Olallo Morales (1874−1957)


Olallo Juan Magnus Morales was born in Almeria, Spain, on 15 October 1874 and died in Tällberg, Sweden, on 29 April 1957. He was a composer, pianist, teacher, writer and conductor, serving as second conductor of the Gothenburg Orchestral Society (1905−09). He was music reporter for Gothenburg’s, and later Stockholm’s leading newspapers, and a teacher of conducting, orchestra technique and the history and aesthetics of music at the Royal Conservatory of Music (1917−40). He held the office of secretary at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music (1918−40) and, amongst his many public offices, of inspector for the state-subsidised orchestras (1918−1946). He became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1910 and was awarded the Litteris et artibus medal in 1940.


Childhood and student years: Spain, Sweden and Germany

Olallo Morales was born in Spain on 15 October 1874 to a Spanish astronomer and diplomat of the same name and Swede Zelma Wilskman, whose surname he sometimes appended to his own. His mother was a singer, a pupil of Francesco Lamberti, and is reputed to have been a concert pianist. Olallo arrived in Sweden at the age of seven, and was raised by his grandparents in Gothenburg, where the family moved in 1890 following the father’s death. He demonstrated precocious talent and not only played piano but also wrote countless compositions while still at school. In 1891 he enrolled at the Kungliga Musikkonservatoriet (Royal Conservatory of Music) where he earned a degree in music teaching and precentorship in 1898 and in organ playing a year later. At the same time, he studied composition for Joseph Dente and, privately, for Wilhelm Stenhammar, and in 1899 was granted a five-year state composer bursary.

The money allowed Morales to continue his studies abroad. His main city of sojourn was Berlin, where he took lessons in piano for Teresa Carreno, conducting for Hans Pfitzner and composition for Heinrich Urban. In the spring of 1904, he was répétiteur at Berlin’s Theater des Westens, where Pfitzner was principal conductor. During the summer Morales led Lausanne’s philharmonic orchestra, with which he was able to perform his own real debut works, the symphony in G minor and the serenade in E-flat major. During these years, he was also serving as a music reporter for the Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfarts-Tidning (1901−05) and directing the TS men’s choir (1904−06). From 1905 to 1909 he was engaged as second conductor (under Heinrich Hammer) of the newly formed Göteborgs Orkesterförening (Gothenburg Orchestral Society) and, for the last year of this period, as organist for the Gothenburg synagogue.

To Stockholm: critic and teacher in public service

In 1909, Morales moved to Stockholm where he was chief music reporter for Dagens Nyheter until 1911 (standing in for Wilhelm Peterson-Berger while he was directing at the Kungliga Teatern [Royal Opera]) and then for Svenska Dagbladet (1912−18). At the same time he was engaged as a lecturer in music history at, amongst other places, Stockholms Musikinstitut (the Stockholm Institute of Music). He was also soon enrolled into the capital’s music scene, first as secretary of the Konserthuskommittén (Stockholm Concert Hall Committee) in 1910 and then as a member of the School Board of the Musikkonservatoriet in 1911 after having been made a member of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien in 1910. In 1916, he was made treasurer of the academy and in 1917 teacher of score reading and conducting at the conservatory’s recently opened conducting class, of which the latter was later combined with orchestral and ensemble-playing. Morales occupied both these posts until 1939, during which time he was also a teacher of music theory and aesthetics (1918–1940).

In 1918 he was voted in as secretary of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien, a position he retained until 1940, after which he sat on the academy’s board for a further eight years. He served as supervisor of the state-subsidised orchestras between 1918 and 46, and stood in for Hugo Alfvén as director musices at Uppsala University in 1921−22 and again in 1924. Notable amongst the many other positions of trust that Morales occupied are as secretary and chairman of the Musikaliska Konstföreningen (the Swedish Art Music Society, 1912−33 and 1933−40, respectively) and member of the Kungliga Teatern board (1923−33) and the programme committee of Swedish Public Radio (1924−47). He was also chairman of the Svensk-spanska sällskapet (Swedish-Spanish Society, 1927−37 and 1940), inspector of the Musikhistoriska museet (Museum of Musical History, 1932–40) and member of the Swedish Arts Council (1935−44). Morales was made a professor in 1921 and received the Litteris et artibus medal in 1940.

As a critic, Morales was regarded as more formal than personal, his unfailing eloquence proving well-suited not least to the reviews of the Swedish and international music scenes that he wrote every year during his secretaryship of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien and summarised in two ten-year chronicles. His belief in the ethical significance of music is also manifest in his Handbok i dirigering (1946). His own appearances on the podium gradually became less frequent over the years, although he made regular appearances as a conductor in Scandinavia, Germany and Switzerland, and was a guest of the Swedish orchestral societies that he was charged with ‘inspecting’. His passionate piano playing came to be increasingly devoted to accompanying his wife Clary (1876−1959), who was a prominent singer of art songs.

