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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Atterberg Piano Concerto

From:

Mats Norrman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 23 Mar 2000 08:50:34 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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Thanh-Tam Le [[log in to unmask]] wrote:

>(unless one of our distinguished Swedish listers says the contrary...).

As I see I am called for, I'd better come out and tell:-)

>I haven't read the critics Joel mentionned, but I have known the concerto
>for about 15 years.  It is a bit eclectic, retaining Atterberg's intense
>lyricism, sometimes even coming close to Rachmaninov, but also -- and more
>unexpectedly still -- to Prokofiev.  It is altogether more ironic than the
>symphonies Nos. 1-6, but does not betray the kind of bitterness to be
>found in later works.  This is not too surprising, since Atterberg's
>reputation had not collapsed as yet

Atterberg has actually never been popular.  The reason is that he had
many enemies in his lifetime.  And the reasons to that is first of all
that he notoriously followed Peterson-Arger and Rangstroem in the tradition
of aggressive Swedish critics, and he made enemies to right and left.
Also there was that clumsy saying.  I will tell it for those who don't
know it:  When Atterberg hold a speech about the future of classical music,
with the journalists from the daily papers present, he said about that "the
etablishment shall help those musicians who are white and blad and ignore
those who are dark and hairy" - a clearly racist speech.  (That was my
summary, but I am ready to produce it word for word if somebody is
interested).  This was on 2 december 1941.  Half a year later Atterberg in
an article attacked two non-Swedish musicians very foul.  And the result
was more quarreling.  So in an article in "Expressen" 24.10.1945 Atterberg
was accused for being a member of the Swedish nazi party and furthermore
it claimed that there was a secret agrement that said that if Hitler had
invaded Sweden, Atterberg should get the post as leader for the Swedish
correspondance to "Reichmusikkammer".  There was a public investigation of
the case, and Atterberg defended himself with that he had neither interest
of insights in politics, but he loved the Swedish music and his burning
passion to defend it has caused him to make some improper speeches.  As a
matter of fact all those attacks worked like a boumerang and had severly
damadged Atterbergs own reputation.  I would say one is wrong if one assume
that his isolation and bitterness at old age was selfcaused.  The strange
thing was that although he this very sharp intelligence, he seemed
completely unable to realize that all his thinking was based on racist
bias.  On a question in an interwiew 1971 of if he was a antisemit, he
replied:

   "How can I have been an antisemit when I have found my dearest
   childhood friends - Rolf Heymann and his family - within the jewish
   race? How can I have felt hatred towards the jews when I have built
   my play "Jefta" on three jewish melodies and made a suite of it which
   was premiered in 1948? The text to my opera "Fanal" was written by
   two Austrians, of which I.M.  Welleminsky is a jew.  I tried to save
   him and his old mother for Sweden in 1939 but I failed.  Better luck
   I had with the French jewish writer Jean-Jacques Bernard who was set
   in a concentrationcamp by the Germans.  I did it through Dankwort,
   a demarche at "Auswaertiges Amt" in Berlin.  This was the 25.04.1942.
   In August the same year I and my wife recieved two books by Bernard
   with thankful dedications.  Furthermore I suggest my memorynotes and
   a letter to Mia Leche-Loefgren where I answer her accusations in
   "Idun" (1942:16) of "antisemitic derwishmess".  Finally I want to
   point out that the jews are known for keeping together and help each
   other.  That I see as something positive.  But why aren't we aryans
   allowed to defend our interests?"

I think most of people here see clearly what is wrong.

Atterberg was convinced, and he said it at several occasions, that there
was a jewish conspiracion against him and his music, a sort of late revenge
for his claimed antisemitism.  That he had made many people very angry with
his aggressive reviews and articles, he didn't seem to be aware of.

>I personally feel closer to, say, Symphonies Nos. 3 and 5, but this
>concerto certainly is temperamental and spectacular.

I like the 6th sinfonie "Dollarsinfonie", although it maybe hasn't the same
symphonic quality as say sinfonie nr.4 "Piccola".  But it has charm.  "De
faavitska Jungfrurna" is also a good work indeed.  And the 8th symphony is
indeed interesting.

Could you recommend a good recording of the 3rd and 5th sinfonies?

Mats Norrman
[log in to unmask]

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