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Englund, (Sven) Einar

Englund, (Sven) Einar

Englund, (Sven) Einar, outstanding Finnish composer; b. Ljugarn, Gotland, Sweden, June 17, 1916;d. Helsinki, June 27, 1999. He began to play the piano in his youth. When he was 17, he entered the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where he studied piano with Martti Paavola and Ernst Linko, composition with Bengt Carlson and Selim Palmgren, and orchestration with Leo Funtek. Following his graduation in 1941, he was drafted into the Finnish army and saw service during World War II. His harrowing military experience, which almost cost him his life and resulted in permanent damage to his left hand, found release in his Sym. No. 1 (1946). This remarkable neo-Classical score, which soon became known as The War Symphony, was hailed at its premiere in Helsinki on Jan. 17, 1947. It was soon followed by his Sym. No. 2, The Blackbird Symphony, which was first performed in Helsinki on Oct. 8, 1948, and which became one of Englund’s most celebrated works. With a recommendation from Sibelius and a stipend, he attended the Berkshire Music Center in Tangle wood in the summer of 1949, where he worked with Copland. Returning to Finland, he pursued an active career as a composer until the rising tide of total serialism led him to cease composing in the late 1950s. From 1956 to 1976 Englund was music critic of Helsinki’s Swedish-language newspaper Hufuudstadsbladet. He also was a lecturer in composition and theory at the Sibelius Academy from 1957 to 1981, being named an honorary prof, in 1976. With his Sym. No. 3, Barbarossa (1969–71), Englund resumed composition in earnest. While continuing along the path of neo-Classicism, his works revealed a mastery of concentrated power, invention, and lyricism which placed him among the foremost composers of Finland. In 1978 he was elected to membership in the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in Stockholm.


(all first perf. in Helsinki unless otherwise given): DRAMATIC: The Great Wall of China, incidental music to Max Frisch’s play (1949; concert suite, Oct. 21, 1949); Valkoinen peura (The White Reindeer), film score (1952; concert suite, 1954; March 14, 1955); Sinuhe, ballet (1953; orch. version, Sept. 9, 1965); Odysseus, ballet (Worcester, Mass., Sept. 30, 1959; concert suite, Nov. 18, 1959; orch. version, March 2, 1960). ORCH.: 7 syms.: No. 1, Sotasinfonia (The War Symphony; 1946; Jan. 17, 1947), No. 2, Mustarastassinfonia (The Blackbird Symphony; 1947; Oct. 8, 1948), No. 3, Barbarossa (1969–71; May 12, 1972), No. 4, Nostalginen (The Nostalgic), chamber sym. for Strings and Percussion (Oct. 26, 1976), No. 5, Fennica (Dec. 6, 1977), No. 6, Aforismeja (Aphorisms) for Chorus and Orch. (1984; March 12, 1986), and No. 7 (1988; Tampere, Jan. 10, 1991); Epinikia, symphonic poem (July 2, 1947); Valsuralia, concert waltz for Chekov’s play The Cherry Orchard (Feb. 7, 1951); Neljii tanssiimpressiota (Four dance-impressions), suite from the ballet Sinuhe (Feb. 16, 1954); Cello Concerto (1954; May 17, 1955); 2 piano concertos: No. 1 (1955; March 2, 1956, composer soloist) and No. 2 (1974; Feb. 4, 1975, composer soloist); Concerto for 12 Cellos (1980–81; April 3, 1981); Violin Concerto (1981; Tampere, March 26, 1982); Serenade for Strings (1983; Kaustinen, Feb. 15, 1984); Flute Concerto (1985; Sept. 16, 1986); Lahti-fanfaari (Lahti, Aug. 28, 1986); Juhlasoitto “1917” (1986; Turku, Nov. 12, 1987); Odeion, festival overture (1987; Mikkeli, Nov. 18, 1988); Opening Brass (Stockholm, Oct. 7, 1988); Vivat academia, fanfare (1989; March 26, 1990); Ciacona: Hommage a Sibelius (Sept. 13, 1990); Clarinet Concerto (1990–91; Sept. 5, 1991). CHAMBER : Piano Quintet (May 1941); Introduzione e capriccio for Violin and Piano (1970; Sept. 17, 1973); Panorama for Trombone (1976); Divertimento Upsaliensis for Wind Quintet, String Quintet, and Piano (1978; Uppsala, Dec. 9, 1979); Violin Sonata (1979; May 5, 1980); Arioso Interrotto for Violin (1979; Nov. 1980); Serenata elegiaco for Violin (1979); De profundis for 14 Brass Instruments (Lieksa, July 12, 1980); Cello Sonata (Sept. 4, 1982); Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello (1982; Kuhmo, July 17, 1983); Pavane for Violin and Piano (1983); String Quartet (1985; Jyvaskyla, June 27, 1986); Suite for Cello, Viimeinen saari (The Last Island; 1986; Finnish TV 2, Tampere, May 26, 1987); Intermezzo for Oboe (1987, Uusikaupunki, July 27, 1988); Wind Quintet (1989; Sept. 8, 1990). KEYBOARD : Piano : Humoresque (1935); Introduzione e Toccata (Nov. 29, 1950); 2 sonatinas: No. 1 (1960; Finnish TV 1, Dec. 18, 1967, composer pianist) and No. 2, Pariisilainen (The Parisian; 1984; Oct. 11, 1987); Notturno (1967); Sonata No. 1 (Reykjavik, Oct. 21, 1978, composer pianist); Pavane e Toccata (Nov. 11, 1983); Preludium & Fughetta (1986; June 17, 1996). Organ : Passacaglia (1971; Feb. 9, 1973); Marcia Funerale (July 1, 1976, composer organist). VOCAL: Chaconne for Chorus (1969; also for Chorus, Trombone, and Double Bass); Hymnus Sepulcralis for Chorus, after Prudentius (London, Sept. 27, 1975); Med herrarna i hagen (Down the meadow with gentlemen) for Women’s Chorus (March 20, 1977); Rukkaset (Refused Proposal) for Women’s Chorus (March 20, 1977); Valvokaa (Watch) for Chorus, after the Bible (Nov. 16, 1980); Merkkituli (The Traffic Light) for Men’s Chorus (1983; Espoo, April 14, 1984); Kanteletar-sarja (Kanteletar Suite) for Women’s Chorus (1984; Joensuu, June 18, 1985).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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