As BIS looks forward to celebrating its fortieth anniversary later in the year, the death is announced of Gunilla von Bahr. Gunilla can be heard performing on more than 25 early BIS recordings, including CD-1!, and she was the first BIS artist to achieve a “golden disc” – something almost unheard of in classical music in Sweden at the time. Indeed, one can speculate as to whether BIS would have existed at all if the lack of recording opportunities available to Gunilla and other highly gifted young Swedish musicians had not spurred Robert von Bahr to start the BIS label.
Gunilla’s first disc of “flute favourites” proved enormously successful and helped to establish BIS. But Gunilla had wider aspirations than mere local popularity. She was the flute soloist on the first recording of Ligeti’s Double Concerto and, with Robert, commissioned and recorded a range of works by Scandinavian composers, not least Einojuhani Rautavaara. As a performer she displayed a notable gift for communicating even the most avant-garde scores to audiences that were not familiar with contemporary classical music.Like so many gifted musicians she had many strings to her bow and, while continuing to perform at summer festivals, she made use of her talents in a range of administrative capacities. After a period as a regional director of music, which included responsibility for the much regarded Swedish string orchestra, Musica Vitæ, she returned to her native Malmö to run the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. For the last stage of her career she was appointed Principal of her alma mater, the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. On retiring from the college her expertise was sought for a government study of the relationship between health and the arts and she continued to coordinate new musical projects and to perform in new contexts while eagerly fulfilling her duties as a grandmother. BIS is proud to be associated with a remarkable woman who enjoyed a pioneering career that was constantly developing in new and unexpected directions. May she rest in peace.