David Wikander (1884−1955)

David Wikander, born on 21 July 1884 and died on 15 November 1955, was an organist and composer. In addition to his work as a composer and musician, he played an important role in the Swedish Church music reform of the 1930s and ‘40s, and was active as a music teacher. He received his training at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm. Wikander’s most important contribution as a composer and arranger is within church music, but it is through secular choral works, not least of all the heartfelt and lyrical ‘Kung Liljekonvalje’, that he was best known. He became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1941.

Life

David Wikander was born in Säfsnäs in Dalarna on 21 July 1884. He was the oldest in a family of six children, the son of Anna Helena (née Boström) and Per Anton Vikander, an elementary school teacher. He attended the Fjellstedska school in Uppsala and graduated in 1906. After that, he began to study at the Kungliga Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music) in Stockholm. There, he took the organist, cantor and music teaching examinations during 1909−10.

Wikander then worked as a music teacher at the Ateneum private school for girls in Stockholm from 1913 to 1927 and at the Matteus folkskola (the Matthew elementary school) from 1914 to 1944. He was appointed as organist at the Storkyrkan (the Stockholm Cathedral) in 1920, and here he participated in the founding of the educational institution connected to the church, Schola Cantorum in 1934, in which he invested a great deal of time and effort. From contemporary statements it seems that Wikander was a very capable and respected organist. When his friend Oskar Lindberg, himself a composer and organist, proposed Wikander for election into the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music), he argued that Wikander ‘without a doubt’ was ‘one of the country’s foremost church musicians.’

Wikander made major contributions to church music in Sweden during the first half of the 20th century. Alongside his work as an organist and teacher, he was a prolific composer and arranger of church music. He was additionally very active in the work of changing church music in Sweden during the 1930s and 1940s; he participated in the 1936 Swedish chorale book committee and the 1941 Swedish Liturgical Handbook committee. Wikander composed a number of melodies for the 1937 Swedish hymnal.

Wikander was elected to the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien in 1941 and received the royal Swedish medal, Litteris et artibus in 1952. That same year he retired as organist at the Storkyrkan. He died on 15 November 1955 at age 71. The choral conductor David Åhlén wrote in an obituary in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that Wikander had especially enriched church music literature, ‘it was all stellar work, in terms of both content and form.’ In the obituary the secular choral work ‘Kung Liljekonvalje’ was also highlighted.

Works

Sacred music

Wikander made an important contribution as a composer and arranger of church music. Much of this music has been published, both during his lifetime and after his death. Wikander’s church music consists mainly of choral music and music for organ, his own instrument. Composer Oskar Lindberg wrote that in his church music, Wikander showed an ‘exceptional sense of style’, and that this music was admired both in Sweden and in neighbouring countries.

Wikander’s church music works remain largely within traditional genres such as hymns, choir chorales, motets and masses. This music is also written mainly in traditional style – in some cases archaic – and many of these works have a clear and simple structure. They are characterized by a polyphonic compositional technique and the composer’s deft treatment of voice leading is clearly displayed. However, this repertoire covers a wide span. The composer explored different expressive tools - more romantic, richer harmonies, unusual meters and a floating tonality - but had one foot in the more traditionally austere polyphonic musical language. Wikander’s fine sense of melody, which many might associate primarily with his secular music, can also often be seen in his sacred music.

In many of his sacred works Wikander borrowed from older melodies. At times he allowed these melodies to form the basis of his own independent compositions, as in the Missa brevis in festis solemnibus for a cappella mixed choir (1951), where old church melodies from the 1100s and 1200s were combined with Wikander’s own melodies. At other times Wikander created arrangements in a more traditional sense, for example in ‘Det är en ros utsprungen’ and ‘Ett barn är fött på denna dag’.

One characteristic of Wikander’s church music that was emphasized during his lifetime was the music’s religious significance. As the organist and composer Karl-Erik Svedlund said about Wikander’s Påskhymn, it managed to inspire the listener to ‘experience the song as a sermon, a revelation of spiritual values’.

