Electronic Music Archives in the Collections of The Swedish Performing Arts Agency


Pär Johansson


The collections of the Swedish Performing Arts Agency (Statens musikverk) (1) hold archives of great interest for researchers on Swedish contemporary music, and electroacoustic music (EAM) in particular.(2) In this article, I will outline some of these archives, especially Fylkingen's and Elektronmusikstudion EMS', whose significance for Swedish electronic music can hardly be overestimated.

Fylkingen is Sweden's foremost stage for both domestic and foreign EAM, and manages an important record label. For most of its existence, Elektronmusikstudion EMS, although financed by the Swedish state, has been administratively separated from public radio stations, universities and music conservatories, making it unique in an international perspective. The studio welcomes international guest composers and provides popular courses that offer an alternative route into the music scene. More than a few composers have, like the author of this article, taken the EMS courses and engaged in Fylkingen, eventually to be elected members of the Society of Swedish Composers (Föreningen svenska tonsättare, FST).


A brief history of Swedish EAM



Fylkingen was established in 1933 in Stockholm as a non-profit society for chamber music and presented traditional repertoire with touches of contemporary, mainly Swedish, art music.(3) Towards the end of the 1950s, contemporary music became paramount, perhaps due to the influence of Måndagsgruppen (the Monday Group), a loose association of composers and musicologists interested in contemporary music and modernism. Between 1948–1956, three consecutive chairs belonged to this circle: Ingmar Bengtsson, Karl-Birger Blomdahl and Bo Wallner.

An even more far-reaching radicalisation of the society occurred during the years 1959-1969 under Knut Wiggen's chairmanship. With the support of the well-known composer Karl-Birger Blomdahl and Fylkingen's radical faction, Wiggen pushed through the formation of EMS as a department of the Swedish national radio (Sveriges Radio, SR) in 1964. Fylkingen had already introduced EAM to a Swedish audience: in 1952 the society presented what was probably the first concert of electronic music in Sweden in SR's studio at Karlaplan, Stockholm, during which Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer's Symphonie pour un homme seul was performed.


Programmer Mats S. Andersson in front of the computer that controlled the EMS studio. The computer was a DEC PDP-15, purchased in 1970. The Music and Theatre Library, EMS' photo archive.


Fylkingen's activities widened in the 1960–1980s with the inclusions of dance, performance, film and video art. In 1971 the society acquired its own premises in the former cinema Facklan (The Torch) on Östgötagatan, Stockholm, and also built up a small electronic music studio. The composer Sten Hanson, who had previously led the society's Language Group, was hired as producer in 1971, a position he held until 1979. Hanson was also the chair of Fylkingen from 1981 to 1984.

In 1973, the first chair with a background other than in composing and musicology was elected: choreographer and dancer Margaretha Åsberg. But electronic music still had a strong presence at Fylkingen, and many of the society's members were active at EMS. The cross-fertilisation between Fylkingen and EMS continues to this day, and since 1987 the organisations are neighbours in Münchenbryggeriet, an old brewery in Stockholm.

After Blomdahl's demise in 1968, SR wanted to divest itself of its responsibility for EMS, which in 1969 was transformed into a state-funded foundation. Wiggen was appointed studio director, and under his leadership EMS developed a computer-controlled studio that, for a time, was the most advanced in the world. Fierce conflicts with the composers at EMS led to Wiggen's retirement in 1975, after which a government enquiry was launched. In 1977 the sole enquirer, Gunnar Bucht, advocated that the studio should be put under the supervision of the Royal College of Music (Kungliga musikhögskolan) in Stockholm (where Bucht was professor of composition).(4) The proposal was met with vehement opposition from several of the referral organisations, and EMS remained a foundation. Its activities resumed, and Lars-Gunnar Bodin took over as studio director in 1979.(5) Somewhat later, in 1981, the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music (ICEM) was founded at the electronic music festival in Bourges, with, among others, Bodin and Hanson as co-founders. In 1983 a Swedish section was formed.(6) About this period Bodin writes:

