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Bengt Hambraeus: Biography

Bengt Hambraeus
1928 - 2000
Region: Ontario

Bengt Hambraeus

HAMBRAEUS, Bengt (b. Jan 29, 1928 - d. Sep 22, 2000)
Born in Stockholm, Bengt Hambraeus studied the organ with Alf Linder, 1944-1948. He then studied at Uppsala University 1947-1956, taking his Fil. Lic. degree in musicology. He was employed by the Music Department of the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation in 1957, becoming head of its Chamber Music Section 1965-1968, and Production Manager 1968-1972. He has been Professor at McGill University, Montreal, Canada 1972-1993 and he became a Member of the Royal Academy of Music in 1967.

Bengt Hambræus has made a name for himself as one of the pivotal figures of the new music in Sweden. His profound artistic force has mainly been channelled through a daring bid to renew the means of expression. He was the first Swedish composer to work in an electronic music studio. His organ compositions developed in unheard of directions. In his orchestral compositions he applied new principles of "music in space" (with different groups of instruments stationed at different points in the auditorium). His fine sense of the suggestive, composite qualities of musical sound leaves its mark on all his compositions, not least his chamber music. It is perhaps above all to percussion instruments, e.g. bells, gongs, cymbals etc. that he has given an individual language.

Hambræus' creativity also possesses a further dimension in addition to exploration and renewal, namely a sense of tradition. In recent years this has deepened into a realisation of the possibility of merging widely different sources, such as plainsong, the earliest free forms of the Baroque (toccatas, capriccios etc.), the close and abundantly tense counterpoint of Max Reger etc. into a contemporary mode of expression. During the 1980s he has also developed his interest in details of form and in the grand contours of musical architecture. His large compositions for combinations of instruments display a forceful, almost heavy-handed touch that bears witness to Hambræus' close relationship to the art of Edgar Varèse. The depth and clarity of the smallest components are a convincing sign of Hambræus having personally absorbed the spirit of Anton Webern's music in a manner which few other Swedish composers have equalled. H-G P. Hambraeus passed away at his farm at Apple Hill, just outside of Montreal on 22th September 2000.

2004
Source: Swedish Music Information Centre

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