Felix Körling (1864-1937)


Felix Körling was born on 17 December 1864 in Kristdala, Kalmar county, and died on 8 January 1937 in Halmstad. He was a music teacher, organist, and conductor. For several decades he was a central figure in the musical life of Halmstad, where he also helped found the orchestral and choral societies. Many of Körling’s compositions and arrangements were made directly for these societies.  Posterity remembers him above all for his nursery rhymes, which are now part of the classic Swedish repertory for children.


Felix Körling belonged to a musical family. He was born on 17 December 1864 in Kristdala, Kalmar country, as the son of August Körling (1842−1919), a music teacher, organist, and composer. August Körling was himself the son of the organist Sven Magnus Körling. Felix Körling’s brother Sven (1879−1948) would later run a music publishing house in Stockholm.

Felix Körling grew up in Ystad on the Swedish south coast. After grammar school he continued his studies at the Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music) in Stockholm, where he graduated as an organist, church musician, and music teacher in 1886. In 1887−1888 he worked as an organist in Skåne, but from 1889 he was based in Halmstad, where he worked as a music teacher in the grammar school. For nearly fifty years he was cantor and organist in one of the town’s churches. In 1896 he married Ellen Elisabeth Sundin.

Körling was innovative and inspirational in Halmstad’s musical life. He took part in the founding of Halmstad’s orchestral society and also took the initiative to found Halmstad’s choral society, and he became its director. His music-making is notable for its great breadth: he arranged events featuring both esteemed church music and popular folk plays, and for the latter he wrote both the text and music.

Körling’s collections of children’s songs have become classics of their genre. From 1910 onwards he published nine collections containing his own songs. The accompanying illustrations (by Hilding Nyman and Aina Masolle, among others) contributed to their popularity. Generations of children have fond memories of Kisse-Misse-Måns, Snipp-Snapp-Snorum, and the other collections, whose titles are often made up of onomatopoetic or nonsense words. The songs were sung in Swedish schools and homes in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and many of them are also included in more recent collections of Swedish children’s songs.

Körling was a recognised and competent music teacher and instructor, especially of children. In the 1930s he produced a series of radio programmes for children, in which children also took part. Together with the teachers Frans Erlanson and Axel Österberg he published several song books for schools. Sångboken, for example, became a bestseller of the genre, and 16 editions were published between 1928 and 1952.

Felix Körling died in Halmstad on 8th January 1937.


Körling’s earliest compositions consist of solo songs and music for plays. Music for the stage seems to have occupied him more and more, and between 1912 and 1926 he wrote four operettas, and set several fairy stories and folk tales for the stage. His operetta Guldgruvan (The Gold Mine), for which he also wrote the text, was premiered in Stockholm in 1912 and directed by Körling himself. He also wrote the libretti for his operettas Sommarflirt (Summer Flirting) (1913) and Jockeyen (The Jockey) (1918), whereas the famous opera singer Carl Barcklind wrote the libretto for Rubber (1917). Both Rubber and Jockeyen played with success in both Stockholm and Gothenburg with Körling as director. He also wrote folk plays, of which Egna torvan (One’s Own Plot of Land) was a success. När Bengt och Anders bytte hustrur (When Bengt and Anders Swapped Wives) was often staged in open air theatres and was twice made into a film, once in 1925 and once in 1950.

Körling did not compose large orchestral works, even if orchestral pieces feature in several of his theatrical works. However, he did arrange some of his songs and piano pieces for orchestras or small ensembles. His piano works consist of waltzes, marches, and short character pieces in a national-romantic spirit.

He was most devoted to vocal music − songs for soloists, choirs, and children. Many of his solo songs are melodically simple − they have a folk-music character − with a through-composed piano accompaniment. Several of the songs have retained their popularity and are included in songbooks of various types. The most well-known is ‘En glad trall’ (‘Där ginge tre jäntor i solen’) (A Happy Tune (Three lasses went a-walking in the sun)), a setting of a text by Gustaf Fröding. Körling also arranged it both for mixed choir and male-voice choir. In its printed form it spread to the Continent and was published in many editions. An interesting fact is that for a while the melody was used as the Turkish national anthem! Körling arranged another published song, ‘Ann-Marie’, for both orchestra and male-voice choir with solo tenor. Körling’s choral works were probably written primarily for his own choirs. His choral songs are lyrical or humorous, often generalised as ‘folky’.

