Ivar Hedenblad (1851−1909)


Ivar Eggert Hedenblad was born on 27 July 1851 in Torsång in Dalarna and died on 16 June 1909 in Ronneby. His entire professional life was focused on working with choirs in Uppsala. His many positions as choir director beginning in 1871 (Allmänna sången, Orphei Drängar), as director musices from 1881 and cathedral organist from 1902 meant that he dominated Uppsala’s music scene for three decades. Hedenblad composed mainly occasional works. He became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1888.


Ivar Hedenblad began his schooling in Stockholm, where his widowed mother had moved. He took piano lessons from his cousin Hélène de Ron, a student of Ludvig Norman, which laid the foundation for his musical development. In Strängnäs, where he attended high school and graduated in 1871, he wrote, among other things, arrangements for the various ensembles that he participated in. In that same year he was accepted at Uppsala University, studying humanities, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1878.

As early as 1871 Ivar Hedenblad became the music leader of the Södermanland–Nerike student nation (university social groups organised by the region students come from). In 1875 the 23-year-old Hedenblad was elected as the leader of the Uppsala Student Union’s singing association, Allmänna sången, a position he was to hold until 1902 and again from 1907 until his death. In the summer of 1875 he received his baptism of fire as its leader at the Nordic student meeting in Uppsala. The following year he led his first singing tour abroad, which in 1878 was followed by the famous journey to Paris, where Oscar Arpi, twelve years before, had gained the Uppsala student singing tradition its first international success. Hedenblad’s success was equally good. After returning home, he was awarded the royal medal Litteris et artibus.

In 1879 the music publisher Abraham Hirsch suggested that Hedenblad edit a :collection of 100 male choir songs. Four years later, this collection appeared with the title Studentsången (The student songbook), which was subsequently expanded by three more volumes. A selection from Studentsången was included in Hedenblad’s collection titled Sångarförbundet, published posthumously. These editions were widely distributed and became the norm for the Swedish male choral singing for several decades. Through these collections, song such as ‘Sjung om studentens lyckliga dag’ (a student song still popular today) and Erik Gustaf Geijer’s ‘Stilla skuggor’, have become widely known in versions, which on essential points differ from the originals.

When Uppsala University’s director musices Jacob Axel Josephson died in March 1880, Ivar Hedenblad was, despite his lack of special musical training, appointed the job temporarily in April. Since he for a year and a half already had successfully managed this job, as well as, during the two summer breaks, qualified himself through music studies in Leipzig, he was in October 1881 appointed Josephson’s permanent successor. In connection with this post he also took over the leadership of the Filharmoniska sällskapet (the Philharmonic Society) in Uppsala and the male choir Orphei Drängar. Through these several posts, Hedenblad became the dominant force in Uppsala’s musical life for the following three decades.

Moreover, Hedenblad was the conductor of the Filharmoniska sällskapet in Stockholm from 1895 until 1897, provisional teacher of music history and aesthetics at the Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music) in Stockholm in 1895−96 as well as from 1901 to 1902, and the cathedral organist in Uppsala during the years 1902−09. He was elected as a member of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music) in 1888.


Hedenblad’s most important contribution for the Akademiska kapellet (The Academic Orchestra in Uppsala) was the creation of the university’s orchestra fund, which would support the development toward an almost completely professional orchestra. While his predecessor Josephson had lectured on music history, Hedenblad used his lectures for teaching musical form, harmony and counterpoint etc. For the aspiring priests he gave a course in liturgical song, which was partly founded on his own historical research in Swedish source materials.

The Filharmoniska sällskapet mainly focused on performing major compositions for choir and orchestra together with the Akademiska kapellet. Through Hedenblad, several foreign works were introduced in Sweden, among them Friedrich Kiel’s Christus. The Swedish premier of Heinrich Schütz’ St Matthew’s Passion, conducted by Hedenblad and performed in Uppsala’s cathedral on Good Friday in 1908, is particularly worth mentioning. The partially staged performance of Max Bruch’s Gustaf Adolf on 6 November that same year was also acclaimed. The choir participated regularly in performances of the cantatas Hedenblad composed for certain academic celebrations.

