Berwald, Franz (Adolf)

views updated May 11 2018

Berwald, Franz (Adolf)

Berwald, Franz (Adolf), outstanding Swedish composer, cousin of Johan Fredrik Berwald; b. Stockholm, July 23, 1796; d. there, April 3, 1868. His father, Christian Friedrich Berwald (1740–1825), was a German musician who studied with Franz Benda and settled in Stockholm in the 1770s as a member of the orch. of the Royal Chapel. Franz received training in violin from his father and cousin, and in composition from J.B.E. du Puy. He was a violinist and violist in the orch. of the Royal Chapel in Stockholm (1812–28). In 1819 he toured Finland with his brother, Christian August Berwald, and Russia. In 1829 he went to Berlin and in 1835 opened an orthopedic establishment, which soon flourished. In 1841 he went to Vienna, where he obtained short-lived success as a composer with his symphonic poems. He then returned to Stockholm and secured a foothold as a composer with his operettas and cantatas. On Dec. 2, 1843, his cousin conducted the premiere of his Sinfonie sérieuse (his only acknowledged sym. performed in his lifetime), but poor execution of the score did little to further his cause. In 1846 he returned to Vienna, where Jenny Lind sang in his stage cantata Ein landliches Verlobungfest in Schweden at the Theater an der Wien. In 1847 he was elected an honorary member of the Salzburg Mozarteum. In 1849 he returned to his homeland in hopes of securing the position of either conductor of the Royal Opera in Stockholm or director of music in Uppsala. Hopes dashed, he became manager of a glassworks in Sandò, Àngermanland (1850–58) and part owner of a sawmill (1853), and briefly operated a brick factory. Berwald was shunned by the Swedish musical establishment (which he disdained), and his extraordinary gifts as a composer went almost totally unrecognized in his lifetime. Finally, in 1864, he was made a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. In the last year of his life he was named to its composition chair, only to be unseated, however briefly, on a second vote demanded by his enemies. Berwald’s masterpiece is his Sinfonie singulière (1845), a singular work of notable distinction, which was not performed until 70 years after its composition. He also wrote 3 other fine syms. and a number of worthy chamber music pieces. His output reveals the influence of the German Romantic school in general, but with an unmistakably individual voice.


DRAMATIC (all are operas unless otherwise given): Gustaf Wasa (unfinished; concert perf. of Act 1, Stockholm, Feb. 12, 1828; scene and aria from Act 2, Stockholm, Nov. 18, 1828); Cecilia (1829; not extant); Leonida (1829; only fragments extant); Der Verrater (1830; not extant); Donna Isabella (1830; not extant); Trubaduren (1830; not extant); Estrella da Soria (1841, 1848; rev. version, Stockholm, April 9, 1862); Jag gár i kloster, operetta (excerpts, Stockholm, Dec. 2, 1843); Modehan-dlerskan, operetta (excerpts, Stockholm, March 26, 1845; in collaboration with others); Slottet Lochleven (1863; not extant); Drottningen av Golconda (1864-65; Stockholm, April 3, 1968). ORCH.: Sym. in A major (1820; Stockholm, March 3, 1821; discarded by Berwald; only fragments extant); Sinfonie sérieuse (No. 1) in G minor (1842; Stockholm, Dec. 2, 1843); Sinfonie capricieuse (No. 2) in D major (1842; perf. ed. by Ernst Ellberg, Stockholm, Jan. 9, 1914; critical ed. by Nils Castegren, 1968); Sinfonie singulière (No. 3) in C major (1845; Stockholm, Jan. 10, 1905); Sinfonie in E-flat major (”No. 4/’ or Sinfonie naïve, the latter title unauthorized; 1845; Stockholm, April 9, 1878); Violin Concerto (Stockholm, March 3, 1821); Concertstück for Bassoon and Orch. (1827); Piano Concerto (transcription for 2 pianos by Gustaf Heintze, Stockholm, Dec. 14, 1904; with orch., Stockholm, April 27, 1908). symphonic poems:Elfenspiel and Erinnerung an die norwegischen Alpen (Vienna, March 6, 1842); Ernste und heitere Grillen (Stockholm, May 19, 1842); Bayaderen-Fest (Stockholm, Dec. 6, 1842); Wettlauf (1842). CHAMBER: 2 piano quintets; 3 string quartets; 5 piano trios; Septet. OTHER: Vocal music.


A. Hillman, F. B. (Stockholm, 1920); R. Layton, B. (Stockholm, 1956; Eng. tr., London, 1959); I. Bengtsson, N. Castegren, and E. Lômans, eds., F. B.: Die Dokumente seines Lebens (Kassel, 1979); I. Andersson, F B. (Stockholm, 1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Berwald, Franz (Adolf)

views updated Jun 27 2018

Berwald, Franz (Adolf) (b Stockholm, 1796; d Stockholm, 1868). Swed. composer (mainly self-taught) and violinist. Violinist in Stockholm court orch. 1812–18 and 1820–8. Won scholarship in Berlin 1829, where he comp. opera Der Verräter. Lived for time in Vienna, where opera Estrella di Soria was comp., also orch. works. Returned to Sweden, where his work was unfavourably received, so went back to Vienna, where Jenny Lind sang in his opera Ein Ländlisches Verlobungsfest in Schweden (A Swedish country betrothal, 1847). Berwald opened an orthopaedic institute in Berlin in 1835, running it successfully for 6 years. From 1850 to 1859 he was manager for a glass works in Sandö, N. Sweden, and wrote on social issues of the day. Prof. of comp. Swedish Royal Academy of Mus. from 1867. His comps. were neglected until the 20th cent. His chamber mus. is rewarding, also his 4 syms., of which only No.1 in G minor (Sérieuse) (1842) was perf. in his lifetime. No.3 in C major (Singulière) (1845) has become relatively popular. The best-known of his 11 operas (several lost) is the last, Queen of Golconda, 1864. Also wrote vn. conc.; pf. conc.; 3 str. qts.; 2 pf. quintets; and Septet in B.