The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: YOU MUST HEAR THIS: “Interlude” by Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar. | July 26, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

It happened again.

There I was, writing in the early morning.

I was also listening to Wisconsin Public Radio, which often serves as background music while I write.

But this particular morning host Stephanie Elkins played a piece that I had never heard. It stopped me in my tracks.

It is so beautiful and poignant, and it moves so slowly and movingly that The Ear thought you should also hear it.

It is the Interlude by the Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar from his cantata “The Song.” If his other music is as good, Stenhammar (below) might well deserve a rediscovery. He was a prolific composer with several symphonies and piano concertos to his credit.

Wilhelm Stenhammar

This performance of the Interlude, featured in a YouTube video, was done in 2014 by renowned conductor Neeme Jarvi and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

The Ear hopes you enjoy this rarely performed work as much as he did.

Perhaps my memory is faulty. But I don’t recall hearing it performance live in Madison.

Yet it might make a nice curtain raiser or encore for the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Symphony Orchestra or the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.


  1. I have searched every way I can think of to find the sheet music for The Interlude. Is it only played as part of an orchestral work, like a concerto? If it is published as a piano solo, have you any idea who carries it? Many thanks, Jake. Still love (and learn so much from) your blog.

    Comment by Nan Morrissette — July 26, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

  2. In re Stenhammer’s vocal music, some examples are surely included in Mimmi’s Fulmer’s new CD set available from the UW School of Music and described as “a CD of songs from Finland, Sweden and Norway.”

    Comment by Dan Shea — July 26, 2015 @ 11:47 am

  3. The quote on “Midwinter” just alluded to:

    “The first time I heard this piece, I was driving to work on a snowy, icy day, and the local classical music station played it. It hit me so hard in all its beauty and power that I nearly ended up in a ditch. I am irrevocably convinced that this is the music that God was listening to when He created the Archangel Michael. Thank you!”

    Comment by Dan Shea — July 26, 2015 @ 11:34 am

  4. Stenhammer is wonderfully melodic but still usually neglected outside of Scandinavia. Here’s a tribute to his orchestra piece “Midwinter” that sounds like Jake’s reaction to “Interlude”:

    He also wrote songs, many of these remain favorites among singers who are willing to learn a bit of Swedish. In Madison, Mimmi Fulmer champions this repertoire, and there are fine collections by von Otter, Mattei, Hagegård, ….

    Comment by Dan Shea — July 26, 2015 @ 11:31 am

  5. Thanks for this post. It reminds me of the value of classical music on the radio with guided commentary. Music we did not know. Music we had not heard in quite the same way. All of us experiencing it in real time as a community.
    Which reminds me to plug the Willy Street Chamber Players whose next concert is Friday at 6. What a terrific group of musicians. Flawless performances of new music, music I had never heard before and appreciated greatly, including pieces by two young composers who happen to live… Madison.

    Comment by Ronnie Hess — July 26, 2015 @ 8:24 am

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