Hildur Hedvig Constantia Broström (1865−1948) was a Swedish composer of salon and dance music around the turn of the 20th century. Some of her pieces became very popular including her breakthrough, the minor programme music piece ‘Öländingsmarschen’, which retained its popularity well into the 1900s. Another popular composition was the schottische ‘Uppsalaminnen’, which has been recorded many times and has also appeared in cinematic contexts.
Hildur Broström was born on 1 September 1865 in Ljung parish in the region of Östergötland. Hildur was the second of six siblings. Her parents were Hedvig Carolina Fredrika Broström (née Sylvander – 1841−1914) and Oskar Broström (1834−1874). After the death of her father in 1874, the family moved from Stjerntorp in Östergötland to Uppsala and it appears that Hildur Broström was registered as living here for the rest of her life. There is no extant documentation of her building a family, which also applies to several of her siblings. She died in Uppsala on 21 July 1948.
Most of Broström's published compositions in a collection of manuscripts have a dedication, written personally by her to Hedda Leijonhufvud – with ‘reverence’, ‘in friendship’ or ‘with friendship and affection.’ Hedda Leijonhufuvud was most likely Hedda Johanna Theresia Leijonhufvud (1877−1949) born at Åkerö Säteri, Bettna in Södermanland and residing later in Lidingö. Upon Broström’s death in 1948, Hedda Leijonhufuvud quite likely ‘inherited’ the musical estate.
A manuscript titled ‘Amoroso’ is dedicated to Baron Knut Bonde. In the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet he wrote a short but beautiful obituary to Hildur Broström’s memory, describing Broström’s personality: ‘She was a highly musical personality, but above all a well-educated cultural personality of the kind that is becoming increasingly rare in this age of specialization. Hildur Broström was also a faithful friend whose memory will live long among those who had the great privilege of getting to know her, and especially among the thousands of old friends of her ‘Ölänningsmarschen’.
Nothing is known about Hildur Broström’s musical education. As a composer, she mainly wrote piano pieces of a popular nature. The twenty compositions that were printed during the period 1893−1902 were all popular salon music and dance music genres. The great demand for the genres Broström wrote in reveals the increase of musical activity in the homes of the bourgeoisie from the 1880s until the advance of radio. This era also coincides with a musical nationalism as well a newly awakened interest in folk traditions, which form a background to this dance fad.
Sheet music was sold with the help of beautifully drawn, often romantic cover sheets by anonymous illustrators. Titles and illustrations could also be linked to programmatic musical meanings. This applies to the aforementioned ‘Ölandsmarschen’ – its popularity is largely due to this connection. On the beautiful colour cover, Öland horses are shown in different gaits, and these are also found in the notes: the horses can ‘march’ and ‘trot’ but also ‘become difficult, spirited and mulish’. In later advertisements, Broström was marketed as the ‘Composer of the popular Öländer’s march’.
Although Broström’s music reflects the musical tastes at the beginning of the 20th century, several pieces have stood the test of time. In addition to ‘Öländingsmarschen’ this also applies to the schottische ‘Upsalaminnen’ that has become integrated into the Swedish folk music tradition, particularly within the accordion repertoire. The accordion star Calle Jularbo is primarily associated with the melody and he recorded it three times, the first time as early as 1913. It is featured in the film about his life, Kalle Karlsson från Jularbo from 1952. ‘Upsalaminnen’ is also featured in a scene in Mai Zetterling’s film, Älskande par from 1964.
Formally, the compositions can be divided into two groups. The first group consists of the more modern dance forms - gallop, schottische, hambo, polka, etc., which in most cases have a three-part march-like structure with a trio in the middle and a de capo part. Like most of Broström’s compositions, they have an introduction and a coda, which gives the feeling of finished musical form.
The second type consists of waltzes that have a more sophisticated suite-like structure, where different waltzes succeed one other. The waltzes are presented in changing keys, sometimes with modulations through the circle of fifths. Here too, the compositions have an introduction and a coda but now of a somewhat heavier nature; interludes are also found between the waltzes. The waltzes can be considered more as music to be played and listened to than dance music.
The role models include waltz suites by Johann Strauss and others. The facture of the piano pieces is connected to the salon music of the time – sometimes broken triads with preceding appogiatura, sometimes with more pianistic forms. Regarding harmony, Broström can be seen as most advanced from the perspective of the genre: modulations, chromaticism and chordal movements by thirds are frequent, but also the chromatic paralleling of chords.
In addition to the printed sheet music, there are circa thirty compositions in the form of manuscripts and autographs in the Musik- och teaterbiblioteket (the Music and Theater Library of Sweden). The same genres as in the printed compositions are found among them. In spite of sometimes having identical titles, none of the manuscripts are duplicated in the printed works. The manuscripts often contain changes to titles and one and the same piece may exist under different names.
The collection principally includes several larger waltzes with the previously mentioned suite structure. Here one finds that the waltz titled ‘Con amore’ is not identical to the printed composition of the same name. Among the manuscripts there is also a nice little collection of eight light melodic piano pieces På lediga stunder, which suggests the possibility of teaching activities.
In Knut Bonde’s tribute he writes: ‘Since then, many compositions have been released, but she never published the most beautiful ones.’ The weightiest (form-wise) of these unpublished works is the piano extract to the cantata ‘Columbus’ for men’s choir with soli and orchestra. The theme surrounds Christoffer Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492: the first part, which somewhat resembles an operatic style, is dominated by the anxiety of neither reaching the new country nor having the opportunity to return home, a worry shared by Columbus and his crew. The first part ends with the lookout calling ‘land ho’ and the joy and confidence that spreads through the crew is reflected in the second part's more cantata-like tribute to Columbus.
