Carl Michael Bellman
The Swedish poet and singer Carl Michael Bellman (1740 – 1795) was a contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Already in his childhood Bellman showed a remarkable talent for singing and presentation. As an adult he sang everywhere, from the Royal Court in Kungliga Slottet in Stockholm till the salons, pubs and brothels in the same city. That’s a bit of a parallel with Mozart indeed!
He wrote about 1700 poems and songs. Many of them were about the daily life with for this era daring lyrics about booze, erotica, death and life’s wisdom. He often presented his songs in a tragical-comical or even parodic way.
Bellman accompanied himself on a Centrina – a kind of eleven string lute – and caught all kinds of catchy tunes for his songs. He did not compose himself, but he had a perfect sense for the right melody with his songs and a lot of friends who could help him with the music.
Thus, many of his songs are set to popular melodies from his time. These melodies are part of Sweden’s cultural heritage and even popular in our days! The songs are simple yet catchy. The Dutch singer Cornelis Vreeswijk (1937 – 1987), who was quite popular in Sweden, recorded a few of Bellman’s songs.
Bellman’s songs are mainly passed down in two collections, Fredman’s Epistles (1790) and Fredman’s Songs (1791). The clockmaker Fredman was one of the main characters from his songs.
Fredman’s Brief Nr. 71
Fredman’s Epistle Nr. 71 is a love song, titled Ulla, min Ulla. There even is a contemporary setting of this song by the Dutch/Swedish singer Cornelis Vreeswijk (1937 – 1987). It is a quiet melody that requires no hurry.
The instrumental arrangement was made by the Swede Carl Oscar Boije af Gennäs (1849-1923). He was an insurance agent and had one big hobby: guitar music. He was an amateur player himself and had insatiable passion for collecting scores of guitar music. He possessed prints and manuscripts of almost all major 19th century composers for the guitar. After his death the complete collection was donated to the Statens Musikbibliothek, the Swedish national library for music.
At this moment the complete so called Boije Collection is available in the public domain. In this way it has become a major source for my own settings of 19th century guitar music.