Kurt Atterberg

Biography

Born: December 12, 1887; Göteborg, Sweden   Died: February 15, 1974; Stockholm, Sweden  
One of Sweden's leading composers during the middle twentieth century, Kurt Atterberg championed contemporary Swedish music as a whole in his work as a conductor, critic, and officer in composer-advocacy organizations. His music was easily accessible -- a polytonal treatment of late Romanticism -- and he had little love for more advanced techniques or the composers, even young Swedes, who used them. In his lifetime, he developed only a small Read more reputation outside Scandinavia, mainly in Germany; even in Sweden he was regarded as something of a relic by the 1950s, his final period of extensive composition. Atterberg's work has enjoyed a revival on compact disc, if not in the concert hall, and his posthumous reputation now seems secure at least among omnivorous record collectors.

Atterberg studied cello in school, but as a composer he was largely self-taught, despite a stint at the Swedish Royal Academy of Music (1910 - 1911) and as a scholarship student of Max von Schillings in Germany in 1911 and 1913. His main course of study at the Stockholm College of Technology was civil engineering and his primary career, from 1912 to 1968, was in the patent office. Nevertheless, like many composers before him (particularly Russia's "Mighty Handful"), he devoted as much time as he could to music. He made his conducting debut in his native Goteborg in 1912 with a performance of his Symphony No. 1, and conducted regularly at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theater from 1916 to 1922. In the '20s, he was particularly active as a guest conductor, especially of his own music and that of other Swedes. During this time, he also managed to launch his tertiary career as a music administrator; in 1924 he co-founded the Society of Swedish Composers (with which he stayed until 1947) and the Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM). He was also a part-time music critic published in Stockholm newspapers from 1919 to 1957.

As a composer, Atterberg initially owed much to Brahms and Alfvén, although he was more inclined to paint vivid, loosely structured melodic pictures than to put his themes through a traditional classical workout. His music was becoming more impressionistic by World War I, the period of his Symphony No. 3, Violin Concerto, and String Quartet No. 2. He soon gave much of his music a polytonal cast, but never as aggressively as, say, Darius Milhaud. His works remained fairly folkloristic, especially his operas and ballets.

