Petter (Pehr) Boman (1804−1861)


Petter (Pehr) Conrad Boman was born in Stockholm on 6 June 1804 and died in the same city on 17 March 1861. Boman was an important actor within Swedish musical life during the middle of the 19th century, active as a music critic and author as well as a lecturer on music history. He also worked as a composer, mainly of songs and music for comic operas. He was voted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1849.


After studying at Uppsala University, Petter Conrad Boman began his work life in 1822 in various government offices and from 1845 he was a clerk for the General Customs Board. Even though he was employed in other areas, he was extensively active as a music journalist. He wrote for the music journals Stockholms musiktidning (from 1843 to 1844) and Ny tidning för musik  (during the years 1853 to 1857). He reviewed new Swedish works and published articles on art music and public musical life in Sweden, often from a historical perspective.

During the 1850s the place of music history within education was much discussed at the educational institution of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music). Boman became very involved in this issue and in the spring of 1852 he gave a series of lectures on music history at the academy. According to contemporaneous sources the lectures were attended by a ‘large audience’ including, among others, Prince Gustav. Despite positive recognition from the academy there were, for unknown reasons, only a few lectures given the next year.

Petter Conrad Boman was also actively involved with the academy’s library. Together with Wilhelm Bauck, he organised the collections, which by the end of the 1850s had received large donations of material from private people as well as members of the royal house. During this same time, the Musikaliska konstföreningen (the Swedish Art Music Society) was founded with Boman as one of its participants. The aim of the society was to buy and publish unreleased works of Swedish composers in order to promote ‘the development and improve the quality of Swedish art music’.


For the most part Boman composed songs with piano accompaniment and wrote music for a few plays. He had received some instruction in counterpoint from Pehr Frigel, but in general little is known about his musical education. Most of the songs are musical settings of Swedish poets such as Erik Johan Stagnelius, Bernhard von Beskow and Esaias Tegnér. They were published and were likely of interest to the music-making circle of people in the salons of the bourgeoisie. Boman wrote music to six of Tegnér’s songs from Fritiofs saga. The songs are written in classical Viennese style with a narrative character. In certain parts there are allusions to an older folk song style and ballad tradition. Boman’s songs are connected to the great interest in Tegnér’s poetry that had existed since the 1820s, with compositions also by Bernhard Crusell, Mathilda d’Orozco Gyllenhaal and Caroline Ridderstolpe, among others.

Boman was among those who aspired to the stylistic ideals expressed in the compositions of Christoph Willibald Gluck. A concrete example is seen in the four song settings that Boman wrote to texts by Ulrica Carolina Widström. In his notes, Boman indicates that it was an ‘attempt at a composition in Gluck’s style’. The melodies enhance the texts and are supported by the piano accompaniment, contributing to the emotional character of the songs.

Several publications of the music state that the income from them should go to different purposes. Income from the four songs discussed above would go to Widström’s ‘surviving daughters’ and sales from a romance published in 1838, with a text by Stagnelius, would go ‘toward the benefit of the needy in Bohuslän’s archipelago’. Dedications also are present. The songs with texts by Widström are dedicated to ‘Baroness Mrs Aurora Beata Gyllenhaal’, who was married to Carl Henrik Gyllenhaal, who, among other things was an honorary member of the Musikaliska akademien and General Customs Director. These examples show how, at that time, one could use music to help the indigent and gives an indication of the networks within bourgeois musical life.

Boman also arranged music for plays. Byn i bergen (The village in the mountains) and Ljungby horn och pipan (Ljungby horn and flute) were performed only a few times at the Kungliga Teatern (the Royal Opera). The legend-based play Ljungby horn och pipan links Boman to the contemporary practice of portraying the common people through songs that were perceived as folk songs. This is used in contrast to the international musical language for the gentry in the play. The comedy Sedan solen gått ned! (After sundown) was a big success and played in various theatres in Stockholm for almost twenty years. It was originally a French play in one act, which, as was typical, had been reworked by a German playwright before it received a Swedish text by Boman.

While Boman’s musical compositions are rarely performed today, his articles on Swedish music history are still of great interest because of the knowledge they give us about the Swedish music community of the era.

Karin Hallgren © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson

Publications by the composer

Ahlström, Jacob Niclas & Petter Conrad Boman: Valda svenska folksånger, folkdanser och folklekar, Stockholm, 1845.
Läsning för tonkonstens vänner: utgifven af En musikälskare [=Petter Conrad Boman], Stockholm, 1839−40.


