Ika Peyron (1845-1922)


Fredrika (Ika) Peyron was born on 1 July 1845 in Timrå and died on 15 March 1922 in Stockholm. She grew up in the home of her foster parents, Anton and Gustava Sofia Asp in Sundsvall, and later in Stockholm, where she took lessons on piano with Ivar Hallström and on organ with Albert Lindström. She married consul and wholesale merchant Ludvig Peyron. During the 1880s Ika Peyron studied orchestration with Anton Andersen, counterpoint with Joseph Dente and composition under Emil Sjögren. As a composer, she wrote mainly music for the home and salon, as well as choral works.


Childhood and education

Fredrika Albertina Asp was born in Timrå in the region of Västernorrland on 1 July 1845. Her mother was a maid and in the parish’s birth records she was estimated to be between 20 and 25 years old at the time of her child’s birth. The little child, Fredrika, is listed in the same document as ‘illegitimate’, which thus means that no father came forward. The mother may not have been mature enough to care for her daughter, since Fredrika went quite early to live with foster parents in Sundsvall, namely wholesale merchant Anton Asp (1806−1878) and his second wife Gustava Sofia (1806−1852, née Enhörning).

Because of this arrangement, Fredrika Asp grew up in the middle of business circles around Sundsvall − it was a time of prosperity for saw mills and the paper industry in Norrland’s coastal region along the Bothnia Sea, with Sundsvall as the commercial centre. Her foster mother was aunt (on her father’s side) to the ship and sawmill owner Johan August Enhörning, who among other things founded a steam-operated sawmill in Kubikenborg. Fredrika likely came to the Asp couple through the mediation of Anton Asp’s brother, C.F. Asp, who was the proprietor at Skönvik’s glass factory in Timrå. A sister to the Asp brothers, Wilhelmina (Mina) Asp, was married to the previously mentioned Johan August Enhörning.

In the home of her foster parents Fredrika received a good upbringing in which nothing was lacking. Her foster father was very concerned with women’s education. His sights for her were set on a medical path, however he was stymied by his daughter; she was much more interested in music. The family moved to Stockholm in 1855 and Fredrika’s first piano teacher shall have been a Louise Engström. She continued her piano studies under Ivar Hallström and learned to play the organ with Albert Lindström, both of whom were composers. In the early 1860s she spent two years in London studying, but reportedly nothing concerning music.

Building a family and continued music studies

In 1865 Fredrika Asp married the consul and wholesale merchant Ludvig Peyron (1832−1915), who, during the years 1876−1880 was a member of parliament representing the city of Stockholm in the first chamber. He was, among other activities, chairman for Stockholm’s wholesale merchant society and founder of Stockholm’s Ångfartygs Rederi AB (steamship company), with which he was involved until 1895. The couple had three sons. Their son, John (1870−1949), a physician by profession, became known as a researcher of butterflies. At his wedding in Skeppsholm’s Church, the bridegroom’s mother played a bridal march on organ, especially composed for the occasion (Dagens Nyheter 21/10 1900). Parallel to family life, with all the duties of a housewife in an upper middle-class life, Ika Peyron continued to develop her music. Her upbringing and marital status gave her the economic independence − a common pattern for many women composers at that time. That many female composers also published their works under pseudonyms was included in this pattern − in her case Ika, a shortening of her given name, Fredrika.

From 1870 to 1872 she studied piano with Jan van Boom. During the 1880s, after devoting several years tending to her home and children, she studied counterpoint with the hovkapellmästare (the chief conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra), Joseph Dente, and later studied composition with Emil Sjögren. He reportedly inspected her work in the beginning of her career as a composer. Under the composer and cellist with the Hovkapellet (the Royal Court Orchestra) she studied orchestration and also orchestrated several of her works for the small orchestra of the Mindre teatern. These studies laid a good foundation for her continued composing efforts, which began in earnest later in her adult years.

The Peyrons actively participated in Stockholm’s social life that often took place in the lavish salons of private people, and music was one of the self-evident ingredients in these social affairs. Ika Peyron played music and was often able to present her own works. However, it is uncertain how much she performed as a musician in public contexts. The only known occasion was an event benefiting the association, J.B:s M in 1913 when she played piano parts to several of her own compositions (Aftonbladet 9/4 1915). In any case, she was not a publicly well-known person on the music scene.

