Antoine Edouard (Anton Edvard) Pratté was born on 22 November 1796 in Haida, Bohemia, and died on 23 May 1875 at Odensnäs outside Linköping. He was a composer and eminent harp virtuoso who remained an active concert performer for almost his entire life. Pratté composed both instrumental and vocal music for settings both large and small. He was elected into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1850.
Antoine Edouard Pratté spent large parts of his life travelling. He was born on 22 November 1796 in Bohemian Haida, through which his parents happened to be passing. His father, Prague-born Antonius Pratté, was a touring mechanicus who put on marionette shows of dramas like Doctor Faust using ‘mechanical art-figures’ and ‘fireworks’. Already in his childhood, Antoine was being raised in the artistic profession in having to play the kinnor (harp of David) during the shows. The family took their act to Linköping and Norrköping in 1807, although it was possibly on a visit to Gothenburg in 1809 that a twelve-year-old Antoine Edouard made his debut appearance on Swedish soil.
The young Antoine was physically abused by his father. While on a tour of Denmark in 1815, their blood-tie was finally severed and Antoine packed his bags and left for Sweden, which became his new adoptive homeland.
Pratté as harpist
Two years later, Antoine Pratté held a concert in Linköping, marking the start of a life-long career as a regular performing harpist. In between concerts, it seems he spent much of his time visiting Swedish and Norwegian manor houses in his capacity as music teacher, particularly in the south-eastern Swedish province of Östergötland.
From 1823 onwards, Pratté resided for a time in Stockholm, where he acquired pupils and became a rated concert performer. He was offered a permanent position as harpist in the Kungliga Hovkapellet (Royal Court Orchestra) by hovkapellmästare (chief conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra) Johan Fredrik Berwald, but claimed that he turned it down in the hope of seeking his fortune abroad. Sure enough, after a stint conducting the Norrköpings musiksällskap (the Norrköping Music Society) between 1835 and 1836, he started touring the continent, appearing throughout the 1840s and 50s in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Prussia, Bohemia, Russia and Austria, where according to Eduard Hanslick in his Geschichte des Concertwesens in Wien he was one of the virtuoso harpists that performed in the Austrian capital in 1848.
Pratté was voted into the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (Royal Swedish Academy of Music) in 1850, by which time he was a regular feature of the capital’s concert venues, often with the Hovkapellet. Following one concert, Aftonbladet critic Wilhelm Bauck praised Pratté’s harp playing with the following homage:
‘Mr Pratté is to be reckoned amongst the talented musicians whose virtuosity, on repeated hearings, garners ever more interest. The brilliant effects, which at first particularly seize one’s attention, are then united with the pleasure of observing the perfection of the details, and the whole creates that kind of delight that accompanies the balance of will and ability, the concord between the technical and aesthetic elements.’ (22/1 1850)
Pratté spent his final years at Odensnäs outside Linköping, where he lived, still formally a bachelor, with a female friend until his death on 23 May 1875. With appearances in Vänersborg (1869), Kalmar (1870), Jönköping and Karlstad (1871) and Stockholm (1873), it is clear that Pratté was drawn to the life of the touring artist until well into his mid-70s.
Pratté’s students included distinguished harpists Adolf Sjödén and Pauline Åhman, the latter a member of the Hovkapellet, and composer Elfrida Andrée.
Antoine Edouard Pratté mainly played music of his own composition at his concerts, music which reached a comparatively wide audience during his lifetime owing to his busy touring schedule. His oeuvre includes orchestral works, chamber music, vocal compositions, concert pieces for harp and orchestra and a score of works for solo harp. Amongst this last genre, his variations on Swedish, Norwegian and Russian folk tunes were greeted with particular enthusiasm by audiences and critics alike.
In his handwritten encyclopaedia of music from the 1870s, Josef Palm gave a broad-stroke description of Pratté’s compositions: ‘In spirit somewhat reminiscent of Haydn, Mozart and Hummel, they generally stood out for their perfection of form. Their classical bent was constantly present.’
Another side of Pratté’s work is his penchant for tone-painting, as evidenced in his orchestral work Stormnatten, accompanied as it is by a detailed programme for the edification of the concert-goers in which the following scene from nature is associated with the Allegro con brio movement: ‘The storm’s approach and eventual intensification into a hurricane, followed by thunder and lightning and torrential rain; the elements rage in a tempestuous battle; waves crash against the rocks under the howling winds; the lightning strikes and flocks of sea birds, thrown into a panic by the claps of thunder, fly off into the distance; the storm gradually subsides.’ (Aftonbladet 17/4 1852).
