Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Peterson-Berger The Doomsday Prophets

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / cond Ulf Soderblom


Sterling – CDO 1069-2 – Radio Performance January 1984

1 CD – 79 minutes


Lennart Spore – Mikael Samuelson

Elin – Solveig Faringer

Lars – Thomas Sunnegardh

Johan Bure – Bo Lundborg


As a music critic Wilhelm Peterson-Berger was a traditionalist, writing uncompromising reviews in Sweden 's leading daily paper, Dagens Nyheter, for more than 30 years. During this time he was also active as a composer, completing 5 symphonies, a violin concerto, more than 100 songs and a handful of operas.


He was a great admirer of Wagner and like him, drew upon medieval legend for his inspiration, preparing his own libretti. But somewhere along the way their paths diverged, and at least in the case of The Doomsday Prophets, Peterson-Berger produced not a lengthy and heavyweight saga, but a relatively short light comedy which ends happily ever after.


It is set in the medieval university city of Uppsala where rival academics wager their properties on a prediction of the imminent timing of Doomsday. The young lovers, Lars and Elin are caught up in the dispute, she may lose her home and he may be expelled from the university. They find a lucky 4-leaf clover, but in the end it is the practical young army captain, Lennart Spore, who comes up with a compromise to suit everyone.


There are numerous subsidiary roles and it is a very wordy libretto, but the music is tuneful, varied and aptly suited to the characters. The old professor meanders around repeating “Everything has an end” in lugubrious tones, Lennart sings a cheerful aubade with a tra-la-la-la refrain, and the lovers have a duet strongly reminiscent of Tristam und Isolde .


Swedish Radio gathered together a top class cast for these extracts broadcast in 1984 and every single word is crystal clear. The booklet contains synopsis, text and translation, and in any case the music tells the story.


Serena Fenwick