Edouard Du Puy (ca 1770−1822)


Jean Baptiste Edouard Louis Camille Du Puy, born ca 1770 in Neuchâtel in Switzerland, died 3 April 1822 in Stockholm. Here he was employed at the Royal Court Orchestra as concertmaster between 1793–99 and as its chief conductor between 1812−22. He was a highly regarded violinist and conductor and even a popular singer in several stage roles. Edouard Du Puy composed in most genres, from drawing-room ballads to dramatic music in the French style.


Edouard Du Puy’s origins are unclear and there is no reliable date of his birth. He demonstrated a talent for music at an early age and as a young boy took lessons in violin (mainly) and performed. At about the age of 12 he went to Paris to study violin for Charles Chabran and piano for Jan Ladislav Dussek. In 1786 he was employed as a violinist in the court of Prince Henry of Prussia in Rheinsberg. After a couple of years, Du Puy was dismissed and spent some time travelling in Germany and Poland before moving to Stockholm in 1793. There were familial links between the courts of Prince Henry and the Swedish king Gustav III, the prince being the king’s uncle on his mother Lovisa Ulrika’s side. Gustav III’s sister, Sophia Albertina, paid a lengthy visit to Prince Henry in Rheinsberg in 1788, during the time, that is, that Du Puy was also there. Maybe this played a part in his decision to come to Sweden.

In Stockholm, Edouard Du Puy quickly made a name for himself as a skilled violinist and was soon performing his own concerts. He was employed at the Hovkapellet (the Royal Court Orchestra) in 1793, but due to the prevailing political unrest he was deported in 1799 and took up residence in Copenhagen, where he was taken on as a violinist and singer at the Royal Opera there. He was deported again in 1809, upon which he went to stay for a while in France. When Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was elected as the successor to the throne, Du Puy returned to Sweden, where he was appointed hovkapellmästare (chief conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra) in 1812, a post that he held until his death in 1822. From 1819, he was dogged by health problems and his work suffered as a consequence; in his final year, the Hovkapellet was led essentially by Johan Fredrik Berwald.

As hovkapellmästare Du Puy occupied a position at the heart of the capital’s music scene. He was an acknowledged master on the violin, and contemporary critics made much of his easy, dazzling technique, combined with his good taste and splendid intonation. His skills came in useful in the lessons he gave to string musicians, most likely including Johan Fredrik and Franz Berwald. He was also an excellent orchestra leader and contributed greatly to a general improvement in the quality of the Hovkapellet’s playing. Du Puy was rooted in the French tradition, but was also instrumental in the gradual introduction of German works into the Swedish opera repertoire.

Edouard Du Puy was also a successful singer and actor. He appeared in a large number of opéra-comiques, including as the title role in Mozart’s Don Juan, which he created at the Swedish premiere in 1813. His voice was pitched at a pleasant baritone, but it was also wide ranging, so that by singing falsetto in the higher registers and exploiting the depths of his reach in the lower, he was able to manage tenor and bass parts too.

That he was very much appreciated by his contemporaries as a conductor, composer, violinist and singer is evident not least from the many eulogies and stories that were published on his death. Du Puy was elected into the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music) in 1795.


Most of Edouard Du Puy’s extensive output was never printed, and only a small number of works are known. Of all his known concertos − three for violin from the 1790s, one in E major for clarinet (performed in 1811), one in C minor for bassoon (performed in 1812), and one in D minor for flute (1814) − only the flute concerto was ever published. Du Puy composed a great many songs and pieces for male choir, some of which had first been performed as part of a dramatic work, such as a trio from the play Agander och Pagander, which became a very popular stand-alone piece. A couple of violin duets, piano solos, songs and choral pieces were also published.

Du Puy was schooled in the French tradition and his music is often described as easy and melodic. It was fully in keeping with French opéra-comique, which dominated the Stockholm opera repertoire until into the 1810s with works by the likes of Nicolas Dalayrac, Niccolò Isouard and François Adrien Boieldieu. When neo-romantic German music started to gain in popularity in the 1820s, Du Puy’s musical style could occasionally be criticised as being overly lightweight with a tendency towards what was considered superficial ornamentation.

