Kurt Magnus Atterberg (December 12, 1887 – February 15, 1974) was a Swedish composer. He is best known for his symphonies, operas and ballets.
Atterberg was born in Gothenburg, Sweden. He studied cello and would later on in life occasionally play the cello in orchestras. He published his first work, a Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, opus 1, in 1908. In 1910 he sent the Rhapsody and an incomplete version of the Symphony No. 1 in B minor, soon published as opus 3, to the Stockholm Conservatory for admission. He studied composition and orchestration with Andreas Hallén there while simultaneously receiving instruction at the Royal Institute of Technology, earning a Masters degree in engineering in 1911.
From 1912 to 1968 Atterberg worked at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, becoming head of a division there in 1937. In 1912, he made his conducting debut conducting his own First Symphony. In 1916 he was appointed to Maestro of the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, a position he held until 1922. From 1919 to 1957, he was a music critic for the Stockholmstidningen.
In 1924, Atterberg helped found the Society of Swedish Composers and the Swedish Performing Rights Society (an organization similar to ASCAP in America). In 1926 he became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and was secretary of that organization from 1940 to 1953.
While composing an opera about the Vikings, Härvard Harpolekare, Atterberg also wrote a "Sinfonia Piccola" (Symphony No. 4 in G minor, Opus 14) inspired by an anthology of Swedish folk tunes published in 1875.
For the Schubert centenary in 1928, the Columbia Gramophone Company sponsored a competition for a symphony completing or inspired by Schubert's Unfinished, and Atterberg won the first prize of $10,000 with his Symphony No. 6. The symphony was recorded by Sir Thomas Beecham, Arturo Toscanini, and Atterberg later recorded it himself.
Atterberg died in Stockholm on February 15, 1974. He once said that: "The Russians, Brahms, Reger were my ideals." Atterberg's music combines their influences with Swedish folk tunes
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