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Bright vigour

Kurt Atterberg's Symphonies 7 & 8 -

'... strong clean performances ...'

Kurt Atterberg Symphonies 7 & 8. (p) 2001 CPO


The Swedish composer and conductor Kurt Magnus Atterberg was born in 1887 and lived to the fine age of 86, surviving the changing European musical world to become one of the last great national voices of his country's music, a worthy successor to Stenhammer and Hugo Alfvén, something like Sibelius was to Finland. Atterberg however did himself no favours in being so selfless and so generous with his time in the interests of others. It is often the case. The egotistical artist may well be backing a more certain fame. Atterberg spent 23 years as president of the Swedish Composers' Society, and as founder and president from 1924 to 1962 of the Swedish Performing Rights Society. He was for many years secretary to the Swedish Royal Academy, and was from 1919 to 1957 music critic of the Stockholms-Tidningen. As a conductor, especially during the 1920s, he made a particular feature of promoting Swedish composers throughout Europe, and later in America, where he also enjoyed some personal success.

He was largely self taught as a composer, taking Alfvén and German romanticism (especially Brahms) as his models, and it is these influences that are most evident in the 7th and 8th Symphonies, both written in the 1940s, and both strongly imbued with the shades of national folk music. He wrote nine symphonies in all, the last, completed in 1956, being a choral work, and throughout this genre, as with his opera and ballet scores, there is an unwillingness to move too far forward into the twentieth century, a bright vigour that has around every corner a nostalgic wistfulness. Without knowing his dates, it would be hard to place his music within about three quarters of a century.

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Copyright © 6 January 2002 Patric Standford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK







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