Gustaf (d.ä.) Heintze (1825−1909)


Gustaf Wilhelm Heintze, born on 1 July 1825 and died on 19 March 1909 in Jönköping, was an organist, pianist and composer. He was an organist and cantor in Jönköping from 1848 to 1906 and a music teacher at the city’s elementary school during the years 1851−1896. He was also responsible for giving organ and precentorship examinations from 1862 and led the male choir Folksångföreningen. Heintze composed mainly for choir but also wrote some orchestral works, chamber music and songs for solo voice. He was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.


Childhood and education

Gustaf Wilhelm Heintze grew up in Skedevi parish outside of Finspång southwest of Stockholm. He must have shown his talent for music very early, because in 1840 at the age of 15, he completed his organist examination at the educational institution of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music), garnering the highest grades in the three core subjects of organ, singing and harmony. After graduating with a degree in music teaching three years later (or, according to other information, in 1848), he was employed as a music teacher and pianist in Stockholm. There is also an indication that while in Stockholm he completed the elementary school teacher examination. It was during this time he was most active as a composer and it was also then that his first compositions were published.

Organist, music teacher and choir director in Jönköping

In 1847 he sought the vacant position of organist and music director in Jönköpings’ city church and after a successful audition he entered the job the following year. Immediately after taking office, he started a ‘singing school’, which apparently lasted only a couple of years. The reason could have been that in 1851, Heintze was appointed music teacher at the trivialskolan (later the secondary school) and thus gained a new platform for his work with young voices.

He presented regular public concerts with the school’s singers and instrumentalists up until 1870. His talent for working with the young choral singers was often praised in the local press, in which it was even presumed that ‘in few, if any of the secondary schools in the country could school singing be raised to the same heights as at this secondary school, thanks to Mr Heintze’s exceptional ability to not only teach the most complicated matter, but to also within the young students […] instil a love for the art of music’ (Jönköpings Tidning 12 April 1865). Heintze’s reputation as a teacher is also seen in the fact that in 1862 he was given the right to examine organists and precentors, a position that normally was only given to the cathedral organist.

During his years in Stockholm Heintze became acquainted with the choir director and male choir enthusiast August Jahnke, who was inspired by the so-called ‘folksångförening’ (public song association) to start the first male choir with the same name in Jönköping. The Folksångföreningen attracted around 70 singers for its first concert on 17 April 1853, but it was short-lived. The final concert was presented in 1857, even if the association continued officially until 1864.

The musician Gustaf Heintze

The main focus in Heintze’s activity as an organist lay in the regular Sunday organ playing for the worship service. His improvised preludes and postludes as well as his hymn playing (with his own harmonies) witness to something far removed from the ordinary. Curiously enough, no organ compositions done by his own hand are preserved, with the exception of two smaller works that were intended as examination pieces. He performed as an organ soloist at concerts including works by Johann Sebastian Bach, which was fairly uncommon at the time. He was also a skilful pianist with, among others, works by contemporary virtuosos such as Friedrich Kalkbrenner and Sigismund Thalberg in his repertoire, and he frequently performed as an accompanist. Beside his musical practices he worked as a music critic for local newspapers.

Gustaf Heintze is described as a humble and friendly person who took a special delight in teaching young students. As a 21-year-old in 1846, he became ‘agréé’ in the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien, where in 1857 he became associé, and in 1906 a regular member. He was the father of the conductor and organist Georg Wilhelm Heintze (1849−95).


Gustaf Heintze’s music is grounded on a classical romantic base with Ludwig van Beethoven and Felix Mendelssohn as important influences. In his songs for male choir he is linked to the coeval Swedish tradition. His compositions can be divided into three categories: a) early works from his time in Stockholm (piano pieces, songs, male quartets), b) compositions that originated in connection with his music teaching and c) a small number of works from his later years. In the latter category there are two large cantatas, unfortunately lost, for soloists, adult and children’s choirs and organ. These were written and performed, with the composer at the organ, when he was in his 80s.