Some of Wikanders sacred choral works that are worth highlighting include Motett på Domsöndagen (1931) where the text ‘Uppvaknen, i kristne alla’ is dramatically construed with large, expressive leaps, and the beautiful ‘Ad perennis vitae fontem’ (1945), a hymn to a nearly one thousand-year-old text by Petrus Damiani (‘Till den oförgängligt rika livets källa’). One of Wikander’s major works is the cantata he composed for the 400th anniversary of Olavus Petri’s death (1952).

Among Wikanders works for organ that can be underscored are Passacaglia över koralen Jag ville lova och prisa (1944), Tre pingstmelodier (1950) and Julmusik över koralen En jungfru födde ett barn i dag (1951).

 ‘Kung Liljekonvalje’ and other secular music

The one composition by Wikander that has attracted the most attention is ‘Kung Liljekonvalje’. This choral piece was originally composed for men’s choir in 1919 and was published in that version already in 1920. In the beginning of the 1920s Wikander then reworked it for mixed choir, and it is this version that has become best known. It is dedicated to the Musikaliska sällskapet (the Music Society) in Stockholm, which at that time was led by David Åhlén. The piece achieved great popularity during Wikander’s lifetime, and since then has held a permanent place in Swedish choral repertoire.

‘Kung Liljekonvalje’ is a musical setting of Gustaf Fröding’s poem of the same name, taken from the poem cycle Strövtåg i hembygden (from Stänk och flikar, 1896). In Fröding’s melancholic poem we meet the lily-of-the-valley’s king who mourns his princess. Wikander’s secular music is characterized by a lyrical, romantic musical language, unlike much of his sacred music, and ‘Kung Liljekonvalje’ is a clear example of this. The musical textures in ‘Kung Liljekonvalje’ are quite varied and contain everything from a single melody in the introduction to a rich multi-part harmony at the end. The melody that carries the main sections of the work is particularly well written, beautifully elegiac with a hint of Swedish folk melodies. It spans a very large vocal range and is divided up within the composition between the different parts. In a refined manner, Wikander has combined his fine melodic line with colourful harmonies, creating a musical whole that shows itself to be a congenial interpretation of the text. Fröding’s poetry and Wikander’s music seem as closely intertwined as the various vocal lines of the music – like the threads in the ‘spider webs’ that the poem speaks of. Choral conductor Johannes Norrby described the musical texture as something very special: ‘To look for an equally beautifully sounding voice leading within all of our other Swedish a cappella literature would be to search in vain.’

Among Wikander’s secular music, his many fine sounding arrangements, in particular of Swedish folk songs, are as worthy of attention as his own choral pieces ‘Förvårskväll’ and ‘Dofta, dofta, vit syrén’, both of which are highly esteemed in Swedish choral repertoire. ‘Förvårskväll’ – with text by Ragnar Jändel – begins with a well-composed canon section where the men’s voices imitate the women’s voices. With simple elements Wikander has created a robust eight-part choral sound that nevertheless is characterised by clarity. The use of canon and other polyphonic techniques in ‘Förvårskväll’ is smooth and appears to be much less forced than in some of Wikander’s sacred choral works.

Two of Wikander’s secular works with a more challenging musical language include the setting of Erik Axel Karlfeldt’s ‘Vinterorgel’ from 1948 for mixed choir and baritone, and the setting of Hjalmar Gullberg’s ‘Vid Kap Sunion’ for mixed choir. In both of these Wikander has given the interval of the perfect fourth  an important role.

Per-Henning Olsson © 2016
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson

