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Blomdahl, Karl-Birger

Blomdahl, Karl-Birger

Blomdahl, Karl-Birger, significant Swedish composer; b. Vatildexjouml, Oct. 19, 1916; d. Kungsângen, near Stockholm, June 14, 1968. He studied composition with Hilding Rosenberg and conducting with Tor Mann in Stockholm; in 1946 he traveled in France and Italy on a state stipend; in 1954–55 he attended a seminar at Tanglewood on a grant of the American–Scandinavian Foundation. Returning to Sweden, he taught composition at the Stockholm Musikhògskolan (1960–64); in 1964 he was appointed music director at the Swedish Radio. He was an organizer (with Batildeck, Carlid, Johan–son, and Lidholm) of a “Monday Group” in Stockholm, dedicated to the propagation of an objective and abstract idiom as distinct from the prevalent type of Scandinavian romanticism. Blomdahl’s early works are cast in a neo-Classical idiom, but he then turned to more advanced techniques, including the application of electronic resources. His Third Sym., Facetter (Facets), utilizes dodecaphonic techniques. In 1959 he brought out his opera Aniara, which made him internationally famous; it pictures a pessimistic future when the remnants of the inhabitants of the planet Earth, devastated by atomic wars and polluted by radiation, are forced to emigrate to saner worlds in the galaxy; the score employs electronic sounds, and its thematic foundation is derived from a series of 12 different notes and 11 different intervals. At the time of his death, Blomdahl was working on an opera entitled The Saga of the Great Computer, incorporating electronic and concrete sounds, and synthetic speech.


DRAMATIC: Vaknatten (The Wakeful Night), theater music (1945); Aniara, opera (1957–59; Stockholm, May 31, 1959); Minotaurus, ballet (Stockholm, April 5, 1958); Spelfòr atta (Game for 8), ballet (Stockholm, June 8, 1962; also as a choreographic suite for Orch., 1964); Herr von Hancken, comic opera (Stockholm, Sept. 2, 1965). ORCH.: Symphonic Dances (Gòteborg, Feb. 29, 1940); Concert Overture (Stockholm, Feb. 14, 1942); Viola Concerto (Stockholm, Sept. 7, 1944); 3 syms.: No. 1 (1944; Stockholm, Jan. 26, 1945), No. 2 (1947; Stockholm, Dec. 12, 1952), and No. 3, Facetter (Facets; 1950; Frankfurt am Main, June 24, 1951); Concerto Grosso (Stockholm, Oct. 2, 1945); Concerto for Violin and Strings (Stockholm, Oct. 1, 1947); Pastoral Suite for Strings (1948); Prelude and Allegro for Strings (1949); Chamber Concerto for Piano, Winds, and Percussion (Stockholm, Oct. 30, 1953); Sisyfos, choreographic suite (Stockholm, Oct. 20, 1954; also as a ballet, Stockholm, April 18, 1957); Fioriture (Cologne, June 17, 1960); Forma ferritonans (Oxelòsund, June 17, 1961). CHAMBER: Trio for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1938); 2 string quartets (1939, 1948); 2 suites for Cello and Piano (1944, 1945); String Trio (1945); Little Suite for Bassoon and Piano (1945); Dance Suite No. 1 for Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Percussion (1948) and No. 2 for Clarinet, Cello, and Percussion (1951); Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (1955). Piano: 3 Polyphonic Pieces (1945). VOCAL: J speglarnas sal (In the Hall of Mirrors), oratorio for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1951–52; Stockholm, May 29, 1953); Anabase for Baritone, Narrator, Chorus, and Orch. (Stockholm, Dec. 14, 1956); ...resan i denna natt (...the voyage in this night), cantata for Soprano and Orch. (Stockholm, Oct. 19, 1966). electronic:Altisonans (1966).


G. Bucht, éd., “Facetter” av och om K.-B. B. (Stockholm, 1970; contains a complete catalogue of works with dates of first perfs.).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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