Rudolf Gagge (1834−1912)


Laurentius Georg Rudolf Gagge, born in Stockholm on 27 February 1834 and died in Västerås on 20 February 1912, was a banker, politician, singer, pianist, conductor, and composer. As a visual artist he was known for his drawings, and foremost for his watercolours. He was employed as the director of Mälareprovinsernas Enskilda Bank as well as being a member of the board. Between 1869 and 1903 he was also a member of the Västerås town council. Gagge founded the Västerås Music Society in 1873 and also led the music ensemble Lilla kapellet.

In addition to his responsibilities as a banker, Rudolf Gagge devoted himself to art and music. His skilful watercolours still garner interest today, yet his compositions display talent and ability as well. In addition to founding the Västerås Music Society, he was its leader − the society later became the Västerås Sinfonietta and Gagge therefore stands as the initiator of one of Sweden’s oldest and still active orchestras.



Rudolf Gagge was born into a musical home in Stockholm. His father Lorentz Gustaf Gagge, a textile merchant, left behind an album of his own songs set to guitar. His mother Laura Amalia (née Bellander) had a beautiful and mellow singing voice in her youth, and maintained a clear-ringing voice in her older years. According to Rudolf Gagge’s memoir Minnen och anekdoter, the children in the family also had good singing voices and were all more or less musical. The family sang three-part harmonies with two voices on each part. The repertoire in the home consisted of popular songs by composers including Olof  Åhlström, Gunnar Wennerberg and August Söderman. The two sisters later attended the vocal course at Musikkonservatoriet (the Royal Conservatory of Music) in Stockholm. Their cousin and opera singer Rudolf Wallin soon became Rudolf’s brother-in-law and arranged for the young Gagge to attend many opera performances − standing in the wings.

Musical pleasures

Schooling at the Nya Elementarskolan (the New Elementary School), where he became friends with the composer Ludvig Norman, came to an end for financial reasons in 1850 and Rudolf Gagge began his working life at a business office and then in the banking sector. Because of his musicality and his membership in the Nya harmoniska sällskapet (the New Harmonic Society), beginning in 1860, he built relationships that also became important in his future music activities.

During his free time he enjoyed the open hospitality of music salons in homes of the well-to-dos as a matsångare, receiving food and drink in return for singing. In the family homes of, for example, the owner of the newspaper Stockholms Dagblad J.A. Walldén, railroad bureau chief Carl Limnell and music publisher Ernst Josephson, Rudolf Gagge met the foremost musici of his time. These included Ludvig Norman, Fritz Arlberg, Julius Günther, Jacopo Foroni, August Söderman, Isak Albert Berg, John Jacobsson, Carl Johan Uddman, Wilhelm Svedbom, Laura Netzel and Ivar Hallström. In Gagge’s memoir he described these, and many more, of Stockholm’s music celebrities in a style characteristic of memoir portraits. He belonged to a group of singers who, on Thursday evenings were called to the royal palace and together with King Charles XV sang in a twenty-man choir. The ‘strong but rough bass voice’ and unforced manner of King Charles were also described in Gagge’s memoir.


In 1866 Gagge moved to Västerås (east of Stockholm) with his wife Augusta Sahlqvist whom he married in 1864. He became a clerk at the Mälareprovinsernas Enskilda Bank, but missed Stockholm’s music offerings. In 1871 he initiated the founding of the Sångsällskapet (a singing society) in Västerås, which he also directed. Through his many contacts in Stockholm, and especially with opera singer Julius Günther, Gagge could always count on borrowing the music for choral arrangements from the Nya harmoniska sällskapet. In the beginning the group was accompanied by piano, however on 31 March 1884 the Sångsällskapet performed their first instrumental concert in which orchestral works by C.W. Gluck and Joseph Haydn were presented under the leadership of Gagge. The next day, the Västerås Musiksällskap (Västerås Music Society) made its debut. These attempts ‘at a higher style’, however, were given up after two years for economic reasons. Instead, the Lilla kapellet (the small orchestra) was formed from the best resources at hand and went on to concertise frequently, becoming very popular. Gagge arranged a great number of pieces for this smaller orchestra − enough to fill four volumes with musical notation.

In an article Lennart Lejdström says: ‘As head of the old Mälare Bank Gagge was considered to give particular importance to whether new employees were singers or could play an instrument. Because of this the bank was called, out of malice, the “play bank”.’ One could think that the bank was mismanaged, however, in fact the bank did well and Gagge chose to stay there despite an offer to become head of the Stockholms Handelsbank when it was founded. In 1899, due to increasing deafness, Gagge resigned as the Musiksällskapet’s chair of the board. He did, however continue to study music, now through the reading of scores.


