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Olsson, Otto (Emanuel)


(b Stockholm, 19 Dec 1879; d Stockholm, 1 Sept 1964). Swedish organist and composer. At the Swedish Royal Academy of Music he studied organ with Lagergren (examination 1896) and theory and composition with Dente (examination 1899). Subsequently he joined the conservatory staff, teaching harmony (1908–24) and organ (1924–45, from 1926 as professor). He also held the post of organist at the Gustav Vasa church in Stockholm. One of the great organ virtuosos of his time, he had a particular reputation for French music, in which he continued the tradition of Emil Sjögren. His teaching influenced several generations of Swedish church musicians, and he helped to develop church music in Sweden, after a long period of decline, as a member of official committees set up to supervise the liturgy and hymnology.

In his compositions Olsson was strongly influenced by French organ music, but he had a sure feeling for counterpoint and so was able to give a firm foundation to his late Romantic style. A growing interest in earlier music is displayed in the six Gregorianska melodier op.30 (1910), in which the plainchant themes are treated with a well-balanced interplay of spare counterpoint and melodic-harmonic fullness. The Sex latinska hymner op.40 for chorus (1919) also show a firm combination of polyphony with conventional harmonic progressions, though Olsson’s use of polytonality brings them to a stage of technical advance not found in other Swedish choral works of the period (nor in any other compositions of his). His largest and best-known work is the Te Deum op.25 for chorus, string orchestra, harp and organ (1906), a masterpiece of Swedish church music.


Apart from this, Olsson’s best pieces are for the organ, the earliest of them being the Suite in G op.20. The Fantasy and Fugue op.29, a composition in Phrygian E on the chorale Vi lofva dig, o store Gud, introduced a new style into Swedish organ music, notably in its polyphonic treatment of an old church hymn. The development initiated by this work culminated in the Credo symphoniacum op.50, a three-movement symphony on Gregorian themes written for the ecumenical meeting at Uppsala in 1925. Other pieces, such as the great Sonata in E op.38 and the three preludes and fugues, show Olsson retaining late Romantic traditions. His remaining works include a fine quartet (op.10) and other instrumental pieces; some of his folksong arrangements and original pieces for male chorus have remained in the repertory.

WORKS


(selective list)

Choral: TeD, op.25, chorus, str, hp, org, 1906; 6 körsånger, op.32, unacc., c1909; Advents- och julsånger, op.33, chorus, org; 6 latinska hymner, op.40, unacc., 1919; c25 pieces and arrs. for male vv

Songs: 3 psalmer av David, op.41; 3 bröllopssånger, op.57, 1942

Chbr: 3 str qts: G, op.10, G, op.27, a, op.58, 1950; pf pieces

Org: Miniatyrer, op.5, 1895–?1900; 5 kanon, op.18, 1903–10; Suite, G, op.20, 1904; 5 pedalstudier, op.26; Fantasy and Fugue, Phrygian E, op.29, 1909; Gregorianska melodier, bk 1, op.30, 1910; 12 orgelstycken över koralmotiv, op.36; Sonata, E, op.38, ?1910; Prelude and Fugue, c, op.39, 1910; Variationer över ‘Ave maris stella’, op.42; 5 trios, op.44, ?1911; Gregorianska melodier, bk 2, op.47, ?1912; Credo symphoniacum, op.50, 1925; Prelude and Fugue, f, op.52, 1918; Prelude and Fugue, d, op.56, 1935


Principal publisher: Nordiska Musikförlaget

BIBLIOGRAPHY


E.M. Stuart: ‘O. Olsson: en mångsidig musiker, musiklärare och tonsättare’, Vår sång, iii (1930)

N.O. Raasted: ‘Otto Olssons orgelkompositioner’, Tidskrift för kyrkomusik och svenskt gudstjänstliv, vii (1932), 33–7

K.-E. Svedlund: ‘Otto Olsson’, Vår sång, xxii (1949)

C. Carlsson: ‘Otto Olsson – ett tonsättarporträtt’, Musikrevy – Vår sång, xlv/2 (1973), 8–12

E. Lundkvist: ‘Interpretation av Otto Olssons orgelverk’, Svensk kyrkomusik, xliv (1979), 169–72, xlv (1980), 7–9, 37–40

E. Lundkvist: ‘Otto Olsson: renässans för senromantiken’, Musikrevy, xxxiv (1979), 354–8

HANS ÅSTRAND


Olsvai, Imre

(b Budapest, 2 April 1931). Hungarian ethnomusicologist and composer. He studied at the Liszt Academy of Music under Kodály, Szabolcsi, Lajos Bárdos and Endre Szervánszky, taking diplomas in musicology (1956) and composition (1958). In 1958 he became a research fellow of the Folk Music Research Group (later a department of the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) and worked with Pál Járdányi on the systematization of Hungarian strophic folksongs (1958–66), developing a strictly musical method based on tune types. On the basis of this system he edited the sixth and seventh volumes of the Corpus Musicae Popularis Hungaricae. In 1966 he spent nine months in Egypt, studying Egyptian folk and art music. His research has centred on the development of variants of basic melodic patterns in Hungarian folk music, particularly in that of the Trans-Danubian area. His intensive fieldwork (1947–65) resulted in the transcription of about 8000 tunes from 150 villages in Hungary and Hungarian-speaking areas of Slovakia and Yugoslavia. His compositions include a Rondo for violin and piano (1954), a Piano Sonata (1956), some choruses, and arrangements of folksongs, mostly with folkdance choreography.

WRITINGS


‘Typical Variations, Typical Correlations, Central Motifs in Hungarian Folk Music’, SMH, iv (1963), 37–70

‘Néhány előadásbeli sajátság népzenénkben’ [Some characteristics of performance in Hungarian folk music], MTA nyelv- és irodalomtudományok osztályának közleményei, xxvi (1969), 329–36

‘West-Hungarian (Trans-Danubian) Characteristic Features in Bartók’s Works’, SMH, xi (1969), 333–47

‘A Psalmus Hungaricustól a Brácsaversenyig: egv Kodály–Bartók-i tématípus és népi gyökerei’ [From Psalmus Hungaricus to the Viola Concerto: a theme type of Kodály and Bartók, and its roots in folk music], Zeneelmélet, stíluselemzés (Budapest, 1977), 68–83

‘Melodiensystematisierung der ungarischen Volksmusik bis 1975’, SMH, xx (1978), 319–38

‘Zene’ [Music], A magyar folklór, ed. G. Ortutay (Budapest, 1979), 443–76

‘A magyar népzene egyik fő rétegének rokon népi kapcsolatai’ [The relationship of one of the most important layers of Hungarian folk music with the music of related nations], Congressus quartus internationalis fenno-ugristarum: Budapest 1975, ed. G. Ortutay, iv (Budapest, 1981), 58–77

‘Mutual Theme Types in Kodály’s and Bartók’s Works’, Kodály Conference: Budapest 1982, 116–25


with J. Bereczky and others: Kodály népdalfeldolgozásainak dallam- és szövegforrásai [Sources of music and text for Kodály’s works based on folk music] (Budapest, 1984)

‘Vinko Žganec’s Fundamental Significance in Discovery of Connections between Croatian and Hungarian Folk Music’, Narodna umjetnost, iii (1991), 39–53

FOLKSONG EDITIONS


with P. Járdányi: Népdaltípusok [Types of folksongs], Corpus Musicae Popularis Hungaricae, vi–vii (Budapest, 1973–87) [in Eng., Hung.]

with Á. Lányi: Sokszínű hagyományunkból [From our multi-coloured traditions] (Budapest, 1974)

MARIA DOMOKOS




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