Sunday, December 9, 2012

Allan Pettersson archives, Uppsala

The beautiful Carolina Rediviva building houses the archives.
After the performance of the Symphony No. 9 my Pettersson-immersion session was not over yet. The following day I took the train to the beautiful city of Uppsala to visit Per-Henning Olsson and the Allan Pettersson archives. 

The Allan Pettersson archives are held in a secured room in the Carolina Rediviva building. After checking in my coat and bags, providing my passport information and signing a lot of papers, I was given access to this tremendous treasure trove of Pettersson-related material.

As I only had a few hours I was only able to scratch the surface of everything which was available. One thing which immediately struck me was how very assiduous Pettersson was in his record keeping. It seemed like every receipt, every scrap of paper, every letter, every sketch, every everything, was organized. He even kept track of his composer peers' salaries. Considering what kind of composer Pettersson was, this (perhaps excessive?) attention to detail is not surprising. 

One of the many highlights of these archives is Pettersson’s sketches for his Symphony No. 2. You can see from his sketches how he worked out the material which ended up in the final product. I saw scraps of paper where Pettersson wrote down his notes for ranges of the different saxophones, in preparation for the Symphony No. 16. And, I held in my hand an original program from the premiere performance of the Symphony No. 7, which was of course Pettersson’s breakthrough. 

It was a pity that I didn’t have more time to go through everything (and it’s a pity I don’t speak Swedish) but any serious Pettersson fan who is ever in Uppsala needs to visit the archive. It is truly special. Thanks again to Per-Henning for serving as my enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. I envied and envy you that day in Uppsala. I will set aside a day next year when we go to hear the 4th and 16th to ensure that I can have some of the experiences you describe here. Great stuff!