Patrik Gyllenhammar (1871−1904)


Karl (Carl) Patrik Gyllenhammar was born in Leksand, Dalarna, on 11 March 1871 and died in Stockholm on 23 December 1904. He was a dentist as well as a composer. He was mainly known for his songs, several of which were published in songbooks for schools, associations and scout organisations.

It is somewhat difficult to decide whether Karl (Carl) Patrik Gyllenhammar (1871−1904) should be called a composer or a songwriter. His main career was as a dentist, but he also composed music. A smaller number of instrumental compositions written by his hand could justify using the broader term composer, but the majority of his works, as well as his greatest successes, rest with his songs. But what about being called a songwriter? Even though he created through-composed songs with elaborate piano parts, many of his vocal pieces were spread as simple songs printed in various school and club songbooks. These songs continued to reach a wide audience long after the death of the composer. As far as the singing population was concerned, he was a man of song.


The early years

Patrik Gyllenhammar was born in the town of Leksand in the region of Dalarna on 11 March 1871. He was the son of the pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Melcher Gyllenhammar and his wife Selma (born Hammarström) who were married in Leksand in 1870. In 1873 Carl Gyllenhammar became a pharmacist in Linköping and the couple had their second child, also a son, that same year. After only a year in Linköping Carl Gyllenhammar died and shortly thereafter Selma Gyllenhammar and her two children moved to Uppsala where the brothers grew up. Once the children were grown, their mother, with her strong roots in Hedemora, Dalarna, moved back to Leksand. Although Patrick had lived only a few years of his childhood there, he maintained strong ties to the region.

Bibliographic sources about Patrick Gyllenhammar are otherwise scarce. For the most part there is nothing written about what kind of music education he had. It is however known that he played the violin and the lute and is said to have sung to the accompaniment of the latter instrument. He would likely have been self-taught as a composer.

In folk dance circles

Patrick Gyllenhammar graduated with a dental degree in 1895 and later worked as a dentist in Stockholm. This career gave him a secure economic base that allowed him to play music and compose extensively.

While in Stockholm Patrick Gyllenhammar became deeply involved with the group Svenska folkdansens vänner − SFV (friends of Swedish folk dance) that had been started on the initiative of Arthur Hazelius, the founder of the Nordic Museum and the outdoor museum Skansen. It was there Gyllenhammar met and socialised with many of his friends. For the association’s various events he composed mainly piano pieces written in folk music style and intended for accompanying dance. These compositions can be compared to the choreographed dances created in folk style that were also performed in the association. His most widely spread instrumental composition, ‘Skansen-marschen’, was written for Skansen’s spring celebration in 1894, when the SFV presented its first public performance. He had several works of this type published by Abraham Lundqvist’s music publishing house, which is why one can postulate that they were also performed in other parts of the country under similar conditions.

Patrik Gyllenhammar met his future wife, Alfhild af Klintberg (1876−1968), while dancing with SFV. The couple wed in 1900 at her family farm in Vretaberg beside the lake Uttran, south of Stockholm. In Uttinge, near that same lake, the SFV acquired a building. The couple were present at both places and the group met regularly in the name of music. Patrik and Alfhild Gyllenhammar went on to have two children.

Involvement in song

Alfhild Gyllenhammar was a singer. At the turn of the century, together with her friends Alfhild Ljungman (née Silverstolpe) and Lillemor Montelius (née Gagge), she founded the so-called Gyllenhammar trio. They sang at ‘orphanages, health insurance organisations, for poverty-stricken seamstresses and maidservants and for voting rights events, as well as for the novelist Selma Lagerlöf’, as described in the newspaper Idun (1912 no. 2). Their repertoire included mainly songs by Patrick Gyllenhammar, who often accompanied them on lute during the time he collaborated with the trio. The Nordisk familjebok from the same time period (an extensive encyclopaedia first published in Sweden in 1876) describes the ensemble as being ‘struck with a bright natural enthusiasm and apt harmonisation’, a characteristic that is also found in Patrik Gyllenhammar’s song compositions. The trio, which in fact has been recorded, disbanded upon Alfhild Ljungman’s death in 1912. The group’s final performance was at a ‘Kvinnornas fest’ (a women’s celebration) held at Högloftet in Skansen in December 1911, paying tribute to Marie Curie who won her second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, that same year.

A small episode remembered within the family circle shows how Patrik Gyllenhammar’s songs were appreciated during his lifetime and also gives insight into his social life: Patrik and the Gyllenhammar Trio were invited to the home of singer and lute player Sven Scholander, head of the Nordic music publishing firm and also a relative of Alfhild Gyllenhammar. Edvard Grieg was in attendance at the same dinner. When the trio sang Gyllenhammar’s ‘I den stilla dal’ (In the quiet valley), Grieg showed his delight by saying he wished he had written the song himself.

Patrik Gyllenhammar was also musically involved in the arts and literature lodge, Samfundet SHT (the order had its origins in university student life), being voted in during 1899. He was also a musically active member of the Dalaföreningen in Stockholm (organised in 1902 by people from the region of Dalarna working in Stockholm). It seems he was born to be a member of these kinds of organisations.


Patrik Gyllenhammar’s successes as a composer rest, without a doubt, on his ability to create singable melodies − it is only his songs that have endured over time. It is the viability of his melodies that has preserved these works. His choice of texts also tells a lot about him as a creator of music, namely that he generally chose texts that was lyrical about nature, written by well-known authors such as Zacharias Topelius and Johan Ludvig Runeberg. In addition he wrote spirited harmonies to these texts.

