Albert Esaias Lindström was born on 24 April 1853 in Stockholm and died on 12 January 1935 in the same city. He was an organist in Stockholm at Blasieholmen Church during 1871−91 and at St James’s Church from 1891 to 1926 where he made important contributions as an arranger and publisher of songbooks for several Christian organizations. His productivity as a composer was limited and focuses solely on church music (works for organ, choir, as well as solo songs). Albert Lindström was voted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1919.
Background and studies
Albert Lindström was born in Klara parish in Stockholm, the son of a merchant. His home life was influenced by Low Church piety and his father, Gustaf Adolf Lindström, served alongside his regular job as a church organist at Betlehemskyrkan (Bethlehem Church) that was part of the Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen (Evangelical fatherland’s foundation). Albert Lindström became motherless at age five. At 16 years of age he was accepted as a student at the Kungliga Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music) where he studied organ with Gustaf Mankell. Through Mankell’s lessons he gained a good deal of the playing technique and the interpretive ideals found in the French school of organ playing. Lindström also became an early promoter in Sweden of French ‘symphonic’ organ music by composers such as Charles-Marie Widor and Alexandre Guilmant.
Work as an organist
In 1871 Albert Lindström took his first job as organist at Blasieholm Church. After graduating with a degree in organ performance the following year, he continued taking private lessons from Sweden’s leading organ virtuoso, Wilhelm Heintze, but likely not before the 1880s when Heintze replaced Mankell as the organist at St James’s Church. Those with whom he studied solo singing included Fritz Arlberg and Julius Günther, who was a professor at the Musikkonservatoriet. Lindström completed his degree in precentorship in 1889 (the relatively late date of completion can be explained by the fact that this degree was initiated only in 1881 and did not exist during Lindström’s student years at the conservatory).
In 1891 Albert Lindström was chosen as the organist at St James’s Church after a complicated process in which he was considered as an applicant for the position only after having lodged a complaint about the original list of eligible applicants for the job – and then his was the third and last name on the list. He won the job with only a small margin over Aron Bergenson who was known mainly for his tutoring in harmony. As the organist of this centrally located church in Stockholm, Lindström came to safeguard at the highest level the continental tradition of organ playing that both his two teachers and predecessors, Mankell and Heintze, had laid the foundation for.
Lindström concertised often as an organist, both in his hometown and in other parts of Sweden. His repertoire included organ symphonies by Charles-Marie Widor. Lindström was considered one of the country’s leading organ virtuosos, even though his younger colleague, Gustaf Hägg, eventually overshadowed him. He was often hired as a consultant and a controller for organ building projects. Among his foremost organ students was Otto Olsson who would later become a professor in organ performance at the Kungliga Musikkonservatoriet; it was Lindström who premiered Olsson’s first organ symphony in 1905. He also worked as a choir director including for the men’s choir Stockholms allmänna sångförening 1891−97 and for the choir of the W6 Society during 1891−1901.
Involvement with church singing
An important side of Lindström’s musical career was his involvement with spiritual song. He was the editor for a number of song books as well as being responsible for the musical portion of a very lavish edition of Johann Christian Friedrich Hæffner’s chorale book for the 1819 edition of the Swedish hymn book, including music for the Mass, supplemented with a large number of newer songs – among them some originally from the Moravian tradition, as well as rhythmised versions of some of the chorale book’s melodies. Through this ‘appendix’, Lindström could combine his loyalty to Hæffner’s legacy with his openness to other traditions, especially those from various revivalist movements. Lindström’s reputation as an arranger and editor for Swedish church and free church song books is expressed in the following lines from the foreword of the 1904 edition of the music to Svenska Baptistsamfundets song book Psalmisten:
[T]he final editing work [was assigned] to the often-hired composer and prominent organist at St James’s Church in Stockholm, director Albert Lindström. As we know, he has edited several larger and smaller song collections, among them (older editions of) Psalmisten, Sionstoner and Nya Pilgrimssånger. This experience, gained partly through the work on these books and the review of them, has naturally increased the possibilities that, in this book, something is brought forth that surely shall meet all of the praiseworthy requirements of a good songbook.
