Fredrik Eimele (1804−1871)


Fredrik (Fredric) Eimele was born in Vasa, Finland on 28 September 1804 and died in Stockholm on 24 January 1871. He was a philologist, music researcher and a composer. He studied at the Royal Academy of Turku where he took part in the Music Society’s activities and furthered his education in Tartu and St Petersburg. Returning to Finland in 1834 he sought work as a music teacher at Helsinki University. When the job did not materialise, Eimele moved to Sweden where he mainly worked as a language teacher, at first in Stockholm. He then became a teacher of modern languages in Borås from 1856 to 1870.

Fredrik Eimele’s life is, using a double meaning, telling. He had a career as a language teacher and spoke several modern languages. But both his story and his life say something about the political instability that had long existed in the Baltic region. Perhaps Eimele’s interest in languages was awakened by the linguistically mixed milieu of the area.


Studies in Vasa, Turku, Tartu and St Petersburg

Fredrik Eimele (Aejmelaeus, AejmeléAejmele) was born in 1804 in the Finnish-Swedish town of Vasa, Finland. He was the son of Christen Johansson Aejmelaeus (1765−1848) and his wife Charlotta Elisabeth (1776−1840, née Floor). Christen Aejmelaeus had a career as a doctor in Vasa where he also worked at the government prison and for the town’s infantry regiment. He attended the universities in Turku (Swedish Åbo) and at Uppsala where he studied under the botanist Carl Peter Thunberg who had been a student of Carl von Linné. In an obituary for Fredrik Eimele in Wasa-Bladet (11/2 1871) his father Christen was called ‘the original collector and honourable man Doctor Eimele’. He was a collector of plants and curious objects.

The family on his father’s side included several scholars. His childhood was certainly culturally stimulating and so prepared Fredrik Eimele and his two brothers for continued studies. Even though written sources do not describe Eimele’s musical training, it is likely that he received some during his childhood as well as being exposed to music making in the home. He also learned to play the violin. In adulthood Fredrik Eimele never used the other forms of his last name.

After attending common school in Vasa, Fredrik Eimele began language-centred studies at the Royal Academy in Turku in 1821. During his years in Turku he often played the violin, taking part in activities of the city’s Music Society. He completed his Master of Philosophy degree in 1827 − this was the same year as the great fire in Turku, which led to moving the university to Helsinki the following year. During 1828 and 1829 he continued with his language studies at the university in Tartu, Estonia. Studies in St Petersburg followed in 1830, the content of which is unknown. However, his stay there could have laid the foundation for his composing.

Language teacher in Stockholm

Returning to Finland in 1834, which at the time was a Grand Duchy within the Russian empire, he sought an advertised position as music teacher at the Imperial Academy of Turku (now the University of Helsinki). The position, however, went to the German-born conductor and composer Fredrik Pacius. Immediately after this Fredrik Eimele moved to Stockholm and would remain in Sweden for the rest of his life.

Traces of his activities in Stockholm can be found in a number of newspaper advertisements in which he offers lessons in German and French – and sometimes in Latin. He thus supported himself initially as a private language teacher. From 1837 to 1840 he was a German teacher at the Kungliga Krigsvetenskapsakademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences) in Stockholm’s Karlberg, a job that was only part time and therefore needed to be supplemented with the giving of private lessons. However, his commitment to linguistics reached much further and he wrote several textbooks that were widely advertised in both Sweden and Finland. The books were aimed at both adult students and school children, which in itself tell us that he not only taught privately but also worked in the schools as a språkmästare (master of languages), as the position was called. For this reason he is called a pioneer of modern language teaching in Sweden. (As a side note, it is unknown whether or not he could speak Finnish). In 1842 his university degree from Turku was recognised as valid in Sweden.

 Even though sources are rather silent about Fredrik Eimele as a musician and composer in Stockholm, one may assume that he both composed and played. One musical milieu he came into contact with was through the Kungliga Krigsvetenskapsakademien where Eric Arrhén von Kapfelman taught music and, like Eimele, was a violinist.

The versatile Fredrik Eimele − with a willingness to work − also turned a hand toward play writing on at least two occasions. He reworked the originally Polish comedy Damer och husarer (Ladies and hussars) that was presented at the Kungliga Dramatiska teatern (the Royal Dramatic Theatre) in 1835 and was later performed on several other stages in Stockholm. In addition he translated and rewrote a French play, which in his version was named Den vansinniga eller Dårhuset i Dijon (The insane or the madhouse in Dijon) and was performed at the Dramatiska teatern in 1843. These contributions say something about his broad contacts within Stockholm’s cultural life.