"EMS and Swedish electroacoustic music entered an expansive and artistic golden age – in my opinion – at the end of the 1970s. A number of young internationally acclaimed composers emerged, such as Bill Brunson, Rolf Enström, Pär Lindgren, Åke Parmerud, Tommy Zwedberg, and others. In my view, the Swedish music scene has never really recognised and valued these artistically fruitful developments. Media very sparingly covered these people's artistic achievements, if it ever took an interest in this art form. [...] Parmerud [...] is the one that by far excelled internationally, and has won seven first prizes in the largest and most important competition in electroacoustic music, the one in Bourges, France. When, in the same competition, the international jury selected the ten outstanding winners from a ten year period, four of them were Swedish composers. Such a result speaks for itself." (7)

Here I should also mention the Hungarian immigrants Miklós Maros, Ákos Rózmann, and Tamas Ungvary. Maros and Ungvary were also active as teachers at EMS in the 1970s. In recent years, several successful female composers have been working at EMS, e.g. Kim Hedås, Paulina Sundin, Hanna Hartmann, and Lise-Lotte Norelius.

In 1995, the studio was incorporated with Concerts Sweden (Rikskonserter). Following the close-down of the institution in 2011, EMS was transferred to the Swedish Performing Arts Agency. The present studio director is Mats Lindström.


Literature and previous research

To the best of my knowledge, Stefan Sylvander's dissertation Electronic musical composition in Sweden 1952–1970 is the first academic text on Swedish EAM.(8) Sylvander's account overlaps in time with Per Olof Broman's Kort historik över Framtidens musik (A Short History of the Music of the Future), but Broman's study focuses on the contemporary reception and the underlying ideology of Swedish EAM.(9) Toivo Burlin devotes chapter seven in his dissertation Det imaginära rummet (The imaginary room : recording practice and production of art music phonograms in Sweden 1925–1983) to electronic music phonograms. As a result, the presentation is dominated by the prolific Ralph Lundsten, who early on worked at EMS but broke off with the institution. (10)

Almost no academic research has been devoted to Fylkingen, besides discussions in the above studies and the occasional undergraduate thesis.(11) Two commemorative books, published in conjunction with Fylkingen’s 25th and 60th anniversaries, are dominated by lists of the society's concerts, but also include several members' personal narratives.(12)

The history of EMS until 1975–1976 is, by contrast, treated in Sanne Krogh Groth's thesis To musikkulturer – én institution (Two music cultures – one institution), which portrays the conflict between practical composition and research during Wiggen’s time as director.(13) In addition, Elif Balkir has begun a comparative study of EMS and Pierre Schaeffer's studio GRM.(14)

The recent developments in Swedish EAM is briefly covered in the standard history, Musiken i Sverige (Music in Sweden), which, however, only deals with events up to 1990.(15) In addition, the studio directors Wiggen, Bodin, and Ulf Stenberg have all put their experiences of the leadership of EMS in writing.(16)

Swedish electronic music is thus a relatively unknown field, especially from the 1970's onwards, and would be a stimulating subject for research.


The archives

Most of the archives are stored in the Music and Theatre Library's archive depot in Gäddviken in Nacka, Stockholm (except for the composers' archives, of which most are stored at Torsgatan in downtown Stockholm) and are freely available for research unless otherwise specified.


Flyer for the Electronic Music Festival in Skinnskatteberg 1998. The guest nation of the year was Switzerland. The Music and Theatre Library, EMS' archive, vol. F5A:11.

Flyer for two Fylkingen evenings with the band En halvkokt i folie in March 1995. Jonas Andersson, Jonas Broberg, Martin Dunér, Mikael Grahn, Lars Larsson, Iwo Myrin, and Ylva Skog participated in the performance. Illustration and layout: Mikael Grahn. The Music and Theatre Library, EMS' archive, vol. F5A:11.

John Duncan is one of the more controversial artists to ever perform at Fylkingen. In 2002, his IASPIS scholarship was revoked in the midst of his stay in Stockholm. This is the flyer for a benefit concert held at Fylkingen. The Music and Theatre Library, Fylkingen's archive, vol. L1:15.



The archive was donated to the Music and Theatre Library in 2009, and processed by Virve Polsa in 2013. It contains the society's minutes, correspondence, bookkeeping records, concert programmes, press clippings and posters. The Fylkingen audio tapes have been incorporated into the archive. This tape archive, which contains individual works, concert recordings and master tapes for record production, is processed and largely digitised. It might contain works produced in Fylkingen's studio.(17)

The minutes (series A1) are detailed, and summary reports of aesthetic and policy discussions are sometimes attached. Concert activities can be followed from the beginnings in 1933 to the 2000's through the series D2 (Concert lists 1933–1979), L1 (Programmes 1935–2006) and L2 (Clippings 1933–1969). The series partially overlaps: Concert programmes are also found in D2 and L2, while D2 contains additional press clippings.

