Carl Michael Bellman is an important part of our Swedish tradition. Most Swedes know at least a couple of songs penned by Bellman and we all have a vague idea of who Ulla Winblad and Fader Berg are. Bellman is part of our national heritage, just like Evert Taube, August Strindberg, and Astrid Lindgren. The difference is that he is a bit trickier to understand for modern people, we have lost the skill to understand his language and his world. Nevertheless, we raise our glasses and sing: “Tag dig då en sup, tag dig sen dito en, dito två, dito tre, så dör du nöjdare.” How can you not love Bellman? When American soprano Brett Umlauf was introduced to Bellman, she too, fell in love.
“A Swedish friend introduced me to Bellman,” she says, “and I began studying Swedish at Columbia University to better understand him and be able to sing the songs.”
Umlauf was involved with Baroque music and says the immediacy in Bellman’s texts made her want to sing them.
“His songs felt limitless for interpretation somehow. They also lent themselves for different moods, and for physicality. They are very theatrical.”