Photo: Clara Neden

Tommie Haglund

In his way Haglund is a romantic, but his music lacks vanity and is well beyond the insouciant use of effects that typifies neo-romanticism. As Erik Wallrup once so aptly said, Haglund’s music “tunes” its audience in the way that a musician tunes an instrument.

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Tommie Haglund, born in Kalmar, is a distinct voice in the world of Swedish art music, and has attracted a certain amount of acclaim abroad as well. “Music with a philosophical heart and hypnotic eyes” – such could be an apt description of his output. Haglund sets himself apart from many others not only stylistically but also in the route he took towards becoming a composer. Institutionally, his studies were indeed unconventional: guitar for John Mills in London, composition for Eric Fenby in that same city and then Sven-Eric Johanson in Gothenburg. Haglund’s musical root system reveals a noticeable interest in renaissance music, especially Dowland, as well as later composers like Delius and Scriabin, and the philosophy of Swedenborg. The serious back injury Haglund sustained has had no small impact on his often laborious and lengthy works, and as author and journalist Erik Wallrup put it in an essay in the German magazine Musik Texte: “Without resorting to an aestheticisation of suffering, it’s possible to talk of his music as an antidote: Composing has come to be a way of conquering the pain, and the pain provides him with experiences of extreme conditions to which he can turn his inner ear.” 

The subjective and the “introspective listening” side to Haglund’s work, like, for example, in that of Allan Pettersson, is also universal in the extreme. Haglund, however, prefers to express himself with small gestures, with sensitively bonded motif cells, as in Intensio animi for cello and piano, Inim Inim for violin and piano, or in the string quartet Regno degli spiriti. And it is often from the groaning and writhing of these small cells that he is able to construct a musical homunculus of burly tonal and orchestral proportions, like the cello concerto Flaminis aura

Tony Lundman
English translation by Neil Betteridge
Source: STIM / Swedish Music Information Centre