Daniel Jeisler (1877−1959)


Karl Vilhelm Daniel Jeisler was born on 8 December 1877 in Klockrike, Sweden, and died in Paris on 6 May 1959. After studies in Stockholm, Jeisler travelled to Paris, where he worked as a pianist, composer and organist. His output was prodigious and included music drama, orchestral works, chamber music, songs and works for piano and organ. He was married to the eminent cellist Marguérite Caponsacchi and accompanist for, amongst others, the legendary Pablo Casals.

From studies in Stockholm to pianist in Paris

Daniel Jeisler was born in Klockrike, Östergötland in 1877 to organist Karl Israel Petersson and his wife Anna Charlotta. He adopted the family name Jeisler of his own accord, and enrolled at the Musikkonservatoriet i Stockholm (The Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm) as Daniel P:son Jeisler. He studied there from 1896 to 1903, after having graduated with a degree in organ playing back in 1892, and focused his attention on song, piano and composition. In 1906 Jeisler moved to Paris, a city to which he would remain faithful for the remainder of his life.

Supported by impresario Arthur Dandelot and other contacts, Jeisler, the talented pianist, accompanist and teacher he was, managed to acquire for himself a platform as a musician in Paris. He also, significantly, met Marguérite Caponsacchi (1884−1933), a cellist newly graduated from the Paris conservatory who had recently performed in Stockholm. With her great gift and personal charisma, she was one of the first women to establish herself as an international cello virtuoso. In 1906 Jeisler became engaged to and married Caponsacchi, with whom he quickly made a name for himself as a chamber musician, to add to his activity as a soloist and accompanist.

The couple could be heard in, amongst other places, the Association de Lyre et Palette, a playground for the avant-garde of modernism in music and art that counted amongst its members many of the era’s most renowned cultural celebrities. He would eventually go on to perform the odd concert and tour with other musicians of high international calibre, including none other than the influential soprano Ninon Vallin, violinist Jacques Thibaud and legendary cellist Pablo Casals.

Performing his own works

In that his wife gave the premiere performances of works by the likes of Théodore Dubois and Camille Saint-Saëns, his marriage brought Jeisler into natural contact with many of the most seminal composers of the time, particularly with Camille Saint-Saëns, who became a friend of his. Already during his first years in Paris he began to compose songs to French lyrics. Great advances in his development as a composer came in the 1910s and 20s, on account not least of the scholarships he received from the Swedish government between 1912 and 1916.

A few years on and he had already amassed a large collection of large and small works from which he was able to draw for a number of successful concerts. In 1919 the French press raved about a concert at which Marguérite performed Dvořák’s cello concert while Daniel played and conducted his own symphonic works, songs and organ music. The central work for this and other performances in Stockholm (at the Kungliga Teatern [Royal Opera] in 1921, with conductor Armas Järnefelt) and Gothenburg (1925, conducted by Tor Mann) was his second symphony.

Large-format orchestral music

Included amongst his many large-scale works from 1910 are several pieces for orchestra in which he passes music inspired by Swedish folk songs through the filter of the French orchestral tradition. Two rhapsodies for orchestra are works of effective craftsmanship and festive orchestral splendour, while a set of chamber music variations on ‘Ack Värmeland, du sköna’ for woodwinds demonstrates his acumen for creating musically stylistic imitations with the most modest of means.

The large-scale symphonies from this time also evince Nordically inspired motifs, although chiefly characterised by a French classicist form of romanticism as regards craft and orchestration. However, in the midst of all this elegance are a personal boldness, irascibility and creativity. In the Swedish press, a rhapsodic overall form was said to reflect Jeisler’s background as an organist and improviser. Interestingly, while French critics tended to focus on his competent craftsmanship, their Swedish counterparts saw a youthful volubility that they found troubling.

Music for his wife’s cello

Given his marriage, it is no surprise that music for cello came to play a particularly important part in Jeisler’s early composition. His youthful intensity is possibly most conspicuous in two large cello sonatas (around 30 minutes each) written to showcase his and Marguérite’s technical brilliance and personal voices. A motivic abundance and a fairly freely fantasising form are combined here with the ability to build up steam in long thematic lines to reach grand, dramatic climaxes. An earlier piano quartet is also this kind of work, albeit one that contains yet another level of chromaticism and drama.

He also wrote two larger works for cello and orchestra for his wife. Conte Légendaire is in the romantic concerto tradition, although freer in form; Morceau de Concert is much more a soloistic work based on virtuosic dexterity and melodic expressiveness, to which the orchestra provides more rudimentary accompaniment.

Nature-inspired impressionism

In the 1920s, Jeisler’s tonal language grew more unequivocally integrated with contemporary French modernism. Individual pieces like Rondo and Scherzo for orchestra contain elegant, well-written music, while the four portraits of nature in his mammoth Tableaux Rustiques express a more visionary impressionistic sound palette. Several smaller songs from the time also reveal a Jeisler rooted in the aspiration of his time to emulate Debussy in exploring new harmonic schemes and expressive opportunities.

