The Swedish composer, pianist and conductor Carl Wilhelm Eugen Stenhammar was born in Stockholm on February 7, 1871. He died on November 20, 1927 in his hometown. February 2021 will mark his 150th birthday.
Wilhelm Stenhammar studied piano, organ and composition in Stockholm from 1887 to 1892 and then continued piano studies in Berlin. From 1893 he worked as a concert pianist.
In 1897 he went public for the first time as a conductor. From 1900 to 1901 he was Kapellmeister at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, in 1907 he became chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. He held this office until 1922. From 1923 to 1925 he was again Kapellmeister at the Royal Opera in Stockholm. During his lifetime, Stenhammar was a highly respected figure in Scandinavian musical life and was friends with many well-known musicians. In 1916 the University of Gothenburg awarded him an honorary doctorate.
As a composer, Stenhammar was first stylistically influenced by the late romantic works of Anton Bruckner and Richard Wagner. Influenced by his friends Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen, he tried from around 1910 to find a “Nordic” tone. From then on, his works were more and more characterized by folk melodies and the use of church modes.
Stenhammar is one of Sweden’s most important composers. His work, which includes 3 symphonies, 2 piano concertos, chamber and piano music, 2 operas, cantatas, several choirs and around 60 songs, is unfortunately largely unknown outside of Sweden.
The video shows “Göteborgs Symfoniker” conducted by Herbert Blomstedt with Wilhelm Stenhammar’s 2nd Symphony, recorded on December 20, 2013 in the Gothenburg Concert Hall.