Jacob Edvard Gille (1814−1880)


Jacob Edvard Gille was born 10 August 1814, in Stockholm and died there 8 November 1880. He had multiple careers: as a clerk at an auction house for books in Stockholm as well as a musician with ensembles such as the Royal Court Orchestra, at Mindre teatern and with the Catholic Church. Presumably self-taught, Gille composed music of many genres − from songs to musical dramas and symphonies.

Xylography by Gunnar Forssell published in Svensk Musiktidning 1888.


Jacob Edvard Gille worked in Stockholm his entire life, but information about his education and working life are incomplete. In 1852 he was a conductor at Humlegårdsteatern. From the mid-1850s he was employed as a violinist at Mindre teatern. During the 1856−57 season he substituted as orchestra leader for the principle conductor August Söderman, who was studying abroad at the time. Gille was later employed as a violist with the Royal Court Orchestra 1866−71. While working at Mindre teatern, he was also an organist for the Catholic Church (St Eugenia Church). Combining orchestra work with employment as a church musician was common during this time period. In addition, from 1850−76 Gille worked outside the field of music as a clerk at the auction house for books in the City of Stockholm. He was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1865.


Jacob Edvard Gille's production encompasses several genres − both chamber music and larger works such as symphonies and musical dramas. Disregarding whether or not he had a formal education, he can be assessed as an accomplished composer. Stylistically, most of his pieces fall within the Viennese classical style, and are often characterised by carefree melodies.

Among his instrumental works are several ‘tone paintings’, a genre which was particularly popular in the 1840s. Among these are Minne af Gustaf Adolf vid Lützen for choir and orchestra, and Höst-jagten for choir, horns and orchestra. The latter work received positive reviews in the press, presenting Gille as a promising composer. Gille also wrote chamber music in the Viennese classical style. These include violin sonatas, piano trios, piano quartets and string quartets. One of the string quartets was dedicated to the Mazer String Quartet Society − the likely cause being that Gille was a violinist in the Society.

Gille composed nine masses, the oratorio Guds lof, a Stabat mater, a Requiem, a Te deum and an arrangement of Psalm 51. Musically, the masses are inspired by the works of Palestrina, although the contrapuntal compositional style is not always completed. His first mass was premiered at St Eugenia Church on Easter Sunday in 1852. It was dedicated to Queen Josephine, who attended mass regularly at the church. She kept her Catholic beliefs throughout her entire life and Gille later dedicated another mass (no. 7) to her. His Requiem was performed at another concert in 1851. Following this religious theme are two musical dramas, Abraham and the uncompleted Lamech eller Svärdet, with libretti by theologian Karl Gustav Rollin. No information has been discovered about any performances of Abraham.

Gille also made several arrangements for concerts organised by the Swedish jurist and lyricist Richard Dybeck in the 1850s and 60s. Listed on the programme were folk melodies arranged for various vocal and instrumental ensembles and songs set together thematically to form longer scenes. One of these scenes particularly worth mentioning is one featuring herdsmen's folk music, performed to an accompaniment of four horns and piano. This scene, in addition to selected melodies, would later be used by Swedish author and playwright August Strindberg in his drama The Bridal Crown.

Compared with several of his composer colleagues, Gille did not sign any contracts with publishers. Only a few of his works, the piano trio in F-sharp minor and the Mass in A-major (no. 7), were printed and as such facilitating a larger audience. His capacity as a musician was not particularly exemplary: according to theatre director Edvard Stjernström, Gille was not at the same level as Söderman when it came to leading the theatre orchestra. Several music critics, including Albert Rubenson, counted Gille as one of the composers whom, by writing in a style that accommodated to public taste, stifled musical advancement. Disregarding one's opinion of this matter, admittedly Jacob Edvard Gille was an important figure in Swedish musical life during his era, mainly as a result of his many years working as violinist, church musician and conductor.

Karin Hallgren © 2015
Trans. Thalia Thunander

Publications by the composer

Liten violin skola hvari de första grunderna för detta instrument klart och fattligt blifva framställda (efter Kreutzer, Rode, Baillot, Wranizky m fl), Stockholm, 1849 [new ed., 1858.
Liten violoncellskola, hvari de första grunderna … utarbetad efter Dotzauer, Merk, Kummer, Stiastny m fl. Stockholm, 1859.


Lönn, Anders: 'Jacob Edvard Gille', in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 17, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1967/69.
Moberg, Carl-Allan: Kyrkomusikens historia, 1932.
Percy, Gösta: 'Jacob Edvard Gille', in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 3, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1976, p. 115.

Summary list of works

4 operas (Masken, Abraham, Lamech med svärdet, Allt för kungen), 1 operetta (Kvinnolist), incidental music, orchestral works (5 symphonies, 1 overture, etc.), chamber music (5 string quartets, a piano sextet, 2 string quartets, 4 piano trios), works for piano, songs, choral works (9 masses, Requiem, Te Deum, Stabat mater, 1 oratorio, etc.).

Collected works

After Lönn 1967/69. Of what is known, and if nothing else is mentioned, the compositions only exist in manuscript.

Masken, 1845.
Abraham, 1854.
Lamech med svärdet, 1855 [incomplete].
Allt för kungen, 1872. 

Incidental music
Douglas, 1856.
Axel och Walborg, 1856. 
A.F., 1859.
Brage i Valhall, 1862.
Också många vänner, litet vänskap, 1862.

Qvinnolist eller den lurade Cadin, 1875.

