Atterberg's musical strength ranges from clear, brightly melodic movements in an intimate format to large-scale symphonic works. Designing living, substantial voices both in the melodic foreground and in the surrounding layers of the accompaniment was an endeavor he firmly stuck to.

Born on 12 December 1887 in Gothenburg, died on 15 February 1974 in Stockholm. In 1910-1911 he studied at the Music Conservatory in Stockholm, student in composition and instrumentation for Andreas Hallén. As a composer, however, Atterberg is actually self-taught. He also had an extensive technical education, studied at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, where in 1911 he graduated with a civil engineering degree. Employed at the Royal Patent and Registration Office 1912-1940. Agency director 1937. Atterberg was one of the founders of FST, its chairman 1924-1943. Honorary chairman 1947. Secretary of the Royal Academy of Music 1940-1953. Chairman of STIM 1924-1943. Atterberg was a diligent writer, i.a. as a music critic in the Stockholm newspaper 1919-1957. Awards include 1st prize in the gramophone company Columbia's "Schubert competition" in 1928. Litteris et Artibus in 1936.

Broad knowledge of instrumentation also contributes to his scores being solid and saturated. That his disposition was that of a romantic is evident from numerous compositions. He has given a special tribute to romanticism as a stylistic ideal in his seventh symphony,Sinfonia romantica, with its perfectly cast, flowing forms, elaborate melodies and multifaceted harmonics. Pathos and suffering are other moods he aimed for, not least in his operas (Fanalis a prominent example).

A fine-tuned touch characterizes other compositions -String quartetOp. 11, ballet music and several of the orchestral suites (ten pieces). In the latter, Atterberg's classicist interest is evident and the third orchestral suite has become one of his most played works. Despite the limited form, the alternating play between solo violin and viola and orchestra is imbued with the warm melodic feeling that is a beautiful feature of Atterberg's artistry.

Hans-Gunnar Peterson
Source: Swedish Music