Anders Peter (Per) Fröding was born on 26 March 1850 in Gothenburg and died in the same city on 10 January 1939. He was an engineer, bookkeeper and amateur composer. Fröding was primarily active in the private music milieus in Gothenburg during the decades around 1900, and his compositions are adapted to the musical conditions that existed there. He composed piano works, chamber music and songs.
Background, education and career
Per Fröding is one example of the many amateur composers who participated in the bourgeois music scene during the decades around 1900. Musical creativity was thus often limited to ‘compositions required for the household’ including minor piano pieces and songs; in Fröding’s oeuvre however, one can also find sonatas, string quartets and piano trios. A half-dozen works were published during his lifetime but his compositions mostly seem to have been directed toward the private music circles in which Fröding moved. That his creative output rarely reached public audiences may explain the scant amount of documentation about him during his lifetime, as well as why he never received a closer look in descriptions of music history.
Per Fröding was born on 26 March 1850 in Gothenburg. His parents were the merchant Anders Fröding and Johanna Augusta Bergendahl who both belonged to wealthy Gothenburg merchant families. They have no relation to the well-known Värmland Fröding family.
The family’s wealth and social standing ensured that Per and his siblings received a good education, which also included music. That artistic interests were cultivated within the family is visible not only in Per’s musical interests, but also in his brother Hugo Fröding’s (1842−1930) literary successes in his older years with works of literature and cultural history.
A career in the arts was, however, not an obvious choice in that contemporary affluent social stratum. While the brothers had careers in trade, diplomacy and the military, Per Fröding began by breaking into a more technical path. After studying in Uppsala and Stockholm – graduating in engineering in 1874 – he worked as a mechanical draftsman for different industries in Sweden, England, Belgium and the U.S.A. Afterward, beginning in 1886, he worked as an administrator in the family company, A. Fröding & Co.
In musical circles
By all accounts Per Fröding was a skilled pianist and likely also played a string instrument, as well as performing as a chorister. It is hard to completely identify all of his is activities within private music milieux, however he was a member of the Harmoniska sällskapet (the Harmonic Society) – in whose concert activities he took part – and the more private social fraternities, Göta Par Bricole and Sundbergska kvartettsällskapet (Sundberska’s quartet society). He was given an honorary membership in the latter. These activities gave him access to the inner circles of musical life in Gothenburg.
Through these musical societies Fröding was able to have his compositions performed: his suite for piano was performed (probably with the composer as soloist) at a public concert presented by the Harmoniska sällskapet in 1887, and at the Sundbergska kvartettsällskapet’s soirées his string quartets and a violin sonata were played on several occasions. The titles of some of Fröding’s compositions bear witness to the fact that they were created for private and special occasions, for example, ‘Marsch för kontoristföreningen’ (March for the clerks’ association) and ‘‘Gaffel-bitar’ för stråkinstrumenter’ (‘Fork-bits’ for string instruments). One of his violin sonatas (E-flat major) together with a few songs and piano pieces were published, however these compositions received no particular attention in the music press.
At the end of the 1890s Fröding took part in the collecting of folk songs that was initiated by the author and ethnologist of folk life August Bondeson, which resulted in the epoch-making book of folk songs, August Bondesons visbok: folkets visor sådana de lefva och sjungas ännu i vår tid (1901−03).
Per Fröding, who never married, died in Gothenburg on 10 January 1939. After his death an extensive collection of hand-written musical scores of his compositions and arrangements were donated to the library of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music).
In terms of dating Per Fröding’s extant works, it seems that he composed primarily before 1900. The lion’s share of compositions is made up of piano music: two sonatas, one suite, a pair of variations and over fifty character pieces, mainly in smaller forms. In his creative output there are also ten or so chamber music works and songs.
Fröding’s many unpublished works have not been the object of closer analysis. His published works, however, show that his creations were those of an amateur, consistently easy-to-play compositions with a technically simple movement formulation. The music is however, not without acuity; the musical interpretation of Tennyson's ‘Ring Out, Wild Bells’ begins convincingly and the opening theme of the neo-baroque piano piece ‘Gavotte in G minor’ is spiritual.
Fröding’s ability to create longer lines of tension and to maintain an engaging expression throughout a composition tends to fail, partly because of a lack of advanced skill in developing motifs, themes and an organic harmony. When elaborating on a theme, he falls easily into a sort of stereotypical sequential formulation. His application of the concept of sonata and rondo forms is rudimentary. The clearest expressions of compositional weaknesses are found in major forms, such as the violin sonata in E-flat major.
Stylistically, Fröding’s published works give an eclectic impression of sounds from classicism as well as contemporary sensibilities. Turn of the century national romanticism, however, seems not to have left any deeper traces in his music.
Dan Olsson © 2016
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson
Berg, Wilhelm: Bidrag till musikens historia i Göteborg 1754−1892, Göteborg: Wettergren & Kerber, 1914.
Bondeson, August: August Bondesons visbok: folkets visor, sådana de lefva och sjungas ännu i vår tid, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1903.