Teaching in Borås

In 1856 Fredrik Eimele was employed as a teacher of ‘living languages’ at the technical high school in Borås. He thus left one place for another, and the reasons for it are shrouded in the darkness of history. The school was opened the same year that Eimele became a teacher there, so he was in the first group of teachers. The education system in modern languages was being development at that time and the teaching of classical languages was diminishing. Eimele’s activities as a forerunner thus continued as he developed the teaching of modern languages outside of Stockholm.

Eimele remained in Borås until his retirement in 1870 and he then returned to Stockholm. An obituary states that he died in 1871 after a ‘long-term and painful illness’. Fredrik Eimele remained unmarried throughout his life. After his death, artefacts from Eimele’s music life were donated to the library of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music).

Musical aesthetics

Fredrik Eimele can be called a pioneer not only in the teaching of modern languages; he also appears as an early promoter of a line of thinking about aesthetics in the area of music − in Sweden, that is. His interest in the question of musical aesthetics is mainly documented in a series of articles that he published in Ny tidning för musik during 1853−55, a weekly publication put out by music publisher Abraham Hirsch with Wilhelm Bauck as editor. The contacts Eimele must have had with these people witness to his collaboration with the central figures in the music life of Stockholm.

The articles are authored by a person with a vast knowledge of music history and with the ability to discuss issues of aesthetics − in short, someone who is extremely well-read. Some of his articles, seen from today’s viewpoint, can be characterised as expert musical analysis. Of interest also is that the newspaper on two occasions describes the articles as being excerpts from larger works. These refer to ‘an aesthetical and historical music treatise on the characteristics of the violin and the cello, renowned violin and cello virtuosos’, and also from ‘an, as yet, unpublished thesis about the symphonies of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn’. Unfortunately these larger texts have been lost; in any case, they were never printed. Another book manuscript titled Genie in Kunst und Wissenschaft is mentioned in the literature on Eimele. Reportedly it can be found in Leipzig, but whether this is a reality is unknown.

Even so, his already published articles make him an impressive figure in Swedish music of that era, especially if one lays the texts together with his compositions. Had both of his ‘theses’ been published, his name would clearly be better known within the history of music and not as it is today, known within a very limited circle.


Alongside the vocal music

There is, unfortunately, no information about when or where Fredrik Eimele composed his extant works. His work as a composer must therefore be described only in terms of what the musical notes tell us. We know, however, that in 1833 he sent compositions to the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien for assessment, and this information tells us that he had written quite a lot of music before he was 30 years old.

Fredrik Eimele was mainly a composer of vocal pieces − at least judging by the preserved works. There are two exceptions to this; a string quartet and a romance for string quartet with violin solo − the latter having an odd instrumentation that could mean that Eimele composed it for a specific performance context. The string quartet is relatively simply conceived, with a dominant first violin accompanied by the rest of the quartet.

There is reason to doubt that those works were Eimele’s only instrumental compositions. Several instrumental works may have been lost. It is unlikely that he wrote these complicated quartet movements without having first tried writing instrumental compositions in simpler forms. His great interest in the aesthetic aspects of instrumental music also indicates that he wrote more instrumental works that were not saved.

Songs in a transitional period

Eimele’s concentration on vocal works also says a great deal about the time period. During the first decades of the 1800s several Swedish authors established a new romantic type of poetry that was just waiting to be set to music. The romantic poetry of Erik Gustaf Geijer, Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom and Erik Johan Stagnelius was spread widely and Eimele wrote music to texts from all three. In addition, there was a blossoming of interest in folk songs, manifested through collecting and publishing, which inspired many to compose songs. Previously song writing focused on songs about, and sung with, good companions in social situations (for example those of Carl Michael Bellman). Now an interest in through-composed solo songs was growing, giving composers new challenges. Typically Bellman used already existing melodies for his songs.

Fredrik Eimele’s songs are children of this transitional period. Most of them have song melodies that do not have extensive vocal requirements. The piano parts are more fully developed than a simple song accompaniment, while still technically approachable for a good amateur musician. If the poems set to music have several verses, they are sung to the same melody and the same piano part, which is another sign of how close this music is to the popular song style.

