Born in Stockholm on the 30th September, 1920, died in Grillby on the 1st July 2000. After school and military service he went to Uppsala University in 1945 to study musicology. At the same time he studied composition with Dag Wirén and, during the 70s, conducting with Otmar Suitner in Salzburg and Vienna. In 1947 Lundquist founded a chamber orchestra of his own, which led to his appointment as conductor and artistic director of the Drottningholm Court Theatre from 1949 to 1956. He also appeared as guest conductor with symphony orchestras in Sweden and Europe.
The years as a symphonist, from the first symphony in 1956 and particularly since 1970, have not excluded works in other genres: songs, music for percussion, concertos, chamber music, choral works and two operas. Symphony No. 3, “Sinfonia Dolorosa“, was Lundquist’s breakthrough as a symphonist. He often emphasised the importance of nature and its imprint is noticeable in Symphony No. 4, “Sinfonia Ecologica“ and Symphony No. 6, “Sarek“. His strong commitment to universal issues is also evident in Symphony No. 2 “… for freedom“, Symphony No. 7, “Humanity“, dedicated to the memory of Dag Hammarskjöld, and Symphony No. 9, “Survival“. The subtitles of the symphonies – which should not be interpreted programmatically but only as an indication of a basic idea or source of inspiration – give us a hint of Lundquist’s manifestations of will.
Lundquist made use of many different expressive and stylistic means in his compositional technique in order to achieve the synthesis he was aiming for, which juxtaposes traditionally constructed music, modern avant-garde elements and jazz-influenced outbreaks. Although the composer himself emphasised influences from other cultures – the Indonesian gamelan orchestras with their distinctive percussion sounds, for example, and the Saami vuolle (often wrongly called “yoik“) – his symphonies are essentially a part of the European orchestral tradition. The different elements blend together to form a personal, rich palette which the composer refined over the years to suit his strong need to express himself. His works reflect a profound obsession with life and a passionate desire for freedom. He expresses emotions that range from meditative serenity to violent eruptions in a musical language that is basically tonal.
He lived close to nature, but was also keenly aware of the world around him. In times of rapid change and environmental pollution, Torbjörn Iwan Lundquist was trying to find life’s innermost core, “not to flee from reality, but to restore it”. In 1989 he was awarded STIM’s (Swedish Performing Rights Society) Atterberg Prize and the motive of the jury mentioned his “absorbing and unpretentious musical art with its profound humanistic spirit.“ He was awarded the Hugo Alfvén Prize in 1992 for his “rich compositional achievements founded on idealism and naturalistic lyricism”.
Tony Lundman (rev. 2001)