Swedish Rhapsody No.1

Hugo Alfvén

Swedish Rhapsody No.1

Op. 19 • “Midsommarvaka”

About this work

This acclaimed work is a typical Romantic-era folk-based rhapsody. The familiar opening tune for clarinet over pizzicato strings introduces a carefree, almost flippant, mood. As the tempo slows down, a longer section features an English horn solo, eventually leading to a succession of dances which suggest considerable revelry. In Sweden, Midsummer Night, or St. John's Eve, is "midsommar," a celebration fraught with powerful symbolism. Revelers stay up late to celebrate the shortest night -- with virtually no darkness -- of the year. Composed in 1904, this piece became so popular that Alfvén later expanded it into ballet score called St. John's Eve.