Franz Adolf Berwald

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dulcinea
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Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by dulcinea » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:30 pm

While not as famous as Grieg, Nielsen or Sibelius, the music that I know of this son of Stockholm has a lot of charm. How do you rate him?
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:38 pm

dulcinea wrote:While not as famous as Grieg, Nielsen or Sibelius, the music that I know of this son of Stockholm has a lot of charm. How do you rate him?
I rate him as unknown to me. :wink: (Now watch while about 50 other posters say they have at least ten CDs of his work.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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some guy
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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by some guy » Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:35 pm

Not me. Only three, and one of them a duplicate. (Duplicate pieces, different performances.)
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
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John F
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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by John F » Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:59 pm

A truly original composer whose symphonies have gotten to be pretty well known among record collectors, but I believe they aren't often performed outside Sweden. I first heard two of them in a pioneering recording by Igor Markevitch with the Berlin Philharmonic, including the most singular of them, the third, called the Sinfonie Singulière, composed in 1845. There's something of Berlioz in this music, especially the Queen Mab-like scherzo that breaks into the adagio, and here and there I fancy I hear an anticipation of Nielsen, though the structure and effect of the symphony is quite different.

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hangos
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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by hangos » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:37 am

I remember the first time I ever heard an LP of Berwald's music. Afterwards, a friend of mine summarised it as " Mendelssohn with teeth " - quite an apt description. Like John F, I also find links with Berlioz and harbingers of Nielsen.
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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by diegobueno » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:08 am

I have 3 discs of Berwald's music. Two of them are the complete symphonies conducted by Neemi Järvi. The other is a disc of chamber music, including a quartet for piano and winds, a piano trio in F minor, and a Septet in B flat for the same forces as Beethoven's op. 20.

I like his style. The 2nd and 3rd symphonies and the Septet are particularly strong. I also hear foreshadowings of Nielsen and Sibelius in his music, although most often Mendelssohn is the reference point.

The most Sibelius-like passage is in the 3rd symphony's slow movement: at the 13:40 mark in the video John F posted.

hangos
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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by hangos » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:11 am

diegobueno wrote: although most often Mendelssohn is the reference point.
Hence "Mendelssohn with teeth" :wink:
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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by John F » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:41 am

I get the "teeth" but not so much the Mendelssohn. Maybe that refers to the Scherzo, whose occasional shrieks and accents are more Berlioz to me. Berwald's frequent use of sequences (motivic repetitions) and his harmonic side-slips within them are foreign to Mendelssohn's style. And most other composers' styles in Berwald's time and for some time afterwards.

Speaking of which, there's even a whiff of Brahms for a few bars in the finale, at 23:50; he was 15 when the symphony was composed and of course he never heard it.
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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by anton_jerez » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:37 pm

Nice that somebody brought up the topic of Berwald. Being a Swede myself I can´t help making a push for this often underrated and unknown composer. I´ll never forget the wonderful impression his 3rd (the singuliere) symphony made on me when played live here in Göteborg by the Göteborg SO about 30 years ago. Since then I´ve been hooked on Berwald. The Singuliere it one of the greatest works of genius from the 1840ies, fully comparable to the best symphonies of Mendelssohn or Schumann, and it is legues ahead of a piece like Mendelssohn´s Reformation symphony. It really is singular (just listen to the way Berwald opens the first movement with that unforgettable simple theme...). The slow movement is pure swedish bliss, the scherzo dances along like our swedish elfes do and the finale is pure fire with a coda that takes my breath away. The Singuliere is also a prime example of Berwald´s genius as an orchestrator. His sonorities are like none of his contemporaries (although you hear that he was aquantied with the music of Mendelssohn, Schumann and others...) and he was far more original than Mendelssohn (whom I deeply love...).
The sinfonie serieuse is also very good. I can´t really get enough of the Stretto (scherzo) movement ...listen to the way Berwald punches along with the brass and listen to the middle section with a melting theme that feels like a heavenly swedish summerbreeze caressing your face. For anyone who is a beginner to the art of Berwald I would also recommend his Septet (a marvel considering that Berwald wrote it in his youth), his c-minor Piano Quintett or his overture to the opera Estrella da Soria (one of the best from the middle of the 19th century).
Among recordings I would say that the best one of all the symphonies is the the one with the late Sixten Ehrling and the Malmö SO on the swedish label BIS. Ehrling is an unsurpassed conductor of Berwald and he lets the symphonies shine in real technicolor, not the least bringing forth the stunning brass passages in the symphonies.
I could also add that in his own lifetime Berwald never got the recognition he deserved in his own homeland. For many years he had to make his living as an orthopedic in Germany. Today he is rated as the greatest swedish composer from the 19th century, if not the greatest swedish composer of all time. In his best moments he is the equal of Mendelssohn or Schumann.

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Re: Franz Adolf Berwald

Post by some guy » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:30 pm

Add some Berlioz to a Mendelssohnian piece, and you'll have Mendelssohn with teeth.

And if it seems that maybe Anton's praise is too high, it sounds to me simply like description. :D
"The public has got to stay in touch with the music of its time . . . for otherwise people will gradually come to mistrust music claimed to be the best."
--Viennese critic (1843)

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
--Henry Miller

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