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Bergman, Erik (Valdemar)

Bergman, Erik (Valdemar)

Bergman, Erik (Valdemar), eminent Finnish composer, conductor, music critic, and pedagogue; b. Nykarleby, Nov. 24, 1911. He received training in musicology at the Univ. of Helsinki (1931–33) and in composition from Furuhjelm at the Helsinki Cons, (diploma, 1938). Following further studies with Tiessen at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik (1937–39), he studied with Vogel in Switzerland. Returning to Helsinki, he was conductor of the Catholic Church Choir (1943–50), the Akademiska Sangfòreningen at the Univ. (1950–69), and the Sàllskapet Muntra Musikanter (1951–78). As a music critic, he wrote for the Nya Pressen (1945–47) and Hufvudstadsbladet (1947–76). From 1963 to 1976 he was prof. of composition at the Sibelius Academy. In 1961 he received the International Sibelius Prize of the Wihuri Foundation. In 1982 he was made a Finnish Academician. In 1994 he was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize for his opera Det sjungande trädet (The Singing Tree), which received its premiere in Helsinki on Sept. 3, 1995. Bergman ranks among the foremost Finnish composers of his era. He cultivates varied techniques, ranging from medieval modality to serialism. His major works have evolved along expressionistic lines.


DRAMATIC: opera:Det sjungande tradet (The Singing Tree; 1986-88; Helsinki, Sept. 3, 1995). ORCH.: Suite for Strings (1938); Burla (1948); Tre aspetti d’una serie dodecafonica (Helsinki, Nov. 8, 1957); Aubade (1958; Helsinki, Nov. 20, 1959); Simbolo (1960; Helsinki, March 14, 1961); Circulus (Helsinki, May 21, 1965); Colori ed improvvisazioni (1973; Zeeland, Jan. 23, 1974); Dualis for Cello and Orch. (Helsinki, Sept. 19, 1978); Birds in the Morning for Flute and Orch. (Warsaw, Sept. 18, 1979); Árctica (Utrecht, Nov. 2, 1979; based on Lapponia for Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, and Chorus, 1975); Piano Concerto (1980-81; Helsinki, Sept. 16, 1981); Ananke (1981-82; Helsinki, Oct. 6, 1982); Violin Concerto (1982; Mainz, May 11, 1984); Tutti e soli for Chamber Orch. (Helsinki, April 3, 1990); Sub Luna, 4 noctures (Helsinki, Aug. 21, 1991); Poseidon (1992; Washington, D.C., March 3, 1994); Fanfare for Chamber Orch. (Porvoo, June 18, 1993); Musica Marina for Strings (Jakobstad, May 20, 1994). CHAMBER: Piano Trio (1937); Violin Sonata (1943); Suite for Guitar (1949); 3 Fantasies for Clarinet and Piano (Helsinki, May 14, 1954); Concertino da camera for 8 Instruments (Helsinki, Nov. 24, 1961); Soltafara for Alto Saxophone and Percussion (1977; Helsinki, Jan. 16, 1978); Dialogue for Flute and Guitar (Savonlinna, July 22, 1977); Midnight for Guitar (London, Dec. 9, 1977); Silence and Eruptions for 10 Instruments (1979; Stockholm, May 16, 1980); Janus for Violin and Guitar (Jyvàskylà, July 2, 1980); Mipejupa for Flute, Alto Saxophone, Guitar, and Percussion (Helsinki, June 20, 1981); String Quartet (Kuhmo, July 27, 1982); Borealis for 2 Pianos and Percussion (Washington, D.C, Nov. 19, 1983); Quo Vadis for Cello and Piano (1983; Helsinki, Aug. 31, 1984); etwas rascher for Saxophone Quartet (1985; Savonlinna, Aug. 10, 1986); Karanssi for Clarinet and Cello (Warsaw, Sept. 15, 1990); Mana for Violin, Cello, Clarinet, and Piano (Washington, D.C, Sept. 27, 1991); Quint-essence for Saxophone Quartet and Percussion (1993); Attention! for 5 Percussion (1993; Helsinki, Aug. 22, 1995); Now for Viola and Piano (1994; Lapland Festival, July 6, 1995); Una Fantasia for String Quartet and Piano (1994; Kuhmo, July 21, 1995). KEYBOARD: Piano: Intervalles (1949; Zurich, Oct. 19, 1951); Sonatina (1950); Espressivo (Helsinki, Dec. 5, 1952); Aspekter (1963); A propos de B-A-C-H (Helsinki, March 21, 1977); Omaggio a Christoforo Colombo (Helsinki, Nov. 29, 1991). Organ : Exsultate (1954). Harpsichord: Energien (1970; Helsinki, Nov. 26, 1971). VOCAL: Majnätter (May Nights) for Soprano and Orch. (Stockholm, May 20, 1946); Ensamhetens sânger (Songs of Solitude) for Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, and Orch. (1947); Rubaiyat for Baritone, Men’s Chorus, and Orch. (1953); Adagio for Baritone, Men’s Chorus, Flute, and Vibraphone (1957; Helsinki, May 10, 1958); Svanbild (Swan Picture) for Baritone, Vocal Quartet, and Men’s Chorus (1958; Helsinki, April 15, 1959); Aton for Baritone, Reciter, Chorus, and Orch. (1959; Helsinki, April 29, 1960); 3 Galgenlieder for Baritone, 2 Reciters, and Men’s Choruses (1959); 4 Galgenlieder for 3 Reciters and Speaking Chorus (1960; Zürich, Dec. 3, 1961); Bauta for Men’s Chorus, Baritone, and Percussion (Helsinki, Nov. 25, 1961); Sela for Baritone, Chorus, and Chamber Orch. (Helsinki, Nov. 18, 1962); Faglama (Birds) for Baritone, Men’s Chorus, Percussion, and Celesta (1962; Helsinki, April 6, 1963); Barnets drom (Child’s Dream) for Child Reciter, 2 Men Speakers, Men’s Chorus, and Recorder (Helsinki, Nov. 30, 1963); Ha Li Bomp for

