartķk/Hindemith/Shostakovitch-traditions, the more or less improvisational music and the electronic adventures went on simultaneously. Also national romanticism was surviving with Kurt Atterberg, who died in 1974, and, additionally: the "old modernists" Gösta Nystroem and Hilding Rosenberg were active until 1966 and 1985 respectively. Erland von Koch (born 1910), partly representing a neoclassical style, is still very active [even in 2001!].
Simultaneously representatives of generations born in the middle of our century appeared:
Mikael Edlund (born 1950) collaborated with film makers, poets and dancers. He acts in his music - with instrumental gestalts, realised by human beings. "The lost jugglery" (ISCM Festival Stockhoim, 1978) represents a play between statements and cooperations, between performers and between a leader and the performers - if you want: between authority and democracy (you never know which will win). With minimusical starting points he can develop exciting and adventurous ideas ("Brains & Dancing" for string quartet and many other personally characteristic works).
Peter Lindroth (born 1950) representative like many others of his generation, comes from the world of rock music and has also, which is not so common, experienced being a school music teacher. Characteristic works: the iterative "Rite Now" (1991 ) for tape and/or strings and drums, "Grusmusikväska" (1992, a "bag" with music seen as rubbish), consisting of a series of short pieces for different instrumental combinations, commissioned by the chamber ensemble Sonanza.
Henrik Strindberg (born 1954) has been very successful with his "Etymology" for chamber orchestra (1990), chosen by the Rostrum of Composers 1992 in Paris. Other works with well-defined individual "faces": "Tredje andningen" (Third Wind, 1987), "I Träd" (Within Trees) for orchestra (1986-1989).
Anders Hillborg (born 1954) evoked great attention with his gigantic orchestral work "Clang and Fury" and he wrote a violin concerto, in which all the traditional virtuoso elements were exposed in a quite new way.
Thomas Jennefelt (born 1954), who had a break-through with the choral piece "Warning to the Rich", has especially presented personal transformations of old choral music devices, as in "Hear my prayer". "I nearly always think vocally, even when writing instrumental music."
Stellan Sagvik (born 1952) is another choral music profiled composer who also wrote eight operas, sizing from ten to 210 minutes, and a great deal of chamber music with vocal parts. Also his orchestral output fills a great part of his almost 200 pieces sized worklist.
Anders Nilsson (born 1954) has been particularly successful with "Reflections" for soprano and chamber ensemble (1982), "Mountains - la cathedrale du mont" (prize winner at the organ competition in Saint Remy, 1984), the rhythmically and polyphonically complex "Ariel" for oboe, string orchestra and tape (ISCM Festival Oslo, 1990), the intense "Divertimento" for chamber orchestra (ISCM Festival Mexico, 1993) and the monumental Organ Concerto (1987-88).
Jan Sandström (born 1954), professor of composition at the College of Music in Piteå, has written works with very different characteristics. Two examples: the neo-impressionistic "Campane in campi aperti" for piano (ISCM Festival Amsterdam, 1985) and the Trombone/motorbike concerto (1988-89).
Jonas Forssell (born 1957) has been very active as a composer of theater music and has had considerable success with his immigrant opera "Riket är Ditt" (The Empire is yours, 1990) as well as with "Hönsskit" (Hen shit) for solo voice and piano.
Hans Ola Ericsson (born 1958) was originally a "child prodigy" as organ player and composer of organ works (an organ symphony) and he had a career in Germany in both of these capacities. Quite early he was appointed organ professor at the College of Music in Piteå. His Horn Concerto is also considered to be important.
With Karin Rehnqvist (born 1957) an "odd" personality entered the Swedish music arena. Folk music was revitalised through her creations, but certainly not in the old "nationalistic" way. The music she writes is also quite far from any standard avantgardistic tricks. Even in works that could be described as arrangements of folk music melodies, she concentrates principally on folk music w a y s a n d b e h a v i o u r s . Characteristic vocal works are "Davids nimm" for female voices (a "backward"-polska) and "Puksånger - Lockrop" (Timpani Songs - Calls, ISCM Festival Stockholm 1994), in which she uses elements and ways of singing in the old Swedish culture of "fäbodar" (mountain farms, used in the summers for the cattle and the children who look after them). In the violin concerto "Skrin" (Shrine - but the Swedish word can also mean shouts!), written together with the folk musician Sven Ahlbäck (ISCM Festival Warsaw 1992), her starting points are the gestures used in folk music-fiddling.
Other composers from the generation born in the fifties:
Johannes Jansson (born 1950), Dror Feiler (born 1951 ), who has shown a very dramatic talent, Hans Gefors (born 1952), professor of composition at the College of Music in Malmö, who had great success with his opera "Kristina" (the Swedish queen from the mid-seventeenth century), Ole Lutzow-Holm (born 1954), Erik Förare (born 1955), Lars Sandberg (born 1955), Lars Ekström (born 1956), Madeleine Isaksson (born 1956) with "Inné" (ISCM Festival Stockholm, 1994), Sten Melin (born 1957) with "Keep the change" for chamber ensemble (ISCM Festival Stockholm, 1994 - performed by the Futurum ensembie, led by clarinettist Kjell-Inge Stevenson, who is the promotor of new music activities at the Royal College of Music, and Ingvar Karkoff (born 1958).
