Johan Helmich Roman
It would be hard to overestimate the central role of the instrumentalist, conductor and composer Johan Helmich Roman in the cultural life of Sweden during the Era of Liberty. The golden age of the Swedish Chapel Royal began with him, and he also organized the "Cavalier Concerts" in the House of the Nobility, which were the first public concerts ever given in Stockholm.
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He became a violinist at the tender age of 16, and in 1715 he received a grant which enabled him to study in London. There he came into contact with the music of Handel and Pepusch. Returning to Stockholm six years later, he became deputy conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra, and in 1729 its principal leader. Later journeys abroad to France, Italy, Austria and Germany in 1736-37 brought him furthermore into touch with international cultural trends. Leaving Stockholm for health reasons in 1745, he settled at Haraldsmåla, north of Kalmar in Southeastern Sweden, remaining there until his death in 1758.
For all the vital impulses he received from outside, Roman retained his individuality in a style which was already distinctive in his early compositions and which we like to regard as typically Swedish: a style galante which is perhaps at its best in his instrumental works.
In addition to his well-known Drottningholm Music, Roman's output includes the oratorio The Swedish Mass, songs and cantatas. He wrote symphonies, concertos for various solo instruments, twelve keyboard suites, twelve flute sonatas, and much more besides.
Roman is frequently and rightly referred to as "The Father of Swedish Music".