International contacts and guest appearances are an important part of Fylkingen's activities. John Cage, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Steve Reich, Pierre Schaeffer, Karlheinz Stockhausen, David Tudor and Iannis Xenakis have all visited Fylkingen. International and domestic correspondence is preserved in the series E2–E3 and F5–F6. The latter contains material related to the 1966 festival Visioner av nuet (Visions of the now) in Stockholm, and the UNESCO symposion Music and Technology in Stockholm 1970.


Elektronmusikstudion EMS

The archive of EMS was donated to the Music and Theatre Library in 2009 and processed in 2010 by Jens Bjurman.(18) The archive contains administrative documents, correspondence, concert programmes, travel accounts, bookkeeping records, technical documents and drawings, and more. Some material originates from before the EMS formation, and are associated with the investigations and visits carried out for study purposes.

Although EMS has belonged to several parent organisations, the archive is fairly complete, and both administrative and technical changes can be followed in detail. There is even the opportunity to study an individual composer's work process on the EMS, as work in the studios (productions) and course activities are documented in the series F3 and F4, respectively.

After the transfer to the Swedish Performing Arts Agency on May 1, 2011, all of EMS' administrative documents are stored in the agency's main archive (Verksarkivet). The older archive is maintained in parallel and expanded with new acquisitions consisting of concert programmes, press clippings etc.

Like Fylkingen, EMS holds a tape archive, where most of the music created at EMS is stored. The tape archive is continuously expanded with newly created pieces. It is partly digitised and can be searched in a database. EMS digitises works on request.


Personal records

Ralph Lundsten's archive was a donation to the Swedish Museum of Performing Arts (formerly the Music and Theatre Museum of Sweden) and contains documents from 1944 onwards, including audio tapes. New acquisitions are received continuously. The archive is freely available for research, with exception for the correspondence (series E1A–E1C), that is confidential until ten years after Lundsten's decease, although research may be permitted by agreement with Lundsten. A complement to Lundsten's archive is the archive of his fanclub, the Andromeda Fan Sociecty. Both archives were proceessed by Marianne Seid in 2005 and are kept in Gäddviken.

Ákos Rózmann (1939–2005) arrived in Sweden in 1971. After studies with Ingvar Lidholm at the Royal College of Music, he dedicated himself to electronic music and created complex, several hour long works, often based on material from recorded acoustic instruments, especially the organ. The compositions often depict the conflict between good and evil, light and darkness.(19) The archive of Rózmann was donated to the Music and Theatre Library in 2009/2010 and was processed by Agnes Sjöbrandt 2010. It contains scores in manuscripts, sketches and notes for the realisation of electronic music, personal documents, concert programmes and reviews. The documents are partly in Hungarian. Rózmann was also organist at the Catholic cathedral in Stockholm, which is reflected in the archive's six volumes with annotated scores of mainly organ music (series 5).

The Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research holds the archives of Jan Bark and Folke Rabe. At the Music and Theatre Library there are also archives of composers who created EAM, but were predominantly active in instrumental music, such as Sven-Erik Bäck and Arne Mellnäs. The EMS tape archive holds separate collections of tapes of Bäck, Tamas Ungvary and Erik Nordgren. The latter is best known as a composer for Ingmar Bergman's films, but was also a productive EAM composer.


Various collections

The archive of SEAMS was received as a gift by the Music and Theatre Library in 2011, and was processed in 2011 by Inger Enquist and the author. It contains minutes, correspondence and material relating to conferences and concerts, as well as documents tied to the international ICEM.

The archive Elektronmusik (Electronic Music) was donated to the Music and Theatre Library in 1990 by Olle Olsson and consists of source material to his lists of Swedish EAM.(20) The archive was processed in 2011 by Inger Enquist and the author. The main part consists of concert programmes and press clippings related to composers of electronic music, and brochures of electronic musical instruments. Leo Nilsson and Ralph Lundsten are richly represented. All composers are listed in the archive inventory. The archive also contains occasional letters and manuscripts.

