Kurt Magnus Atterberg

Kurt Magnus Atterberg

Swedish composer
Date of Birth: 12.12.1887
Country: Sweden

  1. Biography of Kurt Magnus Atterberg
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Career as a Composer and Conductor
  4. Later Works and Legacy

Biography of Kurt Magnus Atterberg

Early Life and Education

Kurt Magnus Atterberg was born on December 12, 1887, in Gothenburg, Sweden. He was the son of engineer Anders Johan Atterberg and the nephew of chemist Albert Atterberg. Atterberg began learning to play the cello and eventually played this instrument in various orchestras. In 1908, he published his first work, "Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 1," followed by an incomplete version of "Symphony No. 1 in B minor" in 1910, which he sent to the Stockholm Conservatory in the hopes of becoming a student there.

Kurt Magnus Atterberg

Atterberg formally studied composition and orchestration with Andreas Hallén while also pursuing studies at the Royal Institute of Technology, where he obtained a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1911.

Career as a Composer and Conductor

From 1912 to 1968, Atterberg worked at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, eventually becoming the head of a department in 1937. In 1912, he made his debut as a conductor with his own composition, "Symphony No. 1." He became the maestro of the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm in 1916 and held that position until 1922. On November 6, 1919, his "Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 7" premiered with Australian violinist Alma Moodie and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Max von Schillings. From 1919 to 1957, Atterberg worked as a music critic for "Stockholmstidningen."

In 1924, Atterberg helped establish the Society of Swedish Composers and the Swedish Performing Rights Society, organizations similar to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1926 and served as its secretary from 1940 to 1953.

Later Works and Legacy

While working on his opera about Vikings, "Härvard Harpolekare," Atterberg simultaneously composed his "Symphony No. 4 in G minor, Op. 14," known as the "Piccola Symphony." This symphony, also known as the "Little Symphony," incorporated Swedish folk melodies and featured virtuosic flute passages.

In 1928, Atterberg won a competition organized by the Columbia Gramophone Company to complete Franz Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" or create a new work based on it. Atterberg's submission, his "Symphony No. 6," earned him a prize of $10,000. It was recorded by Sir Thomas Beecham in 1928 and performed by Arturo Toscanini during a live NBC broadcast on November 21, 1943. Atterberg himself conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra during the recording of the symphony, which was released on 78-rpm records.

Like Beethoven and Antonín Dvořák, Atterberg composed nine symphonies. His final symphony, "Visionaria" for soloists, choir, and orchestra, was written in 1956. In 2005, a box set featuring recordings of all of Atterberg's symphonies was released by Cpo Records. Kurt Atterberg passed away on February 15, 1974, and was laid to rest at the Norra begravningsplatsen cemetery in Stockholm.