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SYMFONIE FÜR BLÄSER UND SCHLAGZEUG (Symphonie for Winds and Percussion) for Orchestral Winds by HILDING ROSENBERG (Sweden, 1892 – 1985)

[#259] July 08, 2024

1966 | Orchestral Winds | Grade 6 | 15’ - 20’ | Symphony

Swedish composer, conductor, and educator Hilding Rosenberg

Symphonie for Winds and Percussion, by Swedish composer, conductor, and educator Hilding Rosenberg is our Composition of the Week.

Symphony for Winds and Percussion, more precisely for Orchestral Winds, was written in 1966 as an expanded version of a music for a television ballet called “Babels Torn” (The Tower of Babel). The ballet was commissioned by the Swedish Radio was and choreographed by Birgit Cullberg.


Symphony for Winds and Percussion is structured in 6 parts (1. Andante; 2. Andante Moderato; 3. Alla Marcia; 4. Moderato; 5. Andante Misterioso; 6. Allegretto) played without interruption, with a total duration of 18 minutes. 

It was first performed in Stockholm, Sweden, by the Kunkliga Philharmonic Orchestra under Antal Dorati.

Symphony for Winds and Percussion has a rather unusual instrumentation, 2222-0330-13-0, which means no saxophones in the woodwinds, as well as the absence of horns, euphoniums, and tubas, with 1 timpani and 3 percussion parts. No strings attached.

This is a forgotten work, with hints of Stravinsky and Shostakovich worth exploring.

The music is available on rental at Gehrmans Musikförlag, who reedited the work in 2007.


Hilding Rosenberg is commonly regarded as the first Swedish modernist composer, and one of the most influential figures in 20th-century classical music in Sweden.

He was an organist, and as a young man a concert pianist and music teacher. In 1915 he began studying at the Stockholm Conservatory under Ernst Ellberg. Other teachers included Wilhelm Stenhammar (counterpoint) and Hermann Scherchen (conducting). After the First World War, he toured Europe and became a prominent conductor. In 1920 he studied on a scholarship in Berlin, Dresden, Vienna, and Paris, which brought formative contacts with Arnold Schönberg and Paul Hindemith.

In 1932 he was appointed coach and assistant conductor of the Royal Swedish Opera, becoming its chief conductor two years later, although from this point composing began to take a prominent part in his life to conducting.


While his earlier works display the influence of Sibelius, he soon led the way for Swedish composers to move away from the late Romantic style and became considered as somewhat radical. His output covered all genres, from his 14 works for string quartet (1920–1972) and eight symphonies (1917–1974) as well as Piano Concerto no. 2 to songs. He wrote a considerable body of work for the theatre (around 50 scores in total), including nine operatic works.


Rosenberg was Vice-President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1951–1953, received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in 1951 and was an honorary member of the International Society for Contemporary Music.


Other works for winds include:

  • Trio for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon Op.42 (1927)

  • Brass Quintet (1959, rev.1968)

  • Overtura Piccola from “Houses with double entrance”, arranged for Band (1934)






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