Ika Peyron was also engaged in charity work, which was not uncommon among upper class women. However, she was most active as a member of the society Nya Idun (an association of professional women within the arts and sciences) in which she presented her own work on several occasions.

In 1915 Ika Peyron was widowed. Shed died in Stockholm on 15 March 1922. Her estate at the time of death included the sum of 411, 981 kroner − a considerable fortune at the time, especially considering her impoverished beginnings (Aftonbladet 14/7 1922).


As a composer Ika Peyron first and foremost focused on creating music for an expanded music making in the home, where compositions often were prised for their entertainment value. This orientation seems to have suited her well as a composer − she saw herself as an ‘appreciator of melody’ adding that it was ‘something that is an unsympathetic form in terms of modern music’ (Svensk musiktidning, no. 7−8 1913). She perceived her music as ‘out-dated’, in other words she saw that she did not compose in step with the time’s creative vogue. It is true that her compositions have the ring of the salon music of the late 19th century and that her composing continued on even into the entry of modernism. However, the sense of her works as something unfashionable was found only during her lifetime − today, no comparison with music that was spearheading modernism during her time is necessary in order to judge her compositions. Ika Peyron’s music stands for itself: music that was written in order to spread pleasure and entertainment within small social circles.

During her lifetime, Ika Peyron was best known for her songs and piano pieces. This reputation has propagated itself in our time, although it takes time for those who are curious to find places where she is named. But this enduring judgement of her as a composer gives a limited picture. In the first place, the list of her works is extensive, particularly if one considers that she began composing much later in life than most others. She must, therefore, have composed with remarkable devotion. In the second place, Ika Peyron wrote quite a bit of music for other musical constellations than those named above. The most striking are her many choral works, including for mixed choir and not unexpectedly, also for female choir, together with a smaller number of songs for male choir and male quartet. She wrote several religious choral pieces, which was a convention among women composers.

Her instrumental works are intended for chamber music contexts. Included in her list of works are some compositions for string quartet, works for violin and piano as well as for cello and piano. Two works for violin and piano were published. A small number of organ pieces were not originally connected to religious services, but rather are concert pieces.

Even though she mainly focused on compositions for the home and society’s salons, it does not mean that she only intended her music for performances within her own personal context. She had both piano works and songs printed by publishers in Stockholm, Christiania (later renamed Oslo) and Copenhagen, with the reasonable result that her compositions were fairly widely spread and performed. A description in Svensk musiktidning (Swedish music journal, no. 2 1911) of some published piano works clearly explains how the compositions were meant to be and how the music was perceived: The works ‘are good sounding melodic salon pieces of a couple of pages each and easy to play’. In an advertisement for two other piano pieces it says that the compositions ‘are remarkable for their sureness of form, fluid melodiousness and easily understood content’ (Dagens Nyheter 15/2 1911). This quotation captures fairly well the nature of her published works.

One special circumstance regarding the spread of Ika Peyron’s music is that a number of her compositions were arranged for wind orchestra − piano pieces such as ‘I ungdomstiden’, ‘Festligt intåg’, Gavotte, Polonaise and ‘Polka élégant’, but also ‘Hyllning till fosterlandet’. It is, however, unknown if the arrangements were done by the composer herself, or by someone else. In any case, these arranged works were a part of the repertoire of several military bands, which would have made her rather unique among female composers of the time.

Gunnar Ternhag © 2015
Trans. Jill Ann Johnson


H.G.S.: ‘Ika Peyron‘, Idun, no. 14 1897, pp. 105−106.

Lindhjelm, Anna: Kvinnelige komponister og musikk-skole-utgivere i Skandinavien, Fredriksstad, 1931.
Norlind, Tobias
: ‘Ika Peyron’, in: Allmänt musiklexikon, Stockholm, 1916.
Schmidt, Pia
: ‘Kvinnliga tonsättare i Sverige 1800−1935. En verkförteckning’, special project 1982:37, University of Borås, 1982.
Svenska kvinnor från skilda verksamhetsområden: biografisk uppslagsbok, Valborg Hedberg & Louise Aronsenius, on behalf of Årstautställningens centralkommitté, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1914.
‘Fru Ika Peyron...’, Svensk Musiktidning, no. 14 1899, p. 106.
‘Ika Peyron’, ...’, Svensk Musiktidning, no. 7−8, 1913, pp. 53−54.
‘Fredrika Peyron’, in: Svenska män och kvinnor, vol. 6, Stockholm, 1949.
‘Peyron, släkt’, in: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 29, Stockholm: Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, 1995−97.
Öhrström, Eva
: Borgerliga kvinnors musicerande i 1800-talets Sverige, diss. in musicology, Gothenburg Universiy, 1987.

