Ejnar Eklöf (1886−1954)

Joel Ejnar Eklöf was born on 20 January 1886 in Fåsjöhyttan, just outside Nora, and died on 25 July 1954 in Stockholm. After completing his education at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm, he taught voice at Sofia Public School (1913−43) and was the organist at Hjorthagen Church (1918−46) in Stockholm. Eklöf, who studied composition with Ernst Ellberg, almost exclusively wrote songs and was long known as the ‘Morgon composer’ after the success of his first song entitled ‘Morgon’. His early patriotic songs are only a fraction of his production, which is primarily dominated by lyrical songs,  spiritual songs and songs intended for use in schools.

Life

Education and career

Ejnar Eklöf was born on 20 January 1886 in Fåsjöhyttan Åkerby, a small town in Nora Parish in Örebro county. He first studied music with the Nora organist Axel Hambræus, who was renowned for his improvisational skills. Hambræus had several students. Eklöf was later described as ‘one of the poorest, a school teacher’s son from the backwoods.’ In 1905 Eklöf commenced studies at the Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music) in Stockholm, where he completed his degree as an organist in 1907 and was a recipient of the Per Adolf Berg organ award. Eklöf then finished his degrees in church singing and music education in 1910, followed by piano tuning in 1912. During this time he studied composition with Ernst Ellberg.

After graduating from the music conservatory, Eklöf worked as a substitute organist for several churches, including those in Mora, and for the noted composer Alice Tegnér at Djursholm Chapel. In 1913 he applied unsuccessfully for the organist positions at Kristine Church in Falun and at Adolf Fredrik Church in Stockholm. Later that year he was employed as a vocal teacher at Sofia Public School. In 1918 he began working as an organist at Hjorthagen Church after being elected by the congregation. Like many of his colleagues, he combined his church duties with those at the school.

The power of song

During a visit to his parents’ home on New Year’s Eve of 1916, Eklöf wrote the song ‘Morgon’ (‘Morning’) which begins with the lyrics ‘Här är vägen, här går stigen’ (‘Here is the way, here goes the path’). ‘Morgon’ was first printed in 1917 by the publisher and organ builder C.A.V. Lundholm, who first became interested in the song when he heard Eklöf playing it while trying out a piano. The song was first performed in public by the tenor Samuel Hybbinette at a gala performance arranged by the Red Cross in February, 1917. Many opera singers soon added this song to their repertoire; five recordings were released in 1920. ‘Morgon’ was later added to the repertoire of the famous opera singer Jussi Björling. The song came to be used as an alternative national anthem − and a recording of Björling was played on the radio during the draw for the 1958 World Cup in Football. The epithet ‘Morgon composer’ came to follow Eklöf for the rest of his life.

Children’s songs were an important part of Eklöf’s life. He led the school choirs at both Sofia Public School and Hjorthagen Church and he was one of the joint publishers of not only the school choral textbook Skolkören (1934), but also the young person’s hymnal De ungas hymnarium (1935). At Hjorthagen he led a women’s choir − the three-part pieces in these two books were also intended for use by such ensembles. In addition, Eklöf was a member of Stockholm’s folkskolors sånglärareförening (the public schools’ association of vocal teachers) from its inception in 1930.

As a result of health problems, Eklöf resigned from his job as a vocal teacher in 1943. In 1946 he also resigned from his post in Hjorthagen. He hoped thus to find more time for his other pursuits. He composed several major works during this latter period: his historical dramas for Nora’s 300th anniversary (1943) and Hedemora’s 500th anniversary (1946), and his cantatas Mot framtidens land (1945), written for the opening ceremony of a Stockholm school, and Jorden sjunger (1948).

Eklöf died in Stockholm on 25 July 1954.

