FRANZ BERWALD (1796 - 1868)
Franz Berwald, descended from a family of Swedish musicians of remoter German origin, was a violinist by training and became the most important figure in Swedish music of the 19th century. In his career he enjoyed varying success in his own country, eventually turning to business, managing a glass works and opening a sawmill. He was appointed professor of composition of the Swedish Academy only in 1867, shortly before his death.
Of Berwald’s four surviving symphonies, the third, the Sinfonie singulière, remains the most popular. Like those of his Danish contemporary Carl Nielsen, Berwald’s symphonies have idiosyncratic titles, the first known as Sinfonie sérieuse, the second as Sinfonie capricieuse, and the fourth originally as Sinfonie naïve. He played his own Double Violin Concerto with his brother August, by whom his Violin Concerto was first performed in 1820. His Piano Concerto dates from 1855.
Berwald concentrated largely on the composition of chamber music between the years 1849 and 1859, completing two piano quintets, four piano trios and two string quartets.