Composer Sven-David Sandström has died

Gramophone Fri 14th June 2019

Born October 30, 1942; died June 10, 2019

'A distinct musical voice': composer Sven-David Sandström (photo: Mats Bäcker)

'A distinct musical voice': composer Sven-David Sandström (photo: Mats Bäcker)

The distinguished Swedish composer has died at the age of 76. Sandström is best known for his Requiem, The High Mass, the 2001 opera, Jeppe: The Cruel Comedy, and his concertos.

Born in Motala, he studied art history and musicology at Stockholm University, as well as composition at the Royal College of Music, Stockholm, where he later became a member of the faculty. Among his prominent pupils was the composer Marie Samuelsson. An experienced teacher, Sandström also taught at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana, for ten years. Having developed a particular taste for baroque choral music, he went on to write many pieces in the idiom of Handel and Bach, incorporating his own unique style. Examples include a set of the six Bach cantata texts in the double-choir and four-part chorale structure of the baroque composer, in addition to a reinterpretation of the text of Handel’s Messiah.

Sandström’s music combines a range of influences such as modernism, minimalism and jazz, and can be heard on a number of recordings made over the years. Of a 2011 recording, Marc Rochester wrote of ‘a very clear and distinct musical voice permeating the whole programme.’ Sandström’s High Mass was released by Deutsche Grammophon back in 2005, performed live by the Gewandhaus Orchestra under the baton of Herbert Blomstedt. The Cradle Song – an a cappella piece – was recorded by Chandos, in 1994, with Stefan Parkman conducting the Danish National Radio Choir. Sandström also composed for film and television, scoring Äntligen! (1984), Facklorna (1991) and Gertrud (1999).

Edward Christian-Hare

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