Oscar Bolander (1840−1914)


Oscar Bolander was born in Stockholm on 30 December 1840 and died in the same city on 28 November 1914. He composed a few works in various genres, but rarely performed in public, and few of his pieces have survived. A register of his works shows piano music, organ music, cantatas and a string quartet. Bolander taught piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music for 37 years and was its director from 1905−1910.


Anders Oscar Bolander was born in Stockholm on December 30 1840 as the son of Maria Margareta (née Sundström) and second constable Anders Bolander. He was accepted at the age of 15 as a student at the educational institution of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music), where he studied, among other things, piano performance for Jan van Boom and composition for Hermann Berens and Ludvig Norman. He completed his studies with an organist and school cantor (primary school teacher and cantor) diploma on May 31 1865.

At the same time as the academy’s educational institution changed name to Kungliga Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music) in the spring of 1867, Bolander was hired as assistant piano teacher. He gave piano lessons to organ students and also taught harmony for several terms. It is not unlikely that van Boom, who had kept a close eye on his former student, helped him get the job. On van Boom’s suggestion, Bolander was named associate member of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien in 1868, and when van Boom became ill in 1872 and could no longer perform his duties as the head piano teacher at the conservatory, he recommended Bolander as his replacement. Bolander was, however, unavailable to take the position, and instead Hilda Thegerström got the job.

During the summer of 1868 Bolander was in Leipzig to study under the German piano pedagogue Louis Plaidy, who had previously had Edvard Grieg as a student. By then Bolander had been piano teacher at the Conservatory of Music in Stockholm for one and a half years − a position he would hold for a total of 37 years until the spring of 1904. His students included Emil Sjögren and Adolf Wiklund. At the end of 1903, just before he left his position as a teacher, he was named professor.

Oscar Bolander became a full member of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien in 1872 and became a permanent member of its administrative committee in 1892. When in 1905 he was named director of the conservatory, he joined a long list of notable Swedish musical personalities who headed the Academy of Music’s educational arm before him − including Joseph Martin Kraus, Georg Joseph Vogler, Olof Åhlström, Jacob Struve, Oscar Byström, and Albert Rubenson. Bolander retired at the end of 1910 and passed away four years later, on November 28 1914 at the age of nearly 74, in the city he was born and spent the majority of his life.


Oscar Bolander debuted as a composer on November 8 1862 with Vattenliljan, a work for soloist, choir and orchestra, which has not been preserved. It is unclear to what extent he focused on composition after this, but it is clear that he did not strive to spread his works or seek attention as a composer. The music journal Från tonernas värld plainly writes in 1904 that Bolander ‘hides himself from publicity with all his might’. According to Svensk musiktidning (4/1 1906) Bolander composed several piano pieces, cantatas, and a string quartet, but these works have not been found. Two smaller pieces for organ have been found in handwritten manuscripts: Minne af Ekenäs and Vid Ina Banérs död 1862. But by all accounts only one of Bolander’s works was ever printed: Albumblad in E major, a piano composition of the style Lied ohne Worte, which was published in the collection Musik för piano af svenska tonsättare in 1898.

An object of interest for music researchers is Oscar Bolander’s personal diary from the years 1901−13, in which he writes observations about the musical life and musical personalities he meets. The diary is part of the private collection of Henrik Bolander, who is Oscar Bolander’s great grandson, living in Lund.

Martin Edin © 2015
Trans. Nicole Vickers

Publications by the composer

Diary − privately owned (26/10 2015) by Henrik Bolander in Lund, grand grandson to Oscar Bolander.


Aftonbladet, 28 Nov. 1914.
‘Anders Oscar Bolander’, in: Klas Odén & Albin Hildebrand (eds), Svenskt porträttgallerin: XIV. Akademier samt vittra och lärda samfund, med biografiska uppgifter af K. G. Odén, Stockholm: Tullbergs förlag, 1904, pp. 120 and 140.
Assar, Assar Olsson: ‘Oscar Bolander: professor vid Kungl. musik-konservatoriet’, Från tonernas värld: Musiktidningens julnummer, 1904, p. 5.
‘Direktörsskiftet vid Musikkonservatoriet’, in: Svensk musiktidning, annual vol. 31, no. 1, 2 Jan. 1911, p. 2.
Hennerberg, C. F.: ‘Anders Oscar Bolander’, in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 5, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon 1925, p. 279.
Lindfors, Per: ‘Bolander, Anders Oscar’, in: Nils Bohman (ed.), Svenska män och kvinnor, vol. 1, Stockholm: Bonniers förlag, 1942, p. 390.
Norlind, Tobias: ‘Bolander, Oscar’, in: Allmänt musiklexikon, 2. rev. ed., vol. 1, Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand 1927, pp. 157−58.
Nyström, Pia & Elmquist, Anne-Marie: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien: matrikel 1771−1995, Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, 1996, pp. 88, 228 & 247.
‘Oscar Bolander’, in: Svensk musiktidning, annual vol. 26, no. 1, 4 Jan. 1906, pp. 1−2.
Stockholms dagblad, 29 Nov. 1914.
Törnblom, Folke: ‘Bolander, Oscar Andreas’, in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 1, Stockholm: Sohlman 1948, p. 563.
Uppström, Tore: Pianister i Sverige, Stockholm: Nordiska musikförlaget, 1973, p. 194.


Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens arkiv, Musik- och teaterbiblioteket ([Letters from Bolander to Kungl. Musikaliska akademien dated 16/12 1910], preserved among Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens protokoll, Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens protokoll, 15 Nov. 1867, Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens protokoll, 29 Jan. 1872, Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens protokoll, 12 Sep. 1872, Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens protokoll, 20 Feb. 1888)

Summary list of works

Vocal works with orchestra, chamber music (string quartet), works for piano, works for organ.

Collected works

Vocal works with orchestra
Vattenliljan, for solo, choir and orchestra, 1862 [mentioned but not found].
Several song cantatas [mentioned but not found].

Chamber music

String quartet [mentioned but not found].


Album leaf, Feuille d'album, printed in 1898.
Piano pieces [mentioned but not found].


Minne af Ekenäs.
Vid Ina Banérs död 1862.


Spiritual songs by J. H. Roman, arranged for mixed choir and piano.

Works by Oscar Bolander

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

Number of works: 1