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Allan Pettersson


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Gustaf Allan Pettersson (1911-1980) is known especially for creating massive, complex, challenging single movement symphonic structures that highlight despair and gut wrenching pain. Born Sep 19th, 1911 in Västra Rya, Sweden, he was victim to an abusive, alcoholic father who as an atheist clashed with his deeply religious mother. Petterson’s musical style can best be understood from his despaired childhood and his later struggles with health.

His first major musical works were “24 Barefoot songs” and the concerto for violin and string quartet. His started working on his first symphony in 1951 but never completed it. Altogether, he composed seventeen symphonies. His mostly tonal, often dissonant works however failed to generate much interest in his home country or in classical circles. During the composition of his 5th he contracted polyarthritis which left him disfigured and partially paralyzed. The illness marked a significant change in his musical style. His works now became metaphysical and relentlessly dark and despaired. Ironically, Pettersson is known most for this phase in his composition consisting of Sy’s no 6 to 9.

Symphony No.7 was the composer’s big breakthrough when it premiered on Oct, 10th, 1968 in Antal Dorati’s masterful performance. This was also the last concert that the composer could personally attend.


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  • SanctuaryCat

    Grim as fuck. I approve.

    17 Dec 2014 Reply
  • memristor

    excellent excellent excellent

    25 May 2014 Reply
  • progtrance7

    v dumb on internet? that's new

    11 Feb 2013 Reply
  • insomniacme

    moon in the window catching on

    22 Apr 2012 Reply
  • blackless

    666 listeners!

    10 Feb 2011 Reply
  • elnimio

    Well that was a stupid statement. There's plenty of good contemporary classical.

    8 Jan 2011 Reply
  • insomniacme

    contemporary classical thats actually good? good to know..

    25 Jan 2010 Reply
  • blackless

    symphony no2 is insane

    20 Nov 2009 Reply
  • xenakis

    Kamu + Pettersson + 6th = painful mental death.

    29 Oct 2009 Reply
  • blackless

    symphony no 7 is overwhelming

    17 Oct 2009 Reply
  • Krygskaar

    After listening to his 6th symphony, there is nothing worth listening to but silence. A silence like none heard before.

    10 Aug 2009 Reply
  • KraeheK

    Trojahn is my favourite 6th too. I am desperately dull in my favourites - 6 and 7 all the way.

    3 Apr 2008 Reply
  • LuigiNono

    I don't know... I still prefer Trojahn after hearing both!

    1 Oct 2007 Reply
  • Charb

    I finally got the famed Okko Kamu version of the 6th. Definitely superior to the Trojahn version.

    25 Sep 2007 Reply
  • LuigiNono

    Which symphony is your favorite? I think I would choose No. 8 if forced to.

    20 May 2007 Reply
  • Aun


    7 Oct 2006 Reply

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