Körling wrote both the text and music to the nine collections of children’s songs he published between 1910 and 1932. Their themes are taken from children’s own worlds. Dolls, cars, and airplanes (newly fashionable at the time!) are brought together with all types of animals. Many of the songs are set out as miniature role plays where children can play different parts. Sometimes they include sounds or animal cries that the children imitate. The songs come with a relatively simple piano accompaniment that can be played at home. Some feature time and again in new song collections and have thus been sung by several generations, e.g. ‘Hurra för vintern’ (‘Nej se det snöar’) (Hurray for Winter (See how it snows)), ‘Den vresige Lasse’ (Surly Lasse) and ‘Om “ja” fick fem öre’ (If ‘Aye’ Got Five Pence) (from Kisse-Misse-Måns), ‘Tomtegubben som hade snuva’ (The Goblin who Caught a Cold) (from Wia-Wua-Wampa), ‘Det var en gång ett gammalt fult och elakt troll’ (There Was Once an Ugly, Nasty Troll) (from Trill, Trall, Trull), and ’Har du sett min lilla katt’ (Have You Seen My Little Cat) (from Snipp-Snapp-Snorum).

Märta Ramsten © 2014
Trans. Kate Maxwell

Publications by the composer

Körling, Felix: Låt oss sjunga! 45 sånger för skolkör eller blandad kör / arrangerade av Felix Körling, Stockholm, 1933.
Erlanson, Frans, Felix Körling och Axel Österberg: Sångboken. Sånger för skolan, Stockholm, 1928.
−−−: Körsångboken. En-, två- och trestämmiga sånger för läroverk, lärarinneseminarier och andra högre skolor, Stockholm, 1929.
−−−: Vår sång, Stockholm, 1929.
−−−: Småbarnens sångbok, Stockholm, 1931.


Hedwall, Lennart: 'Felix Körling.' Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 22, 1977−79.
Koch, Christina:
'Sjung med oss, pappa!: om Felix Körling och Körlingska notsamlingen på Kungliga biblioteket.' Årsbok för Riksarkivet och landsarkiven. 2011, pp. 196−211.
Morin, Gösta
: article in Svenska Män och Kvinnor, vol.  4, Stockholm: Bonniers förlag, 1948, p. 397.
Percy, Gösta: article in Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 4, Stockholm, 1977, s. 238.


Kungl. biblioteket, Musik- och teaterbiblioteket, Svenskt visarkiv.

Summary list of works

4 operettas (Guldgruvan, Sommarflirt, Rubber, Jockeyen), 7 popular folk plays and fairy plays, stage music (4 plays), works for orchestra (orchestral suites), Canzonetta for violin and piano (also arranged for violin & orchestra), piano music, organ music, 2 cantatas, around 50 songs (some arranged for voice and orchestra), choral music (15 songs for mixed choir, 28 songs for male-voice choir), 9 collections of children’s songs.

Collected works

Several works exist in print, mainly piano pieces, vocal music and children's song collections. Others only exist in autograph. The order of appearance is chronological with year of composition, otherwise alphabetical. For possible information on location of manuscript, score and parts please refer to the Swedish page.

Stage music
Lars Gathenhielm, popular folk play (C.R.A. Fredberg), 1910.
Guldgrufvan, operetta in 3 acts (FK). Performed in Stockholm 1912.
Egna torfvan, popular folk play (FK). Performed in Stockholm 1913.
Sommarflirt, operetta (FK). Performed in Stockholm 1913.
Prinsessan Snövit, fairy play (N. Krook). Performed in Gothenburg 1914
När Bengt och Anders bytte hustrur, popular folk play (FK). Performed in 1916.
Rubber, operetta (C. Barcklind after Mannen med monokeln by Gunniver). Performed in Gothenburg 1917.
Jockeyen, operetta (FK). Performed in Stockholm & Gothenburg 1918.
Peppar och kryddnejlikor, popular folk play (FK). Performed in Stockholm 1922.
Kärlek och hönseri, popular folk play (FK). Performed in Stockholm 1925.
Den som gapar över mycket, musical for children, 1925.
Vem vet, popular folk play (FK). Performed in Stockholm 1926.
Vem är vem?, popular folk play (FK). Performed in Stockholm 1926.