Olallo Morales died on 29 April 1957 in Tällberg in central Sweden, where he had leased then purchased a property, after having made the acquaintance of Hugo Alfvén. 


Given all the practical, administrative and teaching positions Olallo Morales held, it is hardly surprising that he was not always able to devote his time to composing. But in what was therefore a relatively modest oeuvre there are a number of important orchestral works and countless piano works and songs.

The early works

The earliest piano works display a natural sensitivity towards timbre and a rather free appropriation of the prevailing late-romantic style, characteristics that are most explicitly vented in a six-movement Suite containing alternate dance and character pieces and a large format sonata. A contemporaneous string quartet and an orchestral serenade are almost classically orientated, while a four-movement G minor symphony from 1901 offers bolder strokes with pronounced dynamic intensity and a freer harmonic language. While there are also the beginnings of a Nordic sound, the work, though orchestrally unbalanced here and there, is mainly interesting for its fresh ideas, its natural drive and its formal autonomy.

A naturlyrische (nature-lyrical) orchestral overture Försommar from 1898 has a dense and melodically coherent facture, and the score is instructive in the way it reveals Morales’s 1910 reworking of the piece, in which he made the orchestration more full-bodied and added a generous measure of colourism. The work was taken up by Alfvén at his ‘musikfest’ in Uppsala the following year. As a consequence of the friendship that grew between them, Morales (as already mentioned) bought a property close by Alfvén’s own in Tällberg.

The later works

Morales’s later orchestral works evince an increasingly virtuosic and colourful orchestral treatment found not only in Alfvén’s works but equally so in a southern European modernism cut from an almost Ravellian cloth. The overture to Strindberg’s fairy play Abu Casems tofflor from 1926 betrays its Spanish models despite the play’s Thousand-and-One-Nights inspiration; in fact, the piece has sometimes been nicknamed España. It is at once solid and dream-like in structure, containing a middle section with a tenor solo in which the disembodied voice sings a number of wordless cantilations (to replace the voice with a viola solo, as suggested by the score, pretty much kills the effect). Of a distinctly coherent form is the Nordic-sounding and buoyant ‘pastoral overture’ Sommarmusik (1948); striking here and in Morales’s other orchestral pieces is the way he puts thematic fragments through constantly new contrapuntal combinations, entrusting the winds, especially the woodwinds and horns, with countless solos.

A particular success for Morales was his ballet Comachos bröllop, which was staged in Helsinki and Stockholm in 1948 with choreography by Julian Algo. The subject matter, an episode from Cervantes’s Don Quixote, is also well-suited to such treatment, containing as it does an entire dance divertissement before the dramatic dénouement in which the wealthy Camacho is hoodwinked into losing his fiancée Quiteria to his poor rival Basilio. Here, Morales makes certain allusions to the spontaneously used Spanish dance rhythms in his friend Manuel de Falla’s Den trekantiga hatten, and the concert suite he compiled from the score proved an immediate hit. The dances he uses include, notably, the zapateado, tango and habanera, and the wedding bells of the closing scene are joined by a fiery jota aragonesa; as mild contrasts he paints both a crepuscular mood and an alborada. The orchestration is Morales’s largest and includes a large percussion section, a xylophone, celesta, harp and guitar.

The two-movement violin concerto in D minor from 1943−44 was written for the Spanish violin master Juan Manén and like his (Manén’s) own concertos is extremely virtuosic in a traditionally romantic spirit (Manén, who had visited Sweden back in 1910, had dedicated a very elegant Divertimento for small orchestra to Morales in 1937). The solo part is highly effective and includes, over and above the conventional cadenza in the energetic first act, numerous free and recitative passages. The closing rondo in D major is rhythmically spiritual, and the caprices of the soloist are supported in an airily differentiated orchestral part.

Morales’s last major work, Triptycon, also includes a solo piece for violin, Passacaglia, an effective piece constructed on a classical pattern, the work as a whole having a robust structure that imbues it with considerable gravitas.

