"Jag är ingen tonsättare!"This is a quote from the Swedish composer Alan Pettersson (1911 - 1980) which continues as follows:
"I am not a composer. I am a voice crying out, (something that should not be forgotten) that threatens to drown in the noise of the times."I am amazed to have to say that I only recently stumbled across this composer. Despite having studied with some of the members of the post-WWII avant-garde in Paris such as Honegger, Milhaud and Leibowitz, in the early 1950s and achieving his first successes with commissions and state support in the 1960s culminating in the resounding success of the premier of his Symphony No. 7 in 1968, he has been little-known outside Scandinavia. One reason was that that very concert was the last he was able to attend due to very poor health. When he says "I am not a composer" we might understand that he simply does not participate in all those professional career-building things that composers 'have' to do if they are to be 'successful'. So much the worse for professionalism.
Pettersson had a hard life--his father beat him for buying a violin when he was twelve! But despite everything being against him and having no advantages, neither connections nor money, and further, despite making a late start, he became a composer in the real sense of the word: someone who writes music of power and depth as opposed to someone who is clever at getting commissions and premieres.
I don't have a great deal to say as I am just discovering him myself. But have a listen to his 7th Symphony and see what you think. I don't have much difficulty putting him beside Sibelius and Shostakovich as there certainly seems to be a great deal in this music: "a voice crying out" indeed.