Bibliography

David Wikander’, in: NE Online.
David Wikander's works list, on the website for Svensk Musik Swedmic AB.
Connor, Herbert: Svensk musik, vol. 2, Från Midsommarvaka till Aniara, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1977.
Frieberg, Britta: ‘Wikander, David’, in: Tonkonsten, vol. 2, pp. 1320−1321, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1957.
Hedell, Kia: ‘Svenska körer sjunger svenskt?’: Presentation av och reflektioner kring en kartläggning av svensk musik i fyra körers repertoar, Uppsala: Department of Musicology, 2007.
Månsson, Ingemar: ‘Ett skogsvindsackord. Kung Liljekonvalje av Gustaf Fröding och David Wikander’, in: Kyrkomusikernas tidning, vol. 11, 1994, pp. 222−223.
Månsson, Ingemar: Kung Liljekonvalje : essäer om körmusik, Slite: Wessmans musikförlag, 2006.
Norrby, Johannes: ‘Körinstruktion i radio. Till programmet den 29 januari’, in: Vår Sång. Tidskrift för det folkliga musiklivet, Dec. 1949.
Svedlund, Karl-Erik: ‘Nutida svenska kompositörer. IX. David Wikander’, in: Vår Sång. Tidskrift för det folkliga musiklivet, July−Aug. 1947. [Includes a list of works written up to 1947.]
Wallner, Bo: ‘Wikander, David’, in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 5, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1977, p. 810.
Weman, Henry: ‘David Wikander’, in: Kyrkosångsförbundet, April 1944, p. 43.

Summary list of works

Orchestral music (Introduction and fugue for string orchestra), vocal works with orchestra (Cantata for the 1954 consecration of the Storkyrkan and Olaus Petri minne: cantata), organ music (Christmas music on the chorale En jungfru födde ett barn idag, Meditation for organ, Passacaglia on the chorale Jag ville lova och prisa, etc.), song and piano/organ (Eldbegängelsepsalm: chorale partita on the chorale ‘Nu tystne de klagande ljuden’, and Ur djupet av min själ, etc.), a cappella choir (Förvårskväll, Kung Liljekonvalje, Missa brevis in festis solemnibus, Mässa, etc.).

Collected works

The majority of the dates are based on information from Karl-Erik Svedlund's ‘Nutida svenska kompositörer. IX. David Wikander’ in Vår Sång. Tidskrift för det folkliga musiklivet (July-Aug. 1947) as well as the website for Svensk Musik Swedmic AB.

Orchestra
Introduction and fugue for string orchestra, undated autograph.

Vocal works with orchestra
Cantata for the rededication of Stockholm Cathedral 1954 (Gabriel Grefberg), sop., bar., mixed choir, children’s choir, organ and string orchestra, 1954. Stockholm: Svensk Musik Swedmic AB.
Olaus Petri minne: Cantata (Robert Murray), 1952, ten., mixed choir, organ and string orchestra. Stockholm: Svensk Musik Swedmic AB.

Organ
Elegy F-sharp minor, 1912. Stockholm: Runa nototext, 1996.
Introduction and fugue G major, 1912. Stockholm: Runa nototext, 1996.
Guds rena Lamm oskyldig, organd chorale, 1920s.
Förlossningen är vunnen, orgelkoral, 1920s.
Passacaglia on the chorale Jag ville lova och prisa, 1944.  Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1957 (from Musica organi. III: 31 orgelkompositioner av nutida skandinaviska tonsättare).
Hit o Jesu samloms vi, 1944. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget 1945
Tre pingstmelodier. Chorale prelude, 1950. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1951.
Julmusik över koralen En jungfru födde ett barn idag, 1951. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1951.
Preludes for all the chorales of the Swedish chorale book (arr: Oskar Lindberg, Henry Weman and David Wikander). Stockholm, 1940
Himmelriket är nära: Little prelude and passacaglia on the chorale Jesus från Nasaret. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget 1948.
Meditation for organ, Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1959.

Voice and piano/organ
Det brinner en stjärna i Österland: Christmas song, voice and piano/organ. Stockholm: Abr. Lundquist AB Musikförlag, 1937.
Eldbegängelsepsalm: chorale partita on the chorale ‘Nu tystne de klagande ljuden’ (Samuel Gabrielsson), voice and organ. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget 1948.
En höstvisa (Emil Kléen), voice and piano.
Morgon väntar dig på dolda stränder (Pär Lagerkvist), voice and piano/organ. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget 1948.
Saliga äro de döda (Book of Revelations 14:13), voice and piano/organ. Stockholm: Elkan & Schildknecht, 1921.
Three songs. 1. I västerled, 2. Visa i lustgården, 3. Nocturne (Johan Skog and Bertel Gripenberg). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, [n.d.].
Tyst serenad (Sigurd Agrell), voice and piano. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget 1951.
Ur djupet av min själ, voice and piano, 1937. Stockholm: Svensk Musik Swedmic AB.
Vi på jorden leva här (Martin Luther), voice and piano/organ. Stockholm: Elkan & Schildknecht, 1921.

