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Olof Åhlström (15 August 1756 -- 11 August 1835) was a Swedish civil servant, composer and music publisher.
Åhlström was born in a peasant family in Vårdinge parish in Södermanland. He received early musical lessons from the parish organist but left his home at the age of sixteen to enroll in the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. He was appointed organist in the Stockholm parish of Maria Magdalena in 1777 and moved to Jakob parish in 1792. In addition to his professional life as a musician, he took a clerk's position in Krigskollegium (the War Office), where in 1805 he reached the position of krigsråd ("War Councillor"). He retired from his position in Krigskollegium in 1824, but stayed as organist in Jakob until his death eleven years later.
In 1788, Åhlström established Musikaliska Tryckeriet, the first larger-scale musical printing press in Sweden, and received a 20-year exclusive royal privilege for the engraving and printing of sheet music; anyone encroaching on his monopoly was to be fined 100 riksdaler. He introduced a new method of printing the sheets with types made from pewter with a small portion of lead. The method was cheaper than the copperplates previously used for the printing of music in Sweden, but was criticized for producing dark and dirty prints.
One of the most important products of Åhlström's press was the first edition of Bellman's Fredman's Epistles, followed a year later by his Fredman's Songs. The idea supposedly came from Åhlström's colleague in Krigskollegium, Erik Wilhelm Weste. In conversation, Åhlström had complained that there were too few Swedish composers whose music he could publish. Weste suggested the works of Bellman as something that could be profitable. Åhlström secured a large-enough number of subscriptions, the cooperation of Bellman and the poet Johan Henrik Kellgren who was to edit the songs and write an introduction and acquired the rights to publish the Epistles from the publisher Johan Pfeiffer, to whom Bellman had sold them many years earlier (but with no edition ever seeing the light of day). Finally, Åhlström and Bellman were received at Drottningholm Palace where the latter entertained the King, who gave his permission for the venture.
- Byström, p. 46
- Byström, p. 47-50
- Byström, Olof: Kring Fredmans epistlar. Deras tillkomst och utgivning, dissertation, Stockholm University, 1945.
- Lindberg, A., "Åhlström, Olof", Nordisk familjebok, 1st edition, Vol. 18, 1894, columns 376-377 (reprinted in the second edition, Vol. 33, 1922, columns 945-946)
[[Category:Swedish composers]] [[Category:Swedish organists]] [[Category:Swedish publishers]] [[Category:Swedish civil servants]]