Works

Musical genres

Eklöf  almost exclusively wrote vocal music. His early songs reflect the patriotic winds blowing in the aftermath of World War I, which intensified in the early 1930’s. ‘Frihet’ (1920), the second song that he wrote, is a musical arrangement of Bishop Thomas Simonsson’s Frihetssång. ‘Flaggans sång’ (1929) was sung for several years at the celebration of Swedish Flag Day at the Skansen open-air museum in Stockholm. The 1930’s were an age of health, fitness and sun-worship, and this was reflected in Eklöf’s song ‘Ny Dag’ (1929), with lyrics by Verner von Heidenstam. It was one of the ‘Nine Compositions in the Spirit of Gymnastics’, published in 1930 by Carl-Ehrenfried Carlberg in the song compilation Gymniska sånger.
Carlberg was one of the initial founders of the Samfundet Manhem (Manhem Society). Eklöf was a member from the Society's inception in 1934, and was one of the original signatories of its  constitution. Eklöf was elected to the Cultural Council of the Samfundet Manhem for the cultivation of literature, theatre and music, but by 1936 he was no longer a Council member. The 1936 Manhem songbook included ‘Du folk av äldsta arisk stam’ (‘Ye people of the ancient Aryan tribe’, 1934) with lyrics by Carlberg, which had been published earlier in Skolkören (1934). In 1935 Eklöf led the Manhem Choir in a performance of ‘Neo-Gothic songs,’ but no further traces of his activities in this society have been discovered due to the the scarcity of preserved documentation. Cultural activities appear to have largely ceased from around 1937. In the early 1930’s the Swedish National Socialists attempted by way of their own press publishing house to turn Ejnar Eklöf’s ‘Frihet’ into the Swedish national anthem. It is not known if this was done with Eklöf’s approval.

One aspect of nationalism was the romantic lure of rustic village life and handicrafts. ‘Hembygdens Sång’ (1937), ‘Skymningsvisa’ (1938), ‘Vår bygd’ (1944) and the two historical dramas are all musical expressions of this. The different stages during the processing of flax for linen are illustrated in ‘Linblommornas sång,’ which won first prize in a competition hosted jointly by the Stockholms-Tidningen newspaper together with the Skansen open-air museum in 1937. ‘Hantverkarsång’ (1941) also falls into this category. In 1942 Eklöf was hired by the Sveriges hantverksorganisation (SHO, the Swedish vocational association, from 1991 Företagarnas Riksförbund, FR) to create a songbook with a craftsman theme. The book − which appears to have never been published − was intended to contain songs for all of the association’s 70 occupations, including a ‘tune for electricians’.

Eklöf also wrote songs in the romantic impressionist tradition, which include ‘Afton i Toscana’ (1923), ‘Serenad’ (1930) and ‘Solspel’ (1936). Youth, hiking and springtime are themes which can be found in ‘Färdevisa’ (1927) as well as in his later songs written for use in schools. Several of his Christmas songs, such as ‘En vandringsmans julvisa’ (1927) and ‘Luciasång’ (1938) are still popular today.

Approximately a third of Eklöf’s songs are spiritual songs. They range from exuberant, devotional songs such as ‘Lovsång’ (1936), to those with a more introspective mood of prayer, such as ‘Aftonbön’ (1931) and ‘Fredsbön’ (1940). Around ten songs are composed for mixed choir or three-part women’s or children’s choir in mostly homophonic movements. ‘Visa mig, Herre, din väg’ (1937) is the only piece written in the style of a motet.

Eklöf wrote only a few instrumental works. Published works include Bröllopsmarsch and Sorgemusik − which appear to have been relatively popular during the 1930’s and 40’s − and a small unpretentious piano piece, ‘Il Pastorello’ (1939). One of his unpublished works is an orchestral suite.

Musical style

‘Eklöf’s strength is often simply the unsought melody, which has truly become a rare flower in the underbrush of modern music,’ wrote music critic Jacob Nyvall in the magazine for vocalists, Sångarbladet (1945). Eklöf stood firmly on his stylistic foundations: a late Romantic tonal language combined with a lack of sympathy for the modern. In several of his songs one can discern a certain simplification of the musical language, with a piano part based primarily on sonority. From this perspective, ‘Skymningsvisa’ (1938) could even be perceived by Nyvall as ‘more expressionistic with an emphasis in the present’. In ‘Mot morgondagens land’ the lyrics are illustrated through his use of cautious dissonances and bare chords.

