Bernhard Henrik Crusell
(b Uusikaupunki, Finland, 15 Oct 1775; d Stockholm, 28 July 1838).
Swedish-Finnish clarinettist, composer and translator. The son of a poor bookbinder, he received his earliest musical education from a clarinettist of the Nyland regimental band. In 1788 he became a volunteer musician in the military band at Sveaborg, outside Helsinki, and in 1791 he was transferred to Stockholm. From 1793 to 1833 he was a clarinettist in the court orchestra. In 1798 he studied the clarinet with Franz Tausch in Berlin and gave concerts there and in Hamburg. In Sweden he became a distinguished soloist, performing concertos and chamber music by Peter Winter, L.A. Lebrun, L.-E. Jadin, Krommer, Beethoven, Mozart and others, as well as his own works. Reviews emphasize his tone and in particular his pianissimo. About 1800 Crusell played with the reed turned upwards, and later with the reed turned downwards, which favours cantabile playing. After c1810 he used an 11-keyed Grenser clarinet.
In Stockholm Crusell studied music theory and composition with Daniel Böritz and Abbe Vogler, intermittently active in Stockholm from 1786 to 1799. In 1803 he studied composition with Berton and Gossec during a six-month stay in Paris. As well as writing instrumental music for his own use, he also composed works for his wind-instrument colleagues in the court orchestra. In 1811 he made a trip to Leipzig to search for a publisher; this marked his first contact with the Bureau de Musique (A. Kühnel), taken over by C.F. Peters in 1814.
Crusell conducted the military bands in Linköping every summer from 1818 to 1837 and arranged marches and opera overtures by Weber, Spohr and Rossini for their use; he also composed pieces for male choir.
In the 1820s he composed solo songs, among others to texts from Frithiof’s Saga by the well-known Swedish poet Esaias Tegnér. His opera Lilla slavinnan, first performed in 1824, was given 34 times over the next 14 years. Crusell was also a brilliant linguist who translated the foremost French, German and Italian operas for the Swedish stage. His début in 1821 with Le nozze di Figaro contributed to his election to the Geatish League, the leading literary circle in Sweden at this time. He was awarded the Swedish Academy’s Gold Medal in 1837, and was inducted into the Wasa Order. His two manuscript autobiographies are in the Royal Library, Stockholm.
Stage: Lilla slavinnan [The Little Slave Girl] (op, R. Pixérécourt, trans. U. Mannerhjerta and G. Lagerbjelke), Stockholm, Royal, 18 Feb 1824, S-St; excerpts pubd (Stockholm, 1824)
Inst: 3 cl concs.: E?, op.1, ?1808 (Leipzig, 1811), f, op.5, 1815 (Leipzig, 1818), B?, op.11, ?1807 (Leipzig, 1828); Variations on Goda gosse glaset töm (O. Åhlström), cl, orch, op.12, 1804, rev. as Introduction et air suédois (Leipzig, 1830); Concertante, cl, bn, hn, orch, op.3, 1808 (Leipzig, 1816); Concertino, bn, orch, 1829; marches and other pieces for band
Chbr: 3 qts, cl, vn, va, vc: E?, op.2, ?1807 (Leipzig, 1811), c, op.4, ?1804 (Leipzig, 1817), A, op.7, ?1821 (Leipzig, 1823), op.8 pubd (Leipzig, 1823) with fl instead of cl; 3 duos, 2 cl (Leipzig, 1821); Divertimento, ob, str, op.9 (Leipzig, 1823)
Vocal: Sångstycken (E. Tegnér and others), 3 vols. (Stockholm, 1822); Frithiofs saga, 10 songs (Tegnér) (Stockholm, 1826, enlarged 1827); other songs, cants. and settings for choir
O. Andersson ‘Bernhard Henrik Crusell’, Finsk tidskrift, c (1926), 28–46
H. Winter Berndt Henric Crusellin 150-vuotismuisto (Helsinki, 1925)
P. Weston Clarinet Virtuosi of the Past (London, 1971)
J.P. Spicknall The Solo Clarinet Works of Bernhard Henrik Crusell (diss., U. of Maryland, 1974)
F. Dahlström Bernhard Henrik Crusell: klarinettisten och hans större instrumentalverk (Helsingfors, 1976)
S. Wilson, ed.: Bernhard Crusell, tonsättare, klarinettvirtuos (Stockholm, 1977)
I. Kallio Bernhard Henrik Crusell (1775–1838) (Uusikaupunki, 1994)