Incidental music
Dansen på Koldinghus, incidental music (H. Drachmann). Performed in Stockholm 1900.
Elga, scenmusik (after Grillparzer by G. Hauptmann), composed and partly arranged. Performed in Gothenburg 1906.
Gamla goda tiden, incidental music, arrangement (Stockholmsbilder after A. Blanche et.al.). Performed in Gothenburg 1908.
Lars Gathenhielm, incidental music (C.R.A. Fredberg). Performed in Gothenburg 1909.

Orchestral works
Causeri − Liebesgespräch for orchestra.
En sommarlåt.
Legionernas marsch for large orchestra.
Suite for orchestra from the music to Dansen på Koldinghus.
Suite for orchestra from the music to Lars Gathenhielm.
Three songs for orchestra. 1. Du kära melodi 2. En höstdag 3. Sommarkväll.

Violin and piano
Canzonetta 1911. Also for orchestra.

Piano works
Den käraste sagan, waltz, 1909.
I sommartider, six melodies, 1910. 1. På vandring 2. I björkhagen 3. På insjön 4. Bland ängsblommorna 5. Månskens-svärmeri 6. Midsommarafton.
Katarina, march, 1912. Also for orchestra.
Nämndemansvals, waltz with melody from Värmland, 1911.
Reflexer, six melodies, 1929. 1. Reflexer 2. Lantlig dans 3. Petite valse 4. Romantique 5. Bagatelle 6. Vågglitter.
Tre trallande pojkar, march, 1910. Also for orchestra.
Valse boston over popular melodies, 1915.
Pastorale à la 'Gluntarna'.
Tre trallande jäntor.

Organ works
Postludium, 1897.

Freemason cantata for tenor and baritone soli, male choir and orchestra.
Christmas cantata for soli, mixed choir and organ.
Till min faders minne, cantata for soprano and baritone soli, mixed choir and orchestra.
Commemoration cantata, David's Psalm 103, for i.a. choir and organ.
Cantata 1905 for male choir a cappella.
Cantata for the St Johannes lodge's 'Oscars' century festical on 1 Dec. 1920 (Nils Flensburg), for soli, choir and string quartet.

Two voices and piano
Äktenskapsfrågan, duet (G. Fröding).
Six duetd for soprano and alto or two-voice choir and piano (FK), 1904.
Sjung, duet (E. Westberg), 1909.