Music of narrative ambitions is also found in two large melodramas for declamatory voice and orchestra: Napoleon på S:t Helena and Torquato Tassos död, both of which, like the composer’s harp concertos, were regularly feted by the critics.
Martin Edin © 2016
trans. Neil Betteridge
‘Adolf Sjödén’, Svensk musiktidning, vol. 13, no. 13, 2/9 1893, pp. 97−98.
‘A. E. Pratté’, Post- och inrikes tidningar, 1 Apr. 1848.
Aftonbladet, 4 May 1850.
Aftonbladet, 12 June 1851.
‘Antoine Edouard Pratté’, Svalan: illustrerad veckotidning för familjekretsar, 26 June 1875, pp. 101−102.
Bauck, Wilhelm (‘–u–’): ‘Herr Prattés Konsert’, Aftonbladet, 21 Nov. 1849.
−−−: ‘Herr Prattés Soiré’, Aftonbladet, 22 Jan. 1850.
−−−: ‘Herr Prattés tredje soiré’, Aftonbladet, 22 Mar. 1850.
−−−: ‘Herr O. Ahnfelts soirée’, Aftonbladet, 27 Apr. 1850.
Berg, Wilhelm: Anteckningar om Göteborgs äldre teatrar, vol. 2, 1794−1816, Göteborg: Zachrissons boktryckeri, 1898, pp. 344−46.
–d: ‘Ytterligare om harpkonstnären Pratté’, Svenska Dagbladet, 27 July 1886.
Dahlgren, Lotten: Marie Charlottes dagbok, Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1931, pp. 85−88 & 91.
Danell, Eric: Ole Bull och Pratté: några kritiska randanmärkningar, Stockholm: Seelig, 1954.
‘Direktör Prattés konsert’, Jönköpingsbladet, 14 Feb. 1871.
‘Dödsfall’, Dagens Nyheter, 27 May 1875.
‘En märklig gammal harpa’, Svensk musiktidning, vol. 26, no. 13, 15 Sept. 1906, p. 102.
Hagman, Bertil: ‘Pratté, Anton Johan Georg (Edvard)’, in: Svenska män och kvinnor, vol. 6, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1949, p. 168.
Hanslick, Eduard: Geschichte des Concertwesens in Wien, Wien: Braumüller, 1869, pp. 345 & 352.
Hedwall, Lennart: ‘Ett stycke Bellmaniana av år 1854’, Hwad behagas?: Bellmansällskapets medlemsblad, no. 3, 2003, p. 57.
‘Herr Caggiatis Soiré’, Aftonbladet, 2 Mar. 1850.
‘Herr Prattés konsert’, Kalmar, 1 June 1870.
‘Herr Randels konsert’, Aftonbladet, 26 Jan. 1839.
Huss Frans J.: ‘A. E. Pratté’, Svensk musiktidning, vol. 25, no. 18, 4 Dec. 1905, p. 138.
−−−: ‘Några Pratté-minnen’, in: Svensk musiktidning, vol. 25, no. 18, 4 Dec. 1905, pp. 138−39.
Höijer, Johan Leonard: ‘Pratté, A. E.’, in: Musik-lexikon, Stockholm: Lundquist, 1864, p. 376.
Karle, Gunhild: Kungl. hovkapellet i Stockholm och dess musiker 1818−61: med utblickar, Uppsala: Gunhild Karle, 2005, pp. 163−174 et passim.
Kragemo, Helge Berg & Malmberg, Helge: ‘Pratté, Anton Johan Georg (Edvard)’, in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 4, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1952, p. 235.
−−−: ‘Pratté, Edvard (Anton)’, in: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 5, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1979, p. 113.
‘Krönika’, Jönköpingsbladet, 11 Feb. 1871.
‘Krönika’, Jönköpingsbladet, 18 Feb. 1871.
‘Linköping d. 2 Dec.’, Linköpings-Bladet, 2 Dec. 1840.
Linköpings-Bladet, 31 May 1834.
‘Musik’, Aftonbladet, 28 Feb. 1853.
‘Musik’, Aftonbladet, 30 Apr. 1853.
‘Musik’, Aftonbladet, 21 Apr. 1857.
Norlind, Tobias: ‘Pratté, Anton Edvard’, in: Allmänt musiklexikon, 2nd revised ed., vol. 2, Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1928, p. 317.
‘Notizen’, Wiener allgemeine Musik-Zeitung, 14 Oct. 1847.
