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WILHELM PETERSON-BERGER  

(1867 - 1942)

Wilhelm Peterson-Berger was born in 1867 in Ullånger on the Ångermanland coast in northern Sweden, and spent his school years north of there on the Västerbotten coast. He inherited his musicality form his mother, his first musical experience coming as a seven-year old, while listening enraptured to his mother playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata one evening. Thus was born his passion for sitting at the piano, improvising and composing.

Later it would be another part of northern Sweden that he was especially drawn to: Jämtland, with its mountains bordering Norway to the west. It was there, from the house in the rustic manner he had built on the island of Frösö, that he claimed to have the world’s most beautiful view, looking out over the waters of Lake Storsjön. Completed in 1914, he called his little part of paradise Sommarhagen (‘Summer Refuge’) and in 1930 it became his permanent home. The countryside of northern Sweden remained his most important source of inspiration.

Peterson-Berger made the first, decisive, visit to Jämtland in the late summer of 1889. In the following years he spent several weeks each summer hiking in the mountains with other young outdoor-enthusiast friends, always carrying a notebook and some manuscript paper with him. He rehearsed several of his newly composed songs with these friends, thus giving their first performances in the mountain sunshine under an open sky.

In autumn 1895 Peterson-Berger moved to Stockholm and was employed on the leading Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. Through his honest but often biting music reviews he became one of the most read journalists on Dagens Nyheter, arousing, however, much hostility and jealousy in the process. This in turn led to difficulties for him as a composer. He wanted to be known as a composer of large-scale works, out of his five symphonies only No. 3, Same Ätnam (‘Lappland’), and of his six larger music dramas only Arnljot, were accepted by the Swedish music establishment. Peterson-Berger had to remain in the shadow of his contemporaries Hugo Alfvén and Vilhelm Stenhammar.

It was above all through a number of smaller piano pieces, romanser (‘the Nordic equivalent of Lieder’) and choral pieces that Peterson-Berger came to be cherished by the Swedish public. Even fifty years after his death he can still be regarded as the most popular of all Swedish classical composers. His breakthrough came in 1896 with the publication of Eight Melodies for Piano, entitled Frösöblomster (‘Flowers of Frösö’). Certainly it was clear that Grieg’s Lyrical Pieces had served as a model and one can glimpse other, even older composers in the background, especially Schumann. But already Peterson-Berger’s style is clearly defined, his melodies expressive, his harmonies fresh, often idiosyncratic and his rhythms lithe.

There were to be no more Frösöblomster. Peterson-Berger died in Östersund Hospital at the beginning of December 1942. From the window next to his sickbed he could look out over the sound to far shore and see Frösö.

Box Set Release Catalogue Number
Nordic Classical Favourites Naxos 8.504037
Svenska Sommarfavoriter (Swedish Summer Favourites) Naxos 8.503123
The Seasons Naxos 8.504038

