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A portrait of Lars-Erik Larsson

The music of a beloved Swedish composer.

Lars-Erik Larsson (1908–86) is one of Sweden’s most beloved composers, and this thanks mainly to two works that are performed often: God in Disguise and Pastoral Suite. This concert portrait broadens and deepens our knowledge of Larsson’s output by presenting music that is more rarely performed.

Lars-Erik Larsson was born in the southern parts of Sweden (the Skåne region) and studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm during the 1920s. Thereafter he also studied privatly for among others Alban Berg in Vienna. The multi-talented Larsson was in parallell active as music critic and conductor – above all engaged as conductor/bandmaster for the Swedish Radio from the mid 1930s to mid 1950s.  He also composed film music and some light music. During the years 1947–59 he held the position as the first ever professor of composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

Lars-Erik Larsson’s music may be described as neo romantic, however with original harmonic  twists and a unique sense of melody and frasing that undoubtedly are Larsson’s own – and easily recognizable. A Winter’s Tale from 1938, following the concert’s opening ouverture, is a beautiful exemple of these traits. 

Christian Lindberg leads the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and concludes with Symphony No 3 from 1945, a piece that in fact was first performed by this orchestra and conducted by Tor Mann on February 10 in 1946. Larsson was always very self-critical when it came to his three symphonies, leading him for instance to withdray the second symphony. Today it is hard to understand his anxiety related to the symphonic tradition. Even though hints of great predecessors like Sibelius and Nielsen might be heard, what we hear is first and foremost the unmistakable genious of Larsson himself.  

  • The music

  • Lars-Erik Larsson Concert Overture No. 1
  • Lars-Erik Larsson The Winter’s Tale "Four Vignettes to Shakespeare’s Play"
  • Lars-Erik Larsson Symphony No. 3
  • Participants

  • Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Christian Lindberg conductor
  • From a livestream 12 November 2020.
  • The video is approximately one hour and 20 minutes long.