As a composer Rudolf Gagge was self-taught, which also applied to his painting – although, the family history describes him as having taken a number of lessons from the famous painter Carl Larsson whose wife, Karin Larsson, was the niece of Rudolf’s wife. Gagge’s taste in music was cultivated out of his interactions within the circles of professional classical musicians he knew. He looked at his own creations with modesty while he gladly included them in concert programmes. The music for piano flowed in a steady stream from his practiced pen. The lyrical, singable harmonies, such as in Elegi (1862), dominated his works, often with elements of Swedish folk music as heard in Etude (1857). The richly coloured sensitivities in the sound study Convallaria reminds one of the same fine nuances in his watercolours. The piano trio, an attempt to work in a larger form, remains within the classical idiom, however in the slow movement one glimpses a moderate romanticism. The works for the Lilla kapellet are partly arrangements of his own piano pieces and partly original, such as the playful portrait of the city of Västerås in Gumman Arosin kryper till kojs (the old woman, Arosin goes to bed).

Klas Gagge © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson

Publications by the composer

Herr Arosins Album. Likt och olikt från den goda staden W., 1867−1875, illustrated manuscripts in private possession, private print 1942.
'Minnen och anekdoter', written in 1907−1908, manuscript in private possession.
'Korta anteckningar om de bildande konsternas utöfvare i Sverige', manuscript preserved at Nationalmuseum.


Ahlberg-Hyse, Birgit: 'Gagges kapell', Vestmanlands läns tidning, 12 Feb. 2001.
Andersson, Sven-Ove et al.: Västeråsminnen − ur Rudolf Gagges akvareller, Västerås: Förlag Smala Produktioner, 1991.
A.R.: 'Musiklifvet i Vesterås', Svensk Musiktidning, nos 11−12, 3 Jun. 1901, pp. 82−83.
Drakenberg, Sven:
'Lilla Kapellet gifver soiré', radio programme 2 Mar. 1947, manuscript preserved at Västmanlands läns museum.
Fåhreaus, Fredrik: 'Minnesruna öfver Rudolf Gagge', i: Carlsbrödraförbundets handlingar, 4, Västerås, 1913, s. 93−95.
Hedblad, Lars: 'Musiklivet och särskilt konsertverksamheten i Västerås 1870−1900', bachelor's thesis in musicology at Stockholm University, 1971, p. I,
pp. 1−10, pp. 17 f−g, pp. 23−24, p. 41, p. 44, p. 59−61, p. 65, pp. 71−72.
Hemming, Sture: Crescendo. Västerås Musiksällskap 1883−1983, Västerås: Kulturnämnden, 1983, pp. 7−22.
−−−: Musiken i Västerås 1570−1995, Västerås: Kulturnämnden, Västerås, 1996, p. 251, pp. 264−279, pp. 286−287.
Kjersén, Sven: 'Gunnar Mascoll Silfverstolpe som Västeråsdjäkne. Några minnesbilder', in: Carl Johan Lundin (ed.), Arosiana VI. Från Arosdjäknarnas stad. Bilder från skola och hembygd, Västerås: Sällskapet Arosbröderna, 1944, pp. 93−94.
'Bilder från det gamla Westerås', in: Samlarnytt, no. 2, Stockholm, 1970, s. 4−6.
Lejdström, Lennart: 'Nöjesliv i 90-talets Västerås och 6 novemberfirandet', in: Carl Johan Lundin (ed.), Arosiana VI. Från Arosdjäknarnas stad. Bilder från skola och hembygd, Västerås: Sällskapet Arosbröderna, 1944, p. 239.
Lindgren-Fridell, Marita: 'Från det gamla Västerås; Rudolf Gagges Västerås-bilder' in: Carl Johan Lundin (ed.), Arosiana VI. Från Arosdjäknarnas stad. Bilder från skola och hembygd, Västerås: Sällskapet Arosbröderna, 1944, pp. 138−166.
−−−: 'En gammal skissbok med Visby-bilder', in: Gotländskt arkiv. Meddelanden från Föreningen Gotlands fornvänner, XV, Visby: Gotlands fornsal, 1943, pp. 49−57.
Moberg, Stellan: 'Sinfonietta med gamla rötter', Spaning, nos 20−21, 2013, pp. 12−15.
Nathorst-Böös, Ernst: Mälareprovinsernas Enskilda Bank. En liten bilderbok 1847−1927, Västerås: Svenska Handelsbanken, 1968, pp. 13−14.
Olsson, Bror: 'Rudolf Gagge', in: Gösta Lilja (eds), Svenskt konstnärslexikon, vol. 2, Malmö: Allhems förlag, 1953, p. 262.
Olsson, Sven: Parlament i Aros, Västerås, 1963, pp. 29, 39, 46, 76.
Peterson, Bertil:
'Med hr Gagge som ciceron i gaslyktornas Västerås', in: Kerstin Linde (eds), Westerås 1850−1900 en byggnadsminnesutställning: Västerås konstmuseum 16 okt − 28 nov 1982 [exhibition catalogue], Västerås: Västerås konstmuseum, 1982.
Silfverstolpe, Göran M.: 'På Stora Åsby', i: Åke Leander (red.), En bok om G.M. Silfverstolpe, Uppsala, 1944, p. 60−63.
−−−: 'Rudolf Gagge', in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 16, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1966, p. 719.
−−−: 'Rudolf Gagge', in: Västmanlands läns museum och Västmanlands fornminnesförenings årsskrift, nr 67, Västerås, 1989, p. 7−44.
Uddén, Herman: 'Några minnesvärda personer. Rudolf Gagge', in: Västerås stad under femtio år 1875−1925: anteckningar om betydande företag, byggnadsverk och märkliga personer, Stockholm: Norstedt, 1929, pp. 63−68, pp. 208−212.
Wallensteen, Ivar: 'Rudolf Gagge och hans Västerås', in: Sällsamheter i Västerås, Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1989, pp. 237−244.
Svensk bankmatrikel 1891, p. 77.


