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Gösta Nystroem

Born in Silvberg, Dalarna on 13th October 1890, died in Varberg on 9th August 1966. He studied at the Stockholm Conservatory 1913-1914 and then studied composition privately with Andreas Hallén. He continued his education in Copenhagen, where he also studied painting and was a pupil of Vincent d’Indy, Leonid Sabanjev and Chevillard. He lived in Paris between 1919 and 1932 and then returned to Sweden. In addition to his work as a composer he was also a music critic on the newspaper Göteborgs Handels-och Sjöfartstidning (1932-1947) and for a time Director of the Göteborg Art Association. He became a Member of the Royal Academy of Music 1941, Litteris et Artibus 1952, Honorary Ph.D., Gothenburg University 1958.
The title of his memoirs, “All I remember is pleasure and light“, bears witness to his productivity and vitality. His music, on the other hand, is not unambiguously bright and is anything but light-hearted. In his compositions Nystroem gave vent to his serious disposition, which bordered on the melancholy. The tonal language is forceful but also conveys a reticent spirituality. His was an intensely melodic art in which the voices alternate between smooth intervals and dynamic leaps. He was capable of fashioning rhythmically intense, energetic blocks; he found an equally personal mode of expression in placid, introspective harmonic fabrics. The essence of his artistry was his ability to evoke moods, using either the full resources of the orchestra or a more limited medium, as in his piano suite Regrets. The sea was a source of inspiration to him, but he did not stop short at tone pictures of nature. With equal justification he can be said to have taken experiences of the inner life as his starting point. The music in one of his most personal compositions, the symphony Sinfonia del Mare, portrays the heaviness and refraction of light in the motions of the waves as symbolising the yearning of a sensitive human being. H G P

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