Nils Lindberg
Nils Lindberg

Nils Lindberg

To try to categorise the music by Nils Lindberg is virtually impossible. The well-known Swedish music critic Seth Karlsson once described him as a kind of musical knight, riding on the frontiers of music. He saw Nils as someone who resides in a musical borderland. As his coat-of-arms he bears the triangle. One corner represents jazz, one symphonic works and the third folk music.

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When listening to the compositions and arrangements of Nils Lindberg, it soon becomes evident that his musical roots are from his native Dalarna, the traditional home of Swedish folk music. It is this background that was his major influence, and inspiration for his highly personal interpretation of the great musical heritage of Sweden. In spite of this however, his works still have a distinctly international feel about them. The music which he created, whether it was written for choir, jazz band or full symphony orchestra, has also been well received beyond the Swedish borders. The explanation for this lies in the personal touch which he giave to his music, coupled with the depth of knowledge acquired through his studies for Lars-Erik Larsson and Karl-Birger Blomdahl at the Musical Academy in Stockholm. 

For several years Nils Lindberg worked together with one of Sweden’s leading vocalists Alice Babs, as a composer, arranger, pianist and conductor. He also wrote arrangements for Duke Ellington, and composed a number of works for the Hanover Symphony Orchestra. He cooperated with internationally renowned artists like Josephine Baker, Mel Tormé and Judy Garland, and successfully completed several tours of Europe and Brazil, as well as the United States, where he was also invited to give lectures. 

Several of Nils Lindberg’s greatest orchestral works have been released on record, among them Seven Dalecarlian PaintingsLapponian SuiteMythological Portraits and Dalecarlian Reflections. His recording Saxes Galore received the “Golden Record” award in 1979 from the magazine Orkesterjournalen, for the best jazz record of the year.

During spring 1990 the suite O Mistress Mine was released on CD. This is a compilation of poems from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, including those of Shakespeare and Marlowe, which Nils has set to music. The whole suite was later successfully arranged for mixed choir. In 1998 Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day from the suite sold more copies than any other choral piece in Sweden. 

From the early 90th Lindberg composed and arranged a large amount of choral works, including a series of arrangements of Swedish folk songs and works such as the choral suite Ljus och mörker (Light and Darkness) to lyrics by Harry Martinsson. A number of his choral works was composed for the Uppsala Cathedral, among these Mass in Dalecarlian Style (1993), Songs of Salomon (1997) and Till himlen med lovsång (To heaven with praise). 

In April 1993 his Requiem received its premiere by the Swedish Radio Choir, orchestra and soloists under Gustaf Sjökvist. The work has since been performed some 100 times, apart from in Sweden in USA, Luxemburg, Iceland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. In 2002 a sequel to the Requiem was composed, A Christmas Cantata for choir, orchestra and soloists. The work was premiered at the Stockholm Cathedral and was later performed with great success in the US and Canada. 

In 1986 Nils Lindberg performed his own music at the funeral of the former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, and in 1989 he wrote the music for the divine service held by the Pope at Uppsala Cathedral. He also wrote music for the inauguration of the PIteå Music Festival in 2013 Dalecarlian Picture for organ and orchestra. Nils Lindberg re-arranged the work for solo organ for American organist James D. Hicks, who also recorded the work on the album Nordic Journey – Volume V – Many Landscapes. 

Nils Lindberg received a number of awards during his lifetime:
Orkesterjournalens ”Gyllene Skivan”, Hugo Alfvén Prize, Duke Ellington Award, Lars Gullin Prize, The Royal Medal 'Litteris et artibus' and Thore Ehrling Prize.

Nils Lindberg passed away on 20 February 2022.

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Selected works:

  • As you are
  • A Christmas Cantata
  • Höga visan
  • O Mistress Mine
  • Requiem
  • Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day