Stockholms Stadsarkiv, Kungliga biblioteket, Västmanlands läns museum, Västerås stadsarkiv, Västerås stadsbibliotek, släktarkiv.

Summary list of works

Orchestra music (shorter orchestral works), chamber music (piano trios, etc.), works for piano (ca 60 character pieces), choral works (Kantat i Karlsbrödraförbundet).

Collected works

Works for orchestra (for the instruments of Lilla Kapellet: fl, clar, corn, tbn, vn I, vn II, vla, vc, cb, pno)
Gumman Arosin kryper till kojs, 1893.
Bellmansmelodier no. 1, 1890s.
Intermezzo, 1890s.
Notturno, 1890s.
Bondmarsch, 1890s.
Bellmansmelodier no. 2, 1894.
Capriccio, 1894.

Chamber music
Trio for violin, violoncello and piano, 1867.
Romance violin, violoncello and piano, 1878.
Polonaise violin, violoncello and piano, 1880.
Berceuse violin, violoncello and piano, 1880.
Fantasy for string quartet and piano, 1880.
Divertissement for flute, clarinet, string quartet and piano, 1881.
Duets for 2 violins with piano accompaniment, 1881.
Tomtegubbar for 2 violins and piano, 1882.

Visa ('Går jag mig ut i lund och dal', Arvid August Afzelius) for röst and piano. Tr. in 'Album för sång vid piano, andra samlingen: innehållande hittills otryckta arbeten af svenska tonsättare, Sveriges unga damer tillegnade', Stockholm: Abr. Lundqvists förlag, 1861.

Works for piano
Etude in E major, 1857.
Pensée musicale, 1857.
Mazourka à la Chopin, 1857.
Bagatelle,  1858.
Preludium [F major], 1858.
Etude in D major, 1858.
Valse Impromptu, 1858.
Capriccio Scherzando, 1860.
Idylle, 1861.
Etude in E major, 1861.
Månskensfantasie, 1861.
Elegi, 1862.
Hornsbergsminnen, 1862.
Prelude in A-flat major, 1863.
Marche, 1864.
Den 5 Juni 1864/Till min hustru på vår bröllopsdag, 1864.
Berceuse in F-sharp minor, 1864.
Capriccio in D major, 1864.
Intermezzo, 1864.
Barcarolle, 1865.
Prelude in B minor, 1865.
S.T./Intermezzo capriccioso, 1865.
Duettino, 1865.
Allegro fantastique, 1865.
Canzonetta, 1866.
Menuetto, 1866.
Mazurka in B minor, 1867.
Prelude in G major, 1867.
Piglock, 1867.
Ballad in E minor, 1867.
Polska in D major, 1868.
Polska in D major, 1869.
Polska in D minor, 1869.
Polka, 1870.
Andante quasi Allegretto, 1871.
Leka soldat, 1871.
Scherzino in E-flat major, 1871.
Humoresk, 1871.
Jagtfanfar, 1871.
'?'/Fråga, 1872.
Scherzino in E major, 1872.
Wisa utan ord/Hösttankar, 1874.
Andante solenne, 1874.
Den 15 Augusti 1874/Minne från Hilleröd, 1874.
Mitt hem, 1875.
Aftonstämning, 1875.
Moderato in F-sharp minor, 1875.
Alla rustica/Burla, 1875.
Nattmarsch/Nattvaktens rund, 1877.
Moderato in D major, around 1877.
Prelude in F minor, 1877.
Längtan, 1878.
I folkton, 1878.
Från hedenhös, 1878.
Convallaria, 1878.
Etude in B minor, 1878.
Sarabande, 1880.
Till Elsa vid hennes hemkomst 27 nov. 1880.
Söndagsmorgon, 1880.
I Ungersk ton, 1880.
Ballad/Capriccio in F minor, 1881. Tr. in 'Julhelsning i toner 1899', publ. by G. Brückner.
Lille Sten, 1881.
Pastoral, 1882.
Prelude in C major, 1882.
Romance, 1882.
Scherzo, 1882.

Works for soli, choir and piano
Sång [cantata] för Karlsbrödraförbundet (Ludvig Mossberg), for tenor and baritone soli, male choir and piano, 1888. Tr. Jan. 1889, A. Börtzells tr. AB, Stockholm.

Works by Rudolf Gagge

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

Number of works: 68