Fredrik Silverstolpe (1769−1851)


Fredrik Samuel Silverstolpe was born in Stockholm on 28 December 1769 and died in the same city on 2 December 1851. As a young man he studied music with, among others, Joseph Martin Kraus. Silverstolpe wrote over 130 songs, but all the more interesting is his writings on the subject of music, including newspaper articles, a biography of Kraus, and a comprehensive analysis of Kraus’ opera Aeneas i Carthago. Elected into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1798.


This man, deceased in 1851, was one of the capital city’s most educated friends of music, occupying himself even in old age, at eighty years, in part with his own attempts at composition, in part with the study of the works of the most renowned composers [...]. Silverstolpe loved and revered classical music, rather than the new.

So describes critic and composer Abraham Mankell his older colleague, Fredrik Samuel Silverstolpe, in his history of Swedish music from 1853. But even if Silverstolpe and Mankell shared interests in music criticism and composition, the differences between them are striking. Whereas Mankell was a typical national romantic, emphasising the importance of the common national spirit for the supremacy of simple song, Silverstolpe was a true man of the enlightenment with classicism and individualism as his aesthetic ideals.

Silverstolpe was born in Stockholm in 1769 and died in the same city in 1851. His life and achievements stretch from the Gustavian era to far into the romantic 1800s (it can be mentioned that Silverstolpe’s cousin David Gudmund was married to Magdalena ‘Malla’ Silfverstolpe, who held salon in Uppsala). Silverstolpe studied architecture in his youth but also cultivated an interest in music, which was nourished by his acquaintance with the thirteen-years-older hovkapellmästare (conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra) Joseph Martin Kraus. At age twenty-seven Silverstolpe was appointed to be the chargé d’affaires at the Swedish embassy in Vienna. There he met, among others, the French Republic’s envoy, Marshal Bernadotte, who would later be appointed as Sweden’s new king.

As Member of Parliament in the constitutional committee, Silverstolpe criticised a proposal for freedom of the press in the new form of government because it did not take into consideration all forms of censorship (the freedom of the press law adopted in 1810 has been misunderstood by later analysts for having included music copyright). During his time in Vienna, Silverstolpe maintained regular contact with Joseph Haydn, to whom he introduced Johan Wikmanson’s music. Haydn returned the favour by allowing Silverstolpe to take part in his not yet performed oratorio The Creation, which Silverstolpe translated into Swedish for the first performance in Stockholm in 1801, only two years after the Vienna premiere.

Critic, superintendent and biographer

By this time Silverstolpe was already a member of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music) (to which he was elected in 1798, member of the second class in 1814, the first class in 1841), where he immediately worked to nominate Haydn as an honorary member. Silverstolpe studied music theory for a time with Pehr Frigel and in 1809 he published an impressive analysis of Kraus’ 6 hours long opera Aeneas i Carthago, encompassing nearly 120 pages (inspired by Kraus’ 1785 analysis of Niccolo Piccini’s Didon, but surpassing its model fivefold in size). Four years later Silverstolpe was appointed to be superintendent at the Royal Court, which meant he was also responsible for the Kongliga Museum, the forerunner of today’s National Museum.

Silverstolpe periodically wrote music reviews and articles in the newspapers (Stockholms Posten, Dagligt Allehanda and Svenska Biet), which he eventually published in a collected volume. In 1833 he published what is considered to be the first biography of a Swedish musician, his idol from youth, Joseph Martin Kraus, which included 50 of the composer’s letters. In 1837 Silverstolpe retired from work and publicity to Näs estate in Uppland, where in old age he finally had time to indulge in one of his main hobbies for the past decades: composing music.



Silverstolpe’s musical output includes over 130 songs, often with piano or string accompaniment. Unlike individuals such as historian and composer Erik Gustaf Geijer, Silverstolpe neither published nor made public his compositions, conforming to the aristocratic conventions of the time (as late as 1838 Silverstolpe refers to Kant’s moral imperative when insisting on the immorality of charging admission for public music performances). Not until nearly half a century after Silverstolpe’s death did Karl Valentin publish two of Silverstolpe’s songs for voice and piano in a collection of Swedish song. Characteristic of Silverstolpe’s music, in line with aesthetics as manifested in his writings, is its confinement within a classical framework. Rather than modelling after an ideal such as Kraus’ Sturm und Drang, it seems as if Silverstolpe found inspiration in Haydn’s songs. Thus, at least for smaller ensembles, Silverstolpe’s works make a remarkably anachronistic impression compared with the music of other contemporary Swedish composers such as Adolf Fredrik Lindblad or Geijer. Perhaps, as one historian writes, Silverstolpe’s songs can be most valued if listened to as ‘musical memoirs’.

