Sven-David Sandström (b. October 30, 1942, Motala) is a Swedish composer best known for his compositions operas, oratorios and choral works, as well as a symphony.
Sandström studied art history and musicology at Stockholm University. He also studied musical composition at the Royal College of Music, Stockholm.
He currently teaches composition at the Royal College of Music, Stockholm and is a former member of the faculty at Indiana University Bloomington’s Jacobs School of Music where he taught for ten years. At Indiana University he is known for casually sauntering across the stage rather than taking a bow after one of his works is performed.
Among his works are The High Mass, a Requiem, concertos for flute, guitar, piano, and cello, and the 2001 opera, Jeppe: The Cruel Comedy on a libretto and originally directed by Claes Fellbom, who commissioned the work for the centennial of the Swedish opera company.
Fellbom translated the opera into English and directed its first production in that language at Indiana University in February 2003. In 2006, Sandström’s Ordet - en passion was performed on 24 March in Stockholm. He also recently undertook an entirely new setting of the text of Handel’s Messiah, which was commissioned and premiered by the Oregon Bach Festival in 2009 and also performed at the Rheingau Musik Festival that year.
His work draws on ideas from modernist music, minimalist music, jazz, and popular music. Indeed, in Act II of Jeppe, the chorus sings the line “O Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz” in harmony based on the original Janis Joplin melody. He has recently become interested in Tejano music and has been working with incorporating that idiom into his work much as composers of Romantic music collected folk music and incorporated it into their works.
He also has written film scores, for Äntligen! (1984), and the television films, Facklorna (1991), Lars Norén’s Ett Sorts Hades (1996), Lars Rudolfsson’s Staden (1998), and Gertrud (1999).