Franz Berwald is now considered Sweden's greatest composer of all time. Not least in his symphonies and in his chamber music, he appears as a prominent figure in 19th-century Nordic music-making. Conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, Sixten Ehrling, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Ulf Björlin have recorded and performed his symphonies to orchestras and concert halls around the world.

Franz Berwald received his first musical training from his father. After further studies with Edouard Du Puy, he was employed in 1812 as a violinist in the Court Chapel. As a composer, Berwald was self-taught, but his time in the court chapel gave him useful experience and compositional knowledge in both form and instrumentation. Already early on, Berwald showed remarkable originality in his tonal language, but was not appreciated by the contemporary Swedish music world.

In order to be recognized as a composer, Berwald therefore traveled in 1829 to Berlin, where he worked on several different opera projects, but success was not forthcoming, and for his livelihood he established an orthopedic institute in 1835, which he ran for six years. In 1841 Berwald moved to Vienna where he received the recognition as a composer he had been waiting for. There he composed the first symphonySinfonie sérieuse1842 and several tone paintings, e.g.Ernste und heitere GrillenandErinnerung an die norwegischen Alpenas well as the operaEstrella de Soria.

When Berwald returned to Sweden in 1842, he was at the height of his creative career and in the following years wrote three more symphonies,Sinfonie capricieuse,Sinfonie singulièreandSymphony naive. But the Swedish music scene still treated him coldly. Berwald applied for the position of director of musics in Uppsala but was passed over for the appointment. In order to support himself, he therefore accepted an offer to become manager at Sandö glass factory in Ångermanland. However, he continued to compose, mainly chamber music such as string quartets, piano trios and piano quintets.

In 1862, Berwald finally experienced great success in Sweden with his revised opera Estrella de Soria at the Stockholm Opera. He completed his last operaThe Queen of Golconda1864 and finally received official recognition as well: in 1864 he was appointed a member of the Musical Academy and in 1867 professor of composition at
The Music Conservatory in Stockholm. Just one year later (1868), Berwald died in the aftermath of pneumonia.