The seven last words of Christ / Our joint responsibility


    Malin Jacobson Båth leads today’s broadcast


Friday, September 17. The multi-award-winning Stenhammar Quartet performs Joseph Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ in a concert where the wondrously beautiful music is interwoven with words performed by representatives of different conceptions of life. Today’s talk is broadcast from Voksenåsen in Oslo. We meet Jörgen Watne Frydnes, a Norwegian political scientist, in conversation with Elisabeth Åsbrink, author and Jenny Roosqvist, Head of News at Swedish Radio Gävle. All festival talks are shown on screen in Berwaldhallen and can also be experienced on Berwaldhallen Play.


  • 17:45


    Tonight’s guests in the Baltic Sea studio are Awad Olwan, imam and initiator of God’s House, Fisksätra, Helene Egnell from Center for religious dialogue, playwright Magnus Lindman and musicians. Today’s host is Malin Jacobson-Båth. The broadcast is in English and starts at 17.45 CET.

  • 18:00



    How do we take personal and collective responsibility for creating a society that we want? Swedish author and journalist Elisabeth Åsbrink meets Norwegian political scientist and author Jörgen Watne Frydnes in a conversation about responsibility. Both have experience of working with human rights issues. Åsbrink has written noted books such as Och i Wienerwald står träden kvar (And in the Vienna Woods the Trees Remain), 1947 and Ӧvergivenheten (Abandonment), and Watne Frydnes, recently in the news with his book Ingen mann er en øy (No Man Is an Island), has, over the past decade, worked with rebuilding Utøya after the terrorist attack in 2011. The talk is broadcast from Voksenåsen in Oslo, and moderated by Jenny Roosqvist, journalist at Swedish Radio.


    • Jörgen Watne Frydnes is a Norwegian political scientist who, over the past decade, has worked with rebuilding Utøya after the terrorist attack on the 22nd of July, 2011. Watne is also the youngest ever member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the Nobel Peace Prize, and a board member of the Helsinki Committee, which works with human rights. In the spring of 2021, his book Ingen mann er en øy (No Man Is an Island) (Res Publica Publishing) was published.

    • Elisabeth Åsbrink (SE) is an author and journalist. As a journalist, she has worked for many years as a reporter and editor, for instance at sthe Swedish Television’s Uppdrag Granskning. As an author, she has received awards and excellent reviews for her books Och i Wienerwald står träden kvar (And in the Vienna Woods, the Trees Remain), 1947 and Övergivenheten (Abandonment). From 2017 to 2018, Elisabeth chaired Swedish PEN.

    • Jenny Roosqvist (SE) is a journalist at Swedish Radio, and was SR’s correspondent for Scandinavia and the Baltic States from 2011 to 2014, stationed in Helsinki. At the moment, she works as Head of News for Swedish Radio in Gävle, and as project manager for Swedish Radio’s network for investigative journalism. A few weeks per year, she also hosts Call P1.

  • 19:00



    The multi-award-winning Stenhammar Quartet performs Joseph Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ in a concert where the wondrously beautiful music is interwoven with words written and performed by representatives of different conceptions of life. The question of responsibility is a common thread in the texts.

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    Playing Joseph Haydn’s The Seven LastWords of Christ is an intense experience for the musicians of a string quartet. The seven slow movements between the introduction and the final earthquake, Terremoto – which shook the ground when Jesus died, according to gospeller Matthew – give room for reflection, both on Haydn’s music, and on a tortured, dying man’s last words in this life. And perhaps on the fact that man has continued to hurt his own for two thousand years.

    South of Seville, halfway to Gibraltar, lies the Andalusian town of Cádiz – Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited town. The brightness of the beaches is blinding against the blue Atlantic Ocean. White sandstone walls shade narrow alleyways, and the leaves of the orange trees rustle in the breeze in the square. When Jesuit priest Padre José inherited a fortune at the beginning of the 1780s, he decided to build a magnificent, oval chapel on top of the simple, subterranean chapel where he worked. First of all, he commissioned music from Europe’s most famous composer: Joseph Haydn. The little town of Cádiz would get an Easter service the like of which they had never seen.

    Joseph Haydn had recently renegotiated his contract with the Esterházys. He could now publish his music with publishers outside the Hungarian court, and even compose commissioned by others. The request from Padre José was surprisingly detailed, and a big challenge, even for a composer with eighty symphonies behind him.

