Richard Engländer (1889−1966)


Bernhard Vilhelm Otto Richard Engländer was born on 17 February 1889 in Leipzig and died in Uppsala on 16 March 1966. He was a musicologist, composer, chamber musician (harpsichord) and music critic. He earned a PhD in musicology in Berlin in 1916. He was later made docent of musicology at Uppsala University in 1948, acquiring the title of honorary professor in 1965. He composed orchestral works, choral music and songs, but was best known in his time for his chamber music, which he often performed himself on various occasions in Germany and Sweden.


Richard Engländer was born in Leipzig on 17 February 1889 to parents who had recently converted from Judaism to the Evangelical Church. His father, Bernhard Engländer, sat on the High Court of Impeachment, his mother was from the Pringsheim family and thus related to Katia Mann (wife of writer Thomas Mann). Richard Engländer received excellent instrumental tuition at St Thomas School, where, amongst other instruments, he studied organ for Karl Straube. In 1908 he entered advanced music studies in Berlin and established life-long relationships with scholars like Johannes Wolf (music history) and Max Friedländer (art history). Hermann Kretzschmar also brought him into fruitful contact with the city conservatory. In 1916 he earned his PhD with a thesis on the operas of Johann Gottlieb Naumann. During the 1920s and 30s Engländer was active in Dresden as, among other things, a music teacher and repetiteur at the opera.

In 1939 Engländer arrived as an exile in Sweden and was received by Anna Söderblom, with whom his parents had been acquainted since her husband Nathan Söderblom’s time as a professor of theology in Leipzig between 1912 and 1914. Engländer’s harpsichord, which he had brought with him, was put to use in Uppsala Cathedral and was one of the first to be used regularly at concerts in Sweden. During the Baroque music revival in the 1940s Engländer was engaged as a continuo player throughout the country, often at Drottningholms slottsteater (Drottningholm Palace Theatre). He also spent this decade performing many works hitherto unknown in Sweden by such composers as Johann David Heinichen, Johann Kuhnau and Nicola Porpora.

When Engländer was consulted by Carl-Allan Moberg about whether Swedish musicology should establish formal ties with Uppsala University or the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, he advocated the former. Moberg was made a professor in the subject at Uppsala University in 1947, and Engländer a docent the year after, becoming an honorary professor in 1965. Engländer was made a music critic for Upsala Nya Tidning in 1953 and sat on numerous government commissions in the field of music. He also appeared on Swedish radio, looking at the role of music in the cultural lives of different historical women.


Most of Engländer’s compositions date to one of two periods of intense activity, the first during his adolescence in Germany in 1900−20, and the second in Sweden in 1939−1950. Many of his works he composed as gifts to friends and benefactors; one such is the cello sonata in D minor, his first composition in Sweden, which he wrote for Barbro Sigréus.

Engländer’s experiences with older instruments and genres left their mark on his own compositions, such as the Sonata da camera in D major for viola da gamba and harpsichord. While his chamber music production was intended for more intimate settings, his public performances he systematically reserved for historical music, with the exception of his printed vocal works in Swedish (including his songs for men’s choir from the 1940s), which enjoyed modest nationwide popularity.

Mattias Lundberg © 2016
trans. Neil Betteridge

Publications by the composer

Richard Engländer was the author of a large number of biographical studies, academically sound editions and essays on the history of style, totalling ca 120 publications. Those of potential interest for a Swedish context include:

Die Dresdner Instrumentalmusik in der Zeit der Wiener Klassik, Uppsala universitets årsskrift, Uppsala: Uppsala University, 1956.
Johann Gottlieb Naumann als Opernkomponist, diss., Berlin, Leipzig, 1916.
Joseph Martin Kraus und die gustavianische Oper, Uppsala, 1943.


Croll, Gerhard: ‘Richard Engländer zum Gedächtnis’, in: Die Musikforschung, vol. 19, no. 4, 1966, pp. 361−363.
Ebert, Anna Amelie: ‘Engländer, Richard’, in: New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 8, 2nd ed., London: Macmillan, 2001, pp. 240−241.
Luttu, Gisela: Das Leben und Schaffen des Musikwissenschaftlers Richard Engländer, bachelor thesis in German, Stockholm University, 1971.
Moberg, Carl-Allan: ‘Richard Engländer 75 år’, in: Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, 1964, pp. 5-7.
‘Richard Engländer, Nathan Söderblom och musiken, Några anteckningar i anledning av dagens minne’, in: Upsala nya tidning, 12 July 1941.
Rosengren, Henrik: Från tysk höst till tysk vår: Fem musikpersonligheter i svensk exil i skuggan av nazismen och kalla kriget, Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2013. (Trans. to German: Fünf Musiker im Schwedischen Exil, trans. Helmuth Müssener, Neumünster: von Bockel, 2016.
Schnoor, Hans: ‘Engländer, Richard’, in: Friedrich Blume (ed.), Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Allgemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik, vol. 3, Bärenreiter/DTV, Munich 1989, pp. 1360−1361.

Summary list of works

Orchestral works (variations on his own theme etc.), chamber music (cello sonata, Sonata da camera for viola da gamba and harpsichord, etc.), piano works, songs, choral works.

Collected works

Valse charactéristique.
Variations on a theme by the composer B minor. Setting for orchestra 1919. [See below.]
Songs with orchestra. Text by R. Dehmel, 1919. [See also below.]

Chamber music
Andante cantabile [see Zwei Stücke, below].
Scherzino [see Zwei Stücke, below].
Sonata D minor, for cello and piano, 1939.
Sonata da camera D major, for viola da gamba and harpsichord, 1944.
Sonata piece F-sharp minor, for flute and piano, 1911.
Valse caprice and Menuet singuliere, 1940−41. [See also below under piano music.]
Zwei Stücke, for violin and piano, 1944−45. 1. Andante cantabile, 2. Scherzino.

Variations on a theme by the composer B minor, 1909. [See above.]
Valse caprice och Menuet singuliere, 1940−41. [See above under chamber music.]

Majbön, for men’s choir a cappella (E. Malm). Stockholm, 1948.
Nyss i juninattsglansen, for men’s choir a cappella (Å. Leander). Dedicated to Henry Weman and Allmänna sången. Stockholm, 1943.
Sensommar. For men’s choir a cappella (Å. Leander). Dedicated to Henry Weman and Allmänna sången. Stockholm, 1943.
Variations on a theme by the composer B minor. For piano 1909, setting for orchestra 1919.
Variations on a theme by Antonio Lotti A major, for flute and piano, 1934.

Solo songs
Sånger for voice and keyboard (F. Hebbel and H. Bethge), 1909.
Songs with orchestra (R. Dehmel), 1919. [See above.]
Tre sånger for voice and piano (Å. Leander), 1941.
Två sånger for voice and piano (R.M. Rilke), 1942.
Wiegenlied, for voice and piano (C. Brentano), 1942.

Arrangements of others’ works
Four ballads etc. by Carl Loewe (Der selt’ne Beter, König Siegfried, Der Feind [Der Mensch] och Der Lappländer), for voice and orchestra.

Works by Richard Engländer

There are no works by the composer registered