Author Topic: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)  (Read 12332 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« on: January 24, 2012, 10:10:08 PM »


Stenhammar was a Swedish pianist and self-taught composer and conductor. His compositions began as typically late Romantic fare but evolved through three periods. In the first, his primary influences were Liszt, Brahms, and Wagner, but the music is imbued with a Nordic sound without specifically quoting Swedish folk song. His early operas Gildet på Solhaug (1892-1893) and Tirfing (1897-1898), although unsuccessful, were the pinnacles of this period. Stenhammar's second period began as he attempted to create a more concentrated and motivically oriented style, modeled on the great classicists Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart. In spite of this, the music of this period loses none of its Nordic color. His brilliant cantata Ett folk (1904-1905) and the frequently played Second Piano Concerto are the most representative. Beginning in 1909, perhaps feeling his lack of training was detrimental to further development, Stenhammar engaged upon a nine-year course in strict counterpoint. The fruit of this study resulted in his last period, where the music becomes more contrapuntally and modally oriented, particularly in the last two of his six string quartets. Yet at the same time, his larger works, such as the orchestral Serenade and the Second Symphony, lose nothing of the earlier freshness and inspiration that make Stenhammar's music so attractive.

Stenhammar's early years were spent surrounded by culture, although he never undertook formal training except in piano. By 1900, he had established himself as a pianist, eventually giving over 1,000 concerts all over Sweden. He had also debuted as a conductor in 1897 with his own overture Excelsior!, and eventually went on to direct the Stockholm Philharmonic Society, the Royal Opera, the New Philharmonic Society, and the Göttesborgs Orkesterförening. Stenhammar eventually became one of the most important Scandinavian musicians of his era, and his compositions, including many songs, choral works, chamber and solo pieces, and theater and orchestral works represent the best music out of turn-of-the-century Sweden.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

I'm surprised there's no thread on Stenhammar. ???

What do you guys think of Stenhammar's music? I remember hearing his Serenade a few years ago and being blown away by it. Surely this is a late-Romantic masterpiece. I haven't heard much else by Stenhammar, but this work really impressed me.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 07:03:13 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline springrite

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2012, 11:53:49 PM »
My first encounter was with the symphonies. Good but not blown away by them. But the overture Excelcior is very good indeed! Then I heard the Serenade M.I. mentioned and it is surely a masterpiece!
Lately I have been listening to his two piano concerti more. The second is the more famous one but I find the first equally good. I do have a couple of solo piano CDs but have yet given them attentive listening.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 11:59:33 PM »
I think there were discussions in other threads like the Scandanavian thread, some neglected composers threads, etc. That's probably why no separate thread was started.

Stenhammar is a very interesting composer with a fair amount of discs out there now. The easiest and cheapest way (I would guess) to get his works would be to get the set on Brilliant (which was the set on BIS). I have the second concerto (which includes a serenade) from that set and it is excellent. Naxos, Hyperion, CPO, and Chandos have also released discs (as has the already mentioned BIS).

Actually, as I look through the catalog, there are a number of other discs to explore.  One in particular, recommended by someone on these boards as well, was the disc on Caprice with some choral and violin music (in stock here: http://www.amazon.com/Stenhammar-Song-W/dp/B003A6X0U8/ref=sr_1_60?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1327478169&sr=1-60).



For someone looking for an intro to Swedish song (including Stenhammar), I can also recommend this one:
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 12:02:08 AM by mc ukrneal »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 01:51:41 AM »
What do you guys think of Stenhammar's music?

Probably my favorite Scandinavian Late Romantic. As Neal said, many labels have discs with his music and IMHO you can't go wrong with any of them.

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Offline The new erato

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2012, 02:15:46 AM »
I don't find his piano music very interesting. Neither do I find his concertoes to be particularly outstanding. His songs are good, but the symphony no 2 is a masterpiece (get the caprice disc with Westerberg in preferance to the BIS), and so are his string quartets. Unfortunately I dont know the Serenade, it has been wishlisted for ages.   

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2012, 04:56:51 AM »
Love the 2nd Symphony. The first mvt. and scherzo are two of the best "Nordic"-sounding symphonic mvts. I know. About once a year I pull out the Naxos disc of the symphony and play it with much enjoyment.

I should listen to "Excelsior", praised above (it's on the same disc).

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 08:23:04 AM »
Thanks for the feedback everybody and the recommendations.
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Est.1965

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2012, 09:06:42 AM »
Midvinter is probably my favourite piece of Stenhammars music.  Though Stenhammar wrote Midvinter whenh he was in Italy, it is not the first time I have heard Scandanavian music sound almost like Scottish folk music in it's melody!  There sure are some deep and very old cultural ties between Scotland and it's Northern neighbors.  Stenhammar is, I am ashamed to say, not listened to as much as others in my Scandanavian listening repertoire, and I do not know why this should be so.  Well John, you have woke me up to this composer again, and I will play some of his stuff in a wee while to refamiliarise myself and re-instate him in my listening scheme.