Only a few of Eklöf’s spiritual solo songs name the organ as an accompaniment option: accompaniments are otherwise clearly written with the piano in mind. The character of his devotional songs is brought forth through his use of rich chords and a thundering bass, whereas his more lyrical songs are less elaborate. His longer solo songs are usually structured, with short sections in different keys connected by modulations. Eklöf conscientiously employs specific keys, and the shift between these is a way to create designated moods of his choosing. He often writes in D-flat and F-sharp major in order to add lustre to his songs.

The older folk-tune style of using a minor key − typical of many national romantic composers − is rarely heard in Eklöf’s works. The most obvious example of this is the little folk-like song ‘Det är någon som sjunger för mig’ (1934), but it can also be found in certain phrases of his rustic village-themed songs, which adds an archaic impression.. In many of his songs, Eklöf is instead influenced by instrumental folk music in a major key. Two of his vocal songs from 1936 are based on walking tunes to which he wrote a new melody in a supporting voice. Several of his wandering songs and songs for youth reflect 1930’s mainstream ideas about that which is ‘folky’, as evident in the popular singing groups and music pedagogy of this era.

Hans Bernskiöld © 2016
Trans. Thalia Thunander

Publications by the composer

Sångsamlingar där Eklöf medverkat som redaktör:
Skolkören: en-, två- och trestämmiga körsånger med eller utan ackompanjemang för folk-, real- och flickskolor samt kvinnliga seminarier, på föranstaltande av Stockholms folkskolors sånglärarförening samlade och utgivna, 1934.
De ungas hymnarium: En-, två- och trestämmiga hymner för kyrkligt bruk, 1935.

Bibliography

Bengtsson, Ingmar: ”Einar Eklöf död”, Svenska Dagbladet, 27/7 1954.
Berggren, Elisabeth: Nationell upplysningdrag i den svenska antisemitismens idéhistoria, Stockholm: Carlsson, 1999, kap. 6−8 [om Samfundet Manhem].
Dagens Nyheter, 14/10 1913 (”Sökande till organisttjänsten i Adolf Fredrik”), 16/1 1942 (”Hantverkarna får sin egen sångbok”), 14/2 1942 (”Liten intervju − om hantverksvisor”), 20/1 1946 (”Födelsedagsintervju med ’Morgons’ kompositör”, sign. Odd).
Dalpilen, 10/2 1914 (”Organistbefattningen”).
Karlsson, Henrik: ”O, ädle svensk!”biskop Thomas' frihetssång i musik och politik, diss. i musikvetenskap, Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien i samarbete med Musikvetenskapliga institutionen vid Göteborgs univ., 1988. [Eklöfs frihetssång behandlas särskilt på sid. 89−92.]
Källén, Birger: “Ejnar Eklöf − tonsättaren till Morgon”, i: Årsskrift, Samfundet för unison sång 1986/87, s. 7−9.
Malmberg, Helge: ”Våra tonsättare för manskör. Einar Eklöf”, Sångartidningen, 1936, s. 3.
Nyvall, Jacob: ”Ejnar Eklöf 60 år”, Kyrkosångsförbundet, vol. 21, nr 6, s. 4, 1946.
−−−: recensioner i Sångarbladet nr 3 1939 och nr 12 1945.
Svenska Dagbladet, 7/3 1917 (”Om organistval i Hjorthagen”), 18/1 1946 (”Ejnar Eklöf 60 år”, av sign. Rasmus).
Törnblom, Folke H.: ”Ejnar Eklöf”, i: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 2, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1950; rev. i 2 uppl., vol. 2, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1977.

Sources

C.E. Carlbergs archive in Arbetarrörelsens arkiv, Stockholm

Summary list of works

Songs with piano, songs with orchestra, choral works.

Collected works

The given years are the year of publication. The year of composition is in most cases unknown.