With the elite choir Orphei Drängar Hedenblad rehearsed works both with orchestral accompaniment and a concertising a cappella repertoire. The latter was useful for occasions including the choir’s foreign tours that began in the 1890s. With his triumphant concert successes in Helsinki and Saint Petersburg in 1894, Berlin in 1898, Paris in 1900, Kristiania (now Oslo) in 1903, Vienna and Budapest in 1905 and London in 1907, Hedenblad contributed to raising the awareness of Swedish music outside the country. With Orphei Drängar he also made gramophone recordings in London in 1907. Overall, it was within the arena of male choral singing that Hedenblad’s talents came into their own.

Ivar Hedenblad was well aware of the limited musical value of male choral works, but he attached great importance to their social and patriotic significance. The first steps toward realising a common Swedish singing association were taken by Hedenblad when he directed the music festival in Stockholm in 1897. Within this, as well as other contexts, Hedenblad’s outstanding organisational talent made him a strong contender for other positions, among them being a candidate for director of the opera in 1908.

The composer

Hedenblad had a hard time gaining recognition as a composer and orchestra conductor outside of Uppsala. An openhearted exchange of letter with musicologist and composer Karl Valentin, who studied in Leipzig, gives some insight into Hedenblad’s musical studies. After the Paris success in 1878 he decided to devote himself wholly to music. He therefore studied composition with Johannes Peter Carstensen, a student of the Danish composer Niels W. Gade, in Uppsala in 1879. Carstensen was the concertmaster for the Akademiska kapellet, a music teacher, and later a co-composer of Musik vid Regnellsfesten op. 9.

In the spring of 1880, when Hedenblad became interim director musices, he spent the summer of that year as well as the summers of 1881 and 1883 developing his skills in composition and song. The aim was to train to become a conductor: ‘[I] should therefore be able to write, orchestrate, understand historically, have heard much’. His teachers in Leipzig were Oscar Paul in harmony, Salomon Jadassohn in composition and Karl Götze in vocal studies. Hedenblad was on particularly good terms with the professor of composition, Carl Reinecke, for whom he wrote counterpoint and works for orchestra, among them a minuet that was intended as part of a suite. Upon his return to Leipzig in 1883 Hedenblad showed Reinecke his new cantata in memory of the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf, which he himself considered ‘no masterpiece; but it has one merit, which is that it is performable all the way through, all the sounds (I mean orchestration and the like)’. Reinecke ‘found it good and had no criticism − except one (highly essential!)’, “In such a large choral work one would like to have more polyphony”’. In his later works Hedenblad took that comment to heart.

Almost all of Hedenblad’s compositions consist of vocal music, but he has a way of thinking instrumentally that influences the natural formation of the vocal melody. His first compositions consisted of three books with three songs each. Musicologist Axel Helmer has studied them closely. In the 3 sånger af Heine op. 1, composed in 1879 when Hedenblad studied with Carstensen, Helmer notes ‘a connection to the stylistic followers of Schumann […]. Both regarding the structure of motifs in the melody and regarding the form of the recitative in the declamation, Hedenblad very closely couples himself to Schumann […]. As with several composers […] Hedenblad’s first work shows a distinctly experimental attitude with freely treated harmonies and freely developed forms’. Hedenblad had a strong interest in harmony, which later led to the publication of the fourth Swedish edition of Ernst Friedrich Richter’s harmony lesson book. Tre sånger from 1883, dedicated to Carl Reinecke, is more polished. However, in Tre sånger op. 11 from 1886, Helmer says he ‘becomes caught up instead in various kinds of schematisations of the rhythm and form of the declamations. In certain works patterns appear that are based on dance rhythms (barcarolle […], polonaise)’ (Helmer). These traits of uncertainty that many made note of, meant that they expected progress in future works.