With his exceptional language skills and knowledge of German literature, he could have written music to texts in languages other than Swedish. But with only a few exceptions, Eimele devoted himself to composing music for Swedish-language texts. This could possibly be explained by the fact that he was very much a part of the craze for the composing of music to Swedish texts.

Fredrik Eimele is also one of those composers who set music to Johan Ludvig Runeberg's poem ‘Vårt land’ (Our land) from 1856. The first person to write a melody to this poem was Fredrik Pacius in 1848 and it is his musical setting that then became Finland’s national song. The attempts of Eimele and others who followed after have been unable to dislodge Pacius’ melody from the top position of popularity.

Gunnar Ternhag © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson

Publications by the composer

Works on anguage
Tyskt och svenskt och Svenskt och tyskt handlexikon: A-Z, 
Carl Heinrich,  Fredrik Eimele, 1841.
Tysk läsebok, innehållande ett urval av prosaiska och poetiska stycken av klassiska författare, 
Tysk språklära med allmänna grammatikaliska förklaringar samt översikt innehållande kort översikt av tyska språkets historia och litteraturens historia
, 1842.
Lärobok i tyska språket, innehållande: språklära med talrika exempel, samt läsebok, utgörande ett urval af prosaiska och poetiska stycken ur klassiska författares skrifter, Örebro, 1844.
Lära om tyska språkets uttal jämt kort översikt av språkets huvuddialekter, 1845.
Göthes Hermann und Dorothea, med upplysande noter, till läsebok för ungdomen
, 1845.
Ny handbok för samtalsöfningar i franska, tyska och svenska språken, jemte en samling af de oumbärligaste ord i det dagliga lifvet. Stockholm
, 1853.
Les difficultés principales de la syntaxe des temps passés, ou emploi de l'imperfait, du défini, de l'indéfini, etc. dans la langue française
, 1860.
Die Wesentlichen Unterschiede der Stamm- und abgeleiteten Sprachen, hauptsächlich an der deutschen und französischen Sprache nachgewiesen, nebst einer Einleitung über das Wesen der Sprache, Gothenburg, 1862.
Le langage et la linguistique, esquisse d´après des philologues modernes, suivie d´une caratéristique des plus éminentes des langues mortes et vivantes de l´Europe, 1863.

Lamartine, A. de:
Christoph Colomb, trans. and notes by F. Eimele, 1857.
Tocqueville, Alexis de
: Om folkväldet i Amerika, trans. and notes by F. Eimele, 1881.

Articles on musical aesthetics
'Violinens värde', Ny tidning för musik, 1853, no. 32, pp. 42−45. [Utdrag ur en esthetisk historisk afhandling om violinens och violoncellens egenskaper, namnkunniga violin- och violoncell-virtuoser.]
'Beethovens Symphoni i F-Dur N:o 8 opus 93 (uppförd å Kongl. Theatern 11 mars 1854)', Ny tidning för musik, 1853, no. 38 & 39, pp. 93−95.
'Beethovens Symphoni i A-dur', Ny tidning för musik, 1854, no. 43, pp. 341−343, 345−347.
'Reflektioner rörande virtuositet i allmänhet och vår tid konstnärer i synnerhet', Ny tidning för musik, 1854, nos 44 & 45.
'Mozarts symfoni i C-dur (med fugan) N:o 4', Ny tidning för musik, 1855, no. 6.
'Symfonins egendomliga natur', Ny tidning för musik, 1855, nos. 11 & 12, pp. 83−85, 89−90.
'Instrumentalmusiken och hennes koryféer i nyare tider', Ny tidning för musik, 1855, no. 17, pp. 130−133, 139−141, 155−157.


Forslin, Alfhild et al. (eds): Musikaliska sällskapet i Åbo 1790−1965. Festskrift till 175-årsjubileet, Åbo: Musikaliska sällskapet i Åbo, 1865.
Klemetti, Heikki
: Fredrik Eimele: Muutama mainesana onohtuneesta suomalaisesta muusikosta [Några vitsord om en bortglömd finsk musiker], Suomen musiikkilehti, vol. 7, 1929, pp. 144−148.
Lagus, Wilhelm:
Musikaliska sällskapet i Åbo 1790−1890: bidrag till dess historik, Åbo, 1890.
Marvia, Einari
: Suomen säveltäjiä, 1, Borgå: W. Söderström, 1965.
Mäkelä, Sanna
: Fredrik Eimele (1804−1871) musiikkikirjoittajana, Pro gradu diss. in musicology, Helsinki University, 1999.
Karila, Tauno:
 Beethoven, Mozart und Haydn gesehen von einem finnischen Forscher um die Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts, Tavastehus, 1959.