Among the composers born in the sixties we find new personalities, such as Peter Bengtson (born 1961), Johan Jeverud (born 1962), Kent Olofsson (born 1962), Torbjörn Engström (born 1963), and Mats Larsson Gothe (born 1965). Works by these and many others of the youngest generation deserve to be treated more thoroughly than is possible within the frame of this limited survey.
The climate for Swedish contemporary music in the past circa fifteen years, as well as the mentality behind the creative acitivities, have often been described as a world of "freedom": there is no direction of that "spear-head"-character that could be identified some thirty, forty years ago in an international atmosphere with certain "nordic" accents. That was a period with a pendulum between internationalism and paeninsularism. But freedom is a complicated and ambigious concept (freedom to... freedom from...), especially if you don't use it in the plural. In any case, cultural pluralism has actually been inscribed for twenty years in the Swedish cultural program (passed by the parliament in 1974). That does not give any guarantee for endless possiblities of developing creative artistic activies - but "freaks" of different kinds are cultivated in the Swedish coniemporary arts. One can speak of a large area of potentials between the floor of realities and the ceiling of visions.
Literature and further sources of information
Publications in foreign languages on contemporary Swedish music do not, unfortunately, exist to the extent that would be desirable. However, many institutions, organizations, associations, societies and music journals, such as "Svensk Musik" (The Swedish Music Information Centre), "Svenska Institutet" (The Swedish Institute), Svenska Rikskonserter (National Swedish Concert Institute), Fylkingen, EMS (The Swedish Foundation for Electro-Acoustic Music), Musikrevy, FST (Föreningen Svenska Tonsättare = Society of Swedish Composers) and music publishing companies have published books, booklets, articies, broschures, catalogues, Festival and conference programs not only in Swedish, but also, to a certain extent, in English and sometimes in German and French.
In recent times three comprehensive books have appeared:
Gerd Schönfelder- Hans Åstrand: Prinzip Wahrheit - Prinzip Schönheit. Beiträge zur Ästhetik der neueren schwedischen Musik, KMA (Königliche schwedische Musikakademie), 1984.
In this book works by Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Gunnar Bucht, Sven-Erik Bäck, Jan Carlstedt, Werner Wolf Glaser, Eskil Hemberg, Ingvar Lidholm, Siegfried Naumann, and Allan Petterson are discussed, along with short biographies and work lists.
Gerd Schönfelder - Hans Åstrand: Contemporary Swedish Music through the Telescopic Sight, Edition Reimers, 1993.
In this book, initiated and edited by FST works by Hilding Rosenberg, Sven-Erik Bäck, Ingvar Lidholm, Jan Carlstedt, Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Eskil Hemberg, Daniel Börtz, Anders Eliasson and Karin Rehnqvist are analysed.
Lennart Reimers - Bo Wallner (editors): Choral Music perspectives, dedicated to Eric Ericson, KMA (The Royal Swedish Academy of Music), 1993.
This anthology contains both international and Swedish themes and aspects.The historical background of the Swedish "choral miracle" is treated as well as works by Ingvar Lidholm, Lars-Johan Werle, Sven-Erik Bäck, Lars Edlund, Arne Mellnäs, Miklos Maros, Sigfried Naumann, Lars-Erik Larsson, Karl-Erik Welin, Sven-Eric Johanson, Torsten Nilsson, Eskil Hemberg and Sven-David Sandström. The personalities of Sven-Erik Bäck, Thomas Jennefelt, Folke Rabe and Karin Rehnqist are presented through interviews with them.
Much has of course been written on Swedish contemporary music in the S w e d i s h language, that can be read without great difficulty in Denmark, Norway, by many in Finland and, as a matter of fact, by a few people in non-Scandinavian countries, above all in Germany and in the USA.
Therefore some hints on that literature:
The journal "Nutida Musik" (Contemporary Music) can look back on a proud history since its founding in 1957/58. From the beginning it was published by Swedish Radio as an "accompaniment" to the concert series with the same name and from 1971 in cooperation with the Swedish National Concert Institute. For some years it has been published by the Swedish Section of the ISCM in collaboration with the earlier owners. It has always specialised in analyses of contemporary works and of the situation for contemporary music generally.
Many articles on young Swedish composers and new Swedish music have also been written in the journals "Musikrevy" and "Musikkultur".
Music information and material in Swedish is for obvious reasons regularly published by such institutions as Svensk Musik (STIM), FST, Fylkingen and EMS.
Some larger publications:
Several composers from the nordic countries described their own works in "Modern nordisk musik", edited by Ingmar Bengtsson in 1957.
The largest book, covering the development up to the middle of the sixties, is Bo Wallners "Vår tids musik i Norden" (1968).
Contemporary Swedish composers are portrayed in Göran Bergendahls "Moderna tonsättarprofiler" ( 1967) in "33 Svenska komponister" (1972) and in "33 Nya Svenska komponister" (2001).
Some Swedish works are analysed in Lennart Reimers "Tio musikanalyser" (1969).
When FST celebrated its seventy years' jubilee in 1993, four substantial volumes were published. One was the above-mentioned "Contemporary Music through a Telescopic Sight"; the other three, "Tonsättare om tonsättare" (edited by Sten Hanson and Thomas Jennefelt), "Det praktiska tonsätteriets histora" (written by Sten Hanson) and "Tonsättarens val" (editor Björn Billing).