Cederblom, Staffan och Nils de Frumerie (eds): Sundbergska kvartettsällskapet 1884−1984, Göteborg: Bosc Bokförlag, 1984.
Hildebrand, Bengt: ‘G Hugo Fröding’, in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 16, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1964.
Långström, Erland & Stern, Gustaf: Biografier samlade och utgivna Erland Långström & Gustaf Stern, Göteborg: Pehrsson, 1919.
Göta Par Bricoles medlemsmatriklar, years 1886−1915.
Svensk Musiktidning, no. 8 1887, no. 12 1890.
Åkerlund, Axel: Musiklivet inom Göta Par Bricole, Göteborg: Brusewitz, 1918.
Musik- och teaterbiblioteket.
Summary list of works
Chamber music (2 string quartets, 2 violin sonatas, piano trio, etc.), piano music (2 sonatas, variations and more than 50 character pieces), songs (ca 20) and choral works.
Sonata for violin and piano, E-flat major. Stockholm: Abr. Lundquist, n.d. (no. 4532).
Gavotte and Ariette, from Suite G minor for piano, Stockholm: Elkan & Schildknecht, 1896 (no. 1612). [The suite is not preserved in its entirety].
Two poems by Ellen Lundberg set to music by Per Fröding, Göteborg: Gumpert, n.d.
Nyårsklockan (A. Tennyson) for solo voice and piano, Leipzig: Röder, n.d.
Compositions in autograph
Music for string quartet
String quartet F major, 1921.
String quartet G major, 1899/rev. 1900 [with newly composed Finale].
Adagio cantabile, for string quartet, 1896.
Andante A minor, for string quartet, n.d.
Gavotte, for string quartet, n.d.
Gaffel-bitar for string instruments, 1889 (2 vl., vla, vlc.)
Other chamber music
Piano trio D minor, n.d.
Violin sonata C minor, 1885.
Violin sonata E-flat major, 1896 (likely identical to the published sonata).
Andante G major, for violin and piano, 1885.
Funeral march on the death of Viktor Rydbergs. For flute and piano, 1895.
Fyra skizzer, for piano-forte, 1871. 1. Lugn, 2. Gnabb, 3, Ånger, 4. Försoning och glädje.
Sonata for piano D major, 1872.
Sonata for piano F minor, 1872.
Menuet B-flat major, for piano four hands, 1874.
Menuet E minor, for piano four hands, 1875.
Thema and variations for piano, 1888.
Variations on a Swedish polska, 1879.
Minor piano works (in alphabetical order)
Andante E major, 1877.
Danse des fées, n.d.
Fantaisie sur deux airs suèdois, 1883.
Fantasistycke E minor, 1870.
Fantasistycke D major, 1888.
Fuga à quattro voci, 1878.
Impromptu C minor, 1886.
Impromptu G minor, 1890.
Impromptu G major, 1898.
Invention à 3 voci, 1870.
Lied ohne Worte, E major, 1875.
Lied ohne Worte, E-flat major, 1875.
Lied ohne Worte, B-flat major, 1876.
Marche E major, n.d.
March E-flat major, 1876.
March C major, written for the kontoristföreningen, n.d.
Menuet F major, 1876.
Menuet B-flat major, 1878.
”Menuet in the style of the early 1700s”, B minor, n.d.
Piano piece E-flat major, 1875.
Piano piece A-flat major, 1877.
Piano piece C minor, 1878.
Piano piece E-flat major, 1889.
Polska E minor, 1882.
Polska B-flat major, 1886.
Romance F-sharp major, 1876.
Romance E-flat major, 1898.
Romance A major, n.d.
Scherzo B-flat major, 1875.
Scherzo F major, 1876.
Scherzo E-flat major, 1877.
Scherzo D major, n.d.
Valse de salon G minor, 1877.
Vals G major, 1898.
Valse brillante A-flat major, 1898 (also 1 version for 2 pianos, 4 h.)
Valse G major, 1901.
Valse caprice F major, 1903.
Visa i folkton, 1886.
Prelude and fugue for organ, 1867.
Vintergatan (Z. Topelius), for solo voice, choir and piano, 1870.
Sommarmorgon (Montgomery-Cederhielm) for men’s quartet, n.d.
Songs for solo voice and piano
Five songs by Thomas Moore for one voice with piano, 1885. 1. Det komma skall en sorgestund, 2. När kring la piazzetta, 3. Rösten, 4. Ro sakta här, 5. När den blänker, den fyllda pokalen.
Two songs to texts by H. Montgomery-Cederhielm for one voice with piano, 1929. 1. Det är vår, 2. Månsken vid havet.
Individual songs (in alphabetical order)
Ack, giv mig ett hjärta, n.d.
Bönhörelse (W. von Braun) n.d.
Då jag var ett litet barn, n.d.
Gretas visa (M. Koch), n.d.
I himlen blott bor friden (Th. Moore), 1885.
I natten (V. Rydberg), n.d.
Irrskenet på heden (Z. Topelius), n.d. (incomplete, the ending is missing).