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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As a half-Swede, I've always been disappointed that there is not a single Swedish symphony in the mainstream concert repertoire. It's true that Sweden did not produce a single composer with the striking originality of Nielsen or Sibelius, nevertheless there are quite a number of composers of a similar or slightly later generation who have written symphonies of considerable freshness, passion and a high level of melodic inspiration. Alfven, Atterberg, Stenhammar, Rosenberg and Lars-Eric Larsson just for starters.

For those who follow this repertoire, is there one particular symphony which stands out as perhaps the greatest? I would exclude Berwald from this as he is much earlier and rather a one-off and Allan Pettersson is also not really comparable. If I had to choose just one myself, it might be Alfven's 2nd which is a worthy successor to Brahms and Dvorak but there are a number of other candidates.
 

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Is Atterberg late romantic? If so, his Sixth, the "Dollar" symphony is a terrific work. Very accessible, brilliantly scored, and so much fun. Why should a symphony always have to be so serious and heavy? I think the 6th is a masterpiece that should have entered the mainstream repertoire 100 years ago. Beecham and Toscanini both did it, but anachronism that is was, it didn't stay around long. Our loss.

After that, I'd elect the Stenhammer 2nd. I really like some of the Alfven symphonies, 3rd in particular, but none are quite strong enough to be in the repertoire. Rosenberg turns off too many listeners. Blomdahl's symphonies should be better know, but they're not late romantic, either. With so much beautiful music coming from Sweden its sad that Alfven's Midsommarvaka is the only piece that's even somewhat familiar.
 

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Sibelius, Respighi, Karłowicz
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My favorites are:
Olsson - Symphony in G minor, Op. 11 (1902)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 2 in E-flat major, "The Journey of Southerly Winds" (1910)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 3 in F minor, "Lappland Symphony" (1915)
Berg, Natanael - Symphony No. 4 "Pezzo Sinfonico" (1918)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 5 in B major, "Solitude" (1933)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If so, his Sixth, the "Dollar" symphony is a terrific work. Very accessible, brilliantly scored, and so much fun
it is but I like the 2nd even more. Still, the "Dollar" was aptly named as it won the composer $100,000. Runner-up Franz Schmidt's 3rd was perhaps even more deserving of the top prize.
After that, I'd elect the Stenhammer 2nd. I really like some of the Alfven symphonies, 3rd in particular, but none are quite strong enough to be in the repertoire
Stenhammar's 2nd is often regarded by UK critics as the finest of the bunch and is certainly pretty close. But I can't agree that Alfven's 2nd isn't strong enough to be in the repertoire. It is rather absurd that Midsommarvaka is the most often performed Swedish work outside Sweden, enjoyable as it is -- of the rhapsodies, the Dalarapsodi is actually finer in my view.
 

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My favorites are:
Olsson - Symphony in G minor, Op. 11 (1902)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 2 in E-flat major, "The Journey of Southerly Winds" (1910)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 3 in F minor, "Lappland Symphony" (1915)
Berg, Natanael - Symphony No. 4 "Pezzo Sinfonico" (1918)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 5 in B major, "Solitude" (1933)
I picked up all the Peterson-Berger symphonies when they came out on CD and honestly haven't listened to any of them in 20 years - thanks for the mention, it will give me something to do this weekend as I listen to the whole batch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My favorites are:
Olsson - Symphony in G minor, Op. 11 (1902)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 2 in E-flat major, "The Journey of Southerly Winds" (1910)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 3 in F minor, "Lappland Symphony" (1915)
Berg, Natanael - Symphony No. 4 "Pezzo Sinfonico" (1918)
Peterson-Berger - Symphony No. 5 in B major, "Solitude" (1933)
that's an interesting and certainly not a mainstream list (if such a thing isn't a contradiction in terms in the Swedish repertoire) ! I'm not sure the Olsson, charming as it is in many ways, is very Swedish or ultimately perhaps that distinctive and the same perhaps applies to some extent to the Berg and neither of these composers, as far as I'm aware, get much of an airing even in Sweden. Peterson-Berger is more controversial and seems to have as many detractors as fans but I must say, as there was a specific thread on the 3rd just now, I refreshed my memory of it and found a good deal of it very enjoyable and inventive.

Still, it's nice to be unfashionable and I'm certainly a fan of one of your favourite composers, namely Karlowicz, who doesn't get his due !
 

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Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius, Bartók
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My vote goes to Stenhammar's 2nd symphony. For me, it's the greatest Late Romantic Swedish symphony I've heard and I've heard those from Berwald, Alfvén, Atterberg and some others.
 

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Brahms, Schumann
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I agree with the OP regarding Alfvén 2nd. I`m not sure if I consider Rosenberg as a late-Romantic composer but I should reflect on that a bit. Not necessarily my favourites but Dag Wirén and Yngve Sköld deserve mentions.
 

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Atterberg's 3rd 'Västkustbilder' gets my vote, a symphony where I don't find dull moments at all, an incomparably majestic, splendorous, magnificently orchestrated, memorable, life-enhancing piece. He's actually my favorite Swedish symphonist (I haven't properly appreciated his 9th yet, though).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I`m not sure if I consider Rosenberg as a late-Romantic composer but I should reflect on that a bit
I'm using the term fairly widely here. Some would regard Wiren as more neo-classical but I'd certainly include him as well. Perhaps National-Romantic might be a better term although even that term has its drawbacks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My choice would be Alfven's fourth ("From the Outermost Skerries").
interesting --I think I spotted your preference for this elsewhere. Curiously, .I've always found it the most unfocussed and weakest of his symphonies, despite some fine music but I guess that's just me as I know it has its admirers. Perhaps I should listen again soon.
 

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I'm using the term fairly widely here. Some would regard Wiren as more neo-classical but I'd certainly include him as well. Perhaps National-Romantic might be a better term although even that term has its drawbacks.
There should probably be a thread about Swedish symphonists. They are not that well known, but there are several of them, and they wrote some really good works in different styles. I would say the "Spillran" group were the last generation who could be called late romantic (Atterberg, Berg, Rangström and Lindberg).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
There should probably be a thread about Swedish symphonists
I think it would be a perfectly reasonable idea to have a more general thread on Swedish symphonists. My focus here is intended to be on works generally from the first half of the 20th century in a tonal and primarily romantic idiom with a particular national Swedish character, in the way that Sibelius has a very obvious Finnish character or Nielsen a Danish one. Into this, we could of couse include important composers like Blomdahl who is not, however, really comparable with the ones we've been discussing so far here as mbhaub has correctly said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
the Serenade is standard repertoire in Sweden (or at least it used to be a while back) and is a deservedly much-loved work. It's very likely the first classical Swedish work I ever heard as I was brought up with a gramophone record of it. Even in Sweden, the symphonies aren't particularly familiar and I must admit my recollection of them is quite hazy now -- not sure if I've even heard the whole cycle.
 
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