There are also instruments and studio equipment from EMS, Lundsten and Rózmann in the collections of the Swedish Museum for Performing Arts.




A section of the control panel of EMS' computer-controlled studio. The settings for the 24 tone generators are clearly visible. Changes were made by brushing with a copper brush directly on the panel. The Music and Theatre Library, EMS' photo archive.


Close-up of tone generator 13, set to a 600 Hz sine wave with 100 dB amplitude. The Music and Theatre Library, EMS' photo archive.


EMS' Studio 2 in Münchenbryggeriet at the opening ceremony in 1985. The light fittings and speakers are still present, but most of the studio equipment has been replaced. Photo: Lars-Gunnar Bodin (from a brochure on the new studio). The Music and Theatre Library, EMS' archive, vol. B2:1.

Composers Paulina Sundin and Anders Blomqvist in EMS' Studio 2 c. 1996. On the floor, Blomqvist's dog Waffe. From an EMS' information brochure, 1996. Design: Pontus Reuterswärd. Photo: Joseph Doukkali. The Music and Theatre Library, EMS' archive, vol. B2:1.






(1) ^ The Swedish Performing Arts Agency (http://musikverk.se/) is a Swedish state agency founded in 2011. It is located in Stockholm and consists of Music Projects (Musikplattformen), the Music and Theatre Library of Sweden (Musik- och teaterbiblioteket), the Swedish Museum of Performing Arts (Scenkonstmuseet), the Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research (Svenskt visarkiv), Caprice Records and Elektronmusikstudion EMS.

(2) ^ In this article, I use electronic music and EAM interchangeably. These terms include improvised as well as composed electronic, concrete and acousmatic music.

(3) ^ For another perspective on Fylkingen in English, see Hultberg, 2004.

(4) ^ Elektronmusikutredningen, 1977. The conflict between Wiggen and other composers was one of the reasons that Fylkingen set up their own studio (see the annual report for fiscal year 1972/73, Fylkingen archives, vol. A2:1). The Royal College of Music in Stockholm also built a studio in the early 1970s.

(5) ^ Bodin, Hanson, Åke Hodell, Bengt Emil Johnson, and Ilmar Laaban are the most prominant artists associated with text-sound composition. Several of these were Wiggen's opponents. For details, see Groth 2010.

(6) ^ In 1996, the society changed its name to the Society for Electroacoustic Music in Sweden (SEAMS). Although it seceded from ICEM in 2000, it is still active. Today, Sweden is represented in ICEM by the Institute of Digital Arts (IDKA) in Gävle.

(7) ^ Bodin, 2008. The contest was closed down in 2010. According to data from Christian Clozier at Mnémothèque Internationale des Sciences et Arts en Musique Electroacoustique (MISAME), the prize for outstanding winners, Euphonie d'Or, was awarded in 1992 and 2002; in the former year to twenty laureates from 1970–1991, in the latter to ten laureates from 1992 to 2001. Parmerud was awarded in 1992, and Jonas Broberg, Jens Hedman, and Erik Mikael Karlsson in 2002. Counting the Euphonie d'Or, Parmerud has received a total of 10 prizes and mentions, including five first prizes (Clozier, 2013).

(8) ^ Sylvander, 1976.

(9) ^ Broman, 2007. There is an English summary on pp. 188–191. For a commentary, see Bodin, 2008. Arvidson, 2007, has a more comprehensive description of the ideological debate in Swedish contemporary music during the same period.

(10) ^ Burlin, 2008, pp. 345–398. An English summary of this chapter can be found on pp. 437–438. See also Lundsten's autobiography, Lundsten, 2006.

(11) ^ Salomonsson, 2006. Refer also to disperse sections of Wallner, 1968.

(12) ^ Fylkingen, 1959, and Hultberg & Bock, 1994. A new book is to be published in connexion with the society's 80th anniversary in 2013. In Nutida musik, no. 1, 1983/1984, pp. 51-56, there are also some personal reflections on the 50th anniversary.

(13) ^ Groth, 2010. An English translation is in progress. On Blomdahl and the formation of EMS, see also Björnberg, 1998, especially pp. 221-227.

(14) ^ Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrete, later Groupe de Recherches Musicales.

(15) ^ Jonsson & Åstrand, 1994, pp. 521–524.

