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Wilhelm Stenhammar

Composer

Wilhelm Stenhammar

Biography

Carl Wilhelm Eugen Stenhammar (February 7, 1871 – November 20, 1927) was a Swedish composer, conductor and pianist.

Stenhammar was born in Stockholm, and was the brother of architect Ernst Stenhammar. He received his first musical education in Stockholm. He then went to Berlin to further his studies in music. He became a glowing admirer of German music, particularly that of Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner. Stenhammar himself described the style of his First Symphony in F major as "idyllic Bruckner." He subsequently sought to emancipate himself and write in a more "Nordic" style, looking to Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius for guidance. The latter's Symphony No. 2, especially, had a great effect on him, leading him to change his style and refuse to refer to his First Symphony as anything but a trivial piece.

From 1906 to 1922 he was Artistic Director and chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony, the first full-time professional orchestra in Sweden. In this capacity, he organised many performances of music by contemporary Scandinavian composers. In 1909, he briefly held the position of director of music at Uppsala University, where he was succeeded the following year by Hugo Alfvén.

Wilhelm Stenhammar died of a stroke at 56 years of age in Jonsered in the historic province of Västergötland. He is buried in Gothenburg.