Works for the opera stage

Du Puy’s position as hovkapellmästare meant that he composed music both for the opera stage and for various ceremonious occasions. His works for the opera include the divertissement Föreningen (1814) and Balder (1818). Föreningen was composed at the direct request of Crown Prince Charles John to mark the union with Norway, which was celebrated with folk songs and dances, the work concluding with a song of praise to the union’s king. Balder was written for the coronation of Charles XIV John in 1818. As is customary in a divertissement, it featured a story performed on stage with a mix of solo folk or ballad-like songs, duets and choruses. In the divertissement’s first part, the characters are taken from Norse mythology, who tell of the nation’s history and the new king’s place in it; this is followed in the second part by a number of short songs and dances, performed by characters representing different aspects of Swedish society − a farmer, a miner, a sailor, a soldier and a girl − who sing folk-like songs in tribute to king and country. The divertissement was good entertainment, a declaration of loyalty to the new monarch and a display of national unity. The coronation was actually meant to be celebrated with a large-scale three-act opera, Björn Jernsida, which Du Puy had already started work on but never completed, probably owing to time constraints, so the smaller Balder was staged instead.

A very popular work was the comic opera Ungdom och dårskap, which Du Puy brought with him from his time in Copenhagen. Back in the early 1800s, there had been plans to stage Etienne Nicolas Méhul’s Une folie; however, the prevailing state of war had made it impossible for the music to be sent down from Stockholm, and so Du Puy composed a new score to the libretto and retitled it Ungdom och dårskap. He went on to sing the principal role many times, both in Copenhagen and in Stockholm.

Ceremonial music and minor stage works

At court Du Puy wrote ceremonial music for funerals and coronations. These works include music for the funeral of Queen Dowager Sofia Magdalena in 1813 and the funeral of Charles XIII, Charles XIV Johan’s subsequent coronation and the funeral of Queen Dowager Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte in 1818.

Du Puy’s oeuvre also includes a large number of arrangements and compositions of, above all, dances and overtures. It fell to the hovkapellmästare to supply music − his own compositions as well as arrangements − for the Kungliga Teatern’s (the Royal Opera’s) various events, with the dances combined into long ballets performed by the Kungliga Teatern’s ballet company. The overtures were used to open the evening of opera, which is obvious from the rapid tempos and energetic rhythmic motifs in the melodic line. A good many of these overtures would later enjoy life as free-standing concert pieces.


Du Puy was very important for the Stockholm music scene of the early 19th century. With his continental training as a musician and composer, he helped to raise the quality of playing in the Hovkapellet, and his contributions as a violinist and singer were important as much on the opera stage as in concert. His compositions were performed in public, in private societies such as Par Bricole and the Freemasons, and in the salons of middle-class homes. However, with the exception of a few works, his compositions have not survived into the modern age.

Karin Hallgren © 2015
Trans. Neil Betteridge


Beskow, B von: Lefnadsminnen, 1870, 2/1928, publ. by F Böök.
Brandel, Åke: Du Puy, två Berwald och ett musikliv, in S:t Eriks årsbok, 1965.
Brandel, Åke: Du Puy, J Berwald och Foroni, in Operan 200 år. Stockholm, 1973.
Buntzen, A: Edouard Du Puy, in Ord och bild, 1902.
Cotte, R: Du Puy, in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, suppl.
Cotte, R: Compositeurs français émigrés en Suède, diss, Paris, 1961.
Sohlmans musiklexikon: 'Du Puy, Edouard', vol. 2, 1975, pp. 347−348.
Eibe, Frits: Du Puy-forskningen, in Dansk Musiktidsskrift, no. 6, 1936.
Frimureriska tonsättare och frimurerisk musik, Uppsala 2006: Forskningslogen Carl Friedrich Eckleff, p. 292.
Kjerulf, A: Nordens Don Juan, 1952, in Danish, Swedish trans. 1953.
Lindenbaum, A: Som Don Juan återsågs han alltid med förtjusning, in Musikvärlden, 1946.
Lindgren. Adolf: Svenske hofkapellmästare 1782−1882, 1882.
Neiiendam, R: Ungdom og Galskab. Prinsesse Charlotte Frederikke og Edouard Du Puy, 1923.
Norlind, Tobias/Trobäck, E: Kungl. Hovkapellets historia 1526−1926. Stockholm, 1926.
Palmstedt, C: Edouard Du Puy, 1866.
Tegen, Martin: Min kampanj för Eduard Du Puy, in Inte bara katalogregler. Festskrift till Anders Lönn 5 mars 2003, Stockholm, 2003, pp. 115−126.
Vretblad, Åke
: Du Puy, Edouard, in Svenskt biografisk lexikon, vol. 11, 1945.
Åkerberg, E: Musiklifvet inom Par Bricole 1779−1890. Stockholm, 1910.