    Writing seven consecutive, slow movements was no easy task. The music was to deepen the congregation’s experience of the seven biblical words, as the priest moved from the pulpit to the altar between readings and homilies. Haydn eventually found inspiration in the spoken rhythms of the actual Bible words. He turned them into musical themes in a nine-movement work for chamber orchestra, later rewritten for string quartet by Haydn himself.

    Haydn had never been to Cádiz, but had the Easter traditions of the ancient town described to him. ‘The walls, windows and pillars of the church were dressed in black fabric, and only one large lamp, hanging from the middle of the dome, broke the deep darkness,’ Haydn wrote in the preface to one edition. Haydn gave a new dimension to this intense, mystical atmosphere with his music.

    In this concert, structured around words, we meet for a moment of collective reflection.

    Janna Vettergren


    • The Stenhammar Quartet consists of violinists Peter Olofsson and Per Ӧman, violist Tony Bauer, and cellist Mats Olofsson, and has established itself as one of Scandinavia’s top string quartets. Wilhelm Stenhammar’s works, as well as other Swedish music, are central in the ensemble’s repertoire, but there is also a great focus on both Viennese Classicism and contemporary music. The quartet has commissioned works from Swedish composers such as Sven-David Sandström, Victoria Borisova-Ollas, and Per Mårtensson, but have also had works dedicated to them, and performed premieres of pieces by American, British, Finnish and Norwegian composers. The quartet has recorded some 40 works for Swedish Radio P2, and participated in a concert series recorded by Swedish Radio including all of Stenhammar’s chamber music, in 2011. Their recordings have been celebrated both in Swedish and international press. They have participated in festivals, toured in Germany, England, India, and Algeria, for instance, and performed in TV contexts such as the Melody Festival and the Polar Music Prize.

    • Magnus Lindman is a dramatist, dramaturg and translator, working at theatres and opera houses like the Royal Swedish Opera, the Gothenburg Opera, Folkoperan, the Wermland Opera, Teater Galeasen, Teater Tribunal, the Stockholm City Theatre, the Royal Dramatic Theatre, and Swedish Radio Drama. Lindman has translated writers such as Elfriede Jelinek, Georg Büchner, Friedrich Schiller, Peter Handke, Ödön von Horváth, Marius von Mayenburg, and Anja Hilling. He has collaborated frequently with performers like Frida Röhl, Mellika Melouani Melani, and Örjan Andersson. In 2016, he was awarded the Natur & Kultur Foundation’s translator award.


    • In the mid 1780s, Joseph Haydn received a commission. The commissioner in question was a certain Don José Sáenz de Santa María, of the subterranean church Oratorio de la Santa Cueva in Cádiz, Spain. The church was dear to Don José’s heart. He paid for it to be restored, and also commissioned a series of paintings from none other than Francisco de Goya for decoration. Each Easter, the inside of the church was clad in black fabric. Jesus’ last seven words on the cross, as they are written in the four gospels, were staged, lit only by a single light source. The dramaturgy of the ceremony was as simple as it was effective: standing in the pulpit, the priest read and preached on one word at a time, to then approach the altar and kneel in silent meditation over what had just been said.

      Haydn was commissioned to compose music for the moments when the priest kneeled between the readings, and wrote a piece of nine movements for a full orchestra. Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze begins with a majestic adagio in D minor with some dramatic contrasts, followed by seven slow sonatas dedicated to each one of Jesus’ words:

      The dulcet Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do in B-flat major; the melodic Verily; I say unto you today you will be with me in paradise in C major; the delicate Woman, behold your son in E major; the lamenting My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? in F minor, the furious I thirst in A major, the ominous It is finished in G minor but ending in G major; and the subdued Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit in E-flat major.

      The whole piece leads up to a violent final movement in C minor that depicts Il Terremoto, the great earthquake following the crucifixion of Jesus. The orchestra is encouraged to play ‘con tutta la forza’ – with all its strength. Haydn was so pleased with his work that he let it be performed in both Vienna and Bonn in March, 1787, a few days before the premiere in Cádiz. Father Santa María paid Haydn for the piece in an unexpected way. One day, a little box arrived from Cádiz to Haydn’s home, which was in Hungary at the time. In the box, he found a cake that, when he broke it in two, turned out to be filled with gold coins.

      Eventually, Haydn wrote versions for string quartet, choir and solo piano. His personal and – for its time – modern composition is deeply moving, and can give us an excellent opportunity to meditate and ponder – regardless of faith.

      Anna Hedelius