Summary list of works

Chamber music, piano pieces, songs and choral works.

Collected works

Works for string quartet

Humoresque. Melodic fantasy for string quartet.
Quartet in three movements. Work is mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.

Violin and piano
Three minor pieces (for the studying youth) for violin and piano. 1. Tidsfördrif, 2. Paraden, 3. Småprat (Romans). Printed.
Two character pieces for violin and piano. Op. 19. 1. Romance, 2. Humoresque. Elkan & Schildknecht 1888.
Canon and middle movement. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
En drömbild. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.

Violoncello and piano
Réverie for violoncello and piano. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.

Works for voice, violin and piano
Stråken, ballad. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.

Bagatelle. Autograph dated 10.10.1889.
Canzonetta. Occasional piece for piano.
Gavotte et chansonnette. Deux Morceaux pour piano. Abr. Lundqvist 1888. Also in arrangement for wind ensemble.
Gavotte for piano. Op. 1.
Humoresque. Melodic fantasy. Also arranged for string quartet.
I det fria. Suite for piano by Ika Peyron. 1. Stillhet, 2. Eko i bergen, 3. Dans i det fria, 4. Böljeslag, 5. Springlek. Printed.
Idyll, song at the piano. (‘Min älskade, en dag har gått’, Oscar Levertin). Stockholm, Johnn 1896.
Compositions for piano. 1. I ungdomstiden, 2. Sånger utan ord, 3. Festligt intåg, marsch. Copenhagen & Leipzig, Wilhelm Hansen. The first three works also arranged for wind ensemble.
Meditation. Printed in Musik för hemmet, annual vol. 1, no. 7, 1889.
Nattskyar. Nocturne for piano composed by Ika Peyron. Op. 10. Christiania, C. Warmuth 1889 (poss. earlier).
Polka-caprice for piano. To Tom Peyron. Abr. Lundqvist 1892?
Polka élégante for piano. Copenhagen & Leipzig, Wilhelm Hansen, no. 16773. Also in arrangement for wind orchestra.
På terassen. Valse moderne for piano by Ika Peyron. Copenhagen & Leipzig, Wilhelm Hansen, no. 16774.
Sonata in 4 movements. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Suite in vier Sätzen: Andante con variazioni, Scherzo, Marcia, Rondo. Hamburg, M. Leichssenring.
Three character pieces for piano. Op. 17. 1. Die Lorelei (Nach Heine), 2. Rondo, D major, 3. En Provence (Chant de Trobadour). Abr. Lundqvist 1888.
Two mood pieces for piano: 1. Melankoli, 2. Glada tankar. Copenhagen & Leipzig, Wilhelm Hansen, no. 4752. The second piece also in arrangement for wind ensemble.
Un bibelot. Printed in Bilaga till Svensk Musiktidning, annual vol. 10, 1890.
At the piano. Bagatelle. Melodic fantasy.
Vid slottsruinen, waltz. Abr. Lundqvist 1892.

Two pieces for large organ. 1. Carillion, 2. Marsch. Copenhagen, Emil Madsen 1911.
Suite in three movements. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Wedding march. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.

Organ and piano
I skymningen. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.

