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ADOLF FREDRIK LINDBLAD  

(1801 - 1878)

Adolf Fredrik Lindblad was from the Swedish province of Östergötland. He learned to play the piano and flute, and at the age of fifteen had a flute concerto of his performed in Norrköping. Shortly after this, however, his well-intentioned foster-father sent him to learn a trade in Hamburg. On his return he divided his time between office work and piano lessons, but when he moved to Uppsala in spring 1823 he had decided to devote himself entirely to music. He received lessons in harmony for a year or so from one of Uppsala University’s director musices, J. C. F. Haeffner, but with Malla Silfverstolpe’s help he was able to spend a year in Berlin, where he studied composition with Zelter and struck up a warm friendship with Zelter’s star pupil, the seventeen-year-old Felix Mendelssohn.

Back in Sweden in 1827, Lindblad started a piano school in Stockholm, which he headed until 1861. For many years he was the favoured music-teacher to the Crown Prince, the future Oscar I, and later to the King’s musical children Prince Gustavus and Princess Eugenie, both of whom also composed.

After only a year at Uppsala Lindblad had his first works published. The first was a collection of songs by him and his older friend Geijer. By the end of the 1820s he was composing the songs, romanser, Lieder or simple folk-songs that made him hugely popular during his life, and for which he is especially remembered today. He wrote over 200 such songs, supplying his own texts to more than a third of them, mostly strophic and idyllic in character. Without drawing directly on folk-music they seem genuinely ‘Swedish’.

Early on, however, Lindblad the composer aspired to music that would place much greater demands on him and those who would perform it and on the audiences that would hear it. In 1831 he completed a Symphony in C major. The first movement was performed the same year at the Riddarhuset in Stockholm, but the first complete performance of the symphony took place in the same location on 25 March 1832. The Symphony is an impressive début, of imposing proportions, so that with all repeats observed it takes around 40 minutes to perform. It is clear that Lindblad was inspired by models from the Viennese school of Classicism. One recognises the Mozart of Mozart’s last symphonies, on occasions in almost literally borrowed motifs and phrases. Here and there one is reminded of Haydn and more often of the early symphonies of Beethoven. The movements are well-crafted in form and thematic material. Lindblad realised that the kind of pretty melody he so naturally fashioned for his songs would not be especially suitable for symphonic development, even in the slow third movement, and that a different kind of thematic material was called for. Lindblad’s excellent orchestrations surprise, for as far as is known he never had any formal training in writing for an orchestra.

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5:32:58 PM, 23 October 2014
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