Allan Pettersson

Gustaf Allan Pettersson (19 September 1911 – 20 June 1980) was a Swedish composer and violist. He is considered one of the 20th century’s most important Swedish composers and was described as one of the last great symphonists, often compared to Gustav Mahler.: 3  His music can hardly be confused with other 20th-century works. In the final decade of his life, his symphonies (typically one-movement works) developed an international following, particularly in Germany and Sweden. Of these, his best known work is Symphony No. 7. His music later found success in the United States.: 7  The conductors Antal Doráti and Sergiu Comissiona premiered and recorded several of his symphonies. Pettersson’s song cycle Barefoot Songs influenced many of his compositions. Doráti arranged eight of the Barefoot Songs. Birgit Cullberg produced three ballets based on Pettersson’s music.

Pettersson studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music’s conservatory. For more than a decade, he was a violist in the Stockholm Concert Society; after retiring he devoted himself exclusively to composition. Later in his life, he experienced rheumatoid arthritis. Pettersson was awarded the Swedish royal medal Litteris et Artibus.

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