The history of Musicum

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.

Musicum, spring 2019
Musicum, from the Observatory park. 

Residence for director musices

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.

The chapel hall at Musicum
The Chapel Hall, the rehearsal venue at Musicum. 

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.


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.

Director musices through the years

Director musices, Latin for music director, was a title held by music directors especially at European universities or cathedrals; sometimes also at cathedral schools. The title is still used at universities in Sweden. In Finland it is an honorary award given by the government. 

Today directores musices are primarily responsible for music activities at a university and choral and/or orchestra conductors. The position as director musices is avaliable at the Universities of Uppsala, Lund, Linköping, Umeå and KTH (in Stockholm). 

Director musices in Uppsala - 1881 until today

1881–1909  Ivar Eggert Hedenblad
1909–1909  Wilhelm Stenhammar
1909–1910  Wilhelm Lundgren
1910–1939  Hugo Alfvén
1940–1960  Sven E. Svensson
1960–1961  Carl Godin
1961–1965  Lars-Erik Larsson
1966–1967  Nils-Olof Berg
1967–1989  Carl Rune Larsson
1989–1990  Sven Åke Landström
1990–1999  Per Åke Andersson
1999–2002  Stefan Karpe (acting)
2002– Stefan Karpe (ordinary)

Source: Wikipedia