Death of a leading composer, 81

Death of a leading composer, 81


norman lebrecht

June 26, 2018

The Swedish experimentalist Bo Nilsson died today.

A serialist at first, he returned to tonality with works for unexpected combinations of instruments, some acoustic, the rest electronic.

His trilogy of cantatas, A Letter to Gosta Oswald, is among his more performed works.


  • Minima Moralia says:

    The above image is of Bo Nilsson, the renowned trumpeter/professor, not the composer Bo Nilsson. Thank you for correcting this.

  • Jean says:

    Was his works ever recorded? I can hardly find anything……

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Bo Nilsson’s work is poorly recorded. Quantitäten for solo piano (1957), probably his most known work outside Sweden since it was played many times in concerts by David Tudor in the late 1950’s, is included in this pianist’s album ‘Piano Avant-Garde: Recordings 1956-60’, Hat Hut Records. I know of an album with collected works released by Phono Suecia many years ago, but in this case I don’t know about the contents.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The video gives sixties sound art.

    On internet not many things can be found and what there is, is the usual production of half a century ago:

    …. and then I found THIS:

    ???!! – Meant for a film?

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Bo Nilsson has also composed a lot of film music, popular music, and jazz, and could compose such sweet lollipops as in that link.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      And by the way: his ‘serial’ and ‘mathematical’music was a hoax.