Songs
Morgon (Sverige) (‘Här är stigen, här går färden’, Karl Gustav Ossiannilsson). Song for one voice with piano. Comp. New Year’s Eve 1916. Published 1917. The title was changed from ‘Sverige’ to avoid confusion with W. Stenhammar’s song. Also pub. in a setting for men’s choir (1936) and for mixed choir (1937); for orchestra by Gunnar Malmström (1930) and Ivar Hellman (unpublished). Also for one voice in Sång och spel 1951 (p. 17).
Frihet (‘Frihet är det bästa ting’, Tomas Simonsson = Biskop Thomas). For one voice or unison choir with piano, 1920. Also unison with piano in Skolkören 1935 (no. 24). The song was sung by the Manhem society.
Afton i Toscana. Coltaccio. (‘Genom mandelträdens blom’, Bertil Damm). Voice and piano, 1923.
Våren kommer (‘Våren kommer, fågeln kvittrar’, Esaias Tegnér). Song for one voice with piano, [1921-25].
Bön (‘Herre, jag är svag och arm’, C. Snoilsky). Voice and piano, [1925].
Vårsång (‘Välkommen åter snälla sol’, A. Strindberg). Song for one voice or unison choir with piano, [ca 1925].
Välkommen, du härliga juletid (Paul Nilsson). Voice and piano or organ harmonium, [1925].
En vandringsmans julvisa (‘Nalkas den signade juletiden’, Oscar Stjerne). Voice and piano and 3-part women’s or children’s choir, 1927. Also in a 3-part setting in Skolkören 1935 (no. 9).
Färdevisa (‘Låt oss vandra’, Ture Wernander). Voice and piano, 1927.
Sätrastämning (‘Sol över gamla Sätra’, Judit Löfgren). Voice and piano, [1928].
Flaggans sång (‘Sjungen vindar, som fria gå’, Ture Wernander). For one voice with piano, 1929. Also in unison with piano in Skolkören 1935 (no. 30).
Ny dag (‘Du sol, som uppenbarar din makt’, Verner von Heidenstam). Voice and piano, 1929. Also in Gymniska sånger, pub. by C.E. Carlberg 1930 (p. 72).
Stjärna i natten (‘Stjärna, högt över jordens grus’, Johannes Lindgren). For one voice with piano, 1929.
Dan före dopparedan (‘Det är jul, det är dan före dopparedan’, Oscar Stjerne). For one voice with piano, [ca 1930].
Nyårsklockorna (‘Ring, klocka ring, mot frostig sky’, Alfred Tennyson). Voice and piano, 1930.
Serenad (‘Stilla i rymderna’, Bo Bergman). ‘Till min hustru.’ Voice and piano, 1930.
Sommarpsalm (‘En vänlig grönskas rika dräkt’, Carl David af Wirsén) [1930]. For one voice and piano, as well as 3-part piece for women’s or children’s choir a cappella. The 3-part piece was published separately 1934; 3-parts with piano in De ungas hymnarium 1935 (no. 109a).
Aftonbön (‘Ingen stund är såsom denna’, Karin Boye). Voice and piano, [1931].
Morgonpsalm (‘När morgon gryr och bringar bud’, Emanuel Nylin). Voice and piano, [1931].
Adventshymn (‘Var välsignad högt’, Edvard Evers). For mixed choir in Laudamus 1934 (no. 6). Also published separately 1945.
Över vår herde gjut din ande neder (Paul Nilsson). For mixed choir in Laudamus 1934 (no. 7).
Bröllopshymn (‘Nu signad är i templets famn’, Emanuel Nylin). 3-part setting in De ungas hymnarium 1935 (no. 143). Also pub. for mixed choir 1939 and for voice and piano or organ 1951.
Helig (‘Helig, helig helig’). 3-part setting in Skolkören 1935 (no. 15).
Det är någon, som sjunger (‘Det är någon, som sjunger för mig’, Evelyn Lindström). Unison with piano in Skolkören 1935 (no. 117). Also voice and piano in Två små visor 1938 (no. 2). The song was sung in the Manhem Society.
Fansång (‘Du folk av äldsta arisk stam’, Carl Ernfrid Carlberg). Unison with piano in Skolkören 1935 (no. 33); voice and piano 1938. Ingår i Manhems sånger 1936 med titeln Gymnernas sång.
Hur härlig helgedomen står (Johannes Lindgren). 3-part setting in de ungas hymnarium 1935 (no. 147).
Nu signad är i templets famn (Emanuel Nylin). 3-part setting in de ungas hymnarium 1935 (no. 143).
Vår svenska sång (‘Klinga, visa, och sjung, fiol’, Signe Strömberg). Unison or 2-parts with piano in Skolkören 1935 (no. 31). Also for voice and piano in Två små visor 1938 (no. 1); 3-part with piano in De unga sjunga 1941 (no. 5); one part in Sång och spel 1951 (p. 217).
Lovsång (‘Högtlovad vare du’, J.O. Wallin). For mixed choir or men’s choir 1936. Also for one voice and piano/organ [1941]. Unpublished arr. for voice and orchestra by Albert Henneberg.
