Oktetten Ehnstedts Eftr.

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More about the Octet

The Octet Ehnstedts Eftr. (Ehnstedt's successors) dates back to 1986 as a historical ensemble: a wind octet of the Swedish ‘military octet’ type, playing music from 1870-1920, in particular from handwritten part books used at spas and seaside resorts during the 1890's.

Between 1995, when we took part in the Tattoo by Horse in Stockholm, and 2011, we have functioned as a special Swedish Home Guard band: as The Stockholm Home Guard Octet, we have performed abroad and played at military ceremonies, parties and other occasions.

In Sweden, as in the rest of Europe, wind ensembles and bands with professional musicians from regiments and theatres played an important role in the dissemination of new and popular music during the 19th century, e.g. operatic and dance music from the continent, as well as music by Swedish musicians and composers. Musicians and band leaders copied arrangements or rearranged music for their own ensembles. One of them was Magnus Herman Ehnstedt (1833-1905), whose music collection we now use. That is why our civilian name from the start onwards has been Ehnstedts Eftr. (Ehnstedt's successors). During the years we assembled other handwritten octet collections dating from between 1862 and c. 1920, so now we have access to more than 2500 authentic ‘numbers’. Our principal aim is to cultivate good Swedish musical traditions, but you may hear us play Finnish tangos, Czech band music and evergreens as well.

The Swedish wind octet was a type of small wind ensemble which flourished between approximately 1870 and 1920. It usually consisted of a combination of woodwind and brass: flute in D flat (or, in earlier times, E flat) and two parts for clarinet in B flat, of which the first was either doubled or played divisi), brass instruments specific to Sweden such as soprano cornet in E flat, "alto" horn in E flat and two "tenor" valve trombones in B flat, furthermore a bass tuba and often percussion (drums, triangle etc.). In early octets, an 2nd alto horn, a tenor horn or a French horn was often used in stead of the second tenor valve trombone. In an ‘octet with a trumpet’ a typical 19th-century trumpet in F or E flat would be found, but from the turn of the century and onwards a "piston" (a cornet à pistons or a B flat trumpet of central European type) was more often added to the ensemble, so a Swedish octet might contain 10 to 11 musicians.

During more than 25 years, musicians, music teachers and amateurs have been members of our octet. We have made tours to Estonia, Austria (MidEurope 2000), Denmark, Norway and the U.S. (Vintage Band Festival 2014)  and performed at several museums, in parks, churches and schools as well as at conferences, jubilees, weddings and other festive occasions. Every year since 1996 our performances in connection with the opening of the Christmas trade at the great store NK in Stockholm have been a sine qua non.

Our cassette recording "Brunnsmusik som för 100 år sedan" (Music for health resorts like 100 years ago) (1991) is now available on CD. Our second CD "Music at the Spa" ("Vid denna källa", 1999) can be ordered directly from us (Ann-Marie.Nilsson@musik.uu.se). In 2011, a third CD, "Kring julgran / Season's greetings" (SCD 1151) appeared.