Kurt Atterberg – Midsummer Dances op. 24 (Mittsommardansar)
(b. Gothenburg, Sweden, 12 December 1887 – d. Stockholm, 15 February 1974)
The Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg was, in today’s terms, a workaholic par excellence. As an internationally celebrated composer, music critic, conductor, engineer, senior official at the Royal Swedish Patent Office and for many years chairman of STIM, the Swedish branch of GEMA, one can justifiably ask which of his activities he pursued as his main profession.
Today, Kurt Atterberg is particularly known as a symphonic composer. For a long time, his nine symphonies were part of the repertoire of numerous European orchestras. Whether the Berlin Philharmonic or Arturo Toscanini – Atterberg was an internationally recognised personality in the musical life of many countries. Due to his close ties to Germany during the Nazi dictatorship, however, Atterberg was eyed suspiciously by his compatriots after 1945, but has been enjoying renewed popularity in his home country for some years now.
Kurt Magnus Atterberg was born on 12 December 1887 in the Gothenburg craftsmen‘s quarter of Haga. His mother was a housewife with a very beautiful singing voice, his father was a pioneer of the emerging electricity in Sweden. He had a laboratory in the house, and it is said that one day little Kurt almost set the house on fire by his own experiments. From his father‘s side certainly came the lifelong interest in the latest technical developments that always accompanied him alongside his career as a composer. Atterberg‘s interest in music can be described – despite the very musical parental home – as low at the beginning. It was only when he heard the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra at a guest performance in 1902 that the youngster turned to music and learned to play the cello. The first attempts at composition are known to have been made in 1905, but two years later Atterberg first decided to study at the Stockholm Institute of Technology, from which he graduated as an engineer in 1911. By this time, however, Atterberg had already composed his Piano Rhapsody and had taken some composition lessons with the then famous Swedish composer Andreas Hallén. These, however, left little impression on the young musician, who mainly taught himself his musical craft autodidactically. …
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