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Allan Pettersson for beginners

How a newbie should approach Allan Pettersson and his music.

Curious about Allan Pettersson and his music? Have you heard that it is difficult to absorb? We’ve talked to Stig Jacobsson, a long time employee of SON and Allan Pettersson connoisseur. He is devotedly interested in Allan Pettersson’s music and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra’s very own expert on the composer. He has the tips on how a newbie should approach Allan Pettersson.

Is Allan Pettersson’s music difficult?

- Well, I don’t think we should fool anyone . It’s actually not very easy to listen to, and the musicians can attest that it is difficult to play. But if you turn off all the prejudices and open your ears as far as it goes, then you get a lot back.

What do you start with?

- A good warm-up would be his early songs and chamber works.

The symphonies then, those who SON now are concentrating on?

- You can’t avoid the fact that Pettersson’s symphonies place higher demands on the listeners. I think you should start with no. 7, which has almost been a revelation to many listeners. A long string movement in the second half of the symphony is one of the most moving and beautiful pieces ever written.

And then ... ?

- Then you could continue with no:s 6, 8 and 9. They are the easiest to absorb, even if the playing time often is over 40 minutes, in a single movement. (Here you find a Spotify playlist with the music)

Can you listen to any other composers as a preparation, in order to get accustomed to Allan Pettersson?

- Shostakovich and Mahler are the closest . They have common characteristics, including size. Their compositions are ambitious and grand, and can switch a lot in pace, character and style. Just as Allan Pettersson’s music.

What’s the reward then, when you have crossed the Allan Pettersson border?

- Allan Pettersson’s music contains so much wisdom and learning, and feelings. So much that’s part of our inner life. It provides a great deal if you are receptive.