Mamma Mia!

If you were growing up in the late 1970s or early 1980s, you probably know about ABBA, for you youngsters, you’ve probably at least heard of the musical or movie “Mamma Mia!,” built on ABBA’s music, you can probably even sing along to the group’s greatest hits. But you might not know just how big a deal ABBA was and continues to be or why the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra would dedicate it’s entire performance its music.

ABBA was Sweden’s first major cultural export and has sold more than 370 million singles and albums since its inception in 1972, making Sweden the No. 3 exporter of music in the world after the U.S. and U.K. The group continues to enjoy pop culture relevance through “Mamma Mia!” and other films, and this weekend, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will perform the music of ABBA with the six-voice Finnish a capella group, Rajaton.

What other exports can we thank Sweden for?  Remember, Sweden is a country smaller than New York City’s five boroughs!

How about the Nobel Prize?  In 1759, Sweden’s brightest minds founded The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In his last will and testament, Alfred Nobel (the inventor of dynamite, among other things) tasked the academy with the creation of the Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry, first awarded in 1901. The prize has been expanded to include physiology and medicine, literature, peace and economic sciences and has become synonymous with brilliant people doing visionary work.

Technology?  They are home to telecom giant Ericsson as well as Skype!  Sports?  Bjorn Borg didn’t just win five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles, he was the iconic image of men’s tennis in the 1970s. Fashion?  H&M is the world’s second-largest clothing retailer!  What about IKEA?   It is a multibillion-dollar international flat-packed, read-to-assemble home furnishing and accessory empire.

And talk about some great exports…how about Greta Garbo, Max von Sydow, Ingmar Bergman. Author Astrid Lindgren who created the beloved Pippi Longstocking, and most recently, Stieg Larsson’s  “Millennium Trilogy” (”The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”) has sold more than 65 million copies globally and a movie starring Daniel Craig!

Now that you are up to date on all things Swedish…join the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for the music of ABBA March 15 and 16 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis and March 17 at The Palladium in Carmel.


Vicki Reed

One thought on “Mamma Mia!

  1. Ah Yes, Abba – my first introduction to pop music in the 1970s as a young child, and the exciting introduction of the cassette player! I have grown up with the Dancing Queen, Voulez Vous, Chiqateeta, Money money, money… and the many many other tunes; I can probably sing most of them today from memory at karaoke night!

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