Voice and piano
En glad trall (G. Fröding), 1905.
Serenad (FK), 1905 Vårjubel (FK), 1905.
Blåklockorna (J. Oterdahl), 1906.
En litten låt om vårn (FK), 1906.
Kattfötternas visa (J. Oterdahl), 1906.
Maskrosornas visa, duet (J Oterdahl), 1906.
En sommarlåt (FK), 1907.
Fanjunkar Berg (E.A. Karlfeldt), 1907.
Liten, min själ är sjuk (P. Norden), 1907.
Vandringssång (A. Ljungman-Silfverstolpe), 1908.
Den käraste sagan (FK), 1909.
Smaasange, 1909.
Sång vid Sveriges handelsresandeförenings 25-års-fest ('Klippans son'), 1909.
Det skymmer (FK), 1910.
Skolgossarnes flaggsång ('Klippans son'), 1910.
Tuppen (FK), 1910.
Två hallandsvisor (M.E. Ankarloo), 1910. När sol går ned på lummen hed, Ola Bengtssons flamma.
En sommarpolkett (FK), 1911.
Grisen och hönan (FK), 1911.
Anne-Marie (FK), 1912.
Dansvisa (FK), 1912.
Den glade trumpetaren (FK), 1912.
Den käraste sagan (FK), 1912.
Hembygden (N.E. Hildestrand), 1913.
Hopplihå! (FK), 1913.
I drömmarnes land (FK), 1913.
Min egen hjärtevän (FK), 1913.
Ljuft var det dock! (FK), 1914.
Lyft mig (E. Lundberg), 1914.
Under de ljusa lindar (G.D. Scholz), 1914.
De glada damerna (FK), 1915.
Serenaden (FK), 1915. Also for orchestra.
Önskningar, 1915.
Min duva, mitt allt, min dyra! (J. Inge), 1919.
Min första flamma (FK), 1919.
Säg, minns du? (A. Hallner), 1919.
En skymningens visa (B.E. Nyström), 1920.
Han skall bli min hjärtans kär, visa i folkton (FK), 1922.
En spelmanssaga, ballad i folkton (FK), 1924.
Se'n har jag ej frågat mera (J.L. Runeberg), 1924.
Ett var mig nog (FK), 1926.
Halland (Ernst Svensson), 1929.
En sommartrall (FK), 1933.
Två visor (O. Stjerne), 1964: Te Mårten, Når de lir emot vår.

Mixed choir
En litten låt om vårn (G. Fröding), 1906.
Vår (A. Strindberg), 1908.
'En glad trall (G. Fröding), 1909.
Hej björkelöv! Polska with soprano solo (FK), 1926.
Ringen, vackra klockor, ringen (C.R.A. Fredberg), arrangement of Margits visa from Lars Gathenhielm, 1926.
En sommarmarsch (FK), 1927.
I sommartider (FK), 1927.
Bohusläns sång (E. Evers), 1928.
Hembygden (N.E. Hildestrand), 1928.
Den gyllene stunden (G. Ullman), 1932.
Danslek, arr. av en visa ur Egna torfvan, 1933.
Hopplihå! (FK), 1933.
Lockfågeln (FK), arrangement of a ballad from Egna torfvan, 1933.
Dans i sommarkväll, potpourri of Swedish folk dances svenska folkdanser, 1934.
Våran katt (Mark), 1936.

Male choir
En glad trall (G. Fröding), 1906.
En litten låt om vårn (G. Fröding), 1906.
En sommarlåt (FK), 1907.
Vandringssång (A. Ljungman-Silfverstolpe), 1907.
Den svenske Celadons klagovisa (G. Fröding), 1908.
Vår by (J. Bromé), 1908.
Berceuse (B.E. Nyström), 1909.
Skogsfantasi (FK), 1909.
Det skymmer (FK), 1910.
I vårstormars tid (D. Fallström), 1910.
Kungen i Yvetot (Beranger), 1910.
Det dagas (FK), 1913.
För hem och härd (M. Bolander), 1913.
Hembygden (N.E. Hildestrand), 1913.
I vårtider (FK), 1913.
Vildfågel (O. Brund), 1915.
Det red en jungfru (V. von Heidenstam), 1916.
Där står två rosor (FK efter G. Bachmann), 1916.
Jag drömde, visa, with baritone solo (FK), 1916.
Kan man tro! (FK), 1916.
Oho! (G. Fröding), 1916.
Sångarhälsning (FK), 1917.
Vid stranden (FK), 1917.
En skymningens visa, with baritone solo (B.E. Nyström), 1918.
Sol över Sverige (O. Siren), 1918.
Sveriges flagga (K.G. Ossian-Nilsson), 1919.
Anne-Marie, med tenorsolo (FK), 1923.
Min sorg är en smed (O.J. Bierbaum), 1923.
Våren kommer (FK), 1924.

Children's song collections (text and music by Felix Körling)
10 roliga barnvisor. Stockholm: Gehrmans musikförlag, 1910. 1. En vintervisa 2. Anders Lasse och hans gris 3. Vaktparaden 4. Stinas pepparkaks-soldat 5. Karl skall jaga 6. En morgon i hönsgården 7. Majas vaggvisa för dockan 8. Fröken Kissekatt och herr Max von Tax 9. Häst och automobil 10. Tre modiga skräddare.

