Ralph Lundsten (1936-2023): Cosmic Composer

Ralph Lundsten

By Ahrvid Engholm: I think the cosmic composer, friend of fandom, Ralph Lundsten was more appreciated abroad than in Sweden. For instance, folks of the national radio were sour when he hosted the popular “Summer” show and broke an unwritten rule by playing only his own songs… He never hid his talent under the bushel and that won’t go down well in the Jante Law land.*

Ralph Lundsten was born far up north, from which he acquired the calm, common sense and love of nature of the northerners. But deciding to move to Stockholm at young age 15, he also showed initiative and being enterprising.

The first time he heard a violin concert on radio, he said in an interview, he immediately bought musical note paper and began writing his own concert… His first electronic music was made with a tape recorder on which he recorded strange sounds and then cut and glued with small tape pieces. He helped creating the famous Electronic Music Studio (EMS) in Stockholm reflected in his debut on record, EMS Nr 1 (1966, see also “Elektron Musik Studion, Dokumentation 1-4”, 1966-1973). And he was early with building his own electronic instruments and synthesizers, being much of a pioneer. The better equipment he acquired the less “concrete and dissonant” his music became and he developed a style of a broad “sound carpet” of soft meditative thoughtfulness, often inspired by nature and love.

I first met Ralph when a local sf club was invited to make a much-appreciated visit to his magnificent home Villa Frankenburg around 1980, his pink “castle of wood” just east of Stockholm. It was a dump when he took over and he spent many years renovating it to a magnificent site of cosmic dreams and fantasy, which included his own advanced electronic Andromeda Studio. I remember between sipping tea we could try his Andromatic love synthesizer, which produced sounds as we touched each other. I know he loved science fiction. He had shelves of skiffy books and named albums after A. E. Van Vogt, Cordwainer Smith and others. We also had Ralph guesting at conventions a few times.

Art magazines and TV shows would make colorful reports from his cosmic castle. He often talked about space and liked to call himself an ambassador of Andromeda. If someone had a cosmic mind, it was Ralph Lundsten!

And he had his own fan club, Andromeda Fan Society, which every summer was invited to a big gathering at Ralph’s with music, ballet (he wrote many ballet pieces), cakes, and relaxation. Ralph Lundsten also entered the Guinness Book of Records as composer of history’s most played “jingle”. A piece of his “Out in the Wide World” was for decades played hundreds of times every hour as the intermission signal of Radio Sweden’s international broadcasts – a total of over 4 million times!

There is a lot of Ralph Lundsten’s music on e.g. Youtube. Just enter him into the search box.

I think I’ve cracked his secret: despite seeming so relaxed and easy going, when nobody watched — he was a workaholic! Over 100 records (in all different editions), 700 opuses, dozens of films (often experimental, some award winning), years creating his Frankenburg home, exhibitions, time for his fan club and much more — it all speaks for itself. This busy bee became 86 years young, beginning his trip to space July 5th.

And BTW, he was a reader of my fanzine. I note a LoC from him, April 2019, though only saying “Thanks!” it sufficient for a message from a galaxy far, far away…

* Law of Jante: “You’re not to think you are anything special” etc. 

More about Ralph Lundsten (in English):

One thought on “Ralph Lundsten (1936-2023): Cosmic Composer

  1. Pingback: Ralph Lundsten R.I.P. 1936-2023 – Echoes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.