Noteworthy amongst his later piano pieces are the painterly fantasies Nostalgia and Marina (1924) and the stricter Balada andaluza (1945). In many of his songs, Morales can wax surprisingly expressionistic, as evidenced in often fragmented passages of constantly varying declamatory style and great melodic freedom replete with unconstrained modulations executed with unconventional interval combinations and whole-tone scales; the accompanying piano parts are also transparently headstrong. Despite these modernistic ingredients, he can also, like in his instrumental pieces, throw in melodic adornments and figurations that add a flavour of Spain to his art song books, such as the singular Ullman- och Gripenberg songs from 1912. Softer in attitude are the six songs to lyrics by Fredrik Nygaard (1931−34), while Vaggvisa, which makes up a scene from Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding, is broad in form and highly expressive.

Lennart Hedwall © 2016
trans. Neil Betteridge

Publications by the composer

‘La Musica sueca en tiempos pasados’, in: Revista musical, 1910.
‘Internationella musikkongressen i Rom’, in: Svensk musiktidning, 1911.
‘En musikalisk återblick. Operasäsongen’, in: Ord och Bild, no. 6 1917.
‘En musikalisk återblick. Konsertsäsongen’, in: Ord och Bild, no. 7 1917.
‘Emil Sjögren’, in: Musik, Tidsskrift for Tonekunst, 1918.
‘En autograf av Franz Liszt’, in: Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning. vol. 2, 1920.
‘Franz Berwald. Förfäderna. Ur en outgiven Berwald-biografi’, in: Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, vol. 3, 1921.
‘Rafael Mitjana’, in: Ur nutidens musikliv, 1921.
Kungl. Musikaliska akademien 1771–1921 – minnesskrift (together with Tobias Norlind), Stockholm 1921.
‘August Söderman: Biografisk skiss’, in: Musikern, 1924.
‘Franz Berwald’, in: Musik, 1925.
‘Musiklivet’, in: Sverige i våra dagar, en översikt av vårt lands andliga och materiella kultur, Stockholm, 1927 (also in Eng. trans. 1930).
‘Till prins Gustafs minne’, in: Sångartidningen, Stockholm, 1927.
Wilhelm Stenhammar In memoriam, Upsala, 1928.
Kungl. Musikaliska akademien 1922–1931, Stockholm, 1932.
‘Sven Kjellström 60 år’ (together with E. Granhammar), in: Slöjd och ton, 1935.
‘Oscar II och tonkonsten’, in: A. Lewenhaupt (ed.): Från gamle kungens tid. Minnen kring
Oscar II
, Uppsala/Stockholm, 1939.
‘Modern tysk musik’, in: Röster i Radio, 1940.
Kungl. Musikaliska akademien 1931–1941, Stockholm, 1942.
Handbok i dirigering, Stockholm: Nord. Musikförlaget, 1946.
‘Havet i tonkonsten’, in: Boken om havet, vol. 1, Stockholm 1950

Kungl. Musikaliska akademiens årsberättelser, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning 1919–1939.
Further longer contributions to newspapers/journals, program commentaries, etc.

Translation of Carmen Laforet: Nada [novel], Stockholm: Bonnier, 1949.


Acerca del disco Olallo Morales: Obras para piano, Almaviva DS-0137.
Alfvén, Hugo: Brev om musik, Gunnar Ternhag ed., Hedemora/Södertälje: Gidlund, 1998.
Connor, Herbert: Svensk musik, vol. 2, Från Midsommarvaka till Aniara, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1977, p. 26.
Gimenez Rodriguez, Francisco J.: Musica española fuera de España: Olallo Morales (1874–1957), Granada: Editorial Universidad de Granada, 2003.
 −−−: Olallo Morales (1874−1957): una imagen exotica de la musica espanola, Madrid, 2005.
Hedwall, Lennart: Den svenska symfonin, Stockholm: AWE/Geber, 1983.
Hvar 8 Dag, no. 52 1924.
Idun 17 Dec. 1917 and 20 Apr. 1919.
Jacobsson, Stig: ‘Olallo Morales’, in: Swedish Composers of The 20th Century, Stockholm: Svensk musik, 1988.
Musikern, 1 Oct. 1924.
Nyström, Pia & Elmquist, Anne-Marie: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien. Matrikel 1771–1995, Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, 1996.
Rudén, Jan Olof: ‘Olallo Morales och Hugo Alfvén’, in: Alfvéniana, no. 3/4, 2006.
Schildt, Göran: ‘Ett sommarhem vid Siljan’, in: Svenska hem i ord och bilder, 1942.
Strömbeck, K. G. & Hofsten, Sune: Kungliga Teatern. Repertoar 1773–1973. Opera, operett, sångspel. Balett, Stockholm: Operan, 1984.
Svensk musiktidning, no. 1, 1913.
Åstrand, Hans: ‘Olallo Morales’, in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1985.