Sverker Jullander © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson


'Gustaf Wilhelm Heintze', in: Kyrkomusik och skolsång, no. 13, 1909.
'Heintze, släkt', in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 18, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1969−71.
Jönsson, Svante: 'Komponisterna i släkten Heintze: Deras liv samt stiliakttagelser i några representativa verk', 60 credit thesis in musicology, Stockholm University, 1988.
Lené, G.: 'Jönköpings högre allmänna läroverk', in: Jönköpings historia, vol. 4, Jönköping: Richards AB, 1921.
Percy, Gösta: 'Heintze, Gustaf Wilhelm', in: Svenska män och kvinnor, vol. 3, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1946.
Ruuth, Gustaf: Katalog över äldre musikalier i Per Brahe-gymnasiet i Jönköping, Jönköping, 1971, rev. ed. 1982.
Ruuth, Gustaf: Musikaliska nöjen i Jönköping 1620–1920, Jönköping: Jönköpings läns museum, 2001.
Suttner, Carl-Erik: 'Heintze' [släktartikel], in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 3, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1976.

Summary list of works

Orchestral music (pieces for school orchestra), chamber music (Introduction and Allegro for strings, piano and organ), piano works (piano sonata, etc.), solo songs, cantatas, male quartets.

Collected works

The list of works is probably not complete.

Allegro D major, 1869.
Allegro E-flat major.
Allena Gud i himmelrik.
Andante F major, 1868.
Andante and Allegro D major, 1866.
Andante and Allegro E-flat major.
Andante and Allegro vivace G major, 1867.
Andantino and Marcia D major, 1868.
Introduction and Allegro C major, 1869.
Chorale (2 pieces).

Arrangement for orchestra
Björneborgarnas marsch.
Crusell: Flyttfoglarna, 1860s.
Finska rytteriets marsch under 30-åriga kriget.
Geijer: Varning, Hopp och Bön, 1860s.
Söderberg: Davids psalmer 100.
Söderberg: Davids psalm 117.
Wennerberg: Davids psalm 24.
Wennerberg: Davids psalm 55.
Wennerberg: Davids psalm 113.
Wennerberg: Davids psalm 119.
Wennerberg: Davids psalm 126.
Wennerberg: Davids psalm 137.
Wennerberg: Davids psalm 150.

All orchestral works and arrangements for orchestra are unprinted. Manuscript (score and parts) in the Per Brahe-gymnasiet collections, Jönköping.

Chamber music
Introduction and allegro for strings (poss. for string orchestra), organ and piano.

Sonata capriccio. Abr. Hirsch, n.d. (1850s?).
Jubeldanssoiréer för år 1845, 1844. Publ.
Carolina Valser, 1848. Publ.
Prélude, op. 13 no. 1. Stockholm: Elkan & Schildknecht, [1862].

Examination piece, 1867. Unprinted.
Examination piece, 1869. Unprinted.

Songs at the piano, Flodins förlag, n.d. 1. Flyttfogeln, 2. Den lilla ängeln till sin mamma, 3. Källan, 4. Fantasi, 5. Den enda trösten.
Hymn: O Jesu Krist, Guds Lamm (Elsa Heintze), 1903.

Mixed choir
Kantat vid invigningen av den nya läroverksbyggnaden i Jönköping, cantata, 1867. Not preserved.
Pilgrimsfärden, cantata for soli, choirs and organ, 1904. Only the text preserved.
Kors och krona, cantata for soli, choirs and organ, 1905. Only the text preserved.

Male choir/quartet
Six quartets for male choir, Abr. Hirsch, 1858. 1. Necken, 2. Nattlig helsning, 3. Wårsång, 4. Suck på en sommarafton, 5. Marsch för Smålands nation i Upsala, 6. Ack... flydda tid.

Manle choir and children's choir
Lofsång ('Högt i världen må det höras').

Works by Gustaf (d.ä.) Heintze

There are no works by the composer registered