Rituals and ceremonies permeate the tone language of Jacob Mühlrad, who thanks to his persistence, obvious talent, and the burning love for music, in an astonishingly short time, has established himself as one of his generation’s most sought-after Scandinavian composers.
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Jacob Mühlrad was already in his teens when he started playing the piano totally by ear. A chance meeting with composer Sven-David Sandström prompted him to take up composing. Given his severe dyslexia it was a great challenge he had to face, learning to read music. He studied at the Gotland School of Composition, at the Royal College of Music in London, and finally at a master’s level at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.
Jacob Mühlrad’s music has already been heard at concert venues as Carnegie Hall in New York, the National Gallery in London, the Royal Swedish Opera, the Stockholm Concert Hall, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall Berwaldhallen etc. He collaborates with Sweden's major orchestras, choirs and foremost musicians. He often finds his inspiration in the rituals of Jewish liturgy and mysticism. The result is music that is highly suggestive, meditative and amazingly beautiful.
The a cappella work work Anim Zemirot (2013) marked an important breakthrough in his career and is today part of the repertoire of many of the most prominent European choirs. His close collaboration with the world-renowned Swedish Radio Choir has been of great significance. They premiered Nigun (2014) and Kaddish (2017), a choral work telling the story of Jacob Mühlrad’s grandfather who survived the Holocaust. November 2018 saw the premiere of Time, an international co-commission including the Capella San Francisco, the WDR Rundfunkchor Köln and the Tapiola Chamber Choir.
In 2019 a recording of Anim Zemirot, Kaddish, Time and Nigun, by the Swedish Radio choir under Ragnar Bohlin and Fredrik Malmberg, was released on the label Deutsche Grammophon. In connection with the release two sold out portrait concerts at the Stockholm Concert Hall attracted great attention. The album TIME received its international release in 2021 along with a video directed by Alexander Wessely and choreographed by Alexander Ekman.
Future choral projects include a joint commission between the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Singapore Youth Choir and Kampin Laulu scheduled to be premiered in the spring 2023.
During the past few years Jacob Mühlrad has also received more and more orchestral commissions. 2018-2019 clarinetist and conductor Martin Fröst toured the world with his concert project “Retrotopia”, including Mühlrad’s orchestral piece Angelus Novus.
September 2021 saw the world premiere of his first major orchestral work REMS (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep) at the Stockholm Concert Hall. It also marked the beginning of a multi-year collaboration with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, including yet another large scale orchestral work. Also in the pipeline is a clarinet concerto for soloist Magnus Holmander and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra to be premiered in April 2024.
Jacob Mülhrad enjoys crossover projects as shown in his successful collaborations with the house group Swedish House Mafia and rap artist Silvana Imam. On commission from Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, he has composed solo piano music for Alex Schulman's monologue Tröstrapporter (Comforting Reports), as well as the music to Björn Runge's film Bränn alla mina brev (Burn All My Letters), based on a novel by Alex Schulman.
© Gehrmans Musikförlag
Read Mark Seow's article about Jacob Mühlrad and the work REMS in The Gramophone 2021