Ludvig Norman thought that the national romantic Necken op. 8 for vocal soloist, choir and orchestra was ‘a considerable step forward. There is a great deal of fantasy and mood […]. The piece is well written for voice and is also characteristically orchestrated’. Another individual work of note is the ballad-like På knä from 1894 for male choir and orchestra.

Hedenblad’s creative output consists mainly of occasional works commissioned by the university, Orphei Drängar and the Samfundet SHT (an academic society with roots in Uppsala’s student life). Neither his ambition nor limited available time produced much other music. Herman Wikblad, a member of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien, wrote about the cantata Kantat vid Upsala universitets jubelfest 1893 in a letter from 1903: ‘Such true Swedish music, really blue and yellow in its fresh, cheerful G major, like the double quartet “En ädel forskning”, etc. one gets to hear, unfortunately, all too seldom, as the cantata otherwise has a genuine, lively echo of the Swedish Great Power Era.’ About the cantata Sången written for Orphei Drängar’s 50 year jubilee, Wikblad wrote: ‘From a purely technical point of view, the handling of the orchestra and the like, shows that this, in my opinion, is undeniably a step forward and contains brilliant modern music’. The most positively received pieces were a couple of Hedenblad’s male quartets, ‘I gamla Svealand’ and ‘Venetiansk visa’.

Jan Olof Rudén © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson

Publications by the composer

'Utlåtande till Upsala studentkårs allmänna sångförening af anföraren. Afgifvet den 1 februari 1896 enligt uppdrag', Upsala 1896, [foreword].
'Akademiska kapellet', in: Upsala universitet 1872−1897. Festskrift … R. Geijer (ed.), Upsala 1897, part 2: Universitetets byggnader och institutioner …, pp. 255−263.
'Sångarförbund i Sverige', Från tonernas värld, vol. 2, 1901, pp. 3−5 [also separate, somewhat rev. Upsala 1906; reprint in Festskrift för sångarfesten i Stockholm den 12−14 juli 1912, Stockholm, 1912].
'Musikaliska instrument', in: Industri- och slöjdutställningen i Gefle 1901 … Carl L. Bendix (ed.), Stockholm, 1903, pp. 414−418.
Berättelse öfver O.D:s femtioårsfest 1903, publ. by 'festbestyrelsen', Upsala, 1903 [39 p.].

Richter, Ernst Friedrich,  Harmonilära, 4. Swe. ed., Upsala: Schultz, 1898. VI, p. 224.
Kör-album, samling flerstämmiga sånger för blandade röster
, book 1−3, Stockholm 1886−88.
Studentsången, fyrstämmiga sånger för mansröster, vald samling af fyrstämmiga körer och qvartetter … part 1−4, Stockholm: Hirsch 1883−1906.
Svenska manskören under anförande af I. E. Hedenblad, Upsala, 1876.
Sångarförbundet, samling fyrstämmiga sånger för mansröster planlagd av I Hedenblad … part 1, Stockholm, 1910.