Summary list of works

Operas (6 operas, of which one unfinished), incidental music (for 12 plays), ballet music (4 ballets etc.), works for solo instrument and orchestra (3 violin concertos, 1 flute concerto, 1 clarinet concerto, 1 bassoon concerto), chamber music (string quartet, string quintet, bassoon quintet, horn quintet etc.), piano music (marches etc.), songs (approx. 30 solo songs and duets), vocal music with orchestra (music for coronation, funeral etc.), vocal music, music for wind instruments (marches).

Collected works

After list of works in Owe Ander, An Inventory of Swedish Music vol. III: Twenty 19th-Century Composers from Du Puy to Söderman, Stockholm 2013, pp. 11−19.

Prologue to the opera Gustaf Wasa, 1797.
Ungdom och dårskap, sångspel i två akter, 1806.
Föreningen, 1815.
Björn Jernsida, unfinished, 1817.
Balder, 1818.
Sömngångerskan, 1820.

Arlequin, 1793.
Stråtrövarna, 1794.
Jenny, 1815.
Kärleken och gracerna, 1821.

Incidental music
De ädelmodiga bönderna, 1797.
Eremiten, 1798.
Epilog vid kronprins Karl Johans femtioårsdag, 1814.
Den dubbla listen, 1814.
De tyska småstadsborna, 1816.
Jenny Mortimer, 1817.
Skatan 1818.
Agander och Pagander, 1818.
Hamlet, 1819.
Engelbrekt, 1820.
Felicie, 1821.
Epilog vid invigningen av Carl XIII-statyn, 1821.

Solo instrument and orchestra
Violin concerto in D minor, probably 1793.
Violin concerto in C major, probably 1798.
Clarinet concert in E major, 1811.
Violin concerto in E major, probably 1812.
Bassoon concert in C minor, 1812.
Flute concerto in D minor, printed in 1814.

Choral works with orchestra
Funeral music for the Queen Dowager Sofia Magdalena, 1813.
Music for the emancipation of Prince Oscars, 1817.
Funeral music for Charles XIII, 1818.
Coronation music for Charles XIV John, 1818.
Funeral music for Queen Dowager Elisabeth Charlotta, 1818.

Wind ensemble
Funeral march for Livjägarna, 1807.
Livjägar-march, 1808.
Revue march, 1809.

Chamber music
Duet in C major for violins, probably 1796−99.
Duet in F major for violins, probably 1796−99.
Duet in D major for violins, probably 1796−99.
Horn quintet in F major, probably 1811.
Polonaise concertante in D minor for two violins, probably 1817.
Bassoon quintet in A minor, probably 1823.
String quintet in C minor.
String quartet in A major.

Two polonaises, ca 1795.
March in C major, 1830.
Two pastorales in C major and F major, 1823.
Rondo in F major, probably 1798.

Songs and duets
Majvisa, 1797.
Two songs to poems by A. M. Lenngren.
När jag kallad av din röst.
En lång dragon till striden drog, 1801.
Crispins visa, 1804.
Folk song 'Carl Johan vår kung', 1818.

Choral works
Six quartets for male choir, probably 1816.

Works by Edouard Du Puy

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

Number of works: 31