Palm, Josef: ‘Pratté, Antoine Edvard’, in: Svenskt musik-lexicon, 2nd book, manuscript at the Musik- och teaterbiblioteket.
Pratté A. E.: [letter to Anton Grill 6 Apr. 1823].
−−−: [Public explanation on Pratté’s rescheduled concert], Aftonbladet, 18 Feb. 1853.
−−−: [Public message on Pratté’s latest concert], Aftonbladet, 30 Apr. 1852.
‘På den soiré, som i söndags afton gafs…’, Aftonbladet, 17 Apr. 1861.
‘På hr A. E. Prattés konsertmatiné…’, Aftonbladet, 11 May 1864.
Rosén, Johan Magnus: ‘Edouard Pratté (From J. M. Roséns efterlemnade papper)’, Svenska Dagbladet, 9 Jul. 1886.
‘ – t.’: ‘Herr Prattés konsert’, Aftonbladet, 22 Apr. 1852.
‘ – t.’: ‘Musik’, Aftonbladet, 1 Mar. 1852.
Vretblad, Åke: ’A E Pratté – harpokungen i Norden’, Östgöta Correspondenten, Regnbågen: Correspondentens veckobilaga, 14/1 1978.
Summary list of works
Orchestral works (2 large orchestral pieces, several pieces for harp and orchestra, etc.), melodramas (Napoleons monolog på S:t Helena, Torquato Tassos död), vocal works with orchestra, chamber music (string quartet, chamber music works with harp, etc.), works for solo harp, 7 songs, 3 choral compositions with accompaniment, 8 pieces for choir.
Sinfonie, C minor, performed 1834.
Stormnatten, idyllisk sinfoni [also ‘stor pastoral ouverture’], for orchestra, performed 1840.
Le Nord, overture pathétique, performed 1849.
Triumf-marsch for orchestra, performed 1859.
Coronation march, humbly dedicated to H. M. King Carl XV, for orchestra, composed in April 1860.
Swenska Toner, eller Fosterländska Minnen, Concertino for pedal harp, performed 1840.
Bravurvariationer for pedal harp and orchestra on Nel cor più non mi sento (Paisiello), performed 1849.
Grand concerto dramatique, C minor, for pedal harp and orchestra, performed 1849.
Grand concert militaire/Concerto guerriero, for harpa and orchestra, performed 1851.
Fantaisie Romantique öfver svenska folkvisor for pedal harp with orchestra, performed 1859.
Vocal works with orchestra
Fridsröster (E. Tegnér), choir and orchestra, performed 1834.
Napoleons monolog på S:t Helena (K. A. Nicander), declamatorium/melodrama, choir and orchestra, performed 1836.
Torquato Tassos död (K. A. Nicander), melodrama/declamatorium, performed 1849.
Concert arias with orchestra, performed 1850.
Hymn for choir and orchestra on the occasion of the King’s recovery (W. Bauck) [also in a version for choir, see below], performed 1853.
Vid Prins Gustafs grav, sorgkantat for choir and orchester, comp. on the death of H.R.H. the Duke of Uppland’s passing, and humbly dedicated to H. M. the King, performed 1853. 1. Sorgmarsch, 2. Sorgkör, 3. Choral öfver Psalmen No. 475.
Concert-cavatina with orchestra, solo voice with orchestra, performed 1853.
Verldars Gud vårt land betrygga (A. M. B.), a proposed Swedish national anthem, choir with orchestra, performed 1864.
Sonata, harp with cello accompaniment (composed for Amalie Petrolle Åberg) [named in a letter from 6 Oct. 1823].
Trio concertant for pedal harp, violin and viola, performed 1828.
Concerto di Camera for pedal harp with quintet accompaniment [also in a version with piano accompaniment], performed 1850.
Concertante Quartette, for pedal harp, clarinet, french horn and bassoon, performed 1830.
Variationer över nationalmelodier for harp and clarinet, performed 1852.
Quartet for piano, violin, viola and cello [identical with the following?], performed 1856.
Quartet for piano, clarinet, french horn and bassoon [also performed with the instrumentation piano, violin, viola and cello; identical to Concertante Quartette above?], performed 1857. 1. Allegro, 2. Scherzo, 3. Andante, 4. Finale.
Sting quartet, performed 1857.
Quartet for pedal harp, violin, viola and cello [identical to Concertante Quartette above?], performed 1872.
Intro. and var. on a Tyrol. Alpsång, flute with piano.
Chamber music arrangements
Adelaide, tenor aria with accompaniment of pedal harp or piano, flute, clarinet, french horn, bassoon, 2 violins, alto violin, cello and bass by Louis van Beethoven, arranged and orchestrated by A. E. Pratté.
