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Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7 (Alfven)

(Hugo Emil Alfven)

The first symphony written by Hugo Emil Alfven which was the first one to be successful in Sweden, even though there were others in existence by composers such as Lindblad and Berwald.  It was premiered in 1897 by the Hovkapellet, the Royal National Opera orchestra, and gained immediate acclaim.  The work is said to have been inspired by Johan Svendsen, as well as showing touches of Wagner and Berlioz, but this was changed seven years later when he re-orchestrated the work.

The performance of this symphony in 1897, coupled with his Symphony No. 2 in 1899, made such an impact to the musical audience in Sweden that it was surely a huge factor in the eventual establishment of a symphony orchestra in Stockholm in 1914.  The piece lasts in the order of 35 minutes and begins with a drum-roll followed by a cello solo in the Grave section with a bridge into the second part of the first movement that has been likened to Brahms.  The second movement has been described as “sentimental” and the third picks the up the tempo and brings in a lively mood.  The final section begins lightly with a piccolo leading a woodwind background in a march and leads into an exciting climax that reflects the beginning of that movement.  The four movements are listed as:

  • (i) Grave: Allegro con brio
  • (ii) Andante
  • (iii) Allegro molto scherzando
  • (iv) Allegro ma non troppo

Royal Scottish National Orchestra recordings
Naxos 8.553962
Conductor – Niklas Willen