Dahlgren, F. A.: Anteckningar om Stockholms theatrar, Stockholm, 1866.
Jonsson, Leif & Tegen, Martin
(eds): Musiken i Sverige, vol. 2, Den nationella identiteten 1810−1920, Stockholm: Fischer & Co, 1992.
Morales, Olallo & Tobias Norlind
: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien 1771−1921: Minnesskrift, Stockholm: Bröderna Lagerströms förlag, 1921.
Norlind, Tobias
: 'Petter Conrad Bohman', in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 5, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1925.
Pettersson, Tobias
: De bildade männens Beethoven: Musikhistorisk kunskap och social formering i Sverige mellan 1850 och 1940, diss., Gothenburg University, 2004.
Reese Willén, Anne
: I huvudstaden, musiklivets härd: Den strukturella omvandlingen av Stockholms offentliga konstmusikliv ca 1840−1890, diss., Uppsala University, 2014.
Schnell, Ivar:
En tavla och dess historia, Örebro, 1930. [Separate print from Meddelanden från föreningen Örebro läns museum X.]

Summary list of works

Music for 3 plays, 1 declamatory work, piano works (Variations for piano), songs (ca 50).

Collected works

The list of works is based on the compilation in Tobias Norlind's article 'Petter (Pehr) Conrad Boman' in Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 5, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1925.

Incidental music
Byn i bergen, drama with songs (trans. by H. Hermansson and P. C. Boman), 1846.
Ljungby horn och pipa, legend-based play with songs in 3 acts (G. L. Silfverstolpe), ballet by S. Lund, 1858.
Scene and aria from the drama Gustaf Ericsson i Dalarne. Manuscript.
Sedan solen gått ned! Comedy in 1 act (after Mélesville's and Leroux’ drama in Angely's German version, trans. P. C. Boman), 1838.

Piano music
Variations for pianoforte over the Swedish folk song 'Ack Wermeland du sköna'. Stockholm [1831].

Song parts with accompaniment

Scene from Lycksalighetens ö, trio for 2 sopranos and alto with piano. Stockholm, n.d.
Gustaf Wasas dröm, declamtory work and cantata. Manuscript.
Axel på stranden, soprano solo with orchestra. Manuscript.

Solo songs with piano accompaniment
Printed songs

Fiskaren. Romance by E. J. Stagnelius. Stockholm: P. A. Norstedt & Söner, 1838.
Flickans klagan. Romance by A. Grafström. Stockholm, n.d.
Four songs by Ulrica Carolina Widström. Stockholm: Abr. Hirsch, n.d. 1. Siskan, 2. Yngve och Bera, 3. Durandarte och Belerma, 4. Spåqvinnan.
Hvi är du sorgset, arma hjärta?, Stockholm, n.d.
Laura. Erotic songs by Bernhard von Beskow. Stockholm, n.d. 1. Lauras slöja, 2. Önskan, 3. Blommorna, 4. Drömmen (till Laura), 5. Wandraren.
Pariserpojken. Romance at the pianoforte. Stockholm, n.d.
Six songs with accompaniment for pianoforte. Stockholm, n.d. 1. Skaldens tröst, 2. Maria Stuarts sista suck, 3. Beväringssoldaten, 4. Flickan, 5. Isabellas romans, 6. Uppmuntran till glädje.
Sång af den sköna från Provence. Stockholm: Nytt musik, lördagsmagasin, 1839.
Songs from Frithiofs Saga by Esaias Tegnér. Stockholm, [1832]. 1. Kung Bele och Thorsten Wikingson, 2. Frithiofs Frieri, 3. Kung Ring, 4. Balders bål, 5. Fritiof på sin Faders hög.
Songs from Nya Teckningar ur hvardagslifvet. Stockholm, n.d. 1. Angelicas sång [for alto], 2. Adelaides sång [for soprano], 3. Gå ej bort (for tenor).

Songs in manuscript

Hvi suckar det så tung?
L'heure est passée.
Sabbatsaftonen i det gröna.
Jätten Finn.
An den Abendstern.
De trolofvade.
Månen blinkade.
Kung Birger.
Galerslavens sång.
Tvenne fjärilar.
Kvarnen i skogen.
När finner jag frid?
Tornväktarens visa.
Vid klockringningen efter prins Gustaf.
Vikingasång till den sjunkande solen.
Den lungsiktiga.
Romanze from the novel Die schauerlichen Kloster im Walde.

Choral music

Ten Swedish folk songs arranged for four-part male voices. Stockholm, [1847].