Swedish Rhapsody No. 1

Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 (Swedish: Svensk rapsodi) is the subtitle of Midsommarvaka (Swedish for 'Midsummer Vigil'),[1] a symphonic rhapsody by the Swedish composer Hugo Alfvén (1872–1960). Although it is only the first of three similarly named works, it is often simply called "the Swedish Rhapsody".

The Rhapsody was written in 1903. It is the best-known piece by Alfvén, and also one of the best-known pieces of music in Sweden. The score, published around 1906, describes it as:[1]

[A] fantasy on popular Swedish folk melodies depicting the moods evoked by an old-time Swedish Midsummer wake; the dancing and games around the May-pole through the magic night of Midsummer Eve. [One theme] is the composer's own invention, while other themes are borrowed from the folk-music of Sweden and elaborated by the composer.

It is scored for an orchestra consisting of 3 flutes (3rd doubling on piccolo), 3 oboes (3rd doubling on cor anglais), 2 clarinets in A (2nd doubling on E-flat clarinet), bass clarinet in A, 3 bassoons, 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in D, 3 trombones (2 tenor, 1 bass), 1 tuba, timpani, cymbals, triangle, harpsichord, 2 harps, and strings.

The Rhapsody was adapted as a ballet, La Nuit de St Jean, choreographed by Jean Börlin. It was first performed by Ballets Suedois in Paris in October 1920.

In popular cultureEdit

The main theme of "Swedish Rhapsody No. 1" has been used several times in pop culture:

  • The Rhapsody was used by the external service of Radio Sweden as a signature tune for international shortwave broadcasts in the 1960s and 70s. A recording from 1977 can be heard on intervalsignals.net


  1. ^ a b Full score. Wilhelm Hansen. ca.1906.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 348. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 352. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ Hobbie, Pfinas (23 April 2021). "Schwedenmädel Music Box (this is the music box used for the station)". YouTube. Retrieved 23 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External linksEdit