Choir with accompaniment
Höjen jubel (Psalm 100), mixed choir and organ, 1933. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1933. Premiere Stockholm Cathedral, Stockholm at the introductory mass for the First nordic church musicians’ meeting 5 May 1933.
Såsom hjorten trängtar (Psalms 42:2,3, Isaiah 55:1, Rev. 22:14 and 17 as well as the Swedish hymnal 216:1), mixed choir and organ, 1933. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, [n.d.].
Psalm 126 in Book of Psalms (Psalm 126), solo voice, 3 part women's choir and organ, 1947. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1948.
För sent (Bo Bergman), 3 part women’s choir and piano. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1934.
Gammal sorg (Anders Österling), 3 part women’s choir and piano. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1949.
Lovsång (Psalm 104), two part women’s or children’s choir, two violins and piano or organ. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1955.
Melodi (Bo Bergman), 3 part women’s choir and piano. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1934.
Nu löser solen sitt blonda hår (Pär Lagerkvist), 3 part women’s choir and piano. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1949.

Mixed choir a cappella
Kung Liljekonvalje (arr. of the men’s choir composition), early 1920s. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1946.
Förvårskväll (Ragnar Jändel), 1920s. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1950.
Påskhymn (‘Sitt öga Jesus öppnat har’), 1920s. Stockholm: Sveriges körförbunds förlag, 1930.
Adventshymn (‘Var välsignad, högt välsignad’, Edvard Evers), 1920s. Stockholm: Sveriges körförbunds förlag, 1931.
Det sitter en duva, 1931.
Konung Gustaf och dalkarlarna, 1931.
Underbar syn, 1931.
Uppvaknen, I kristna alla (Motet for the Feast of Christ the King), 1931.
Dessa som äro klädda (Motet for All Saints’ Day, Rev. 7:13-17), 1932.
Nu stige jublets ton, melody from the medieval era (In dulci jubilo, choral piece by Wikander, text: anon., trans.: J. A. Eklund), 1933. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1933.
Det är en ros, choir chorale, 1933.
Var kristtrogen, choir chorale, 1933.
Välsignat vare Jesu namn, chorale motet, melody from the 1500s (choral piece by Wikander, text: Swedish hymnal 64: 1, 4), 1937. Stockholm: Sveriges körförbunds förlag, 1938.
Sitt öga Jesus öppnat har, chorale motet, 1937.
Veni, sancte Spiritus, chorale motet, 1937.
Gud över oss förbarmar sig, chorale motet, 1937.
Chorale mass on motives from Swedish Christmas traditions from reformation times, 1930s. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1936.
Advent hymn (‘Fröjda dig storligen’, Zach. 9:9 and Psalm 24:9-10), 1941. Stockholm: Nordiska
musikförlaget, 1941.
Passion week hymn (‘Gud har icke skonat’), 1941.
Easter hymn (‘Gud har uppväckt’), 1941.
Misskundlig Gud (Swedish hymn 254:6-7,9), choir chorale, 1941. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1941.
En jungfru födde ett barn, choir chorale, 1942.
Huru ljuvliga äro icke (Psalm 84), mixed choir and organ with solo, 1942.
Ur djupen ropar jag (Psalm 130), 1943. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget.
Hymn: Ad perennis vitae fontem (All Saints’ Day, ‘Till den oförgängligt rika källa trår min själ’,
Petrus Damiani, trans.: J. A. Eklund), 1945. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1949.
Konung i det höga, choir chorale (Swedish hymn 2:2-4), 1945. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1945.
Fördolda råd, choir chorale, 1945. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1946.
Pris vare Gud, choir chorale, 1946. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1947.
Statt upp, var ljus (Is. 60:1-3), 1946. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1947.
Mass, 1947. Stockholm: Musikaliska konstföreningen, David Wikander.
Om I ären uppståndna med Kristus, Motet for Ascension Day (Col. 3:1-4), 1947. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1947.
Missa brevis: in Festis solemnibus: old church melodies from the 1100s and 1200s, 1951. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1951.
Vinterorgel (‘Ditt tempel är mörkt’, Erik Axel Karlfeldt), mixed choir and organ with bar. solo, 1948. Stockholm: Gehrmans musikförlag, 1951.
10 chorale motets. Stockholm: Abr. Lundquist AB Musikförlag, 1946.
Prayer for Good Friday: based on the Mozarabic liturgy. Stockholm: Svenska kyrkans diakonistyrelses bokförlag, 1945.
Dig, Herre Gud, är ingen lik. Stockholm: Svenska kyrkans diakonistyrelses bokförlag, [n.d.].
Dig, himmelens och jordens skapare: Heliga Trefaldighets dag (Oscar Krook). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1949.
Dofta, dofta, vit syrén (Emil Kléen). Stockholm: Abr. Lundquist AB Musikförlag, [n.d.] Compare Dofta, dofta for men’s choir. It was likely composed for men’s choir first.
Drömmar äro våra tankar (Pär Lagerkvist). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget.
En dalande dag (Johannes Johnson, trans.: O. R. Hallberg and C. O. Mannström). Älvsjö: Frikyrkliga studieförbundet, Moderna läsare, 1975.
För vilsna fötter sjunger gräset (Hjalmar Gullberg). Stockholm: Gehrmans musikförlag, 1951.
Kom frälsta hjord. Stockholm: Svenska kyrkans diakonistyrelses bokförlag, [n.d.].
Kyrie eleison: melody from the 900s (choral piece by Wikander). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1958.
Se detta är dagen, som Herren oss gör (psalm[text] by A.F. Runstedt). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1955.
Skyn, blomman och en lärka (Hjalmar Gullberg). Stockholm: Gehrmans musikförlag, 1951.
Snabbt jagar stormen (Erik Axel Karlfeldt). Stockholm: Sveriges körförbunds förlag, 1951.
Så gamla äro alla moln (Pär Lagerkvist). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget.
Vid Kap Sunion (Hjalmar Gullberg). Stockholm: Gehrmans musikförlag, 1951.
Vårsång (O. Svenonius). Stockholm: Abr. Lundquist AB Musikförlag, [n.d.].