Orchestral works
Midsommar Festen Symphonie in F major op. 29, first performed in 1850. 
Symphonie no. 2 in D major, f. perf. in 1855.
Symphonie in E-flat major, 1844.
Populär Symphonie in G major. 
Symphonie in C minor op. 50. 
Concert-Ouverture in E minor.
Ouverture in D major op. 60.
Svenska Polskor: Harmoniserade och arrangerade för Orchester [polskas for orchestra], 1859. Autograph Musik- och teatermuseet, Stockholm.

Organ (or piano)
Sonate. 1. Introduction, 2. Fugue, 3. Andantino, 4. Double fugue.
Sonate in C minor. 1. Introduction, 2. Fugue, 3. Fugue and 3 Soggetti.
Sonate. 1. Fugue, 2. Double fugue and 3 Soggetti, 3. Double fugue and 3 Soggetti.

Piano works
Sonate in A major.
Sonate in F-sharp minor op. 25.
Sonate D-flat major.
Lätta och Walda Winter Soirée Dansar. Publ. Stockholm. 
Laura, brillant Nyårs-Wals för 1843. Publ. Stockholm. 
Svenska National-Sångarnes Album: Favorit-Qvartetter arrangerade för Piano [quartets with piano], 1−2. Publ. Stockholm 1862/63?.
Sånger utförda vid de Concerter Upsala student-corps allmänna sångförening gifvit i Stockholm 1859, [songs] arranged for piano. Publ. Stockholm 1859. 
Piano works for 4 hands Suite in C major.

Piano and violin

Sonate in A minor [also vcl].
Sonate in A minor op. 21 [also vcl].
Sonate in C minor op. 22.
Grand Duo Concertant op. 18 sur motifs de l'opera 'Le Masque'.
Popular Symphonie, arranged for Duet.

Piano, violin and violoncello
Trio in F minor.
Trio in A major [also flute and vcl].
Trio F major [also flute and vcl]. 
Song Scene in D major no. 1.
Large Sonata in F minor op. 60 [also in version for piano quintet].
Trio in F-sharp minor. Publ. by Musikaliska konstföreningen, 1863.

Violin, viola and violoncello
Trio in C major. 

Three flutes
Trio in F major [also with vla part instead of flauto 3].

String quartets
Quartette in A major.
Violin-Quartette in G major op. 24.
Violin-Quartette in E-flat major.
Violinquartett in C major.

Piano quartet
Stor Quartette in G minor, 1869.
Qvartette in E-flat major for piano, violin, clarinet or viola, violoncello or bassoon op. 23.
Quartette in E-flat major for piano, cornet, tenor horn and bassoon, 1851.

Grande Sonate Concertante in E major for piano, violin, clarinet, violoncello, horn and double bass op. 12, 1840.

Masses for mixed choir and organ or orchestra
Missa No. 1 in B-flat major op. 75, f. perf. in 1852.
Missa No. 2 in C major, f. perf. in 1853.
Missa No. 3 in E major [also with orchestral parts]. 
Missa No. 4 in C major.
Missa No. 5 in D major.
Missa No. 6 in C major.
Missa No. 7 in A major [also with orchestral parts]. Publ. by Musikaliska konstföreningen, 1863.
Missa No. 8 in D major.
Missa No. 9 in E major.
Requiem in C minor for 3-part choir and orchestra, 1851.
Lofsång 'Sjung min själ'. Tr. in Musica sacra: Sånger för kyrkan och skolan, part 2, Stockholm, 1867.

Cantatas and other choral works
Davids 51 Psalm for soli, mixed choir and orchestra.
Te Deum in D major for mixed choir and organ.
Davids 90 Psalm.
Stabat mater, 1844.
Jagten [also: Höst-Jagten], cantata for male voices (with orchestra).
Gustaf Adolphs död, tone painting for organ, orchestra and choir, 1846.
Den svenske krigaren, cantata for solo, choir and orchestra, f. perf. on 6 October 1850 [manuscript not found].
Two folk songs for male voices. Tr. Stockholm. 
Cantata 'När Nordens ovän hotar'. Overprint 1850.
I det Fria. Swedish folk melodies in four parts for male voices. Stockholm, 1863.

Song and piano
Sju Enkla Melodiska Sånger, book 1−2.
Fyra Andeliga Sånger op. 51.
Church Aria 'Sänd mig din ande' [with piano or orgel].
'Excelsior', 1869.
Vi täcke dig Gud. Stockholm, 1833.
'Hvar är min älskling'. Stockholm, 1852.
'När som svanens sång'. I Konung Oscars drapa, Stockholm, 1859.
Nio af de mest omtyckta sånger utförda af Upsala Student-Corps ... 1859 och 1864, [songs] for alto or lower soprano voice with piano accompaniment. Stockholm. 
Landtmannens sommarsång 'Men bön och sång' and Serenade 'Mandolinens strängar ljuda'. In Cronhamns Sjung! 2, Stockholm, 1866.
Den hvita sjörosen 'I lummig häck'. In Förgät mig ej, vol. 1, book 1. 
Aria from the opera Lamech med svärdet. Stockholm, 1855. 
From Messa in E major. F. perf. in 1881, 1−3. Stockholm.
Gloria from Missa No. 8. Leipzig.
Credo from Missa No. 8. Leipzig.

Song and orchestra
Davids 90de Psalm Soprano Aria ('Oändlige, allsmägtige …') from Oratorium Guds lof.

Works by Jacob Edvard Gille

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

Number of works: 6