Author Topic: John Fernström (1897 - 1961)  (Read 1936 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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John Fernström (1897 - 1961)
« on: March 08, 2015, 03:11:16 PM »


John Fernström was born 1897 in Ichang, China, where he also spent the first ten years of his life at the mission his father directed. He came to Sweden in 1907 and started to study the violin at the Conservatory in Malmö. He was with the Symphony Orchestra of Helsingborg from 1916 until 1932, with some interruptions for studies; first as a violinist, later as one of its leading conductors.

Fernström studied the violin with Max Schlüter in Copenhaguen and with Issay Barmas in Berlin, and between 1923 and 1930 he studied composition in Copenhaguen with Peder Gram. In 1930 he studied conducting in Sondershausen, Germany.

He was the principal conductor of the Malmö Broadcasting Orchestra between 1939 and 1941 and from 1948 until the end of his life, 1961, he was the director of the Conservatory in Lund and the Lund Symphony Orchestra, both of which he initiated.

In 1951 he founded the Nordic Youth Orchestra, which still today is an almost compulsory step for all young Scandinavian musicians on their way to become professional musicians. In 1953 he was elected member of the Swedish Royal Musical Academy.

Ever since childhood, he had a very active interest in painting, which he also studied in Paris. His production is impressing, both in terms of diversity and size, be it music, paintings or poetry. He wrote 12 symphonies, 8 string quartets, many other chamber music pieces, concertos (among which two violin concertos, a basoon concerto and a clarinett concerto), two operas, and a large number of songs and choral pieces. His autobiography, "Jubals son och Blodsarvinge" appeared in 1967, and appeared in a new edition in 1998.

[Article taken from the composer's website maintained by his son]

Does anyone know or like this composer's music? I've come across his name numerous times and I couldn't find a composer thread for him. I know virtually nothing about his music other than some sampling on YouTube. As a result, I bought three recordings.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 10:15:51 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline springrite

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Re: John Fernström (1897 - 1961)
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2015, 05:21:03 PM »
I have a few CDs of his music. Frankly, I got into him only because of his background--being born in China. His music is finely crafted, with very little drama within the music. I like the Old Grandma's Song, which is based on a song his old nanny used to sing to him to put him to sleep, like a lullaby. I seem to remember hearing it when I was a child.

I have three symphony CDs and one SQ CD, at least.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: John Fernström (1897 - 1961)
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2015, 07:56:37 PM »
I have a few CDs of his music. Frankly, I got into him only because of his background--being born in China. His music is finely crafted, with very little drama within the music. I like the Old Grandma's Song, which is based on a song his old nanny used to sing to him to put him to sleep, like a lullaby. I seem to remember hearing it when I was a child.

I have three symphony CDs and one SQ CD, at least.

He certainly does have an interesting history no denying that, Paul. But the 'very little drama' line has me a bit curious. Some of the bits I've heard from his Symphony No. 6 seemed to be just oozing with emotional intensity. Could it just be my ears? This wouldn't be the first time. ;)
« Last Edit: March 08, 2015, 08:05:04 PM by Mirror Image »
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Online vandermolen

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Re: John Fernström (1897 - 1961)
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2015, 09:58:02 PM »
I think that I have that Symphony 6 CD  ::). Must check it out.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: John Fernström (1897 - 1961)
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2015, 10:28:40 PM »
I think that I have that Symphony 6 CD  ::). Must check it out.

Which Symphony No. 6 disc, Jeffrey? There's two of them: BIS and Phono Suecia. Speaking of the Phono Suecia recording, there's a nice work on there titled Flute Concertino that's an oddball work that I enjoyed quite a bit as it employs a women's chorus.
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Re: John Fernström (1897 - 1961)
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2015, 10:38:11 PM »
Which Symphony No. 6 disc, Jeffrey? There's two of them: BIS and Phono Suecia. Speaking of the Phono Suecia recording, there's a nice work on there titled Flute Concertino that's an oddball work that I enjoyed quite a bit as it employs a women's chorus.

Yes, I remember liking the concertino.
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Re: John Fernström (1897 - 1961)
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2015, 05:46:26 AM »
Which Symphony No. 6 disc, Jeffrey? There's two of them: BIS and Phono Suecia. Speaking of the Phono Suecia recording, there's a nice work on there titled Flute Concertino that's an oddball work that I enjoyed quite a bit as it employs a women's chorus.

Phono Suecia I think John.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline J

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Re: John Fernström (1897 - 1961)
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2015, 09:06:17 AM »
The Phono Suecia and BIS recordings of Symphony No.6 are world's apart in terms of performance as indicated in part by the movement timings:
          BIS     Phono Suecia
I       10'01      13'19
II      10'46      15'26
III      6'24        7'47
IV      9'15       11'27

I clearly prefer Phono Suecia which gives to it very much more weight and epic sweep than BIS (especially so in the moving slow section(II)).  It's a dramatic (yes) and imposing work, more in the style of say Nielsen than the Romanticism of Alfven & Atterberg.  One of the great Swedish Symphonies in my judgment.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 09:09:09 AM by J »