Johan Erik Nordblom (1788−1848)


Johan Erik Nordblom, born on 13 April 1788 in Uppsala and died there on 26 December 1848, was a singer, vocal teacher and composer. He succeeded Johann Christian Friedrich Hæffner as director musices in Uppsala from 1833 to 1848. He was also the cathedral organist in the same city from 1835 to 1848. During his lifetime, Nordblom was much appreciated for his vocal music. In 1827 he became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.


Johan Erik Nordblom, the son of master tailor Eric Nordblom in Uppsala, appears to have begun his music education in singing, on flute and piano, and later engaged in organ playing. An attempt at a career as a merchant in Stockholm was disrupted in favour of music. In 1808, when Johann Christian Friedrich Hæffner came to Uppsala, Nordblom became his student, continuing until 1814. That same year he graduated from the educational institution of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music) with a degree as a music director and teacher, and then became director musices at the secondary school in Gävle. He stayed there until 1819, when he became a substitute for Hæffner in the same position at Uppsala University. In 1821−1835, Nordblom taught secondary and church song education at the academy’s educational institution. The hand-written ‘Sångöfningar’ (song exercises), dated 1825−1829 derive from this period. They appeared later in print under the title Sång-Schola (singing lessons).

In 1833 Nordblom was given the permanent job as director musices at Uppsala University, but was not paid a salary until 1835. The same year he founded a singing institute for women in order to more easily fill the female vocal parts in the mixed choir with which he continued the oratorio tradition from Hæffner’s days. He undertook works such as The Creation and The Seasons by Haydn, Mozart’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s St Paul. In 1835, Nordblom took on the leadership of the Akademiska kapellet (the Royal Academic Orchestra) as well as its involvement in academic ceremonies such as the conferment of masters’ and doctors’ degrees, the 1843 twenty-five years’ jubilee of King Charles XIV John’s accession to the throne and the 1844 coronation of Oscar I.

In public concerts the orchestra assisted, among others, Norwegian composer and violinist Ole Bull, composer and violinist Andreas Randel and, on several occasions, the opera singer Jenny Lind. Nordblom also performed as a soloist in a piano concerto by Mendelssohn. In addition, he took part in the great uplift that musical life underwent during the 1840s by gathering students for choral practice in order for them to participate in academic music events, among other things. From the autumn of 1846 to March 1847 Nordblom received a leave of absence ‘for tending to personal matters’. This may have meant work with the singing institute he founded in Stockholm in 1846 and which he led until his death in 1848. Nordblom was honoured posthumously in Stockholm in 1849 with contributions from the Hovkapellet (the Royal Court Orchestra) and the Harmoniska sällskapet (the Harmonic Society).


Nordblom studied composition with Hæffner who emphasised Haydn, Gluck and Mozart as role models. According to Hæffner, one should master harmony, the art of singing and declamation, polyphonic writing, the suitability of instruments and, ideally, one should play an instrument reasonably well. When Olof Åhlström’s royal charter for music printing ended in 1818, Vilhelm Fredrik Palmblad, based in Stockholm and Uppsala, could publish four books of solo songs by Nordblom in 1819−1826. These are linked to the 1790s aesthetic that is seen in Åhlström’s collections Skaldestycken satte i musik in which there are only strophic songs, and Musikaliskt tidsfördrif that also includes larger through-composed songs.

Solo songs and ballads

In Nordblom’s strophic ballads (visor) there appear shifts from uttermost simplicity to a certain refinement of the melody and the accompaniment. In most cases the melody is naturally cantabile and hardly complicated. Instrumental preludes and/or postludes exist as a rule. One example from Sång-Schola is the song ‘Vintersång’ (anonymous author) where melodic variations are found in strophes 2−4. The through-composed songs, which sometimes can take the form of recitative and aria, evoke a feeling of being piano vocal scores that cry out for an orchestra, for example in ‘Till min luta’ (Euphrosyne, pseudonym for Julia Nyberg) − but it ends with a strophic song that detracts the effect − or ‘Vårsång’ (Carl Fredric Dahlgren), which ends with an imitation of a French horn. This is not the only example of tone painting: in a survey of ten popular Swedish music books from the 1860s and 1870s, Nordblom is placed at the same level of popularity as Gunnar Wennerberg, Jacob Axel Josephson and Adolf Fredrik Lindblad, each represented by 10 or 11 melodies.