Literary works

From a contemporary perspective, however, it is not his compositions that raise Silverstolpe to a place in music history, but his articles and writings. Above all, it is his analysis of Kraus’ mighty Aeneas i Carthago that deserves international recognition. Like a kind of opera semiotics avant la lettre, Silverstolpe’s analysis unites Gluck’s reformist thinking with a rational systematisation worthy of a man of letters.. This does not exclude recognition of the supernatural deities who in physical stature actively interact with the mortal protagonists of Kraus’ version of Vergil’s epic (the libretto was written by Johan Henric Kellgren), a dramatic move that according to Silverstolpe shows how the morally good can manifest itself as an ideal in the merely possible. It is also in light of this ethical-aesthetic tenet that we can understand Silverstolpe’s detailed account of how Kraus ‘with the finest of strokes describes the mixture of Dido’s affections with her present intentions and [how Kraus] has set the dialogue in a tone that immediately answers the natural of the former and the surmised of the latter’.

Ulrik Volgsten © 2015
Trans. Thalia Thunander

Publications by the composer

Dictamen af Fredric Samuel Silverstolpe, uppläst i höglofl. ridderskapets och adelns plenum den 12 oktober 1809, wid granskningen af det förslag till en tryckfrihets-förordning, som, enligt kongl. maj:ts nådiga befallning, war af särskilta committerade uppsatt och sedermera af constitutions-utskottet till rikets ständer inlemnadt, Stockholm: Carl Deléns tryckeri, 1810.
Tankar rörande lyriska tragedien Aeneas i Carthago författad af Kellgren och satt i musik af Kraus, Strödda afhandlingar i ämnen rörande de fria konsterna 3, Strengnäs: Segerstedt, 1809.
Biographie af Kraus: med bilagor af femtio brev ifrån honom, Stockholm, 1809.
Några återblickar på rygtets, snillets och konsternas verld, Stockholm, 1841.


Boer, Bertil van & Leif Jonsson, Leif: 'The Silverstolpe music collection in Rö, Uppland, Sweden: a preliminary catalogue', Fontes Artis Musicae, vol. 29, no. 3, 1993, pp. 93−103.
Forslin, Alfhild
: Runeberg i musiken, Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet, 1958, p. 327.
Kuschner, Johan: 'Silfverstolpe (Silverstolpe), släkt', in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol, 32, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 2003−06. 
Mörner, C.-G. Stellan
: Johan Wikmanson und die Brüder Silverstolpe: einige Stockholmer Persönlichkeiten im Musikleben des Gustavianischen Zeitalters, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1952.
Tegen, Martin: '
Fredrik Silverstolpe’s Review of J.M. Kraus’s Æneas i Cartago', in: Bertil van Boer (ed.), Gustav III and the Swedish Stage. Opera, Theatre, and Other Foibles, ed. Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1993.
Volgsten, Ulrik
: Från snille till geni. Den svenska kompositörsrollens omvandlingar från Kraus till Måndagsgruppen och dess betydelse för synen på musik, Stockholm: Gidlund, 2013.


Uppsala universitetsbibliotek,  Musik- och teaterbiblioteket, Riksarkivet

Summary list of works

Vocal music (songs for solo voice, choir, etc.), piano pieces (12 ‘tonlekar’).

Collected works

Voice and piano quintet
Farväl, farväl för alltid, 1819.
Odi l'aura, 1821.
Den första kyssen, 1825.
Amalias Sång, 1838.
En Israelitisk Kvinnas Sång vid Jerusalems förstöring, 1840.
Hymn till Gud, 1840.
Hymn till solen, 1840.
Titus i Jerusalem, 1841.

Choir and piano quintet

Hosianna, 1828.
Kärleks-Sång om Våren, 1834.