Sources do not reveal when Patrik Gyllenhammar’s songs were written, but they were likely composed for the most part before he began building a family. He would have had more time to devote to composing before his children arrived. He unquestionably continued composing after his marriage as several songs were written for three female voices, i.e. for his wife’s vocal trio. It is a reasonable assumption that songs were composed for immediate use within Gyllenhammar’s circle of friends.

A considerable number of songs were printed later in songbooks for schools, associations and scout groups. This led to a relatively wide dissemination of his work, with most of the people who sang the songs being unaware of the name of the composer. In these sorts of publications, originally through-composed works were reduced to simple songs − rendered with only the melody line and chordal accompaniment. This was a common transformation of vocal compositions, which generally gave them a larger impact.

Patrik Gyllenhammar died on 23 December 1904 as a 33-year old father of small children after eating oysters tainted with bacteria at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm − three other people also died from that same meal.

Gunnar Ternhag © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson


Gyllenhammar, family, in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 17, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1967−69.
Kask, Jan
: 'Gyllenhammar, Patrik', Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 3, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1976, pp. 261.
Klintberg, Bengt af: Kring Uttran, Stockholm: Atlantis, 2011, pp. 78−80.


Musik- och teaterbiblioteket

Summary list of works

Songs, piano pieces (Skansen-marschen and others).

Collected works

Voice(s) and piano
Alt var dig ('Alt var dig, ja alt var dig', Nils Collett Vogt). For one voice and piano.
Das Rosenband ('Im Frühlingsschatten fand ich sie', Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock). For two voices and piano.
Den heliga natten ('Det svävar ett stilla', Carl David af Wirsén).
Det ringer till otta. Nyårsotta ('Jublande klang', Edvin Fredin). For female trio and piano. Printed in Patrik Gyllenhammar & Alice Tegnér, Fyra julsånger för barn eller damkör med pianoforte, no. 1.
Gaa ved min side! ('Gaa ved min side den lange vej', Bernt Lie). For one voice and piano.
Hejsan! ('Hejsan! Vad det är roligt ibland', Patrik Gyllenhammar).
Höbärgning ('Nu blommar små förgätmigej', Karl-Erik Forsslund).
I den stilla dal ('I den stilla dal', Zacharias Topelius). For three voices and piano.
I maj ('I maj, i maj') I natten ('Tyst är lunden och sjön', Viktor Rydberg). For one voice, muted violin and piano.
Kveld ('Kveld, med din duggende eng', Nicolai Bøgh).
Midsommarvisa ('Hej, kom och låt oss sjunga', okänd förf.). Printed in Svenska folkdansens vänner 1893−1918, Stockholm, 1918, p. 26.
Minna satt i lunden ('Minna satt i lunden och på kransen såg', Johan Ludvig Runeberg). For three voices and piano.
Nypetorn og Rognebær ('Nypetorn og rognebær, höstens muntre fattiggutter', Theodor Caspari). For three voices and piano.
Serenad ('Jeg elsker hver lysende stjerne'). For two voices and piano.
Sjung, sjung! ('Sjung, sjung! Det är sommardag!', Ebba Westberg). For three voices and piano.
Somna, du min våg ('Somna våg i västanfjärdar', Zacharias Topelius). For three voices and piano.
Svind ud ('Svind ud, du blinkende stjernelys', Theodor Caspari). For three voices and piano. Printed in Vita bandets sånger, no. 5.
Under rönn och syrén ('Blommande sköna dalar', Zacharias Topelius). For three voices.
Vandringssång ('Vi vandra genom skogen', Alfhild Silverstolpe). For three voices and piano.
Vi komma sunnanfrån till fjällens. Printed in Sångbok för scouter, no. 107, 1937.
Vintertröst ('Behåll i kärligt minne', Albert Theodor Gellerstedt). For one voice and piano.
Vår/Lärkröster i maj ('O, du lummiga lund', Zacharias Topelius). For three voices and piano. Printed in Vita bandets sånger, no. 6.
Våren ('Jag kommer ändå, jag kommer nog', Zacharias Topelius). For three voices and piano.
Önskevisa ('Om jag vore', Jeremias i Tröstlösa).

Hambo-Polska. Abraham Lundqvists förlag.
Polska. Till Spel-Olle i Svenska Folkdansens vänner. Abraham Lundqvists förlag.
Schottis. Abraham Lundqvists förlag.
Skansen-marschen, 1894.

Printed song collections
Songs for duets and trios. First collection. N.d. 1. Alt var dig (1 voice & piano),
 2. Gaa ved min side! (1 voice & piano),
 3. Vintertröst (1 voice & piano),
 4. I natten. Drömmande (1 voice, muted violin & piano),
 5. Serenad. Varmt (song duet & piano),
 6. Das Rosenband (song duet & piano),
 7. I den stilla dal (song trio & piano), 
8. Under rönn och syrén (song trio),
 9. Vandringssång (song trio & piano),
 10. Sjung, sjung! (song trio & piano),
 11. Våren (song trio & piano).
Songs for duets and trios. Second collection. N.d. 1. Önskevisa, 2. I maj,
 3. Den heliga natten,
 4. Kveld, 
5. Höbärgning, 
6. Hejsan!, 
7. Svind ud (song trio & piano),
 8. Nypetorn og Rognebær (song trio & piano),
 9. Vår (song trio & piano),
 10. Minna satt i lunden (song trio & piano),
 11. Somna, du min våg (song trio & piano).

Works by Patrik Gyllenhammar

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

Number of works: 9