RECENT: Defining Our Field - what is 'classical music' to us, why are we involved and what can we learn from our differences? Read John Dante Prevedini's essay, watch the panel discussion and make your own comments.
Swedish composer Bo Nilsson was born in Skellefteå on 1 May 1937. After only basic training from a local music teacher and some experience as a jazz pianist, he taught himself to compose by listening to radio broadcasts.
He was first noticed in Germany in 1956, when his Zwei Stücke were played in Cologne at a Musik der Zeit WDR concert. A year later, several short chamber works (including Frequensen) had been performed in Germany, attracting some attention, but he was still fairly unknown in Sweden.
His early music is influenced by Boulez and Stockhausen, with a refined and unusal instrumentation. It was thought that Nilsson wrote serial music, and he encouraged this belief by putting numbers and proportions in his scores, but he later admitted that he was 'bluffing', just writing music that sounded as if it was based on serial techniques.
From the late 1950s he began creating electronic music, although his first such compositions had to be 'realised' or 'interpreted' by others at the WDR electronic-music studio, since he had no access to electronic equipment.
From the early 1960s his style changed to something approaching late Romanticism, and later he produced film and TV scores.
Bo Nilsson died on 26 June 2018, aged eighty-one.