Wilhelm Heintze (1849−1895)


Wilhelm Heintze was born on 4 July 1849 and died on 10 January 1895.
After studying at the educational institution of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music he worked as the Army regimental music director in Jönköping (1872−1881), thereafter as organist at St James’s Church in Stockholm (1881−1889) and from 1889 he was the conductor for the university orchestra and cathedral organist in Lund. In 1882 he became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Heintze was the foremost Swedish organist of his time. His compositions were often connected to his duties as organist and orchestra conductor.


Childhood and education

Georg Wilhelm Heintze was born in Jönköping on 4 July 1849. He likely received his first music lessons from his father, Gustaf Wilhelm Heintze (1825−1909) who was organist for the city church (today known as Kristine Church). Wilhelm, who showed a prolific musical talent at an early age, was accepted at the educational institution of the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien (the Royal Swedish Academy of Music) at age 16 − the same year that his op. 1, a collection of 14 minor preludes for organ, was published. He pursued his studies with great diligence and success: he graduated in 1869 with degrees in organ performance, in study as a school cantor, and in military music conducting, and received 11 medals. That same year he composed his largest piano work, ’Stor sonat’, a piece in four movements. It is possible that he continued his academic studies even after graduation, until 1870 or 1871.

In 1871 he was chosen by the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien to represent Sweden at the international organ festival, which that year was held in London because of the inauguration of the 111-stop Willis organ in the Royal Albert Hall. He remained in London for several months, mostly because the organ was not yet completed at the originally planned time of the festival in April, and during that time he gave 11 concerts.

Regimental music director in Jönköping and concertising organist

After completing his studies, Heintze was appointed as music teacher at the Kalmar secondary school, but he never started the job, and instead returned to his hometown. There, in 1872 he became the regimental music director of the local army regiment, receiving a royal mandate in 1874. From 1872 to 1876 he also led the city’s music society.

Parallel to his conducting activities he was actively engaged as an organ recitalist − one of the few in Sweden and indisputably the foremost; additionally he was often employed as an expert organ builder for projects around the country. At the time of the London organ festival Heintze’s organ repertoire included more than 50 works, for the most part of coeval German composers such as Gustav Merkel, Johann Gottlob Töpfer and Adolph Hesse, but also sonatas by Mendelssohn and larger free works by J.S. Bach. In addition, compositions by Gustaf Mankell, Heintze’s organ teacher, were part of his repertoire; he often played the spectacular ‘Pedal-Etüde för 2:ne Manualer’, a study of virtuosic pedal technique including four-part harmony played on the pedals.

He would later become a pioneer performer in Sweden of French symphonic organ music by names such as Charles-Marie Widor and Alexandre Guilmant. Of particular note was his performance in 1883 in Stockholm and Jönköping of Widor’s sixth organ symphony − a work of that length and difficulty had hitherto never been heard in Sweden. Heintze’s fame as an organist was founded not only on his technical skill, but also on his artful, richly nuanced and orchestral-like use of the registers. This was unusual in Sweden at the time and can be linked to his extensive experience as an orchestra conductor.

Years in Stockholm and Lund

At the time of the Widor concert, Heintze had already been established in Stockholm for two years as the organist at St James’s Church where he succeeded his teacher Mankell who had died the previous year. In 1882 he became connected to the Kungliga Musikaliska akademien, both as a member and as a teacher in counterpoint. During his time in Stockholm he also worked as an orchestra conductor, mostly at Dramaten (the Royal Dramatic Theatre). During his last year as organist at St James’s Church he published a hymn book in which the pieces by Haeffner were supplemented with a number of ’rhythmic hymns’, most of them (11 pieces) newly composed by Heintze himself.

In 1889 Heintze was appointed as the university orchestra conductor in Lund. The holder of this position also had duties as the cathedral organist. However, he developed problems with mental health and beginning in the autumn of 1893 he was no longer able to fulfil his duties. Heintze died on 10 January 1895, only 45 years old.


Heintze was a fairly productive composer who did not, however, seem to regard composing as his main occupation; only a few of his works were published during his lifetime. Most of his best known works are closely connected to his two main musical activities, as organ soloist and as orchestra conductor for the military music corps, and his works for these settings were usually intended to be performed by him. A large part of his creative output was occasional music written either on his own initiative, as part of his duties, or on commission. Included in this category are his cantatas as well as a fair number of marches and songs for choir.

Among those few compositions of Heintze’s that are still performed today are two larger organ works. The fantasy and fugue over the passion chorale no. 99, ‘Så är fullkomnat, Jesu kär’, was composed in 1868 during Heintze’s time as a student. Even in this early work one finds a personal style that can be heard in the dissonance-rich harmony of the opening hymnal movement, as well as in the highly dramatic fantasy and in the virtuoso pedal passages of the fugue. The three-movement suite from 1889 is stricter in form; the gloomy introduction is followed by an Andante religioso with the title ‘Prière’, and a virtuosic motoric finale culminating in a freely formed fugato. In the organ works one finds inspiration from his teacher Gustav Mankell, but in the suite one also hears influences of the new French symphonic school including from composers such as Widor and Guilmant. Both works can be found in modern editions, however none of them were published during the composer’s lifetime.

