Johan Svendsen

Johan Svendsen (1840-1911)

Nationality: Norwegian
Born: September 30, 1840, Christiania (Oslo) Died: June 14, 1911, Copenhagen (age 70)

String Octet in A major, Op. 3

(for 4 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos)
11:22 I. Allegro risoluto ben marcato
8:08 II. Allegro scherzeroso - Lento - Più mosso, quasi presto
10:53 III. Andante sostenuto
10:23 IV. Finale. Moderato - Allegro assai con fuoco
Duration: 36 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1865-1866, Finished, February 20, 1866 (age 24-26)
Premiere: February, 1866
Published: 1867, Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel (age 26-27)
Dedication: Louise, Queen of Sweden and Norway
1 recordings, 4 videos
autoopen autoplay
Tharice Virtuosi, Liviu Prunaru
I. Allegro risoluto ben marcato
Tharice Virtuosi, Liviu Prunaru
II. Allegro scherzeroso - Lento - Più mosso, quasi presto
Tharice Virtuosi, Liviu Prunaru
III. Andante sostenuto
Tharice Virtuosi, Liviu Prunaru
IV. Finale. Moderato - Allegro assai con fuoco
From Edition Silvertrust

Johan Svendsen "Among those who would play Octets, Johan Svendsen’s must always be included. It remains fresh and its inventive creativity never fails to please."

Wilhelm Altmann, writing in his Handbook for Chamber Music Players.

Johan Svendsen (1840-1911) gained a reputation as a rising star while he was still a student at the Leipzig Conservatory, where by general consensus he was regarded as one of the most talented students. Svendsen was born in Oslo. His father was a music teacher and Svendsen learned both the violin and clarinet from him. By the time he finished school, he was working as an orchestral musician, and occasionally made short concert tours as a violinist. In Lubeck, on one of his tours, he came to the attention of a wealthy merchant who made it possible for him to study from 1863-67 at the Leipzig Conservatory. He began his studies with Mendelssohn's favorite violinist, Ferdinand David, but problems with his hand forced him to switch to composition which he studied with Carl Reinecke. Afterwards, Svendsen worked primarily as a theater director and conductor. He achieved considerable fame as the latter and, during the last 20 years of the 19th century, was considered the leading Scandinavian conductor.

All of Svendsen's chamber music was written while he was at the Leipzig Conservatory, yet these works were not then, and should not now, be considered student works. His works won prizes and received public performances to acclaim.

The Octet dates from this time and was composed in February of 1866. The premiere which took place soon after was a huge triumph which received critical acclaim and won Svendsen the Conservatory’s First Prize in composition. Just 2 days after the concert, the famous publishing house of Breitkopf & Härtel agreed to publish it, an amazing achievement for a conservatory student. The Octet has a staggering abundance of tonal amplitude, many times bordering on the orchestral. The melodic writing is first rate, the harmonies, for that period, were bold and the rhythms innovative. The work’s use of Nordic melody especially captured the attention and praise of the critics.

© Edition Silvertrust. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Related Composers

1900 WWI WWII Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) Johan Svendsen (1840-1911) Robert Kajanus (1856-1933) Nancy Dalberg (1881-1949)
Carl Reinecke (1824-1910)
Nationality: German
Born: June 23, 1824, Altona Died: March 10, 1910, Leipzig (age 85)
Robert Kajanus (1856-1933)
Nationality: Finnish
Born: December 2, 1856, Helsinki Died: July 6, 1933, Helsinki (age 76)
Carl Reinecke (1824-1910)
Nationality: German
Born: June 23, 1824, Altona Died: March 10, 1910, Leipzig (age 85)
Nancy Dalberg (1881-1949)
Nationality: Danish
Born: July 6, 1881, Bødstrup Died: September 28, 1949, Copenhagen (age 68)