Various arrangements.

Women’s choir a cappella
Det brinner en stjärna (Paul Nilsson). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1940.
Våren är ung och mild (from ‘Midsommar’ by Bengt E. Nyström). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1950.
Ung sommar (‘Nu smyckar sommaren vårt land’, Gabriel Jönsson). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1950.
Visa (‘Alla de blommande snåren strö sina dofter i vinden’, Bengt E. Nyström). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1950.

Men’s choir a cappella
Kung Liljekonvalje (Gustaf Fröding), 1919. Stockholm: Gehrmans musikförlag, [n.d.] Compare Kung Liljekonvalje for mixed choir and organ, an arr. of the original for men’s choir.
Paradisets timma (‘När människorna sova vid sommarnattens sken’, Verner von Heidenstam), 1939. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, cop. 1939, printed. 1956.
Stjärntändningen, 1941.
I världen är jag blott, 1944.
O huru sälla, choir chorale, 1944.
Saliga de, choir chorale, 1944.
Den svarte riddaren (Bo Bergman). Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1955.
Dofta, dofta, vit syrén (Emil Kléen). Compare Dofta, dofta for mixed choir and organ. It was likely composed for men’s choir first. Sällskapet för kvartettsångens befrämjande.
Gud är vår tillflykt (Psalm 46), for bar. solo and men’s choir. Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1946.
Venite, exsultemus Domino (Psalm 95). Stockholm: Triangelförlaget, 1959.


Works by David Wikander

There are no works by the composer registered