Monday, January 17, 2011

Pettersson på engelska (eller lära dig svenska eller tyska!)

Dear Friends,

Life can be pretty frustrating for a non-Swedish speaking/non-German speaking Pettersson fan. It is painfully clear for those of us who fall into this category that just about all of the serious Pettersson scholarship is published in these languages. Besides the few things here and there on the internet, sometimes the best things we have are the liner notes which come with the CDs.

In today’s post I’m going to talk a little bit about Pettersson scholarship in English, and while I’m at it, I’d like to call your attention to some internet sites which might be of interest.

An excellent (and quite old, actually) resource in English is the Pettersson page by Mark Shanks on Here you’ll find a detailed biography of the composer, as well as reviews of approximately half of the symphonies. This resource was invaluable to me as I was  discovering Pettersson in the late ‘90s.

A new link which I am adding is an article written in 1981 by Peter G. Davis of the New York Times shortly before the US premiere of the 7th Symphony. In this article Davis mentions that the time might be ripe for Pettersson’s discovery in the states (Sergio Comissiona, a champion of Pettersson, was then music director of the Baltimore Symphony), but sadly, 30 years later, this has not happened.

Around the turn of the millennium an American Allan Pettersson society was founded, with the intention of promoting Pettersson’s music in the states as well as translating the available Pettersson scholarship into English. Unfortunately it appears that this society never really got off the ground.

Another new link I am adding is an article written by the American composer and administrator of the Allan Pettersson Enthusiasts Facebook page, Christopher Brakel. One of the goals of this article this was to spark further interest in the composer. Check it out here.

The most serious piece of Pettersson scholarship in English I have been able to find online is Colin Davis’ (not the British conductor, I presume) analysis of the 5th symphony. I have tried to find Mr. Davis' contact info, but I keep on finding the conductor instead. Anna Kwak wrote her DMA thesis "A performer's analysis of Allan Pettersson's Concerto no. 2 for violin and orchestra", which I have not been able to find online. The American musicologist and composer Allen Gimbel wrote a very nice (but incomplete) essay “Allan Pettersson as a Topic for Disability Studies in Music” which I saved the moment I found it on the internet. I have not been able to find it online recently, so unfortunately I cannot provide a link to it.

In case you have not guessed, I hope to develop this blog into an additional English-language resource for Pettersson enthusiasts, and I have a few other things I’m brewing right now in addition to talking about pieces and reviewing recordings. Stay tuned—if everything works out there will be much more to come.

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