Kisse-Misse-Måns och andra visor. Göteborg & Stockholm: Åhlén & Åkerlunds förlag, 1913. Illustration by Hilding Nyman. 1. Kisse-Misse-Måns 2. Lille Lasse spelar 3. Om "ja" fick fem öre 4. Till pepparkakslandet 5. Sommarsång 6. Snögubben 7. Kalaset 8. Ett äventyr 9. Fiskafänget 10. Syltburken 11. Hej hopp, i gröna hagen 12. Krigarhären 13. Trummor, trumpeter! 14. Stackars lilla fågelungen 15 Hurra för vintern!.

Wia-Wua-Wampa, en indianvisa och 14 andra barnvisor. Stockholm: Åhlén & Åkerlund, 1915. Barnens stora julkalender. Illustration by Hilding Nyman. 1. Via-vua-vampa 2. En liten fiol 3. Dockorna ha tvätt 4. Nu ska vi gymnastisera 5. Hans och Greta 6. Tomtegubben som hade snuva 7. Katten och sparven 8. Dockan är sjuk 9. Mitt lilla lamm 10. Hararne och Karo 11. Mobilisering 12. Menageriet 13. Slädpartiet 14. Julpolska 15. Kväll.

Nicke-Nacke och andra visor. Stockholm: Åhlén & Åkerlund, 1919. Illustration by Aina Masolle. 1. Nicke-Nacke 2. Nu är det vår 3. Pelles dröm 4. Dragoner 5. En strid i hönsgården 6. Tre män i en båt 7. Rosengull 8. Min docka ska' på bal 9. Jo, så går det 10. Plocka svamp 11. Flygmaskinen 12. Tomtens julfunderingar.

Trill, Trall, Trull och andra visor. Stockholm: Åhlén & Åkerlund, 1924. Illustration by Hilding Nyman. 1. Trill, Trall, Trull 2. Hurra, nu kommer våren 3. Vill ni veta 4. En vandringslåt 5. Vi ha lov! 6. Leka skola 7. Min bil 8. Precis som i sagan 9. Det var en gång. . . 10. Den vresige Lasse 11. Gubben och gumman som alltid grälade 12. Till jultomten.

Ulla, Tulla och Rulterulla. Stockholm: Albert Bonniers förlag, 1928. Illustration by Greta Lundén. 1. Majstången 2. Födelsedagen 3. Plocka blåbär 4. Den olydige Anders 5. Hopp, min pålle! 6. Blomsterklockorna 7. Ulla, Tulla och Rulterulla 8. Vi har skridskolov 9. Pull, pull! 10. Nu är det vinter! 11 Kan du dansa?.

Hantverkets visor. Eskilstuna: Öberg & Son, 1929. Illustration by A.W. 1. Bagaren 2. Muraren 3. Målaren 4. Skräddaren 5. Smeden 6. Snickaren 7. Sotaren.

20 nya barnvisor. Stockholm: Nils-Georges musikförlag, 1930. 1. Ankans visa 2. Mopsen Karo 3. Hos urmakaren 4. Herr Kuckeliku 5. En spelman spelar 6. En majvisa 7. Kafferepet 8. Allting på tok 9. Hönsefar och Hönsemor 10. Kopparslagaren 11. Lilla kissen min 12. Trädgårdsmästaren har bråttom 13. Mjölnarens visa 14. Vår kära tupp 15. Råttan 16. I skogen 17. Göken 18. Nu är julen här 19. Julklockorna 20. Skolungdomens flaggsång

Snipp-Snapp-Snorum. Stockholm: Körlings förlag, 1932. Illustration by Hilding Nyman. 1. Snipp Snapp Snorum 2. Motorbåten 3. Krocketspelet 4. Födelsedagskakan 5. Det är sommar 6. Vi ska campa 7. Stjärnor 8. Har du sett? 9. Fyrverkeriet 10. En visa året runt 11. En katt över vägen 12. Vår julgran.

Works by Felix Körling

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

Number of works: 32