Reciter, Tenor, and Men’s Chorus (1964; Helsinki, April 10, 1965); En sàdan Kvall (Such an Evening) for Soprano and Chorus (1965; Turku, June 11, 1966); Snò (Snow) for Tenor, Men’s Chorus, and Flute (1966); Springtime for Baritone and Chorus (1966; London, Feb. 22, 1967); Jesurun for Baritone, Men’s Chorus, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, and 3 Percussion (1967; Helsinki, May 10, 1968); Annonssidan (Small Ads) for Baritone, 3 Tenors, 25 Reciters, and Men’s Chorus (1969); Nox for Baritone, Chorus, Flute, English Horn, and Percussion (Gote-borg, April 20, 1970); Requiem over en dod diktare (Requiem for a Dead Poet) for Baritone, Chorus, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, 2 Percussion, and Organ (1970; Stockholm, May 19, 1975); Missa in honorem Sancü Remici for Soloists, Chorus, and Organ (Helsinki, Sept. 5, 1971); Hathor Suite for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus, Flute, English Horn, Harp, and 2 Percussion (Helsinki, Nov. 27, 1971); Bardo Thôdol for Reciter, Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1974; Helsinki, May 19, 1975); Lapponia for Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, and Chorus (Cambridge, Nov. 30, 1975; reworked as Árctica for Orch., 1979); Bon Appétit! for Reciter, Baritone, and Men’s Chorus (1975); Noa for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1976; Helsinki, Oct. 25, 1977); Bim Bam Bum for Reciter, Tenor, Men’s Chorus, Flute, and Percussion (1976; Uppsala, April 23, 1977); Voices in the Night for Baritone and Men’s Chorus (1977; Reykjavik, May 9, 1979); Triumf att finnas till (Triumph of Being Here) for Soprano, Flute, and Percussion (1978; Cologne, Jan. 25, 1979); Gudarnas spar (Tracks of the Gods) for Alto, Baritone, and Chorus (1978; Helsinki, March 2, 1980); Tipitaka Suite for Baritone and Men’s Chorus (1980; Turku, April 3, 1982); 4 Vocalises for Mezzo-soprano and Men’s Chorus (1983; Helsinki, Nov. 24, 1986); Lemminkainen for Reciter, Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, and Chorus (1984; Helsinki, May 8, 1985); Svep (Sweep) for Reciter, Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, Chorus, and Instrumental Ensemble (1984; Helsinki, Feb. 5, 1985); Bygden (The Village) for Reciter, Soprano, Baritone, Chorus, Child Soprano, Children’s Chorus, Instruments, Cowbells, Bottles, Gongs, etc. (1985); Forsta ma] (May Day) for Tenor and Men’s Chorus (1985; Helsinki, March 7, 1988); Tule armaani (Come, My Love) for Baritone and Men’s Chorus (1988; Helsinki, Nov. 23, 1989); Careliana for 6 Men’s Voices (1988; Joensuu, June 11, 1989); Petrarca Suite for Baritone and Chorus (Helsinki, Dec. 12, 1991); Nein zur Lebensangst for Reciter and Chamber Chorus (1991); Tapiolassa for Alto and Children’s Chorus (1991; Helsinki, Nov. 23, 1993); Den heliga own for Mezzo-soprano and String Qurtet (1994; Korsholm, June 19, 1995); Aggadot for Vocal Quartet and Instrumental Ensemble (1994; Joensuu, June 21, 1995); various other mixed and men’s choruses; solo songs.


J. Parsons, E. B.: A Seventieth Birthday Tribute (London, 1981).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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