Works for solo harp
Introduktion och variationer över Näckens polska [possibly identical to Fantaisie lugubre över Näckens polska], ca 1815.
Grand polonaise för harpa, performed 1818.
Nationalvisa (‘Katten och killingen’) med variationer, performed 1818.
Carl XII:s Marche wid Narva, arr. by A. Pratté, performed 1820.
Tema med variationer, E-flat major, performed 1821.
Fantaisie Dramatique för Pedal harp öfver motiver ur Op. Friskytten [Weber], performed 1830. 1. Introduktion, 2. Jägarekör, 3. Skrattkör, 4. Brudtärnornas sång, 5. Kulstöpningen i Vargklyftan, 6. Caspers dryckesvisa, 7. Agathas bön, 8. Valsen.
Rondo a la Polacca, performed 1830.
Variationer öfver ett nordiskt thema, performed 1837.
Mosaique Musicale /…/ öfver motiver ur /…/ Preciosa [by Weber; possibly identical to Fantaisie dramatique /…/ över motiv ur Webers Preciosa], performed 1837.
Air de Tyrolien, variée pour la Harpe, performed 1840.
Adagio och favoritrondo, performed 1844.
Souvenir de la Suède, fantasi över svenska nationalmelodier (Och liten Karin tjente,
Min far var en Westgöthe, Dalpolska) [possibly identical to Den sista barden, fantasi över gamla svenska folkmelodier och Fantaisie romantique över svenska folkmelodier], performed 1849.
Toner fra Norges bjerge og dale, stor fantasi öfver norska folkvisor (Wesle guten i
Thistedalen, Kjöre vatn og kjöre veed, I fjol jet e Jeiten, Söndags stusle kvällen), performed 1850.
Souvenir de la Russie, fantaisie héroique for pedal harp öfver Lvoffs ryska folksång ‘Bosche Zaria chrani’ (Gud vare herrskarens beskydd), performed 1852.
Fantasie öfver svenska folksången, ‘Bevare Gud vår Kung’, performed 1859.
Fantasi över ‘God save the king’, performed 1861.
Fantasi öfver holländska folksången, Nov. 1861.
Minne från Danmark, impromptu öfver danska folksången (Kong Christian stod vid höjen mast), performed 1864.
Andante, Dediée a Mll. A. Åberg [theme with two variations, incomplete work].
Grand sonate pour la Harp-Crochet, D major [incomplete, only the first part of an allegro movement is preserved].
Marche de C[h]asseur.
Sonata, E-flat major.
Walzer, C major, dedicated to Amalie Petrolle Åberg.
Arrangements for harp
Ouvertyren till Lodoiska av Kreutzer.
Ouvertyren till Le calife de Bagdad av Boieldieu.
Sångens wärde, romance with harp, performed 1852.
Du är mig kär, voice and harp or voice and piano, performed 1853.
Canon à 3 voix, (‘Är Professor Drake redan gången ut igen?’, A. E. Pratté), written down on a business card.
När skall den högtidsklocka slå, voice and harp.
Romanze, C major, soprano and harp.
Se tiden kör sin wagn, romance, D major.
Choral music with accompaniment
Jägare-choeur, for Tenor and Bass voices and the accompaniment of Royal Kent bugles, trumpets, french horns and trombones (E. Tegnér) [possibly identical to Högtids Sång för Östgötha Jägare Förening, Chör för Mansröster med accompagnement af Bleckinstrumenter], performed 1834.
Bellmanniana eller konserten på Marieborg, humoristisk kantat, hvartill motiverna äro tagna ur Bellmans sånger och epistlar, setting for obliggato flute, men’s choir and piano. Text and music composed solely for Mr. J. W. Langelius, and dedicated in friendship to him by his old friend from his youth, and soul mate A. E. Pratté (A. E. Pratté), op. 153, Aug. 1854.
Förslag till svensk folksång, men’s choir and piano, printed 1860.
Helsningssång till det Kungliga huset (Eberstein), performed 1846.
Svensk folksång (R–r), performed 1846.
Norsk flagsang, performed 1850.
Syttendemai-sang, performed 1850.
Canon à 4 voce.
Hymn on the occasion of H.M. the King’s recovery (W. Bauck), choir for men’s voices.
Omsider kom en efterlängtad tid, men’s quartet.
Solo concerto for harp [with orchestra?], performed 1817.
Concerto Allegro for pedal harp [with orchestra?], performed 1837.
Concert-ouverture, performed 1839.