HILDING ROSENBERG (1892-1985)
ANNA CHRISTENSSON, Klavier / piano
Until the middle of the 20th century most Swedish composers refused to accept new tendencies coming from Paris, Vienna or Berlin. However, also advocates of an avant-garde tonal language existed. Of all people, the 1892 born son of a poor couple looking after the herbary of a convent of nuns in the rural idyll of Bosjökloster, should emerge as the key player of Swedish Modernity: Hilding Rosenberg. He considered himself as pioneer, even as a guiding light for others. And indeed, the composer’s merits are out of all proportion to his quite low name recognition nowadays.
The performance of Schönberg’s chamber symphony op. 9 in Dresden was a sort of arousal for him. He himself later described it as a “distressing experience, which seemed to turn the common understanding how to compose music upside down.” From this impulse his first string quartet was born, a piece which is said to have introduced atonality to Sweden.
Hilding Rosenberg became one of the most important personalities of Swedish musical life of the 20th century. Besides composing his own music, he made contemporary music as well as old masters available to the public as a conductor – he had studied with Hermann Scherchen among others. From 1932 until 1934 he even managed the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. His personal contacts were far-reaching. Among the dramatists working with him were Bertold Brecht and the elderly Thomas Mann, whom Rosenberg visited in the USA. Numerous official awards and distinctions mark the meritorious career of a man, who on paper is considered the “father of Swedish modernity”, but whose fame as composer is still somewhat secret.