Chanson de Printemps (‘Sais-tu, mignonne!’, Alice de Chambrier). Deux romances. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Drei Lieder for one voice and piano. 1. Ich spräche, 2. Das erste Lied (‘Wer hat das erste Lied’), 3. Wohl weiss ich einen Kranz zu winden. Hamburg, M Leichssenring.
En fin visa. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Fantasi öfver fjäriln. Den flygande blomman. (‘Blomma du som vingar fått’), song for one voice at the piano piano. Words and music by Ika [Peyron]. Abr. Lundqvist 1889.
Four poems by Carl Snoilsky composed to music for one voice and piano by Ika [Peyron]. 1. Sångarlön (‘Gick du en morgon’), 2. Femton år och sjutton år (‘Hon var så ung’), 3. Hvi skulle jag ej sjunga? (‘Hur frisk och skön är parken’), 4. Nina la Lavandaja (‘Och är jag bara en lavandaja’). Copenhagen, Wilhelm Hansen.
Hyllning åt fosterlandet (‘Vårt fosterland! Vad innebär de orden?’, Stellan Mörner).  For schools and unison song. Stockholm, Nordiska bokhandeln 1911. Also in arrangement for wind ensemble.
Idyll (‘Min älskade ,en dag har gått’, Oscar Levertin), song for one voice at the piano. To John Peyron. Johnn 1896.
Löft dit Hoved du raske Gut. Song and piano. Text: Björnstierne Björnson. Music appendage to Svensk Musiktidning, annual vol. 8, 1888, p. 208.
Med en bukett. (‘Den har ei Sjaelv som ikke tror’, Henrik Wergeland), Swedish romance for one voice (mezzo-soprano or baritone) and piano. Abr. Lundquist 1892.
Norsk lyrik. Six songs for one voice and piano. 1. Den blide tanke (Wexels), 2. Löft dit hoved raske gut (Björnstierna Björnsson), 3. Barkarole (Munch), 4. Med en buket, (Henrik Wergeland), 5. Höjfjeldet (Welhaven), 6. Til Fjeldet maa jeg flytte (Riis). Autograf i MTB.
Quartre poèmes lyriques de François Coppé. 1. La première (Ce n´est pas qu´elle füt bien belle’), 2. Aubade, 3. Matin d´octobre, 4. Sérénade au milieu d'une fëte (‘Que s´éteignent les gaités’). Autografi i MTB.
Song compositions with piano acc. by Ika [Peyron]. 1. Med första rosen som sprang i knopp (Stellan Mörner), 2. Aftonbön (‘Hur herrlig är ej qvällen’, Emil von Quanten), 3. Signes visa (‘Ur Svaneliden om sommaren’, K.A. Melin, from Humleplockningen). Carl Warmuths forlag.
Tanken (‘Tanke, se hur fågeln svingar’, Johan Ludvig Runeberg).
Two songs for one voice and pianoforte. 1. Med en rose (‘Min lille rose tilgiv’), 2. Hvis du har varme tanker. To Mrs Annette Olsen. Copenhagen, Emil Madsen 1911.
Tonernas lif, for tenor or soprano, obligato violin and piano. (‘Skönhet i tonernas ljudande vågor’, Herman Sätherberg).
Två rosenblad (‘Jag älskar dig’, Emil von Quanten). Abr. Lundqvist, no. 2454. Also in Sånger, populära, book 2, pp. 4-5.
Two poems by Emil von Quanten composed for one voice and piano by Ika [Peyron]. Op. 12. 1. Rikedom (‘Djupt i hjertat växer dold min rikedom’), 2. Två rosenblad (‘Jag älskar dig’). Abr. Lundquist 1888.
Two songs for one voice with pianoforte. 1. Blomman (‘Dofta, dofta blomma min!’, Malmström), 2. Aftonbön (‘Hur herrlig är ej qvällen’, Emil von Quanten). Stockholm, David Lunds boktryckeri 1886.
Åter (‘Alltså den smärtan kunde domna’, Oscar Levertin’). 1895.

Mixed choir
Aurora (‘Den första purpurgryning re´n’, Oscar Fredrik). For soprano, alto, tenor, mixed choir and piano.
Det våras. For mixed choir. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Högt lofvad vare du som jord och himmel gjort. For mixed choir cappella. Included in Album för kyrkosång ... af Julius Wiberg, 1900.
Aurora. For mixed choir. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Jubilate. For mixed choir. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Konfirmationshymn (för en son). For mixed choir. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Lobgesang (‘Gelobet sei der Schöfper’). Printed in Album för kyrkosång... af Julius Wiberg, p. 138.
Lofsång efter David. Text revised by Wallin. For four-part choir of mixed voices a cappella. Op. 14. Christiania, C. Warmuth 1888.
Morgonstjernan. For mezzo-soprano or tenor, mixed choir and organ. Words by Ernst Bergman. In December 1892.

Female choir
Kantat vid kvinnornas utställning i Köpenhamn, cantata. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Song to Nya Idun. For female choir. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Herr Lager och Skön Fager. For female choir. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.
Extracts from David’s 86th psalm (‘Herre var mig nådelig’). Four-part female choir with soprano solo and acc. of piano or organ. Op. 20. Christiania, C. Warmuth 1889 (poss. earlier).

Male quartet/choir
Two male quartets. Work mentioned in Idun 1897, no. 14, p. 106.

Works by Ika Peyron

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

Number of works: 36