Jeisler’s grandest work during this era is his opera based on the traditional Normandic legend  Le Fée d’Argouges as written down by M.A. Macé. Composed with a prologue and three acts and large orchestra, it is a completely unknown Swedish addition to the limited development of ‘grand’ French opera in the post-Pelléas et Mélisande generation. The exotic historical spirit of mediaeval knights, fabulous creatures and love-struck troubadours inspired Jeisler to imbue a string of characterful scenes with a generous helping of musical tone painting.

Church musician

When Jeisler first occupied the organist’s chair at the Swedish church in Paris on New Year’s Day in 1917, he found something of a home for himself and he remained with the parish until his death in 1959. That same day also saw the inauguration of the church’s new organ, built by the distinguished firm of Cavaillé-Coll.

Despite Jeisler’s original background as an organist, his works for the instrument seem more inspired by the piano than anything else. A couple of shorter toccatas and fugues are conservative in form, but two larger three-part works manage to integrate the pianistic approach in compositions that are both varied and grand in scale. Judging by some shorter vocal works written for the parish, Jeisler was out of his comfort zone writing for choirs; this is not to say, however, that several of his multi-movement works, such as the Nativity story in Julhymn and, above all, the Creation drama in Le Commencement du monde, do not create interesting and mystical soundscapes.

Chamber music revisited

After his intensely inspired years of youthful wedlock, Jeisler fell into oblivion when Caponsacchi left the public scene and died in 1933. Over the following years he produced a mere handful of works, and his elevation to a Knight of the Order of Vasa in 1938 must qualify as the decade’s greatest success for him. After remarrying in 1944 to doctor Simone Marcus-Laraque (b. 1911), Jeisler found his way back to composition and turned his hand to chamber music to the virtual exclusion of everything else. Over the ensuing years he turned out a large number of works, including no less than eight string quartets. The eminent French Loewenguth Quartet appropriated the fourth of them for its personal mixture of ‘concise form’ and ‘charm’. Many of the works from this time embody a neoclassical strictness and an eclectic mix of older motor figurations and chorale-esque passages along with a playful elegance and a youthful penchant for frenetic drama.

By 1946 Jeisler had met the woman who was to become his third wife, violinist Monique Gouly, to whom he lovingly dedicated his second violin sonata. Some chamber music works were published during his lifetime in Paris and his collected compositions can be found in manuscript form at the Kungliga Biblioteket (the National Library of Sweden) in Stockholm.

Jonas Lundblad © 2016
trans. Neil Betteridge


Edling, Anders: Franskt i svensk musik 1880−1920, diss., Uppsala universitet, 1982.
−−−: ‘Daniel Jeisler’, in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, 2nd ed., Stockholm: Sohlman, 1976.
Wenzel, Silke: ‘Marguérite Caponsacchi’, in: Beatrix Borchard och Nina Noeske (eds),  ‘MUGI. Musikvermittlung und Genderforschung: Lexikon und multimediale Präsentationen, Hamburg’, Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, 2003−.


Kungliga Biblioteket.

Summary list of works

2 operas (La Fée d’Argouges, Le Dernier Combat), 2 operettas (Voyage diplomatique, Le Loup et l’Agneau), orchestral works (four symphonies etc.), chamber music (9 string quartets, 5 string trios, 6 violin sonatas, 2 cello sonatas, etc.), piano works, organ works, songs.

Collected works

Le Dernier Combat (H. Robas), a musical tale in three acts.
La Fée d’Argouges (M.A. Macé). Legende Normande in a prologue and three acts.

Voyage diplomatique, operetta in three acts.
Le Loup et l’Agneau, operetta in three acts.

Symphony no. 1, C major.
Symphony no. 2, F minor, 1918.
Symphony no. 3, B-flat major, 1920.
Symphony no. 4, 1949.
Pièce Elègiaque.
Esquisse symphonique.
1ère Rapsodie sur des airs populaires suédois, 1915.
2ème Rapsodie sur des airs populaires suédois, 1916.
Triptyque sur des airs populaires suedòis.
Conte Légendaire. Pièce Symphonique, for cello and orchestra, 1921.
Morceau de Concert, for cello and orchestra.
Tableaux Rustiques. 1. Dans la grande forêt, la nuit, 1925, 2. Scintillement, 1925, 3. Houles, 1926, 4. Crépuscule, Clair de Lune.
Scherzo, two pieces[of which 1 from1949 is identical with the Scherzo in the fourth symphony].
Mélopée et danse suédoise, before 1950.

Works for string orchestra
Adagio. L’Ombre et le miroir.
Suite en une partie, for viola and string orchestra.

Chamber music
Quartet for piano, violin, viola and cello, 1911.
Variations sur un théme populaire suèdois, for flute, oboe and piano, 1919.
Montmartre à 3hs. du matin. Poème Musical en 91 mesures for two clarinets, bassoon, trombone, percussion.
Trio for violin, cello and piano no. 1, before 1921.
Trio for violin, cello and piano no. 2, 1917.
Trio for violin, cello and piano no. 3, 1943.
Trio for violin, cello and piano no. 4, 1948.
Trio for violin, cello and piano no. 5, 1948.
Sonata for two violins and piano, 1946.
Quintet for piano and string quartet C major, 1946.
Triptyque for oboe, clarinet and bassoon, 1949.