Choral music

Before Hæffner came to Uppsala, music for male quartet did not exist. On 27 February 1814, Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom and Hæffner’s ‘Vikingasäten’ was sung and it is the first documented work in this genre that Nordblom took on. In 1818, on 1 December − the so-called ‘Oscar’s day’ − the song ‘Se dimman välver sig från fjällets topp’ with text by the royal homager Carl von Zeipel was performed.

Johan Erik Nordblom’s student, Johan Peter Cronhamn, considered him to be ‘counted […] among the foremost melodists and the most distinguished composers of songs that the Nordic region has produced’. The male trio ‘Fly ej Kärlek, från min hydda’ (anonymous author) is contrapuntal with a very melodic first tenor part. Nordblom composed chordal hunting songs, war songs, patriotic songs and drinking songs. His only collection for male choir, Fyra-stämmiga sånger för mans-röster for four parts, includes ‘Sång för Jämtlands fältjägare’, ‘Nordisk krigssång’, ‘Till Hans Maj:t Konungen’, ‘Baccanaliskt furioso’ and the most beloved of his works for male choir, ‘Fäderneslandet’, with the text ‘Härliga land …’. This song is mainly chordal with the simplest of harmonies. Several songs for voice and piano with lyrics by Atterbom can also be found in versions for male quartet, which was common in the so-called first Uppsala school, to which Nordblom belongs.

Jan Olof Rudén © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson


Bohlin, Folke: ‘Från Haeffner till Alfvén’, in: Anna Ivarsdotter (ed.), Akademiska kapellet i Uppsala under 350 år: en översikt − från ‘chorus musicus’ till symfonisk samverkan = [The University orchestra of Uppsala during 350 years],  Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 1977, pp. 35−54.
Bohlin, Folke
: ‘Johan Nordblom’, in: The new Grove Dictionary of music and musicians. 2. ed., vol. 18, p. 32.
, Johan Peter: Musica sacra. Sånger för kyrkan och skolan satta för låg sopran, alt, tenor och bas med svensk text. Samlade och utgifne, vol. 2., Stockholm: Abr. Lundquist, n.d.
Dahlgren, Lotten
Grannarna vid Kungsängsgatan: ett par kapitel ur en svensk tondiktares historia, 2nd ed.,  Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1923.
Eliæson, Åke & Percy, Gösta
Goethe in der nordischen Musik, Stockholm: Victor Petersson, 1959.
Geete, Anna Hamilton
I solnedgången: minnen och bilder från Erik Gustaf Geijers senaste lefnadsår, vol. 2, 1845−1846, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1911.
Haglund, Ejnar
: ‘Några drag ur studenternas musikliv’, in: Upsalastudenten genom tiderna: en skildring utgiven i anledning av Upsala studentkårs hundraårsminne, Uppsala: Lundequistska, 1950.
Hilleström, Gustaf
: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien. Matrikel 1771−1971, Stockholm: Nordiska Musikförlaget, 1971.
Hägg, S. A
.: Beskrifning öfver Upsala kyrkogård och dess på olika tider tillkomna områden ..., Upsala, 1886.
‘Johan Nordblom’, in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, 2nd ed., vol. 4, Stockholm: Sohlmans 1977, p. 734.
Jonsson, Leif:
Ljusets riddarvakt: 1800-talets studentsång utövad som offentlig samhällskonst, diss., Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1990.
Jonsson, Leif:
Offentlig musik i Uppsala 1747−1854: Från representativ till borgerlig konsert, Stockholm: Statens musikbibliotek, 1998.
Kallstenius, Gottfrid: Blad ur Uppsalasångens historia, Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1913.
Mankell, Abraham
Sveriges tonkonst och melodiska national-dikt, Stockholm, 1853.
Mellgren, Thorwald
: Johan Erik Nordblom: Biografi och verkförteckning, 60 credit thesis in musicology, Uppsala University, 1973.
Nihlén, Axel:
[article], in: Minnenas bok: personliga hågkomster om märkliga svenska män och kvinnor inom teater, musik, litteratur, målarkonst, vetenskap och industri, Stockholm: Dahlberg, 1916.
Norlind, Tobias
: ‘Johan Nordblom’, in: Allmänt musiklexikon, 2nd rev. ed., Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1928.
Norlind, Tobias
Erik Gustaf Geijer som musiker, Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1919.
Rosén, Johan Magnus
: ‘Erik Nordblom’ in: Några minnesblad, Stockholm: F. & G. Beijer, 1877, pp. 78−79.
Ruuth, Gustaf:
Katalog över äldre musikalier i Per Brahegymnasiet, Jönköping, Stockholm: Svensk musikhistoriskt arkiv, 1971.
Silfverstolpe, Malla
Malla Montgomery-Silfverstolpes memoarer, vol. 1−4, 2nd ed., Stockholm: Bonnier, 1914.
Sundblad, Johannes
Upsalalif: kulturteckningar, Stockholm: Fahlcrantz, 1884.
Swahn, Waldemar:
En bortglömd tonsättare, Stockholmstidningen, 5 June 1939.
Tegen, Martin:
‘Åhlström, musikförlagen och sällskapsvisan’ in: Leif Jonsson & Anna Ivarsdotter-Johnsson (ed.), Musiken i Sverige, vol. 2, Stockholm: Fischer & Co, 1993.
Wennerberg, Gunnar:
 Bref och minnen, vol. 1, Stockholm: Geber, 1913.
Wiberg, Albert
: Den svenska musikhandelns historia, Stockholm: Svenska musikhandlare föreningen, 1955. 