Albert Lindström was also active in business life. In 1905 he became CEO for Gustaf Pettersson & Co. AB, a seller of pianos and harmoniums. His pedagogic vein came to be expressed in a succinct tutor of harmonium playing that was published in 12 editions during his lifetime.
Albert Lindström received the Royal Swedish medal Litteris et artibus in 1906 and became a member of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien in 1919. He left his position as organist in 1926 and the following year retired from the Gustaf Pettersson company.
Albert Lindström’s work as a composer was limited both in scope and focus. Except for an ‘Högtidsmarsch’ (Festive March) for organ, he composed only religious music and spiritual songs, especially the latter. With the exception of songs for men’s choir, the boundaries between congregational songs and songs for choir are hard to draw since Lindström, in the tradition of Hæffner, composed his songs in strict four-part choral settings.
His best known composition is the church song, ‘Jag kan icke räkna dem alla’, with a text by Lina Sandell-Berg, was composed in 1889 for the first edition of the Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen’s songbook, Sionstoner, and was then included in numerous church and free church song books, including Den svenska psalmboken in editions from 1937 and 1986. In the Swedish-American collection, Hemlandssånger (with the first edition in 1892) he is represented by a large number of songs. Some of his melodies, including ‘Jag kan icke räkna dem alla’, can also be found in North American English-language hymnals. Several of Lindström’s spiritual songs have a stylistic connection to melodies from the revival movement with varied rhythms and frequent dotted notes. However there are also compositions in a more general style typical of the time and at least one example of a chorale melody in the style of Hæffner with an even rhythm in half notes.
Albert Lindström made a more comprehensive effort in the arrangements of other composers’ melodies. Among others, he arranged Oscar Ahnfeldt’s sacred songs for mixed choir, and did arrangements of accompaniments (normally in the form of a four-part choral setting) to a large number of hymns and spiritual songs while acting as the editor for music publications of hymnals and songbooks for various denominations, including Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen (Sionstoner) and Svenska baptistsamfundet (Psalmisten). His choral arrangement of Adolphe Adam’s ‘Julsång’ (originally for men’s choir; arranged for mixed choir in Musik till Sionstoner) is often performed even today.
Albert Lindström also arranged a great deal for the harmonium and the organ. One of his arrangements that was often played during his life time was Sorgmarsch vid Carl XV:s begravning (Funeral March for King Charles XV), composed by the hovkapellmästare (chief conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra/Hovkapellet), Conrad Nordqvist.
Sverker Jullander © 2016
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson
Publications by the composer
Praktisk orgelharmoniumskola för nybörjare, Stockholm: Palmquist, 1887 (12th ed. 1930).
Edholm, Dag: S:ta Cecilias tjänare − om kyrkomusikens utövare i Stockholm under fem århundraden, Stockholm: Edvard Vincents orgelstiftelse, 2002.
Hagdahl, Kia, Malmros, Bernt, Åberg, Mats och Kjellberg, Erik: S:t Jacobs kyrka i musikhistorien 1993–1643: 350 år i backspegeln, Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, Institutionen för musikvetenskap, 1993.
Lundberg, Mattias, ‘Albert Lindströms koralbok’, in: Musik- och teaterbloggen 2012-10-31, http://statensmusikverk.se/musikochteaterbloggen/2012/10/31/manadens-raritet-albert-lindstroms-koralbok/ (last accessed 2014-01-21).
Percy, Gösta, ‘Lindström, Albert’, in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 4, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1952.
Waldenby, Michael: Människor, myter och musik: Senromantikens inflytande på kyrkomusikens utveckling i Stockholm under 1900-talet, Stockholm: Verbum, 2002.
Wallin, Nils, ‘Lindström, Albert’, in: Svenska män och kvinnor, vol. 5, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1949.
Scenkonstmuseet Stockholm, Musik- och teaterbiblioteket Stockholm, Stockholms stadsarkiv, Uppsala universitetsbibliotek.
