The Swedes

As of late I have started to really listen to the choral music of my ancestry.  Of course we have all heard the great music of Alfvén, Lindberg et al., but I’m not sure if I’ve ever listened to it as a composer.  There is something really, really special about it.  Here are a pieces to really consider programming if you are a conductor, if you haven’t already.  These are some of the most beautiful and meaningful short choral pieces to have been written (of course in my opinion).

Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960)

Alfvén’s music is distinguished by orchestral subtlety and by a painterly exploitation of harmony and timbre.  His output was almost entirely of programme music, often suggested by the Swedish archipelago; he commented that ‘my best ideas have come during my sea-voyages at night, and, in particular, the wild autumns have been my most wonderful times for composition.’

Best loved choral works:  
– Uti var hage

– Aftonen
– Gladjens blomster
– Som starnan uppa himmelen sa klar
– Och jungfrun hon gar i ringen
– Limu, limu, lima
– Tjuv och tjuv det skall du heta


Oskar Lindberg (1887-1955)

Several of Lindberg’s ancestors had been peasant violinists, and he himself was steeped in folk music, from which we took many of his themes.  He became prominent in the Young Swedes group and developed a rich late Romantic orchestral style, where the influences of Rachmaninov and Sibelius were balanced with those of folk music, most successfully in his slightly impressionist nature scenes.

Best loved choral works:
– Pingst
– Stjarntandning


Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)

Stenhammar began in the late Romantic style typical of Scandinavia, imbued with influences from such composers as Wagner, Listz, and Brahms.  Later his work came to be dominated by a classicism of his own, based principally on a profound study of Beethoven but also on Haydn and Mozart, and on Renaissance polyphony.  In his greatest compositions these traits are always tinged with a specifically Nordic colour relating to Swedish folk music.

Best loved choral works:
– 3 körvisor
1. September
2. I seraillets have
3. Havde jeg, o havde jeg en datterso, o ja!


David Wikander (1884-1955)

Best loved choral works:
– Kung Liljekonvalje
– Forvarskvall
– Om alla berg och dalar
– Dofta, dofta vit syren


Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (1867-1942)
Best loved choral works:
– Stamning
– Sommarsang
– Det ljusnar
– Danslek ur Ran
– 8 korvisor


Other Notable Swedish Choral Works:

– En vanlig gronskas rika drakt (Sommarpsalm),  Waldemar Ahlen
– I furuskogen, Helena Nyblom
– Den blomstertid nu kommer, Israel Kolmodin
– Harlig ar jorden, Bernhard Severin Ingemann
– I denna ljuva sommartid, Paul Gerhardt
– I hemmelen, i himmelen, Laurentius Laurentii
– En sommarafton, Adolf Fredrik Lindblad
– Som ett blommande mandeltrad, Hildor Lundvik
– Serenad, Jacob Axel Josephson
– For vilsna fotter sjunger graset, Lille Brar Soderlundh
– Snabbt jagar stormen vara ar, Sven-Eric Johanson
– Mansken, Ake Malmfors


Note: This is of course not an exhaustive list, just highlights.