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Johan Helmich Roman

(1694 - 1758)

Johan Helmich Roman (October 26, 1694 - November 20, 1758), sometimes called the "Father of Swedish Music", brought the High Baroque style of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel north, synthesized what he knew of the new style gallant and trends in music making in Paris and Italy, and developed a style all his own. He is responsible for bringing large-scale, public concerts to Sweden, a country somewhat behind the times in those days. He became a violinist with the Swedish Court Orchestra in 1711. From 1716 to 1721, Roman studied in London where he was exposed to the music of Handel, Pepusch, Bononcini, Ariosti, etc.) Upon his return to Stockholm, he was named Assistant Court Conductor and by 1727 he was elevated to Prinicpal Court Conductor. Beginning in 1721, he instituted the first public performances of concertos, suites, and sinfonias, and by 1731 he was staging oratorios in Stockholm. In 1744, he wrote his most famous work – The Drottningholm Music. By 1745 deafness had forced him to resign his position at the court, though he remained an active composer. In 1751, following the death of King Fredrik I of Sweden, Roman composed and conducted the burial music as well as the coronation music for the new royal couple. In 1758, the "Father of Swedish Music" died of cancer.

He wrote seven solo concertos for violin, oboe, and flute, and more than three dozen extremely advanced sinfonias in addition to his more popular and better known festive suites for Drottningholm and Golovin. His mastery of contrapunctal writing is demonstrated in several of his wonderful trio sonatas. Roman's musical style was a unique combination of forwarded-looking elements and old-style forms. A recent recording of his twelve harpsichord suites show him to be a master of that instrument. These suites are alltogether more interesting than Handel's suites and deserve to be as well-known as those of Jean-Philippe Rameau, François Couperin, Bach and others.

Recommended Recordings

Chamber Music

8 Sinfonias/Musica Sveciae MSCD418
Jaap Schröder/Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble
3 Sinfonias & 3 Violin Concertos/BIS CD-284
Orpheus Chamber Ensemble Of Sweden

Sinfonias

8 Sinfonias/Musica Sveciae MSCD418
Jaap Schröder/Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble
3 Sinfonias & 3 Violin Concertos/BIS CD-284
Orpheus Chamber Ensemble Of Sweden

The Drottningholm Music

Suite "The Drottningholm Music" and Concerto Grosso/Capriccio 10624
Ulf Bjorlin/Cappella Coloniensis
Suite "The Little Drottningholm Music"/Musica Sveciae MSCD417
Claude Genetay/Chamber Orchestra Of The National Museum, Stockholm

The Golovin Music

Suite "The Golovin Music"/Musica Sveciae MSCD404
Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble
Trumpet