Musical art manifested itself in Sweden much later and less vigorously than in other European countries; at first it was rather a phenomenon of reflection of foreign art, especially of Italian and German art, than a spontaneous and original product of national artistic sensibility, although this already had considerable traditions in the field of popular art. It is at the beginning of the century. XVII, in fact, that for the first time a Swedish musician of some importance is met: Gustavo Duben (? -1690); but he was of German origin, and he was influenced by the German D. Buxtehude, with whom he had friendships and school. He is especially to be remembered for a rich and interesting collection of sacred and profane music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, edited by him, which is kept in the library of the University of Upsala. Another musician, Johann-Helmich Roman (1694-1758), known as “the father of Swedish music”, was a pupil of GF Händel and his stylistic attitudes were echoed in his works of religious and concert music. An Italian, the Bolognese FAB Uttini (1723-1795), choirmaster at the court of Stockholm after two Germans, GJ Vogler (1696-1765), organist and composer of sacred music, and G. Naumann (1741-1801), composer and conductor, they mainly carried out their activity in Stockholm. For Sweden 2002, please check commit4fitness.com.
For these reasons and also for the disinterest that the sovereigns generally showed in musical art, especially Queen Christina and Charles IX, national art developed quite slowly without perhaps ever reaching characters of peculiar originality. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth century the taste of French and Italian opera dominated the Swedish musicians and as for instrumental music the classical-romantic German current made its imposing weight felt. Even from nearby Norway and Denmark the voices of Grieg and Gade did not remain without echo.
The two cousins Joh. Br. Berwald (1787-1861) and Br. A. Berwald (1796-1868) represent the pre-national period. I. Hallström (1826-1901) is the first to manifest the national trend and in his theater works local colors and materials abound: the popular opera Den bergtagna (1874), based on a melodic drawn from indigenous sources, encountered a lot of sympathy and consideration. In the field of the Lied the indigenous trend is represented by AJ Södermann (1832-1876); the opera and symphonic poem by JA Hallén (1846-1925). Other notable musicians acting under the above are: Joh. Lindegren (1842-1908), L. Norman (1831-1885), W. Swedbom (1843-1904).
Wagnerism found passionate supporters in Sweden, who, however, tried to adapt it to national sensitivity. The most notable representatives of this current are: the aforementioned Hallén (his Harald Viking was first performed in Leipzig), W. Peterson-Berger (1867), especially with his play Arnljot (1910), and W. Stenhammar (1871). Only in the lyric did Wagner remain without influence: Emil Sjögren (1853-1918) follows the Norwegian and Danish models and his melodies have quite original characters; he is also to be remembered for his piano works.
The symphonic poem in the manner of Liszt finds a national content in the works of H. Alfvén (1872), whose orchestral rhapsody Midsomarvaka presents an interesting fusion of the descriptive orchestral element with the indigenous melodic, and of Bror Beckmann (1866), author also of symphonies. Violinist Tor Aulin (1866-1914) gave a strong impulse to concert and chamber instrumental music, while the eminent organist, G. Hägg (1867) wrote much appreciated works for organ and chamber.
A new generation represent Natanael Berg (1879), Edvin Kallstenius (1881), Ture Rangström (1884), Oscar F. Lindberg (1887) and Kurt Atterberg (1887). Berg and Rangström have established themselves in the operatic field, the others in the symphonic genre.
Although the concert life of Sweden in recent years has developed considerably even in small towns, welcoming and carefully following all international art expressions, even the composers show no sign of wanting to follow the latest trends.
In the field of musical studies, Sweden occupies one of the first places in comparison to the other Nordic countries. In fact, it has the richest Nordic musical library in Upsala and its most authoritative musicologist in JH Tobias Norlind (1879). Since 1919 he has directed the magazine Svensk Tidskrift för Musikforskning in which Dr. Fryklund, CF Hennerberg, E. Sundström, J. Rabe, B. Anrep-Nordin, O. Morales and, among others, VP Vretblad, also author of an important study on Swedish musicians, (Svenska musikens fäder, vol. 2, 1914). Norlind is also the author of a complete history of Swedish music, Die Musikgeschichte Schwedens, published in Sammelbände der internationalen Musikgesellschaft, 1 and 2, Leipzig 1900 (see also Stockholm: Musical Life.