In his exuberant Symphony No. 1, a 25-year-old Sergei Prokofiev combined a modern, 20th century tonality with a classical style in a work lasting around fifteen minutes. Inventive composer Nathaniel Stookey’s The Composer Is Dead was written as a musical murder mystery for children and has become one of the 21st century’s most played orchestral works. This is its Swedish premiere, with Niklas Riesbeck as narrator. The critically acclaimed conductor Christian Reif leads the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra for the first time.





Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester. Foto: Julian Hargreaves.

The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is known worldwide as one of Europe’s most versatile orchestras with an exciting and varied repertoire and a constant striving to break new ground The multi-award-winning orchestra has been praised for its exceptional, wide-ranging musicianship as well as collaborations with the world’s foremost composers, conductors and soloists.

Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the audience in the hall, the orchestra reaches many many listeners on the radio and the web and through it´s partnership with EBU. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play and with Swedish Television, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top orchestras.

“The orchestra has a unique combination of humility, sensibility and musical imagination”, says Daniel Harding, Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2007. “I have never had a concert with the orchestra where they haven’t played as though their lives depended on it!” The orchestra is also proud to have Klaus Mäkelä as its Principal Guest Conductor since 2018.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swedish Radio Symphony was one of the only orchestras in the world which never stopped playing.  Its innovative and creative approach to making music in these dark times helped its public to cope and even made the news itself.

The first radio orchestra was founded in 1925, the same year that the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra received its current name in 1967. Through the years, the orchestra has had several distinguished Music Directors. Two of them are Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Julia Kretz-Larsson. Foto: Bo Söderström.

Julia Kretz-Larsson, violin, has studied with Marianne Boettcher and Thomas Brandis in Berlin and with Josef Suk in Prague. With the Julius Stern Piano Trio, she has won various awards at international competitions. She is a member of the chamber music ensemble Spectrum Concerts Berlin, which has its own concert series in the Berliner Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal and with which she also played in halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York and Concertgebouw Amsterdam. In 2006, Julia Kretz-Larsson became a member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, led by Claudio Abbado, and since 2008 she has been a member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, from 2011 as conductor. Julia has been the alternate first concertmaster in the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2015 and is a teacher at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm.Julia has regularly played chamber music concerts with several international artists and has performed at festivals such as the Salzburger Festspiele, the International Chamber Music Festival Utrecht, Julian Rachlin and Friends, Schubertiade, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Winter Festival. She has recorded chamber music for, among others, BIS, NAXOS, dB Productions, Harmonia Mundi and has won the music award ” Grammis” for the recording with music by Amanda Maier.


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Like so many other 19th century composers, Edvard Grieg wanted to create a national opera. He had only partly completed the project when the collaboration with the poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson over the Viking saga Olav Trygvason broke down. The libretto was delayed and in the meantime, Grieg had undertaken to set Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play in verse Peer Gynt to music.

Grieg was given strict instructions: “In the second act, the scene with the three dairymaids may be treated in accordance with the wishes of the composer, but there must be mischief! The monologue (Act 2, Scene 4), I imagined accompanied by chords, like a melodrama. Likewise, there must be some accompaniment for the performances in the hall of the Mountain King; however, here the dialogue must be shortened considerably! The scene with the Bøyg, played out in its entirety, should also be accompanied by music. Birdsong should be heard, and in the distance, ringing bells and hymn singing…”

Grieg obeyed and took on the task with gusto, even though he found it “the most unmusical of all subjects”. Peer Gynt premièred in Kristiania in 1876. It was a formidable success and when German publisher Peters published the score in 1908 it contained more than 20 movements.

Ibsen’s critical satire of the emerging liberalism of the 19th century contained elements of both fairy tale and realism. It conveys a morality best described with the adage “pride goes before a fall”. Peer Gynt is a knave and a ladies’ man who falls out with everyone around him before heading out into the world. Meanwhile, his childhood sweetheart, the ever-forgiving Solveig, waits for him at home.

Peer is a cold-hearted cynic who even gets involved in slave trade, a Croesus surrounded by yes-men for as long as the money keeps flowing. In Ibsen’s mind, he is still not a sinner and will therefore escape the torments of hell, at least according to the Button-moulder who eventually comes for his soul.

Today, Peer’s personality type is more the rule than the exception. The world is different, everything has a price and very few things have value. Unscrupulous fraudsters like Peer appear in all walks of life.

“To be yourself is to sacrifice yourself”, Ibsen argued. The price for leaving the farm was a loss of identity. However, in our globalised world, Peer comes across as a more natural object of identification than he did in the agricultural society of the 19th century. Perhaps it also resurfaces old issues of belonging and rootlessness.

Text: Henry Larsson