The history of Musicum

Residence for director musices

The Royal Academic Orchestra, Uppsala University’s symphony orchestra, has provided music for University ceremonies ever since 1627. Even though the Royal Academic Orchestra long did duty as the city of Uppsala’s civic orchestra, participation in academic festivities has always been the orchestra’s main mission. Today the orchestra’s assignments also include arranging freestanding concerts for Uppsala residents. This has resulted in the orchestra often collaborating with contemporary composers and performing world premiers, etc.

Several prominent musicians have conducted the orchestra, including Hugo Alfvén (1872–1960) and Lars-Erik Larsson (1908–1986). As conductor and artistic director of the orchestra, these musicians are titled the director musices of Uppsala University.

One of these musicians, Jacob Axel Josephsson (director musices 1849–1880), had a nephew, Hjalmar Salomon Josephson, who, in 1918, donated SEK 75,000 to make it possible to erect “a suitable residence for the Director Musices, including a Chapel Hall.” In 1930 the Musicum building was completed, based on architect Victor Holmgren’s design  and with J.B. Olsson as the builder.

Chapel Hall, the rehearsal venue for the Royal Academic Orchestra, and the original custodian’s residence, where the Royal Academic Orchestra’s manager and information officer now have their workplaces, were immediately taken into use. Somewhat later, Hugo Alfvén, who had resided in the Linnéanum (Carl von Linnaeus’ former professorial residence), eventually became the first director musices to be housed in the exquisitely appointed quarters upstairs, a residence perfectly suited to the entertainment of guests.

Up to the tenure of Carl Rune Larsson (1923–1989) the director musices lived at Musicum. Stefan Karpe, director musices (2000–) still has a small flat at Musicum where he can stay if he so wishes. He has chosen another main residence, however, and has therefore made the premises available as practising rooms for orchestra members.

Today

In other words, the building is filled with music and constitutes the home base for the Royal Academic Orchestra, Uppsala University Jazz Orchestra, and the Academic Chamber Choir of Uppsala. The people working at Musicum are Stefan Karpe, director musices and conductor of the orchestra, Ulf Johansson Werre, artistic director of the UUJO, and administrative staff who manage the marketing and production of the concerts and events that are arranged.

The building is maintained by Uppsala Foundations Management of Estates and Funds and is designated for preservation as a historic building.