For many years, the only Atterberg work that circulated widely outside Sweden in performance, recording, and notoriety was his Symphony No. 6, which in 1928 won a prize from the Columbia Graphophone Company in celebration of the Schubert centenary. The contest initially aimed to finish Schubert's "Unfinished" symphony; it drew heavy criticism, much of which fell upon Atterberg, who was the victim of rumors that he had ingratiated himself with such jury members as Glazunov and Nielsen by writing in their style -- an insupportable charge, considering the diversity of the judges' styles and that Atterberg's polytonal music was more advanced than that of any of the judges except Nielsen. Atterberg wrote fairly little chamber music or song, favoring the orchestral medium. He generated at least five operas, well-regarded in Sweden for their surface appeal but not for any penetrating use of psychology. His nine orchestral suites are colorful and often folkloristic; his nine numbered symphonies are more serious, though not showing Atterberg to best advantage as a melodist. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 31 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Kurt Atterberg: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2 - Symphonies Nos. 2 & 8
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5133 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
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  • 2.
    Nordic Spring
    Label: Simax   Catalog: 1264 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Kurt Atterberg,  Johan Svendsen,  Carl Nielsen  ... 
    Performer:  Lars Anders Tomter,  Terje Tonnesen
    Conductor:  Terje Tonnesen,  Norwegian Chamber Orchest
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  • 3.
    Atterberg: Symphony No. 4 'sinfonia Piccola'; Suite No. 3; Symphony No. 6 'dollar Symphony'; En Varmlandsrapsodi
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5116 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Performer:  Sara Troback Hesselink,  Per Högberg
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Nordic Violin Favourites / Kraggerud, Engeset, Dalasinfoniettan
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572827 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sparre Olsen,  Kurt Atterberg,  Wilhelm Stenhammar,  Ole Borneman Bull  ... 
    Performer:  Henning Kraggerud
    Conductor:  Bjarte Engeset
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  DalaSinfoniettan
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  • 5.
    The Nordic Experience
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4671621 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Christian Sinding,  Niels Gade,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Karita Mattila,  Chloë Hanslip,  Izumi Tateno,  Harald Aadland  ... 
    Conductor:  Ari Rasilainen,  Sakari Oramo,  Paul Mann,  Shuntaro Sato  ... 
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  • 6.
    Toscanini Conducts Strauss, Ravel And Barber / Nbc Symphony Orchestra, Et Al
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2348 Release Date: 11/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Oscar Lorenzo Fernandez,  Samuel Barber,  Kurt Atterberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Icon - Jussi Björling, The Swedish Caruso Sings Verdi, Puccini, Etc
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17313 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Henry Ernest Geehl,  Carl Sjöberg  ... 
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Jussi Björling,  John Reardon,  Giorgio Tozzi  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Gabriele Santini,  Nils Grevillius,  Renato Cellini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Rome Opera House Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    The Planets Vol 2 - Other Worlds - Musical Journey Continues
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 56151 Release Date: 11/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg,  Lars-Erik Larsson,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Robinson
    Conductor:  Stig Westerberg,  Ulf Björlin,  André Previn,  Louis Frémaux  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 9.
    Atterberg: Cello Concerto; Brahms: Sextet / Mork, Järvi
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1504 Release Date: 05/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Kurt Atterberg
    Performer:  Truls Otterbech Mork
    Conductor:  Kristjan Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Norrlands Opera Symphony Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Music Around The Baltic Sea Vol Ii - Tobias, Et Al / Roman
    Label: Intim Musik   Catalog: 27 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg,  Rudolf Tobias,  Krzysztof Penderecki,  Hilding Rosenberg
    Performer:  Marjolein Dispa,  Jan Stigmer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Roman
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  • 11.
    Label: Intim Musik   Catalog: 18 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gösta Nyström,  Wilhelm Peterson-Berger,  Gunnar de Frumerie,  Kurt Atterberg  ... 
    Performer:  Göran Marcusson
    Conductor:  Thord Svedlund
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Atterberg: Violin Concerto, Overture / Wallin, Epple, Berlin Radio SO
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777106 Release Date: 03/21/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Performer:  Ulf Wallin
    Conductor:  Roger Epple
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Atterberg: Sinfonia Per Archi / Wallin, Camerata Nordica
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777156 Release Date: 02/21/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Performer:  Ulf Wallin
    Conductor:  Ulf Wallin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Nordica
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  • 14.
    Atterberg: Complete Symphonies / Rasilainen, Et Al
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777118 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Performer:  Satu Vihavainen,  Gabriel Suovanen
    Conductor:  Ari Rasilainen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Chamber Chorus,  North German Philharmonic Chorus,  North German Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    Pictures From Bergslagen / Mossop, Sjoblom, Kapten, Et Al
    Label: Nosag Records   Catalog: 60 Release Date: 09/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gunnar Thyrestam,  Kurt Atterberg,  Erland von Koch,  Kristina Forsman  ... 
    Conductor:  Glenn Mossop,  Klas Sjoblom,  Toomas Kapten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergslagen Chamber Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Atterberg: Symphony No 9, Älven / Rasilainen, Et Al
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 999913 Release Date: 07/15/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Performer:  Satu Vihavainen,  Gabriel Suovanen
    Conductor:  Ari Rasilainen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  North German Radio Chorus,  Prague Chamber Chorus
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  • 17.
    Pictures From Bergslagen / Mossop, Sjoblom, Kapten, Et Al
    Label: Nosag Records   Catalog: 60 Release Date: 06/25/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gunnar Thyrestam,  Hilding Rosenberg,  Olov Franzén,  Kristina Forsman  ... 
    Conductor:  Glenn Mossop,  Klas Sjoblom,  Toomas Kapten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergslagen Chamber Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Atterberg: Symphonies 2 & 5 / Rasilainen, Frankfurt Radio So
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 999565 Release Date: 05/21/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Conductor:  Ari Rasilainen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Atterberg: Piano Concerto, Etc / Derwinger, Et Al
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 999732 Release Date: 11/20/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Performer:  Love Derwinger
    Conductor:  Ari Rasilainen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hannover Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Atterberg: Violin Sonata, Trio Concertante, Etc / Pérényi
    Label: Marco Polo   Catalog: 223404 Release Date: 10/05/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Performer:  András Kiss,  Deborah Spikay,  György Kertész,  Ilona Prunyi  ... 
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  • 21.
    Atterberg: Symphonies No 3 & 6 / Rasilainen, Hannover Rso
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 999640 Release Date: 09/26/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Conductor:  Ari Rasilainen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
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  • 22.
    Swedish Orchestral Favourites Vol 2 / Sundkvist, Swedish Co
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8553715 Release Date: 05/16/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl-Birger Blomdahl,  Lars-Erik Larsson,  Ture Rangström,  Kurt Atterberg  ... 
    Performer:  Johanna Persson,  Sara Trobäck,  Sarah Lindloff
    Conductor:  Petter Sundkvist
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Chamber Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Jussi Bjorling Edition - Studio Recordings 1930-1959
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 66306 Release Date: 01/20/1998   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Amy Marcy Beach,  Gioachino Rossini,  Carl Sjöberg,  Helen Guy  ... 
    Performer:  Ivor Newton,  Jussi Björling,  Harry Ebert,  Hjördis Schymberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Nils Grevillius,  Bertil Bokstedt,  Sune Waldimir
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra,  Stockholm Concerts Associations Orchestra
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  • 24.
    Label: Sterling   Catalog: 1010 Release Date: 12/01/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
    Conductor:  Stig Westerberg,  Sten Frykberg
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  • 25.
    Label: Caprice Records   Catalog: 21506 Release Date: 10/18/1994   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wilhelm Stenhammar,  Sven-Erik Bäck,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Sven-Erik Bäck,  Folke Bramme,  Sven Karpe,  Charles Barkel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barkel Quartet,  Stockholm String Quartet,  Garaguly Quartet  ... 
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