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Musikens rum i samhällets mitt: Stockholms konserthus och mellankrigstidens publik
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Centrum för Urbana och Regionala Studier)
2007 (Swedish)In: Bebyggelsehistorisk tidskrift, ISSN 0349-2834, no 54, 46-58 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The importance of public cultural and musical institutions in European cities grew almost explosively at the beginning of the 20th century. Concert and opera houses were no central buildings for the establishment both of local music and of an international musical culture. Financially the music palace was a luxury, and it often took wealthy donors and private benefactors to realise the building projects and then to fill the buildings with regular performances of music and drama.

Given this background, the Stockholm Concert Hall touches on several lines of historical development. It was planned and financed through private donations and royal lottery proceeds, added to which, the land for the building was provided by the City of Stockholm in return for an annual rent. But the society to which the new Concert Hall finally opened its doors in 1926 was a good deal more plebeian than that for which it had originally been planned. Sweden was now a democracy, women had been given the vote and many social and cultural values which had been embraced by an upper crust were being challenged, for example by the labour movement and the women’s emancipation movement. Architect Ivar Tengbom’s winning entry in the 1920 competition for a new concert hall overlooking Hötorget confronted the motley and once rural-looking market square with the wide column façade of the new palace of music. The Concert Hall Association vainly attempted to elevate the status of the site by regulating the types of commercial activity permissible in the Concert Hall’s vicinity. The mobility, variety and manifold activity of the city came to influence what went on inside the building. During the inter-war years the Concert Hall became a building for all manner of activities besides concerts. It was rented out for trade union  congresses, housewives’ weeks, gymnastic displays, wrestling matches, theatricals and conjuring shows. During the critical years round about 1930, when the premises were constantly threatened with emptiness, one of the declared objectives of the Concert House Foundation was to make the building a more popular assembly venue and to open it up for events of every kind.

At the same time, concert music needed to be more vigorously defended and its audiences retained. From the very outset the Concert Hall was under heavy pressure of change, by reason of technical progress. Radio broadcasting and, above all, the gramophone, had engendered completely new ways of listening to music. Gradually the normative perspective started to change. It was radio performances and the popularity of gramophone recordings that were to be emulated in the Concert Hall repertoire. But at the same time there existed a strong cultural tradition of communal listening as an established form of social behaviour. During the 1930s, to hold its own in the new competition for listeners, the Concert Hall Foundation management stressed the importance of the live audience, as members of a community. The Concert Hall management successfully conveyed a conviction of the value of the public concert, of the Concert Hall as the venue for authentic musical experience. The central position of the Concert Hall in the urban community was confirmed by successfully coping with three different challenges in the social and cultural life of the inter-war years: radio broadcasts were integrated with concert performances, authentic and aesthetic experiences were offered through “audience membership” and at the same time the building was open for manifold contacts between citizens in a democratic culture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Bebyggelsehistorisk tidskrift , 2007. no 54, 46-58 p.
National Category
Social and Economic Geography History Musicology
Research subject
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-10712OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-10712DiVA: diva2:319409
Available from: 2010-05-17 Created: 2010-05-17 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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Forsell, Håkan

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