Swedish Boy Choirs

Figure 1.--The Swedish Ursula Boys Choir wear distinctive robes for their performances.


Sweden does not appear to have a strong tradition of boy choirs. There are, however, a few active Swedish choirs.

Swedish Choirs

Uppsala Cathedral Choir

The Boys Choir of Uppsala Cathedral was founded in 1920 by the archbishop Nathan Söderblom. During his travels through Europe, he had been inspired by the German and English boys choirs and felt that Sweden should have one too. In 1917, an unknown donation "for accomplishment of a future boys' choir at the Cathedral" of 1000 Crowns was given to the cathedral. More donations were made by lady Sally von Bahr for this purpose. One of them was a donation of 100,000 Crowns. This money was well needed and enabled the members to receive a fee of 70 Crowns each year. They were, however, not allowed to spend it in any fashion they wanted.

The choir's first appearance was at a mass in the cathedral on November 21 1920, which by chance coincided with the birthday of Mrs. Sally von Bahr's daughter who died at an early age). Mrs. Bahr was so moved by this that she decided to donate another 100,000 crowns to the choir. In 1923, another 89 000 Crowns was donated with the intent to finance a choir balcony in the cathedral. This balcony was installed in the southern wing of the cathedral and remained in place until 1976 when it was removed during a renovation. Sally von Bahr died in 1930 and willed her estate in Jämtland, Hårdsta, to "be used for recreational activities of the choir and its conductor". Every summer, the nicest and most well-behaved boys were allowed to visit the estate for song and recreation. Because of the long distances involved, the choir sold the estate in 1967 and bought another one in Öregrund, which was in the choir's possession until 1995, when it became economically unfeasable to keep it.

Since its foundation in 1920, the choir has been led by a number of choir masters, of whom many are reputed to this day. The first one was Fredrik Mellander. He was the musical leader at Uppsala Higher Common Schooling and he conducted the choir until his death in 1946. As the choir's economy was very good, a widow's pension was given to Wellander's wife. In 1946, the leadership of the choir was given to Birger Oldemark. He was the choir's musical director and led the choir through a very successful period until 1967. Folke Bohlin then served for a short period until 1968 when Jan-Åke Hillerud became choir master. Jan-Åke introduced a piece of music that has been associated with the choir ever since: The Missa Criolla by Ariel Ramírez. At this time, the choir was also granted royal protection by King Gustav IV Adolf.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: November 2, 1998
Last updated: November 2, 1998