Summary list of works
Organ music (Högtidsmarsch), arrangements for organ and pump organ (Funeral March for King Carl XV etc.), spirituals and hymns (Jag kan icke räkna dem alla, etc.), choral music, arrangements for men’s choir and mixed choir (spiritual songs by Ahnfelt).
This list of works is not comprehensive
Högtidsmarsch, Stockholm: Elkan & Schildknecht, n.d. .
Organ and harmonium arrangements
Organ album, book 1, Stockholm: Abraham Hirsch, n.d.
Melody album for harmonium. 50 folk melodies, folk songs, hymns, chorales, etc., Stockholm: Abraham Lundqvist, n.d. .
Vid orgelharmoniet. 50 selected hymns… .
Funeral March for King Carl XV, composed by Conrad Nordqvist, Stockholm: Abraham Lundqvist, n.d.
Chopins Sorgen [Funeral March].
Funeral March for Oscar II, by Conrad Nordqvist. (Stockholm: Wibergska musikförlaget, n.d.)
Published in Psalmisten, Sionstoner (ST), 1889, and Hemlandssånger, 1892, and other song collections.
Ditt ord, o Jesu, skall bestå.
Djupt sjunker året (ST 401).
Du har ju lofvat, Herre.
En korsfäst konung höfves (ST 252).
För hedningarnas skara (ST 294a).
Gud, som all vishets källa är (another melodi in ST).
Hvart du går, o, låt mig följa (ST 221).
I årets första morgonstund.
Jag har en krona att förlora (ST 237).
Jag kan icke räkna dem alla (ST 8).
Jag ser Guds spar.
Jesus, Jesus, gör mig stilla.
Mig kläd i helig prydnad.
Min ljufva tröst.
Staden därofvan är härlig (ST 357).
Statt upp, min själ (ST 170).
Syndernas förlåtelse (ST 162).
Tack och pris ske Herren (ST 429).
Ack det finnes ett land, in: Repertoar, S.B.S. häfte 2, Eskilstuna: Sångens förlag, n.d.
Arrangements for choir
Jordens klagan, arr. of a Swedish folk melody, Stockholm: Centraltryckeriet, 1882.
Julsång by Adolphe Adam, arr. for solo and men’s choir, Stockholm: Elkan & Schildknecht, n.d. /also arr. for solo and mixed choir.
Arrangements in editions of song collections and chorale books
Andliga sånger, some composed, some collected and published by Oscar Ahnfelt; arranged and harmonised for soprano, alto, tenor and bass by Albert Lindström, Stockholm: Fosterlands-Stiftelsens Förlags-Expedition, 1885, 4th ed. 1919.
Melodier till Barnens sångbok. Selected older and newer songs, collected and published by Sunday School teachers in Stockholm. Arranged partly for two or three children’s voices and accompaniment, and for soprano, alto, tenor and bass, as well as some for four-part men’s choir, Stockholm: Palm & Stadling, 1881.
Melodier till Nya Pilgrimssånger i notskrift, Stockholm, 1891.
Sionstoner: Sångbok för den kristliga andakten, Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen, 1889.
Musik till Psalmisten, partly arr. harmonised and composed for S.A.T.B. by Albert Lindström, Stockholm: Palm & Stadling, 1883 [1881?].
Musik till Psalmisten: Sånger till enskilt och offentligt begagnande, arranged for soprano, alto, tenor and bass, Stockholm: B.-M:s bokförlag, 1904, 3rd ed. 1922.
Musik till Tempelklockan, sånger för nykterhetsmöten, fester och andra högtidliga tillfällen, pub. by J. Th. Jacobsson, 1885.
Samtliga Goodtemplar-logers sångbok, 1884.
Svenska Psalmboken, including J. C. F. Hæffner’s published chorales to all the hymns of the Swedish Church as well as music for the mass, transposed to a key most suited to the vocal range of the general public, also in parts, and for organ or piano, 1892, 2nd ed. 1899.
Tio sånger för mansröster, Stockholm: Palmquist, 1891.
Urval af Andeliga sånger, some composed, some collected and published by Oscar Ahnfelt; arranged in quartet for men’s voices, Stockholm, 1879.