For string instruments
String quartet no. 1, 1944.
String quartet no. 2, 1944.
String quartet no. 3, 1945.
String quartet no. 4, 1945.
String quartet no. 5, 1945.
String quartet no. 6, 1946.
String quartet no. 7, 1947.
String quartet no. 8, 1947.
String quartet no. 9, 1959.
Divertimento for three violins.
Melopée (Allegro Vivace) for violin and cello.
Duo for two cellos.

Violin and piano
Sonata for violin and piano (no number), 1907.
Sonata for violin and piano (no number), 1912.
Sonata for violin and piano no. 2, 1946.
Sonata for violin and piano no. 3, 1946.
Sonata for violin and piano no. 4, 1947.
Sonata for violin and piano no. 5, 1954.
Allègro, Aria, Presto.
Morceaux minuscules.
Sortie dans le style de Bach.
Perpetuum mobile.

Viola and piano

2 Sonatas for viola and piano.

Cello and piano
Sonata no. 1 for cello and piano, 1921.
Sonata no. 2 for cello and piano, 1919.
Calme (with piano or organ), 1931.
Etude de Fiorillo.

Au fil d’un jour, quatre pièces pour piano, 1921. 1. Cascades, 2. Au Cap Fréhel, 3. Miroitement, 4. Nuit.
Marche funèbre, before 1928.
Marche Nuptiale, for piano or organ, 1931.
Gavotte dans le style ancien.
Valse dans les styles classique de Strauss, Waldteufel, etc., 1941.
Impromptu, 1946.
Toccata – Adagio – Allegro Scherzando, 1947.
Sonatine, 1950, printed 1957.
Pantomime (fter C.G. Bjurström), version for piano four hands.

Toccata e Fuga, 1906.
Introduction, Choral et Variations, 1918.
Toccata, Adagio et Allegro, 1920.
Toccata et Fugue, 1945.

Vocal music
Trois Poëmes de Pierre Audibert, for one voice and symphony orchestra, 1918. 1. Le Soldat, 2. Chysanthèmes, 3. Victoire.

Song and piano
Kung Liljekonvalje (G. Fröding). [Possibly initially for organ.]
Liljan (P.D.A. Atterbom), 1898.
Trollhättan (E. Tegnér), 1901.
Les fleurs de la Toussaint.
La Blessure (Aubinière), 1908.
Parfums légers, mauriants zephirs, 1908.
L’alouette (Harancourt), 1908.
Tristesse d’amour (Aubinière), 1908.
Les chansons (V. Hugo), 1909.
Les Glas (Richepin).
Under rönn och syrén (Z. Topelius), 1912.
Hör du ej bjällrorna (G. Fröding).
Tre vilda svanar (D. Fallström).
L’oiseleur (G. de Maupassant).
Me voici, c’est moi! (V. Hugo).
Je suis seule avec toi.
Chrysamthèmes, 1918.
Huit mélodies, Paris: Maurice Senart, 1921. 1. Les brumes (E. Verhaeren), 2. Quand vient le soir (Ch. van Lerberghe), 3. Sur la terre il tombe… (Hérold), 4. Par ce soir pluvieux (J. Moréas), 5. Les Barques (Ch. van Lerberghe), 6. Calme (M.A. Macé),  7. Rafale d’Automne (M.A. Macé), 8. L’Île de la Mort (M.A. Macé).
Mon Amour (C. François), 1930.
Neige de Printemps (Rostant).
Vilda svanar (D. Fallström), 1932.
À l’Asile ou vont les qneux (Mayer), 1934.
Les Roses (Audibert).
Mon Amour est Comme la Mer.
C’est un très Vielle Chanson (Mayer).
Fest på Skansen (Elgeskog), Vindvisa (Monica) och Sången på Skansen (Granberg), 1937.
Chanson Pascale (Hauriac), 1942.
Chanson dans le goût ancient (Chesneau).
Hymne à la Lumière (Hamiac), 1942.
Etat d’Ame, 1942.
Idylle pigeonnière (M. Hérault), 1945.
Glömskans slott (D. Fallström), 1953.

Men’s choir
Jätten (E. Tegnér), 1930.
Mörkgrön granskog (D Fallström), 1942.
Sverige (V. von Heidenstam).

Arrangements of songs
Légendes dorées, avec leurs airs anciens, collection de Yvette Guilbert, arrangées et harmonisées par G. Ferrari et D. Jeisler, chant et pf, 1941.

Church music
Ave Maria, for one voice and organ, 1923.
Julhymn for soli, choir and organ, 1924.
Cantata for the 300-year jubilee of the Church of Sweden, for mezzo-soprano, baritone, cello, mixed choir and organ, 1926.
Duet for two voices and piano or organ (‘Ring, klocka, ring’), 1929.
Le Commencement du Monde (M. Hérault). Poëme biblique for recitation, soli, choir, string quartet and organ, 1944.
Pie Jesu, for one voice and piano or organ, at the latest 1955.