Musik- och teaterbiblioteket, National Library, Helsinki

Summary list of works

Chamber music (string quartets and more), songs, works for male quartet, choral works.

Collected works

The works exist in autograph or print at the Music and Theatre Library in Stockholm if nothing else is stated.

Chamber music
String quartet in G major.
Romance for 2 vln, vla, vlc, vln solo. 1. Adagio, 2. Andante con moto, 3. Allegretto.
Introduction et thème orig. avec variations vl.

Voice(s) and piano
Floden ('Se den klara strömmen fara', Erik Johan Stagnelius) for voice and piano.
Jägaren ('När dagen gryr, straxt jägarn flyr', Erik Johan Stagnelius) for voice and piano.
Dalkullan vid sin utvandring 1838 ('Vad det kostar på', F.A. Dahlgren) for voice and piano.
Hök och duva (F.A. Dahlgren) for voice and piano.
Manhem ('Det var en tid', Erik Gustaf Geijer) for voice and piano.
Mod och försakelse ('O, föll uti', Erik Gustaf Geijer) for voice and piano.
Den sanna lyckan ('Lycklig den', Anna Maria Lenngren) for voice and piano.
Vårsång ('Våren slår ut', F.A. Dahlgren) for voice and piano.
Kung Karls spira ('Det är så skönt', Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom) for voice and piano.
Hymn till morgonen ('Eviga minne', A.v.K.) for voice and piano.
Aftonsång ('Afton, huru skön', Johan Nybom) for voice and piano.
Till konstens söner ('Högt från jordens', Ludwig av Bayern) for voice and piano.
Vikingasång ('Vilda, vilda, vilda våg') for voice and piano.
Lärkparet ('En kyss då jag far'), antiphony for voice and piano.
Jordens himmel ('Var är den', F.A. Dahlgren) for voice and piano.
Sångmön till Jenny Lind ('En röst', Johan Nybom) for voice and piano.
Krigssång ('Till vapen, till vapen') for voice and piano.
Vårt land ('Vårt land, vårt land', Johan Ludvig Runeberg) for voice and piano.
Glädjens ögonblick ('Sörj ej', Frans Michael Franzén) for voice and piano.
Kärlekens soluppgång ('Arla, när det vaknande', Leonard Höijer) for voice and piano.
Galärslaven ('Vem väckte mig') for voice and piano.
Blomsterdaggen ('När jag dig ser, du droppe dagg') for voice and piano.
Minne af Furusund ('Om jag en fågel', B-m).
Blomsterdaggen ('När jag dig ser, du droppe dagg').
Chör ur Fågelkonserten ('På skilda toner', S.H.).
Jägarvisa ('Vi jaga i skogen', Pehr Henrik Ling).

Male quartet/choir
Aftonsång ('Afton, hur skön', Johan Nybom).
Deutsches Bundeslied ('Erhebt euch, erhebt euch, Deutsche').
Frihetssång ('Den nya tidens härrop skalla').
Hymn till fosterlandet ('O land, o land som mig beskärts').
Hymn till morgonen ('Eviga minne', A.v.K.).
Jägaren ('När dagen gryr, straxt jägarn flyr', Erik Johan Stagnelius).
Krigssång (Till vapen, till vapen').
Kung Karls spira ('Det är så skönt', Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom).
Skandia ('O Skandia, o Skandia, du sköna').
Studentsång ('Student, om du', Frans Michael Franzén).
Serenad ('Dagen förlåter', Erik Johan Stagnelius).
Vandrarens visa ('Jag kan icke trivas i dälderna', Erik Johan Stagnelius).
Vårsång ('Våren slår ut sina vingar').

Male trio
Champagne-vinet ('Drick, drick, ja drick', Frans Michael Franzén).
Jaktvisa ('Vilda mäktiga sinne', Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom).
Lycklig den ('Lycklig den med', Anna Maria Lenngren).
Vandrarens visa ('Jag kan icke trivas i dälderna', Erik Johan Stagnelius).
Sångens lof ('En återklang af', L. Öberg).
Glädjens ögonblick ('Sörj ej', Frans Michael Franzén).
Floden ('Se den klara strömmen fara', Erik Johan Stagnelius).
Vikingasång ('Vilda, vilda, vilda våg').

Works by Fredrik Eimele

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

Number of works: 27