Aldén, Gustaf A.: Hemma och i Uppsala: gymnasist-, student- och folkhögskoleminnen, Stockholm: Hökerberg, 1927.
Alfvén, Hugo
: Tempo furioso, Stockholm: Norstedts, 1948.
Alfvén, Hugo
: I dur och moll, Stockholm: Norstedts, 1949.
Barr, Knut
: Tre sångarfärder 1894, 1904, 1914, Stockholm: Åhlén & Åkerlund, 1924.
Bidrag till Samfundet S.H.T:s historia under åren 1844-1894, Upsala, 1895.
Bohlin, Folke
: 'Hur börjar Studentsångens text? En musikforskares svar på den gamla stridsfrågan', Språk och stil, 1992, no. 2, pp. 43−59.
Bohlin, Folke:
'Ivar E Hedenblad' in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 18, pp. 422−425, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1969−71.
Bohlin, Folke
: 'Ivar Eggert Hedenblad', in: Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 16, p. 623.
Bohlin, Folke:
'Studentsångens början än en gång', Språk och stil, 1997, no. 7, pp. 161−163.
Festskrift: Andra allmänna svenska sångarfesten den 12−14 juli 1912 i Stockholm, Stockholm: Nordiska bokhandeln, 1912.
Första allmänna svenska sångarfesten, 1897.
Helmer, Axel
: Svensk solosång 1850−1890, diss., Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell informationsindustri, 1973.
Hultman, Gunnar:
'Ivar Eggert Hedenblad', Ord och Bild, 1964.
Jonsson, Leif:
Ljusets riddarvakt: 1800-talets studentsång utövad som offenbtlig samhällskonst, diss., Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell international, 1990.
Kallstenius, Gottfrid:
Blad ur Uppsalasångens historia, Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1913
Kjellén, Ragnar:
Sångarfärden till Paris 1900: på sångkörens uppdrag skildrad, Göteborg: Wettergren & Kerber, 1901.
Kjellén, Ragnar:
Sångare- och turistfärder, Stockholm: Geber, 1908.
Lindberg, Gunnar:
'Sång och musik i Södermanlands-Nerikes nation i äldre tid', in: Maj-hälsning till landsmännen, no. 7, Uppsala : Södermanlands-Nerikes nation, 1934.
Montan, C.O.
och Karl Warburg, Karl: Sångarfärden till Paris 1878: ett stycke studentlif, skildradt i resebref, Stockholm: Skoglunds, 1878.
Musiktidningen 1908, no. 6 and 9.
Ny illustrerad tidning 1899, no. 49.
Nyblom, Helena:
Mina levnadsminnen, vol. 2, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1922.
Nyblom, Knut:
Hör, I Orphei Drängar!, 1−2, 1913−28 [in A. Erdmann's and R. Kjellén's commemorative speech of Hedenblad], Uppsala & Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1928.
Nyblom, Knut:
Ivar Eggert Hedenblad: en liten minnes-skiss upptecknad af hans gamle vän och O.D. kamrat [in Nathan Söderblom's epicedium of Hedenblad], Uppsala: L. Norblads bokhandel, 1910.
Nyblom, Knut:
Upsalasångarnes Pariserfärd 1900: minnen, Stockholm, 1900.
Peterson-Berger, Wilhelm:
P-B-recensioner, vol. 1, Stockholm: Åhlén & Åkerlund, 1923.
Rabenius, Olof
: Kring drottning Kristinas klocka: kulturbilder och personteckningar från Uppsala, Stockholm: Fritze, 1942.
Samfundet SHT: En försenad 100-årsskrift, 1960.
Tal och kväden i Samfundet SHT, 1909, 1910.
Skildringar ur Sångsällskapet Orphei Drängars levnad (annual vol. 24−27, 1951−55, s. 36−39, and annual vol. 30−31, 1957−59, pp. 130−144.
Taube, Gurli:
Musik, dans, språk och andra akademiska färdigheter i Uppsala, Uppsala: Universitetet, 1963.
Tegen, Martin
: Musiklivet i Stockholm 1890─1910, diss., Stockholm, 1955.
[Tidningen] Upsala 1908, 16 and 18 April.
Upsalastudenten genom tiderna: en skildring utgiven i anledning av Upsala studentkårs hundraårsminne, Uppsala: Lundequistska bokhandeln, 1950.
Uppsala universitets matrikel 1906, Uppsala: Lundequistska bokhandeln.
Vid Filharmoniska sällskapets i Upsala 50-årsfest, Uppsala: Akademiska boktryckeriet, 1900.
Vid Ivar Hedenblads 25-årsjubileum som anförare …, Uppsala, 1899.
Åhlén, Carl-Gunnar:
'OD antiqua: Hedenblad, Alfvén, Godin', commentary volume to Caprice CAP 21710, Stockholm: Caprice, 2005.
Åsberg, Christer
: 'På Hedenblads tid; Ivar Eggert Hedenblad; Sångarfärder', in: En orkester av röster: Orphei Drängar 150 år, Stockholm: Atlantis, 2003.
Komplett grammophon skifförteckning omfattande hela den svenska repertoaren … [HMV catalogue published by Skandinavisk grammophon AB], 1912.