Solspel (‘Solspel bland löven’, Jeanna Oterdahl). Voice and piano, 1936.
Två sånglåtar. Fiddle or voice, voice and piano, 1936. 1. Sommarmelodi (‘Nu öppnar jungfru Sommar på sitt gröna’, Evelyn Lindström ). Written as the bottom voice for ‘Låt från Mockfjärd’, 2. En vandringslåt. (‘Nu brusa alla bäckar’, Evelyn Lindström). Written as the bottom voice for ‘Låt från Äppelbo, Dalarna. Notated by the vicar Johannes Skoglund.’ No. 2 also in Sång och spel 1951 (p. 114).
Hembygdens sång (‘Hembygdens sång, du är stål och malm’, Kerstin Hed). Voice and piano, 1937. Also for mixed choir and for ‘lovmanskör’ 1937.
Linblommornas visa (‘Linblommor blyga, linblommor blå’, Georg Granberg). One voice with piano, or unison, 1937.
Visa mig, Herre, Din väg. For mixed choir. (Psalt. 86:11). For mixed choir, 1937. Also in the appendix for Kyrkosångsförbundet 1937 no. 3.
Ett nytt advent (‘Genom dunkla vildmarkstöcken’, Bengt Wallman). Voice and piano or organ, 1938.
Luciasång (‘Nu vaknen och glädjens! Lucia är här’, Signe Hallström och Elisabeth Aulin). For one or two voices with piano or organ harmonium (or string quartet), 1938.
Skymningsvisa (‘Skymningen är som en smekning av kära händer’, Oscar Stjerne). Voice and piano, 1938.
Två små visor. Voice and piano, 1938. 1. Vår svenska sång, 2. Det är någon som sjunger.
Den heliga natten. Julsång. (‘Det svävar ett stilla, domnande sus’, Carl David af Wirsén). Voice and piano, 1940.
Fredsbön (‘Herre, giv världen fred!’, Magda Bergquist von Mirbach). For one voice with piano, 1940.
De ungas vårvisa (‘Vi äro våren i Sveriges land’, Hjalmar Ahlberg). One part with piano. In De unga sjunga 1941 (no. 1).
En solskensvisa (‘Solen lustigt skiner’, Evelyn Lindström). 3-part with piano in Solen lustigt skiner 1941 (no. 3) and two-part with piano in De unga sjunga 1941 (no. 4). Also for mixed voices 1945.
En vandringsvisa i skogen (‘Här är sång kring berg och backar’, Kerstin Hed). One voice with piano in De unga sjunga 1941 (no. 6).
Hantverkarsång (‘Till längesen framfarna dagar’, Paul Lundh). Voice and piano, 1941.
Sommarvandring (‘Himlen skiner sommargrann och blå’, Evelyn Lindström). One voice with piano. In De unga sjunga 1941 (no. 2).
Spelolles gånglåt (‘Löven grönska i sol’, Kerstin Hed). 3-part with violin and piano in Solen lustigt skiner 1941 (no. 2) and two-part with piano in De unga sjunga 1941 (no. 5).
Vår, vår! (‘Vår, vår, allt är förbytt’, Evelyn Lindström). 3-part with piano. In De unga sjunga 1941 (no. 1).
Ögonblå (‘Guldlockiga huvudet lade hon trött’, Oscar Stjerne). 3-part with piano in Solen lustigt skiner 1941 (no. 4) and unison with piano in De unga sjunga 1941 (no. 3).
Solen lustigt skiner. Songs for women’s or children’s choir [with piano], 1941. 1. Vår, vår!, 2. Spelolles gånglåt, 3. En solskensvisa, 4. Ögonblå, 5. Vår svenska sång.
De unga sjunga. En- och tvåstämmiga sånger för skolan och hemmet, 1941. 1. De ungas vårvisa, 2. Sommarvandring, 3. Ögonblå, 4. En solskensvisa, 5. Spelolles gånglåt, 6. En vandringsvisa i skogen.
Tänd dina spiror, frostiga advent (Nils Bolander). Voice and piano or organ, 1944.
Vår bygd (‘Finns en stoltare bygd’, Kerstin Hed). I. For mixed choir and piano, II: Solo or unison choir and piano, 1944.
Vinden blåser (‘Vinden blåser frisk och sval’, Beth Hennings), 1945. From the cantata Mot morgondagens land. Also unison in Sång och spel 1951 (p. 68).
En bergsmansmelodi (‘En sällsam aning oss tvang’, Bertil Waldén), from Krönikespel till Nora stads 300-års jubileum. Only the choral piece was published 1946.
Medelpad (‘Här går en väg från öst till väst’, Hjalmar Ahlberg). Voice and piano, 1949.
En jultrall (‘Vi ska binda kronor av skogens gröna blad’, Ingeborg Björk). In: Lasses visor, 1947. Also unison in Sång och spel 1951 (p. 183).
Ungdomens vårsång (‘Vi vandrar bland spirande gröna fält’, Ester Salminen). In: Lasses visor, 1947. Also unison in Sång och spel 1951 (p. 56).
Det eviga livet (‘Jag vet ett liv som återstår’, Nils Bolander). Voice and piano or organ, 1951.
Våraning (‘Har du hört, hur vinden viner’, Ester Salminen). One or two parts with piano. [year uncertain]. In Sång och spel 1951 (p. 70).