Summary list of works

Works for soli, choir and orchestra (several of which are lost), two concertos (flute, bassoon, both lost), chamber music (flute quartet, lost), songs with piano, choral works.

Collected works

Works for soli, choir and orchestra
Musiken vid Academiska högtidigheterna i Uppsala den 11, 12 och 13:e maj 1843 [to the twenty-five years’ jubilee of King Charles XIV John’s accession to the throne] for soli, mixed choir, male choir and orchestra (Fahlcrantz, Psalm 300).
Musiken vid de i anledning af H. M. Konungens kröning anställda Academiska högtidligheterna den 28, 29 och 30 november 1844 for soli, mixed choir, male choir and orchestra (J. Nybom, Psalm 300).

Mixed choir a cappella
Bergvandraren (P.D.A. Atterbom) in: Svenska melodier satta för sopr, alt, tenor och bas.
Bön ur musiken till en promotionsfest (J. Nybom), in: Musica Sacra, vol. 2, 1867.
Hemlandssång (arr. by Till H.K.H. Kronprinsen Oscar).
Fäderneslandet (J. V. Bergen), in: Vårt land, Chicago, 1891.
Marsch (anonymous), n.d.
Svensk ynglingasång (anonymous), n.d.

Male quartet
Fyra-stämmiga sånger för mans-röster den studerande ungdomen i Upsala tillegnade af J.E. Nordblom, book 1, 1834.
Bergvandraren (P.D.A. Atterbom), in: Sångbok: Österbottniska Nationen tillhörig, Turku, 1942.
Förgät-mig-ej (P.D.A. Atterbom), n.d.
Liljan (P.D.A. Atterbom), n.d.
Marcia (Hedborn), n.d.
Sång av Sjöström (Sjöström), n.d.
Sången (A.A. Grafström), n.d.
Violen (Goethe/P.D.A. Atterbom) n.d.
Dalvisa (trad. arr.).
‘Det går ett dån utöfver tidens vatten’ (P.D.A. Atterbom).
Erotisk fantasi (C.W. Böttiger).
Göthen (A. Lindblad).
‘Han som en dag verlden skall döma’ (P.D.A. Atterbom).
Hyacinten (P.D.A. Atterbom).
Hymn (C.E. Fahlcrantz).
Jägarvisa (C.F. Dahlgren), in: Samling kvartetter och terzetter för mansröster
(Student)Marsch (anonymous).
Marche (G.E. Unonius).
Vid Oscarsfesten 1818 (C. von Zeipel).
‘Min barndoms Gud, du efter långa åren’ (anonymous).
Norsk folkvise = Erotisk fantasi, in: Samling flerstemmige Sange för mandstemmor, Copenhagen, 1873.
Romance from Lycksalighetens ö (P.D.A. Atterbom).
Sång på första maj = Svensk ynglingasång (C. von Zeipel).
Till H. K. H. Kronprinsen Oscar (C. von Zeipel).
Återseendet (anonymous).
Trio for two tenors and bass ‘Fly ej kärlek från min hydda’ (C.F. Dahlgren), in: Sånger för en röst, book 4, 1826.

Male quartet and piano
Jägarvisa fo two tenors, two basses and piano (C.F. Dahlgren), in: Sånger för en röst, book 4, 1826.