View by Role: Classical Composer | Lyricist | Arranger
Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
BJORLING, Jussi: Bjorling Collection, Vol. 7: Swedish National Romantic Songs (1929-1953) Naxos Historical
8.110791
Vocal
CAVATINA AND OTHER CLASSICAL GUITAR FAVOURITES Naxos
8.570066
Instrumental
Classical Chill Naxos
8.520101
Instrumental
CLASSICAL CHILLOUT - The Essential Collection Naxos
8.570223-24
Orchestral
DANSKE GUITARDUO (DEN): Nordisk Musik for to guitarer Naxos
8.554968
Chamber Music
Duo a Piacere BIS
BIS-NL-SACD-5025
Chamber Music
EIDE, Leo: Whistling Virtuoso BIS
BIS-NL-CD-5001
Instrumental
FANGA DAGEN (Seize the Day) Naxos
8.578216
Instrumental
FLUTE MOMENTS Naxos
8.557788
Chamber Music
GUITAR MOMENTS Naxos
8.557712
Instrumental
KROUMATA PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE: Encores BIS
BIS-SACD-1452
Chamber Music
LUNDS STUDENTSANGARE SJUNGER IN VAREN BIS
BIS-CD-162
Choral - Secular
LUNDS STUDENTSANGARE: Skona Maj (Beautiful May) Naxos
8.557994
Choral - Secular
MED LUST OCH FAGRING STOR - Sommarens sanger och psalmer Naxos
8.554389
Choral - Secular
MIRACLE OF SUMMER (THE) Naxos
8.557998
Orchestral
NORDIC PIANO FAVOURITES Naxos
8.557425
Instrumental
NORDIC ROMANCE BIS
BIS-CD-206
Choral - Secular
OD (Orphei Drangar) Highlights BIS
BIS-CD-383
Choral - Secular
OM SOMMAREN (Summer in Sweden) Naxos
8.570387
Choral - Secular
OM SOMMAREN SKONA - Swedish Summer Favourites, Vol. 3 (Sweden only) Naxos
8.555261
Orchestral
Orchestral Music - NIELSEN, C. / LARSSON, L.-E. / ROSENBERG, H. / SIBELIUS, J. / PETERSON-BERGER, W. (Nordic Classical Favourites, Vol. 2) (Hanson) Naxos
8.572339
Orchestral
Orchestral Music - PETERSON-BERGER, W. / LARSSON, L.-E. / SIBELIUS, J. / GRIEG, E. / ALFVEN, H. (Nordic Favourites) Naxos
8.554782
Orchestral
PALSSON, Hans: I Doda Mastares Sallskap, Vol. 4 Naxos
8.553934
Instrumental
PETERSON-BERGER, W.: Songs for Mixed Choir a cappella (Complete) (Swedish Choral Society, Vol. 2) (Westberg) Naxos
8.572393-94
Choral - Secular, Vocal Ensemble, Choral - Secular
PETERSON-BERGER: Flowers from Froso Island Naxos
8.554343
Instrumental
PETERSON-BERGER: Frosoblomster BIS
BIS-CD-925
Instrumental
PETERSON-BERGER: Songs BIS
BIS-CD-42
Vocal
RYELANDT: Mass / PETERSON-BERGER: 8 Choral Songs BIS
BIS-CD-181
Choral - Secular
SKONA GRONA DAGAR (BEAUTIFUL GREEN DAYS) Naxos
8.503068
Orchestral
SOMMAR I HANGMATTAN - Lugn Musik for lata Dagar (Tranquil Music for Lazy Days) Naxos
8.578152
Orchestral
SOMMAR I SVERIGE - Tradition, Ringdans och hogtidston (Summer in Sweden) Naxos
8.578151
Vocal Ensemble
SOMMAR VID TORPET - Hyllning till Naturen och Svensk Folkton Naxos
8.578150
Orchestral
SOMMER Naxos
8.503045
Orchestral
SVEN GORAN ERIKSSONS - Klassiska Favoriter Naxos
8.503135
Orchestral
SWEDISH A CAPPELLA CHORAL MUSIC BIS
BIS-CD-934
Choral - Secular
SWEDISH CHORAL FAVOURITES, Vol. 1 - Gladjens blomster Naxos
8.554631
Choral - Secular
Swedish Orchestral Favourites, Vol. 1 Naxos
8.553115
Orchestral
SWEDISH ROMANCE FOR MEDITATION Naxos
8.570303
Orchestral, Instrumental
SWEDISH SUMMER FAVOURITES, Vol. 2 - Sommar, Sommar, Sommar Naxos
8.554595
Orchestral
TRADITIONAL SWEDISH SONGS OF SPRING AND SUMMER BIS
BIS-CD-833
Choral - Secular
Vocal Music - STENHAMMAR, W. / ZEMLINSKY, A. / LANGGAARD, R. / HENRIQUES, F. / DELIUS, F. / PETERSON-BERGER, W. (Sange af J.P. Jacobsen) Naxos
8.572070
Choral - Secular, Vocal
Role: Lyricist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
Role: Arranger 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 




 
 
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3:39:07 AM, 13 July 2014
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