Kungl. Biblioteket, Musik- och teaterbiblioteket, Svensk musik/STIM.

Summary list of works

Ballet (Camachos bröllop), incidental music (Blood Wedding etc.), orchestral works (symphony, Suite from the ballet Camachos bröllop, Overture to Abu Casems tofflor, violin concerto, etc.), works for choir and orchestra (Biskop Thomas’ frihetssång, Till hembygden), chamber music (string quartet, Deux morceaux, etc.), piano works (sonata, suite, 8 piano pieces, etc.), songs with piano/orchestra (Five songs from Rosenstaden, Six poems from Tusinfryd, Vier Minnelieder, etc.).

Collected works

The noted opus numbers are the final ones assigned to works; a number of works from his youth were assigned opus numbers which were later discarded.

Stage music
Camachos bröllop, ballet, 1944−45, premiered 1948.
Music for Federico Garcia Lorca’s drama Blood Wedding.

Andante lugubre, op. 8, premiered 1904.
Festspel, 1954.
Försommar, concert overture, op. 10, 1898/1910.
Nostalgia, orchestral version of the piano piece op. 15:1.
Serenade, A-flat major, op. 4, premiered 1904.
Sommarmusik, overture no. 3 (also called Pastoral-ouverture), 1948.
Suite from the ballet Camachos bröllop, 1945?
Symphony, G minor, op. 5, 1901, premiered 1904.
Triptykon (Fantasy – Passacaglia – Invocation to Hellig Olav), 1952−53.
Overture to August Strindberg’s fairy play ‘Abu Casems tofflor’, op. 14, 1926.

Solo with orchestra
Andante and rondo (also Rondo à capriccio) for piano and orchestra, 1898.
Berceuse for flute (or violin) and string orchestra, op. 3b (from Deux morceaux for violin and piano) [also instr. for small orchestra by Sven Båveudde].
Concerto for violin and orchestra, 1943−44.
Passacaglia (from Triptykon) for violin and orchestra, 1952−53.

Biskop Thomas’ frihetssång for mixed choir and orchestra
Till hembygden (A. Sölvén) for mixed choir and orchestra, 1928. In several contexts, including in SBL and in STIM’s catalogue, the work is seen to have a ‘vocalising’ kör (!), as Sölvén’s text is not written into the score.

Chamber music
Deux morceaux, op. 3 (Ballade – Berceuse) for violin and piano, 1904?
Ett litet stycke for cello and piano, n.d.
Menuett for violin and piano, 1889.
String quartet, D major, 1897.

Balada andaluza, 1945.
Fandango, 1890.
Fantasie, 1890.
Humoresque, 1891.
Juguete, 1891.
Moderato, 1902.
Sonat, D-flat major, op. 7, 1900.
Suite, op. 1, 1894.
Tempo di marcia, 1889.
To Mathilda, 1887.
Two fantasies op. 15, 1924. 1. Nostalgia, 2. Marina.
8 piano pieces, 1893−94.
Several early compositions, 1883−88, preserved in manuscript.

Songs (also with orchestra)
Den döda frågar (K. Asplund).
Det regnar (R. Jändel).
Five songs from Rosenstaden op. 13 (B. Gripenberg), 1912. 1. Hägring, 2. Vindens visa, 3. Serenad/Lindagull, 4. Månskäran lyser, 5. Ormen.
Four poems (G. Ullman), op. 12, 1912. 1. Med Eros’ penna, 2. Caprice, 3.  Kärleksbön, 4. Danserskans sång.
Höstkväll (V. Rydberg), 1890.
Impromptu (G. Jönsson), 1946.
Pan spelar (E. Kleen), op. 11.
Six poems from Tusinfryd (F. Nygaard). 1. Sommernatsbrud, 2. Godnat, 3. Aftenstemning, 4. Cello solo, 5. Jeg skal se dig, 6. Österlandsk elskov, 1931−34.
Little songs in a folk style (Oscar Levertin) (1893)
Three poems by Gustaf Fröding op. 6, 1899. 1. Ingalill, 2. I solnedgången, 3. Det borde varit stjärnor.
Three songs op. 2, 1896. 1. (anonymous Spanish text), 2. (H. Heine), 3. (Heine).
Lullaby (from music for Garcia Lorca’s drama Blood Wedding, trans. Hjalmar Gullberg).
Vid stranden (Ragnar Jändel).
Vier Minnelieder op. 9, 1903−05. 1. Floret silva undique, 2. Komm, o komm, 3. Soll ich diesen, 4. Sommer lang, 5. Ich bin dein.
Further Fröding songs etc. in manuscript.