Unpublished songs
Bröllopsvisa (‘Knappt klockorna i kyrkans torn’, Nils Hedström). Voice and piano.
Lilienblüte (‘Lilienblüte weihe und behüte’ / ‘Altarlija, helga du vår vilja’, Flachsman). Voice and piano.
Tjänande händer (Nils Bolander). Mixed choir and organ.
För varje sår ditt hjärta får (J. Tegengren). Voice and piano.
Sverige (‘En björklövsdal med vattenblänk’, Paul Lundh). Voice and piano

Larger works for voice, choir and orchestra
Krönikespel till Nora stads 300-års jubileum. Comp 1943 (Bertil Waldén). From detta är körsatsen till En bergsmansmelodi published 1946.
Mot morgondagens land. Cantata for choir, solo, children’s choir and orchestra. (‘Tung vilar rymden’, Beth Hennings). Comp. 1945 for the inauguration of a new building for Högre allmänna läroverket för flickor på Södermalm. Piano vocal score and choir parts (also for mixed choir) published 1946. Sången Vinden blåser exists separately.
Krönikespel till Hedemora 500-års jubileum. For mixed choir and orch. Comp. 1946. (text Paul Lundh). Unpublished.
Jorden sjunger (Erik Blomberg). Comp. 1948. Unpublished. Composition is to have started already in 1921.

Instrumental works
Bröllopsmusik, 1939. 1. Bröllopsmarsch (Hochzeitsmarsch) for piano or organ, 2. Brudvals (Brautwalzer) for piano.
Il pastorello. Comp. 24 Nov. 1939 for my daughter Gudrun on her 10th birthday. Published in Pianolyrik, pub. by Fritjof Kjellberg (p. 20) 1949.
Sorgmusik (Musica funebre). For piano or organ, 1940

Unpublished instrumental works
Festmarsch. For wind orchestra.
Suite for orchestra. 1. Förspel, 2. Sorgmusik, 3. Menuett, 4. Bröllopsmarsch.
Trollhättesången. For string orchestra.
Vid Fåsjön. For piano.


Works by Ejnar Eklöf

This is not a complete list of works. The following works are those that have been inventoried so far.

Number of works: 1