Bertil Wikman © 2016
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson
Svensk Musiktidning, no. 11 & no. 20 1893, no. 20 1895, no. 20 1896, no. 20 1899, no. 19 1900, no. 5 1901, 1902 nos. 1 & 19 1902.Bonde, Knut: ‘Hildur Broström in memoriam’, Svenska Dagbladet, 24/9 1948.
Hildur Broström's printed compositions are preserved at Kungliga biblioteket, STIM and Musik- och teaterbiblioteket.
The manuscripts are preserved in a capsule with printed music and manuscripts in the Musik- och teaterbiblioteket. Gift from Allan E. Sjöding 1979.
Summary list of works
Cantata (Columbus), Piano works (Upsalaminnen, Öländingsmarsch, etc.), songs.
Choir, soli and orchestra
Columbus, cantata for men’s choir with soli and orchestra, ‘Se hur han går…’, piano vocal score, autograph in MTB.
Introduktions-marsch till 2dra afdelningen till kantaten Columbus, piano vocal score, autograph in MTB.
Violin and piano
Lilla Blåöga, Pas de quatre, Elkan & Schildknecht, 1902.
Upsala-minnen, 2 Schottisches for violin and piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, 1896 (from Marscher och dansmusik för piano och violin no. 37).
Voice and piano
Du var stjärna i sky (‘Midt i sommarens doft jag fann dig mitt barn’, Daniel Fallström), E major, ms. in MTB.
Klage (‘Venlige Morgenvind, bär du min klage Hen til min Ven’), autograph in MTB .
‘Tag din harpa från väggen’! (Harold Bildt), G-flat major, ms. in MTB.
Con amore. Waltz for piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1900.
En liten skälmunge. Polka for piano, Carl Gehrman, Stockholm.
Graziella. Pas de Quatre for piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1899.
Innocence. Valse pour le piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1902.
Jeunesse. Valse pour piano, Carl Gehrman, Stockholm, 1896.
Journalistmarsch, arr. for piano. Written for the Journalist’s congress at the world fair in Stockholm 1897, Carl Gehrman, Stockholm, 1897.
Klappadt och klart. Polka for piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1900. [Also in arr. for brass sextet by C.F. Ringvall, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1902 (from Vald samling dansmusik och marscher för messings-sextett no. 7).]
Lilla Blåöga. Pas de quatre, Elkan & Schildknecht, 1902.
Med lif och lust. Hambo-polska for piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1901.
På lyckans hjul. Polka for piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1902.
Tattersall-marsch for piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1899.
Tram-tram. Tomtemarsch, Elkan & Schildknecht − Emil Carelius, Stockholm, 1902.
Upsala-minnen, 2 Schottisches for piano, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm, 1893. [Also in arr. for brass sextet by C.F. Ringvall, Elkan & Schildknecht, 1896 (from Vald samling dansmusik och marscher för messingssextett).]
Öländings-Marsch for piano, Abraham Lundquist, Stockholm, 1893. [Arr.
for piano four hands, Elkan & Schildknecht, Stockholm 1895; arr. for orchestra, Abraham Lundquist, Stockholm, 1915 (Orkester-bibliotek, Abraham Lundquist, no. 120).]
Works in autograph and manuscripts
Amoroso (Valse, G-flat major), To Friherre Knut Bonde with affection from the composer, ms. in MTB.
Andra vals! (No. 2, A major), autograph in MTB .
Barcarole (F-sharp minor), autograph in MTB.
Boston-Vals (D major). I ungdomens år, ms. in MTB .
Con amore. Waltz (E-flat major), ms. in MTB.
Flaggan i topp! Marsch (D major), ms. in MTB.
Fox-Trot, autograph in MTB .
Jag det mins som i går (waltz, D major), autograph in MTB.
Hambopolka (C major) ms. in MTB joined with Hambopolska (D major), ms. in MTB = Hambopolska no. 2.
Hambopolska (A-flat major), autograph in MTB.
Hopp la la! Polka (G major), ms. in MTB .
Hambopolka no. 2 (D major), autograph in MTB. [Also under the name Polska in another autograph, joined with Mins du? Waltz for piano (G major), autograph in MTB.
Polka no. 4 (A-flat major), autograph in MTB.
Polka no. 5 (A major), autograph in MTB.
Polka (A major, no name), ms. in MTB.
Polska no. 1 (C major), changed to Hambopolka, autograph in MTB.
Polska (E major), autograph in MTB.
På lediga stunder. 8 lätta melodiska pianostycken: 1. Etude (C major), 2. På sjön (G major); 3. Zigenardans (G major), 4. Lillan vill dansa (G major), 5. Lillans polska (G major), 6. Den lille ryttaren. Marsch (A major with trio), 7. Speldosan (D major with trio and coda), 8. Dockan Rosamunda skall sova (C major lullaby with text), ms. in MTB.
Sista gången! no. 1, waltz (E-flat major, A-flat major), ms. in MTB.
Scottish no. 1 (E-flat major), autograph in MTB.
Skymning, serenade, autograph in MTB.
Upsala polka no. 1 (G major), ms. in MTB.
Waltz (A major), autograph in MTB.
Valse Boston, ms. in MTB.
Åkerö-polka, autograph in MTB.
Serenad, autograph in MTB.
Skymning, autograph in MTB.