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2012, 09:11:52 AM »
The easiest and cheapest way (I would guess) to get his works would be to get the set on Brilliant (which was the set on BIS).

Actually, the Brilliant and BIS sets are different. Brilliant is one disc short of the set from BIS. I never understood this and which is why I never purchased the Brilliant set and the BIS set is out-of-print and expensive. But it's okay, I wanted the Serenade from Jarvi and I got it for a good price used. I'm not too interested in exploring the symphonies and other works just yet. I want to hear this work again before moving on.
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2012, 09:14:47 AM »
Well John, you have woke me up to this composer again, and I will play some of his stuff in a wee while to refamiliarise myself and re-instate him in my listening scheme.

I know I'm going to sound like a broken record, but you should really hear his Serenade. This is one of the more impressive Scandinavian late-Romantic works I've heard. It has to be counted as a masterwork I would think.
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2012, 09:19:04 AM »
Check these out, John when you have the time:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/OReqQEkVBZs&amp;feature=related" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/OReqQEkVBZs&amp;feature=related</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/WjfEOJubrgs" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/WjfEOJubrgs</a>
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 09:25:09 AM by Mirror Image »
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2012, 02:59:16 PM »
Midvinter is probably my favourite piece of Stenhammars music....almost like Scottish folk music in it's melody!

It does sound Scottish  8)  I don't have it in my collection but I just found a used copy for 4 Euro. Ordered it along with Symphony #2 (Westerberg/Caprice). I like Järvi's version (BIS...haven't heard his DG remake) well enough, but nearly every critic (not just our own Erato) thinks Westerberg the better performance.

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Offline KeithW

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2012, 04:26:51 PM »
There sure are some deep and very old cultural ties between Scotland and it's Northern neighbors.

When I was at school - in Scotland - we covered a fair collection of 'northern' composers, the teahcer's argument being that it would broaden our appreciation of the native stuff.  The latter bit didn't work for me, but I did - and still do - enjoy the Nordic stuff we listened to.

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2012, 05:11:57 PM »
Actually, the Brilliant and BIS sets are different. Brilliant is one disc short of the set from BIS. I never understood this and which is why I never purchased the Brilliant set and the BIS set is out-of-print and expensive. But it's okay, I wanted the Serenade from Jarvi and I got it for a good price used. I'm not too interested in exploring the symphonies and other works just yet. I want to hear this work again before moving on.

Yes, from the samples I've heard the Serenade is the standout of Stenhammer's opus, and I'd like to get the Jarvi recording, the only one to include the "missing" movement. Just waiting for the price to drop a bit!
 

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2012, 07:03:29 PM »
Yes, from the samples I've heard the Serenade is the standout of Stenhammer's opus, and I'd like to get the Jarvi recording, the only one to include the "missing" movement. Just waiting for the price to drop a bit!

Yeah, Serenade is a fine work and Jarvi's performance is fantastic. I still haven't heard anything else from Stenhammar though.
“It must be beautiful, or it wouldn't be worth the effort.” - Bohuslav Martinů

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2012, 12:39:31 AM »
Actually, the Brilliant and BIS sets are different. Brilliant is one disc short of the set from BIS. I never understood this and which is why I never purchased the Brilliant set and the BIS set is out-of-print and expensive. But it's okay, I wanted the Serenade from Jarvi and I got it for a good price used. I'm not too interested in exploring the symphonies and other works just yet. I want to hear this work again before moving on.
How odd. Well thanks for the heads up. I actually have the serenade via a BIS 'sampler' called 5 Nordic Masters (which was cheap on Berkshire at one time). It introduced me to Stenhammar (Serenade+PC #2), Svendsen, Nielson (my only disc of his works, symphonies 4 & 6), Tubin, and Sibelius Symphony #2 (first exposure to this piece). As an intro it was brilliant, seeing as I have gone on to buy much more of Svendsen and Stenhammar. Still not crazy about the Nielson or Tubin, but glad to be exposed to it. Perhaps I will enjoy them more at a future date.
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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2012, 01:19:29 AM »
Who is this Nielson ?

Until I find out, I´ll listen to some Ruccles, Yves, Sing-Sing and Worn-Williamson !   ;)

(signed, of course, a compatriot of Nielsen :D. Even cbs-sony has sometimes called Nielsen "Nielson" on their record covers.)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2012, 01:26:53 AM by DieNacht »

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2012, 01:50:15 AM »
Who is this Nielson ?

Until I find out, I´ll listen to some Ruccles, Yves, Sing-Sing and Worn-Williamson !   ;)

(signed, of course, a compatriot of Nielsen :D. Even cbs-sony has sometimes called Nielsen "Nielson" on their record covers.)
Thanks for the correction! I think I will never forget how to spell it now!
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DieNacht

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2012, 02:05:14 AM »
 :D

Offline cjvinthechair

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Re: Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2012, 02:10:45 AM »
Ah, one of the many magnificent Scandinavian composers I'm gradually learning about !
Anyone know anything about the cantata 'Ett Folk' mentioned in the first article ?

Thanks.                       Clive.
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