Songs for one voice and piano
Sånger för en röst med accompagnement af fortepiano:
Book 1 Stockholm: Palmblad & Co, 1819, 2nd ed. with shortened content Stockholm: Hirsch, 1829, new ed. with the title Sånger och visor för en röst med accompagnement af piano, Stockholm: Hirsch, 1864.
Book 2 Uppsala: Palmblad & Co, 1821−22, 2nd ed., 1831.
Book 3 Uppsala: Palmblad & Co, 1822. 
Book 4 Uppsala: Palmblad & Co, 1826, 2nd ed., 1829.
Sånger för en röst med pianoforteaccompagnement walda ur de fyra första häftena, 1849.
Sånger för en röst med accompagnement af fortepiano, op. 9, before 1849.
Sju sånger med accompagnement af fortepiano, op. 10, 1841.
Sången (Grafström) varied for alto or baritone (performed on 18 November 1838).

Songs for two voices and piano
Duet [Drinking song] (anonymous), in: Skämt och allvar, 1853.
Duettino for soprano and alto in: Sånger op. 9.

Songs for children and piano
Sånger för barn med forte-piano-accompagnement. Stockholm: Müller, 1831.

Song and guitar
Fly ej kärlek (C.F. Dahlgren), in: Orphea, valda sånger med accomp. af guitarre, 1833.

Arrangements for piano
Forntida minnen.
Fäderneslandet, in: Echo af Upsalasången, book 1, 1860.
Sång på första maj, in: 100 studentsånger satta för piano, 1878.

Educational literature
Sångöfningar af J. E. Nordblom, 1825−1829, för 2−4 stämmor. Manuscript.
Sång-Schola eller lärobok i sång för lägre och högre undervisningsverk, kurs 1−3 (1837−40).
Praktisk pianoforte-skola innehållande en progressiv kurs af lätta melodiska öfningsstycken med utsatt fingersättning. Published posthumously by W. Bauck, Stockholm: Hirsch, 1852.

Some notable compositions by Nordblom mentioned in literature have not been found, among them:
− På Oscarsdagen 1821 ‘Heliga kärlek till fäderneslandet’ Palmblad 1821 (by Nordblom?).

− Uppsala academy’s matriculation register 1841 mentions compositions for orchestra, one flute concerto (performed on 24 November 1842), a bassoon concerto, music for the conferment of master’s degrees 1835 (his own?), 1836 (cantata) and 1839?,  the conferment of doctoral degrees 1837 and June 1841 (cantata, text by J. Nybom),  minor compositions such as student marches etc.
− A flute concerto that Nordblom played in 1813.
− Romance and polonaise for flute (and orchestra?) performed on 17 November 1841.

Works by Johan Erik Nordblom

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

Number of works: 11