Kurt Atterberg

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String Quartet No.2 in b minor, Op.11

Atterberg's String Quartet No.2 in b minor dates from 1916 and was dedicated to “The Splinter”, a reference to those composers who had broken away from the Chamber Music Society of Stockholm and had tried unsuccessfully to start another rival association. The impetus for the work came when his friend and fellow composer Natanael Berg suggested that they each write a quartet of less than 16 minutes duration as an act of defiance toward the stogy Chamber Music Society. The first movement, Allegro con fuoco, has a symphonic quality to it. Atterberg later wrote that in the second movement, Andante, he had a beautiful ballerina in mind. The finale, Allegro furioso, is a cross between a thrusting march and a wild dance.


Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974) was born in the Swedish city of Gothenberg. As a boy he studied the cello locally before moving to Stockholm. There he studied engineering but also entered the Stockholm Conservatory taking composition lessons although most sources related that he was essentially a self-taught composer. For most of his life, he pursued a dual career as an engineer, while at the same time composing in most genres. Like so many other late Romantic composers, his music was buried by the rush to atonalism after the First World War. As this work shows, his music is well-worth discovering.

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