Born in Gothenburg, he studied classical piano from an early age, and wrote his first jazz arrangement at the age of 13. At the age of 15 he recorded his first record as a member of a group led by bassist Thore Jederby and in 1949 he recorded with the Swedish alto saxophonist Arne Domnérus for the first time, and the two musicians continued to play together for several decades.
During the 1950s, Hallberg played with leading visiting American players, including the tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, recording "Dear Old Stockholm" (originally "Ack Värmeland du sköna") with him, and alto player Lee Konitz in 1951, and trumpeters Clifford Brown and Quincy Jones in 1953. Jones first recorded arrangement featured Hallberg. In the same period he worked with baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin, another leading Swedish player of the time. Both players were associated with the 'Cool Jazz' scene in their country, influenced by the American school around pianist Lennie Tristano, a Hallberg favourite with whom Konitz was associated.
Hallberg had a versatile style and in his later years he wrote music for film and television, as well as choral arrangements, and he also played the accordion. With Domnerus and Georg Riedel among others, he participated in the Jazz at the Pawnshop sessions in December 1976. According to Chris Mosey, while Hallberg was: "usually an extremely delicate and very measured player, [he] was obviously affected by the general ambience, and here and there cuts loose with awesome force".
He died from congestive heart failure.
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With Stan Getz
- Stan Getz in Stockholm (Verve, 1955)
With Quincy Jones
- Jazz Abroad (Emarcy, 1955)
- Quincy's Home Again (Metronome, 1958) - also released as Harry Arnold + Big Band + Quincy Jones = Jazz! (EmArcy)
- Marcus Boldemann. "Bengt Hallberg har avlidit". DN.SE. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- Doc Rock. "July to December". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- John Fordham "Bengt Hallberg obituary", theguardian.com, 7 August 2013
- "Bengt Hallberg", All About Jazz, 3 July 2013
- Yanow, Scott. "Bengt Hallberg Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- Luca Cerchiari, Laurent Cugny, Franz Kerschbaumer (eds.) Eurojazzland: Jazz and European Sources, Dynamics, and Contexts, Northeastern University Press, 2012, p.220
- Chris Mosey "Arne Domnerus: Jazz at the Pawnshop - 30th Anniversary Edition (2007)" All About Jazz, 30 October 2007
- Doug Ramsey "Bengt Hallberg RIP", Rifftides/Arts Journal, 2 July 2013
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