Voice, piano and violin
Till Emilie, 1807.
Serenaden, 1832.

Voice and string quartet
Dei fobe ad Enea, ?
Quando spunta in ciel l'aurora, 1820.
Edone, 1823.
Solitario bosco ambroso, 1825.
Clotilde till sin Förstfödde, 1832.
Utgjutelse, 1836.
Återkomsten, 1839.
Rachels Sång vid Jerusalems förstöring, 1840.
Thildas Sång, 1840.
Hoppet, 1840.
Alexis, 1842.
Den Korintiske Krigs-Skalden, 1842.

Two voices and string quartet
Ah che fa la pigra aurora, 1840.

Two voices and piano
Föremålet, 1832.
De båda älskande, 1836.
Den dubbla Glädjedagen, 1837.
De Trolofvade, 1843.

Choir and orchestra
Helig är Herren, 1829.

Choir and string quartet
Drömmens genius till Jason, 1842.

Choir and piano
Vandrings-Sång för Ungdom, 1840.

Voice and piano
Les regrets de l'absence, 1807.
Hébé på Pafos, 1812.
Aimable enfant, 1813.
Giusti dei, 1818.
Bella fiamma, 1821.
Tu vedrai, 1822.
Se lontan ben mio tu sei, 1822.
Slafveriet, 1823.
Morgonsång, 1824.
Rosen, 1824.
Morgonen, 1824.
Den Flydda, 1824.
Invocation à Zéphire, 1827.
Vagg-Sång, 1829.
Vänskapen, 1829.
Till Sophie, 1831.
Skyddsängeln, 1831.
Ah, se mai, 1832.
Herdinnan, 1832.
Dovunque il guardo, 1835.
Amor, 1835.
Den förnöjsamma Kärleken, 1836.
Doris och Damon, 1836.
Till den Älskade, 1836.
Nerina och Damis, 1838.
Drömbilden, 1838.
Till Månen, 1838.
Damon och Phyllis, 1838.
Tutto con te mi piace, 1838.
À Egérie, 1838.
Tu sai che amante io sono, 1838.
Se viver non poss'io, 1838
Välkommen och farväl, 1838.
Maj-Sång, 1839.
Hyllning, 1839.
Höstaftonen, 1839.
Rosen och Kärleken, 1839.
Sippan, 1839.
Daphne, 1840.
Sverige, 1840.
Saknaden, 1840.
Sångens Stunder, 1840.
Till den Bortflydda, 1840.
Tallen, 1840.
Sång till Landets Tärnor, 1840.
Aftonen, 1840.
Sommarqvällen, 1841.
Tröst, 1841.
Selis, 1841.
L'amerò, sarò costante, 1841.
En tanka blott, 1841.
Till Lalage, 1841.
Hugkomst, 1841.
Till en Törnros, 1841.
Den Seglande, 1841.
Till Chloë, 1841.
Oskulden – till Solen, 1842.
Amor timido, 1842.
Natten, 1842.
Oh, che felici pianti, 1842.
Se Dio veder tu vuoi, 1842.
Se mai turbo il tuo riposo, 1842.
Maj-Natten, 1842.
Nattens nöjen, 1842.
Semplice fanciulletto, 1842.
Amor och Skalden, 1842.
Kyssarne, 1842.
Te solo adoro, 1842.
Till Fredrika, 1842.
Aftonbilder, 1842.
Aftonens förhoppning, 1842.
Si il ciel mi divide, 1842.
Känslan af våren, 1842.
Budskapen, 1845.
Budbärerskan, 1845.
Till den Frånvarande, 1845.
Till Chloë, 1845.
Morgonen, 1845.
Digli, ch'io son fedele, 1845.
Chi mai di questo core, 1845.
Saper ti basti, 1845.
Ah rammenta, o bella Irene, 1845.
F.C.M., 1845.
Tonkonsten, 1846.
Selmar och Selma, 1846.
Diana ed Endimione, 1846.
Amore a Pallade, 1846.
A giorni suoi la sorte, 1846.
Aftontankar, 1846.
Källan, 1847.
Tonate sereni, 1847.
Drömmen, 1847.
Non so dir, se pena sia, 1847.
No, non vedrete mai, 1847.
Lycklig den, 1850.