Stenhammar, (Karl) Wilhelm (Eugen)

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Stenhammar, (Karl) Wilhelm (Eugen)

Stenhammar, (Karl) Wilhelm (Eugen), eminent Swedish pianist, conductor, and composer, son of Per Ulrik Stenhammar; b. Stockholm, Feb. 7, 1871; d. there, Nov. 20, 1927. He began to play the piano and to compose in childhood. After attending Richard Ander-sson’s music school, he studied theory with Joseph Dente and organ with Heintze and Lagergren (1888–89); passed the organists’ examination privately (1890), and later pursued theory lessons with Emil Sjörgren and Andreas Hallen; completed his piano training with Heinrich Barth in Berlin (1892–93). He subsequently toured as a pianist, appearing as a soloist and frequently with the Aulin Quartet. His first large work for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch., I rosengârd (In a Rose Garden; 1888–89; after K.A. Melin’s collection of fairy tales, Prinsessan och svennen), was performed in Stockholm on Feb. 16, 1892, attracting considerable attention; his love for the theater prompted him to compose 2 music dramas, Gildet pâ Solhaug (1892–93) and Tirfing (1897–98), neither of which was successful; he did, however, compose much outstanding incidental music. He made his conducting debut with a performance of his overture Excelsior! in 1897. After serving as artistic director of the Phil. Soc. (1897–1900), the Royal Theater (1 season), and the New Phil. Soc. (1904–6) in Stockholm, he went to Göteborg as artistic director of the Orch. Soc; during his tenure (1906 –22), he elevated the musical life of the city; then returned to Stockholm, where he again took charge of the Royal Theater (1924–25) before ill health compelled him to retire. Stenhammar’s early compositions reflect his preoccupation with the Romantic movement; the influence of Wagner and Liszt is quite perceptible, but he later developed an individual style based on his detailed study of Classical forms. His ability to absorb and transmute authentic folk melodies is a notable characteristic of many of his works. Among his most outstanding scores are the second Sym., the second Piano Concerto, the Serenade for Orch., several of his string quartets, his choral pieces, and a number of his songs.


DRAMATIC : Opera: Gildet pâ Solhaug (The Feast at Solhaug), op.6, after Ibsen (1892–93; first perf. in Ger. as Das Fest auf Solhaug, Stuttgart, April 12, 1899; first perf. in Swedish, Stockholm, Oct. 31, 1902); Tirfing, op.15 (Stockholm, Dec. 9, 1898). Incidental Music To : Strindberg’s Eft drömspel; H. Bergman’s Lodolezzi sjunger; Tagore’s Chitra; Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. ORCH .: 2 piano concertos: No. 1 (1893; Stockholm, March 17, 1894) and No. 2, op.23 (1904–7; Göteborg, April 15, 1908); Excelsior!, overture, op.13 (1896); 2 syms.: No. 1 (Stockholm, Dec. 1903) and No. 2, op.34 (1911–15; Göteborg, April 22, 1915); 2 sentimentala romanser for Violin and Orch., op.28 (1910); Serenade, op.31 (1911–13; rev. 1919). CHAMBER : 6 string quartets: No. 1, op.2 (1894), No. 2, op.14 (1896), No. 3, op.18 (1897–1900), No. 4, op.24 (1905–09), No. 5, op.29 (1910), and No. 6, op.35 (1916); Violin Sonata, op.19 (1899–1900). Piano : 2 sonatas (1890, 1895); 3 fanlasier, op.ll (1895); Sensommarnätter, op.33 (1914). VOCAL : rosengård for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch. (1888–89); Norrland for Men’s Voices, Mixed Chorus, and Orch.; 3 körvisor till dikter av J.P. Jacobsen for Chorus (c. 1890); Snöfrid for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch., op.5 (1891); Florez och Blanzeflor for Baritone and Orch., op.3 (1891); Ur idyll och epigram av J.L. Runeberg for Mezzo-soprano and Orch., op.4a (1893); Ett folk for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch., op.22 (1904–05); Midvinter for Chorus and Orch., op.24 (1907); Folket i Nifelhem Vârnatt for Chorus and Orch., op.30 (1911–12); Sangen for Solo Voices, Chorus, and Orch., op.44 (1921); also Ithaka for Baritone and Orch., op.21; 4 Stockholmsdikter, op.38; other songs.


B. Wallner, W. S. och hans tid (3 vols., Stockholm, 1991).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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