Uppsala universitetsbibliotek, Musik- och teaterbiblioteket, Musik- och teatermuseet

Summary list of works

Orchestral works (serenade, concert overture), works for soli, choir and orchestra (10 works, among them Necken, På knä), works for piano, songs (3 collections), choral works.

Collected works

Compositions in handwritten manuscript (at Uppsala University Library and in the archives of Akademiska kapellet Samfundet SHT, Uppsala; the choral parts in generally multiple).

Serenade, 1883?
Concert Overture, 1889.

Soli, choir and orchestra
Musik vid Upsala universitets fest med anledning af Kronprinsen Gustafs förmälning, 1881.
Vid Gustaf II Adolfs-festen 1882 op. 6 (Fr. Holmgren) for soli, mixed choir and orchestra.
Necken op. 8 (Stagnelius) for soprano, mixed choir and orchestra [piano vocal score by B. Fexer], 1884.
Vid Regnells-festen 1885 op. 9 (Fr. Holmgren; music together with J.P. Carstensen) for soli, mixed choir and orchestra.
Musik vid nya Universitetsbyggnadens invigning 1887 (C.D. af Wirsén) for soli, choir and orchestra.
Kantat vid Upsala universitets jubelfest till firande af trehundraårsminnet af Upsala möte (C.D. af Wirsén) for soli, mixed choir and orchestra [piano vocal score by B. Fexer], 1893.
Kantat vid SHT:s 50-årsfest 1894, cantata (C.R. Nyblom).
På knä (Fjalar [= C. Östergren]) for male choir and orchestra, 1894.
Sången op. 17, kantat vid Sångsällskapet OD:s 50-årsfest 1903 (D. Fallström), cantata for soli, male choir and orchestra.
Slutkör vid Linné-festen 1907 (C. Snoilsky), for mixed choir and orchestra.

Mixed choir a cappella
I himlen blott bor friden (Th. Moore), in Kör-Album, part 3, 1888.
Two folksongs (arr., 1894?): 1. En gång i bredd med mig, 2. Om dagen vid mitt arbete
Motet (1893?): Saliga äro de som höra Guds ord.

Male choir a cappella
Visa [also named Törsten o tapperheten]: I gamla Svealand.
Venetiansk visa.
Student-Sång (Böttiger), 1889.
Momenta juventutis.
Vaganternas vårsång (övers: Bååth).
Three Swedish folksongs op. 12 (trad.) [arr. together with Fritz Arlberg].

Voice and piano
3 songs by Heinr. Heine composed to music for one voice at the pianoforte op. 1, 1879.
Three songs for one voice with piano (Hoffmann von Fallersleben, H. Rollet, E. Geibel), 1883.
Three songs at the piano to poems by Th Moore op. 11, 1887 [1886 according to Helmer].

Élégie in A minor, in Album för piano af svenske tonsättare, 1897.

Some compositions by Hedenblad mentioned in litterature, amongst them Marcia (1882), Det breder sig ut från fjällarnas kam och Till Sverige, hymn (1907), both for male choir, have not been found. Niether has March for orchestra [as an introduction to music at the Regnells-festen 1885], Vallflickan (1874), I fjor, ack då var det ej som i går for song and piano, sång vid Knut Boijes grav (Melin, 1875), Svensken (Valerius, 1875) Bor jag på det höga fjäll.

Works by Ivar Hedenblad

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

Number of works: 1