Henric Bratt (1758−1821)

Henric Bratt was born on 15 October 1758 in Rottneros (Värmland province) and died 1 January 1821 in Forshem (Västergötland province). Besides being industrialist and soldier, he also served as a violinist in the Royal Court Orchestra and composed works for his instrument.

Life

Henric Bratt was the son of industrialist Henric Bratt, who owned iron works in Rottneros, Rottneholm and Öjervik in the province of Värmland. Bratt the elder is mentioned in Swedish author and genealogist Abraham Hülphers’s Historisk Afhandling om Musik och Instrumenter (1773) as one of three music experts ‘in the Provinces, who is presently making it his business, for his own amusement, to perform Music’ and ‘who at his home and elsewhere most frequently arranges concerts’. Bratt the elder had also accumulated an impressive collection of sheet music comprising over 100 symphonies and as many chamber music pieces, most of them Hummel prints to which he seems to have subscribed. On his father’s death in 1779, Henric inherited the collection and had it sorted into neat leather-bound volumes, which he later donated to Skara Diocesan and County Library, where it remains to this day.

Henric Bratt was thus raised in a musical environment, in which he learned to play violin at an early age. He was accepted as a volunteer into the Royal Nerike & Wermland Regiment at the young age of 12, advanced to ‘sergeant’ in 1774, to cavalry ensign in 1776 and to lieutenant in 1780, resigning the following year at the rank of captain. Bratt married Brita Cajsa Antonsson in 1780 and settled in Rottneros, but four years later sold his shares in the family works to his brother-in-law (his sister’s husband) before apparently moving south to Nygård i Skaraborg County, where he and Brita eventually had two sons and two daughters. Given that Nygård is a common name for landed estates, this information will have to remain speculative; what we do know from the ecclesiastical registers, however, is that Bratt spent his final years at Hindriksberg, an estate in Forshem Parish.

In 1788 Bratt spent some time in Stockholm, where he was employed as a violinist in the Kungliga Hovkapellet (the Royal Court Orchestra), and where he gave a solo concert on 27 April in the House of Nobility led by Johan David Zander. On the outbreak of the Swedo-Russian War in 1789, Bratt signed up at the rank of captain to the free regiment that was soon dubbed the Värmland Rifleman Regiment. He is said to have distinguished himself in Finland in the battles of Parkumäki, Pumala and Pirikimäki and was promoted by the king to army major in 1790. He was subsequently deployed as right-hand man to the regimental battalion commander, but resigned in 1794, presumably to retire once and for all to his estate in the Skara region; an attempt to repurchase Rottneros in 1803 came to nothing. He seems to have been in Stockholm again, since he was registered there during certain periods and is mentioned in the archives of the Sällskapet Nytta och Nöje cultural society around the turn of the new century.

Works

At the 1788 concert, Bratt performed two of his own violin concertos, which although now thought lost were very likely identical to the two concertos that exist in their parts under the heading ‘Opera II. 1793’ in his father’s sheet music library in Skara. Bratt’s ‘Opera First’ is a collection of Six Sonatas for Violin and Basso, which was published ‘on subscription’ by Olof Åhlström in 1794 and dedicated to King Gustav IV Adolf. Otherwise, only one work by Bratt has been preserved, that too in Skara: a vocal part to a composition by Bengt Lidner’s ‘Vid Wassen af den krökta ström’ from his Medea.

All sonatas and concertos are in two movements, comprising a fast movement and a variation movement that Bratt termed a Rondo, since the theme is repeated as a coda and can also possibly recur ad libitum between the variations − as directed in one of the concertos. In the first movements of the sonatas Bratt employs a three-part form type that approaches the sonata movement, while in the first movements of the concertos he prefers an almost older type of ritornello that alternates between tutti and solo. Given that the bass parts of the sonatas lack figuring, it is fully possible to perform them as pure duets; a continuo setting is also conceivable.

Generally speaking, the works can be said to possess almost virtuosic, often high-register solo violin parts, but to be harmonically fairly confined within overly narrow modulatory ideas. The themes are scarcely personal yet they are free and sometimes contain traces of the folk style. What is surprising is the concertos’ orchestral accompaniment, which comprises two flutes, a violin, viola and bass − which is to say without a second violin, the role of which is taken over by one of the flutes to create a rather distinctive sound; one might well wonder if this somewhat simple solution really did suffice on performance, even if the accompaniment is primarily timbrally supportive.

Lennart Hedwall © 2015
Trans. Neil Betteridge

Publications by the composer

Protokoller och handlingar vid Carlstads kämners-rätt uti målet emellan stads-fiskalen Elias Hernodh och majoren Henric Bratt. Carlstad, G. Wallencrona, 1812.

Bibliography

Bratt, Christian: Bratt från Brattfors. En släktkrönika, Stockholm: Andrén & Holms Boktryckeri AB, 1992.
Bratt, Helmer: Några anteckningar om släkten Bratt från Brattfors, Linköping: AB Östgöta Correspondentens Boktryckeri, 1951.
Davidsson, Per Olov: 'Ett verkligt fynd, i ... över nejden går låten...', in: Värmland förr och nu, Karlstad: Värmlands museum, 1994.
Hedwall, Lennart: Herrgårdsmusik i Värmland, konvoluttext, LP Fabo SLP 33136, 1990.
−−−: Herrgårdsmusiken i Värmland och musiklivet i Karlstad 1770−1830, Musicological department at Gothenburg University, 1992.
−−−: 'En öfwersigt af Musiken inom Wermland'. Bidrag till belysningen av det sena 1700-talets musikliv i Sverige, diss., Stockholm University, 1995.
Hülphers, Abraham Abrahamsson: Historisk Afhandling om Musik och Instrumenter, printed at Joh: Laur: Horrn 1773, facs-ed SMA, Stockholm, 1969.
Lunell, Hans: Henric Bratt och hans sex violinsonater, Musicological department, Uppsala University, 1967.

Sources

Skara stifts- och landsbibliotek

Summary list of works

2 violin concertos, 6 sonatas for violin and bass, etc.

Collected works

Two concertos for violin and orchestra.
Six sonatas for violin and bass part ('Violon and Basso').
Vid Wassen af den krökta ström, song part.


Works by Henric Bratt

There are no works by the composer registered