Sverker Jullander © 2014
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson


Andersson, Greger: 'Wilhelm Heintze 1849−1895', in: A. Greger (ed.), Spelglädje i Lundagård. 250 år med Akademiska kapellet, Lund: Lund University Press, 1996, p. 156.
'Heintze, släkt', in Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 18, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1969−71.
Norlind, Nils Peter
: 'Heintze', Nya Lund, januari 1895.
Norlind, Nils Peter:
Orgelns allmänna historia, Uppsala, 1912.
Ruuth, Gustaf:
Musikaliska nöjen i Jönköping 1620−1920, Jönköping: Jönköpings läns museum, 2001.
Suttner, Carl-Erik: '
Heintze' [family article], in Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 3, Stockholm: Sohlman, 1976.
Ysander, Lars
(ed.): Frimureriska tonsättare och frimurerisk musik, Uppsala: Forskningslogen Carl Friedrich Eckleff, 2006 , pp. 308−309.


Musik- och teaterbiblioteket

Summary list of works

Incidental music (to Profpilen), marches for military band, chamber music (sonata for 2−3 cellos, scherzo for piano and string quintet, duo for cello and piano), piano music (piano sonata, 14 preludes, Jernvägs-Fantasie  [Railway Fantasy] and more) organ music (Fantasy and fugue over hymn no. 99, Suite in three movements, marches, preludes and more), cantatas, songs for male choir, sacred music for mixed choir, hymns.

Collected works

Stage music
Incidental music to Profpilen av O. Blumenthal, 1885.

Orchestral works (military band)
Marche triomphale for military band and organ, 1872 or earlier.
Till hemmet, march, 1872.
Vega Marsch, 1880.
Festmarsch, 1881.
Hymn till vår gamle högt värderade Chef General Leuhusen. Jönköping 11 May [18]-85.
Marche d'honneur, Kongl. Jönköpings Regemente Marsch Royale.
Minne från Skillingaryd, march.

Orchestral works (other)
Festival March in F major, 1891.

Chamber music
Duo melody for piano and cello.
Lied ohne Worte for tenor horn [A.E.: alto horn], piano and organ.
Sonata in G major for 2 violoncelli (movement 1−3), 3 violoncelli (movement 4).
Scherzo for piano and string quintet.

Piano works
Large Sonate for Pianoforte in C minor, Stockholm: Hirsch and the Swedish Art Music Society, 1871.
Marche militaire E-flat major.
Jernvägs-Fantasi [Railway Fantasy].
Marche d'Honneur Kongl. Jönköpings Regemente [arr. of a similarly titled work for military band?].
March [?] in E-flat major.

Organ works
14 five-part organ preludes, op. 1, Stockholm: Hirsch, 1865.
Fantasie and fugue for the organ over hymn no. 99, 1868. Klockrike: Noteria, 1972.
Festival march in E-flat major, 1882.
Festival pieces for organ, book 1 (Festival March, Festival Hymn, Funeral March) Stockholm: Elkan & Schildknecht, 1883.
Festival pieces for organ, book 2 (Wedding March, Triumph March, Funeral March), Stockholm: Elkan & Schildknecht, 1884.
Suite in three movements for organ, 1889, Klockrike: Noteria, 1972.
Fantasie and Fugue for organ in D minor, 1889.
Maestoso komp. för Juldagens högmässa såsom en festlig entre och inledning till Psalmen och Koralen No 112 [Maestoso for High Mass and introduction to Hymn no. 112], 1891.
Festival March in B-flat major, in Organistens Marsch Album. Samling af 35 äldre och nyare marscher att begagnas såsom utgångsstycken vid den allmänna Gudstjensten eller vid högtidliga tillfällen i kyrkan. Progressivt ordnade och med särskild hänsyn till landskyrkan lätt arrangerade, samlade och utgifna af N. E. Anjou. Self-published; tr. Ahlström & Cederberg, Gefle.
Festival March in E-flat major, in Organistens Marsch Album.
Triumph March [possibly arr. by Marche triomphale for military band and organ].
Festival March in A-flat major (for organ and piano 4 hands [or condensed score of wind orchestra arr.?]).

Choral works
Prelude to Stagnelii Liljor i Saron for mixed choir, 1872 or earlier.
Hymn Du som ensam sällhet ger, five-part male choir, 1882 or earlier.
Funeral cantata Du som ljus och mörker delar, 1882.
Concert piece Såsom stormen far, for organ and mixed choir, 1888.
Kantat till Allhelgonakyrkans i Lund invigning [Cantata], 1891.
Cantata, for male choir and soli with string orchestra and organ.
Concert piece for mixed choir, male quartet and quintet.
Hymn (Organ inauguration hymn) Dig kläd i helighetens skrud, for mixed choir, 1891.
Hymn till General Abelin vid en generalmönstring i Skillingaryd 'För hedersgästen i vårt lag', hymn for four-part male choir.
March Friskt mod uti bröstet och rosor på kind, for four-part male choir.
Nattlig helsning for four-part male choir.
Sång för Smålands nation i Uppsala.

Koralbok för Kyrkan, Skolan och Hemmet med Svenska Messan jemte ett urval af rytmiska melodier, arrangerad för sång, orgel, orgelharmonium eller piano af Wilhelm Heintze, Musikdirektör, Organist i S:t Jakobskyrka i Stockholm, Ledamot af Kgl. Svenska Musikaliska Akademien [hymn book]. Stockholm: C.A.V. Lundholms förlag, [1889].

Works by Wilhelm Heintze

This is not a complete list of works. The following works are those that have been inventoried so far.

Number of works: 13