Stig Westerberg

Stig Westerberg

Conductor • Piano

• 1918 1999


As one of the leading Swedish conductors of his day, Stig Westerberg was best known for his decades-long work with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and as chief conductor of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, where he served for eight seasons. Not surprisingly, he was regarded as one of the finest interpreters and champions of Swedish orchestral music from the last half of the 20th century. Westerberg was quite active, in particular, in promoting the music of Stenhammar, Alfvén, Atterberg, Pettersson, and Karl-Birger Blomdahl. In fact, Westerberg was instrumental in making their music known beyond Swedish borders. That said, he was not single-minded in his choice of repertory: Westerberg conducted an array of works, from Dvorák and Saint-Saëns to Fauré and Milhaud. And he was unafraid to take chances: during his busy career he premiered more than 80 compositions, many of which he went on to record. Westerberg was music director of several Swedish orchestras and also guest-conducted numerous others both at home and abroad, including the Munich Philharmonic and the Ekaterinburg Philharmonic (Russia). Westerberg made countless recordings, with many still appearing from radio broadcasts. They are available from a variety of labels, including BIS, Danacord, EMI, Genesis Records, and Sterling.

Stig Westerberg was born in Malmö, Sweden, on November 26, 1918. From 1937-1942 he studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. Among his conducting teachers there was Tor Mann, and later teachers included Paul Kletzki.

Westerberg launched his career in opera, serving as repetiteur at the Royal Swedish Opera (1943-1946), where he would return as a conductor from 1953-1957. Westerberg held two minor conducting posts in the postwar era, the first at Stockholm's Oscarsteatern (1947-1948) and the next with the Gävle Symfoniorkester (1949-1953).

The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1965, and from around that time Westerberg, who never was music director of the SRSO, regularly conducted the ensemble over the next couple of decades, producing some of that orchestra's finest performances and recordings. Not surprisingly, most of Westerberg's recordings were made with the SRSO, including the highly praised 1985 Caprice recording of Blomdahl's outer space opera Aniara. Westerberg's last major post, held while he still worked regularly with the SRSO, was as chief conductor of the Malmö Symphony (1978-1985). Westerberg continued to guest-conduct in the latter years of his career and died in Lidingö, Sweden, on July 1, 1999.