(16) ^ See Bodin, 1994, and Stenberg, 2007. Stenberg also arranged the electronic music festival in Skinnskatteberg between 1981 and 2001. Wiggen’s experiences at EMS can be traced in e.g. Wiggen, Gleiss & Westlund, 1962, and Wiggen 1972, 1994 and 2004.

(17) ^ The database of Olle Olsson (see note 18) contains 44 works from 1968 to 1986 where the studio is given as »FYLK«.

(18) ^ Bjurman, 2010, contains an account of the processing.

(19) ^ Bergendal, 2001, pp. 257–265, and Peterson, 2013.

(20) ^ See Olsson, 1985 and 1986. According to Olsson, the latter has many inaccuracies (personal communication with the author). EMS has an expanded and corrected version in database form.



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Bergendal, Göran. 2001. 33 nya svenska komponister. Stockholm: Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien

Bjurman, Jens. 2010. Elektronmusikstudion : ett förteckningsarbete. Uppsala: Institutionen för ABM, Uppsala universitet. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-126176

Björnberg, Alf. 1998. Skval och harmoni : musik i radio och TV 1925–1995. Stockholm: Norstedt

Bodin, Lars-Gunnar. 1994. "A section of EMS history 1979–1985". Liner notes to Bits and pieces: EMS 30 years, pp. 32–35. Stockholm: Caprice Records

Bodin, Lars-Gunnar. 2008. "Öppet brev till Per Olov Broman". Nutida Musik no. 3, 2008, pp. 32–33

Broman, Per Olov. 2007. Kort historik över Framtidens musik : elektronmusiken och framtidstanken i svenskt 1950- och 60-tal. Stockholm: Gidlund

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Clozier, Christian. 2013. E-mail to Pär Johansson 2013-07-09

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Hultberg, Teddy & Bock, Christian (red.). 1994. Fylkingen : ny musik & intermediakonst : rikt illustrerad historieskrivning & diskussion för radikal & experimentell konst 1933–1993. Stockholm: Fylkingen

Hultberg, Teddy. 2004. "Fylkingen.org : visons of the present in retrospect". Hz, no. 4, http://www.hz-journal.org/n4/hultberg.html (accessed 2014-05-29)

Jonsson, Leif & Åstrand, Hans (red.). 1994. Musiken i Sverige IV. Konstmusik, folkmusik, populärmusik 1920–1990. Stockholm: Fischer

Lundsten, Ralph. 2006. En själens vagabond : en personlig levnadshistoria av och om en äventyrare i tid och rum. Saltsjö-Boo: Andromeda

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Olsson, Olle. 1986(?). Electroacoustic music in Sweden : musique concrete, computer music, live-electronic, text-sound composition. Lund: Experimental Music Research/Swedish Section of International Confederation for Electroacoustic Music

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Salomonsson, Håkan. 2006. In i nuet via Darmstadt : Fylkingen, Stockhausen och 50-talet. Uppsala: Institutionen för musikvetenskap, Uppsala universitet

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Andromeda Fan Society: http://musikverk.se/musikochteaterbiblioteket/arkiv/arkivregistret/andromeda-fan-societys-arkiv/

Elektronmusik: http://musikverk.se/musikochteaterbiblioteket/arkiv/arkivregistret/elektronmusik/

Elektronmusikstudion EMS: http://musikverk.se/musikochteaterbiblioteket/arkiv/arkivregistret/elektronmusikstudion-ems/

Lundsten, Ralph: http://biblioteket.musikverk.se/ard/forteckningar/MMLundsten.html

Rózmann, Ákos: http://musikverk.se/musikochteaterbiblioteket/files/2013/08/AkosRozmann.pdf

SEAMS: http://musikverk.se/musikochteaterbiblioteket/arkiv/arkivregistret/sallskapet-for-elektroakustisk-musik-i-sverige-seams/



This article has previously been published in Swedish in Dokumenterat, no. 45 (http://musikverk.se/musikochteaterbiblioteket/arkiv/dokumenterat/).



Pär Johansson (www.parjohansson.se), born in Södertälje, Sweden in 1972, studied electroacoustic composition at Elektronmusikstudion EMS in 1995–1997, and has been active as a composer since then. He also holds a M.A. in library and information science and a M.Sc. in computer engineering, and works as a music librarian at the Music and Theatre Library of Sweden. He is a member of Fylkingen and FST (The Society of Swedish Composers).








where no other claim is indicated.