Kurt Atterberg's Piano Concerto: A Forgotten Masterpiece
Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974) was a Swedish composer, conductor and music critic who wrote nine symphonies, several concertos and chamber works, and an opera. He was one of the leading figures of the Nordic Romantic movement, along with his friends Wilhelm Stenhammar and Carl Nielsen. His music is characterized by rich melodies, colorful orchestration, and a strong sense of form.
One of his most remarkable works is his Piano Concerto in B-flat minor, op. 37, composed in 1935. It is a three-movement work that lasts about 38 minutes and showcases the virtuosity and expressiveness of the soloist and the orchestra. The first movement, Pesante allegro, is a dramatic and powerful sonata-form movement with a contrasting lyrical second theme. The second movement, Andante, is a tender and nostalgic song without words that features a cadenza for the solo piano. The third movement, Furioso, is a rondo that alternates between stormy and playful episodes, ending with a triumphant coda.
The Piano Concerto was dedicated to Jacob Moscovitsch (1899-1978), a Russian-born pianist who settled in Sweden and became one of Atterberg's close friends. Moscovitsch premiered the work in 1936 with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sten Frykberg. The concerto was well received by critics and audiences alike, but it soon fell into obscurity after Atterberg's death. It has been rarely performed or recorded since then, and it remains one of the hidden gems of the piano concerto repertoire.
Fortunately, there are some ways to access this wonderful work. A full score of the Piano Concerto can be found on IMSLP[^1^], a website that provides free sheet music for public domain works. A video of a radio broadcast performance by Moscovitsch and Frykberg can be watched on YouTube[^2^], where one can appreciate the beauty and brilliance of Atterberg's music. A more recent recording by Martin SturfÃlt and the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Manze can be purchased online or streamed on various platforms.
If you are looking for a new and exciting piano concerto to discover or play, Kurt Atterberg's Piano Concerto is definitely worth your attention. It is a masterpiece that deserves to be heard more often and appreciated by more people.
Kurt Atterberg's Piano Concerto is not the only work that showcases his talent and originality. His symphonies are also remarkable examples of his musical style and vision. He wrote nine symphonies between 1912 and 1956, covering a wide range of moods and influences. His first three symphonies are influenced by German Romanticism, especially Brahms and Wagner. His fourth symphony, subtitled \"Sinfonia piccola\", is a neoclassical work that pays homage to Mozart and Haydn. His fifth symphony, known as the \"Dollar Symphony\", is his most famous work, as it won a prize of $10,000 from the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1928. It is a colorful and folkloric work that incorporates Swedish melodies and dances. His sixth symphony, subtitled \"Dollar Symphony\", is a dark and tragic work that reflects his personal struggles and the horrors of World War II. His seventh symphony, subtitled \"Sinfonia romantica\", is a lyrical and optimistic work that celebrates love and life. His eighth symphony, subtitled \"Sinfonia visionaria\", is a visionary and experimental work that features a chorus and soloists singing texts from the Edda, an ancient Nordic collection of poems. His ninth and final symphony, subtitled \"Sinfonia gaia\", is a serene and meditative work that expresses his gratitude and reverence for nature.
Kurt Atterberg's symphonies are among the finest examples of Nordic Romanticism, along with those of Sibelius, Nielsen, Alfven and Peterson-Berger. They are works of great beauty, depth and originality that deserve to be heard more often and appreciated by more people. aa16f39245