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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Being Here: An Importer of Swedish Culture

When Magnus Dahnburg was 6 years old, living in Falkenberg, a small town in southern Sweden, he saw a Russian film on television. "I had never heard such a beautiful language," Dahnburg, 34, says today. "Sometimes it's beautiful when you understand what people are saying, and sometimes it's more beautiful when you don't."


For Dahnburg, understanding the Russian language has proved more fruitful than not understanding it. He said his work has involved the language ever since he graduated from Sweden's University of Uppsala where he concentrated his studies on culture and Russian.


Shortly after graduation, he worked as an interpreter for the legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky when he filmed "The Sacrifice" in Sweden.


Today, Dahnburg is still immersed in both language and culture. But instead of working in Sweden with a Russian artist, he is trying to promote Swedish art and culture in Russia. For the past nine years he has worked as a interpreter for the Swedish Embassy -- first in St. Petersburg and then in Moscow.


"That's one of the things that is fun about interpreting," the dapper Dahnburg said. "You get to be present at interesting things."


Rising to the rank of first secretary of Moscow's Swedish Embassy six years ago, he said he has expanded his role from interpreting to helping promote cultural relations with Russia. This, he said, has allowed him to combine his love for Russian language with his interest in his native country's culture. He sees the two cultures as very similar.


"We have many things in common. Being close neighbors we have a long common history. Our kitchens and drinking habits are similar," he said. "Of course, our religions are different -- Swedes are Lutherans and Russians Orthodox -- but Swedes don't go to church and Russians don't go to church."


Dahnburg seems to have found his niche in his close connection to both cultures. His job, which involves disseminating information about Sweden and promoting Russian-Swedish relations, allows him to navigate freely between the two.


"I have two homes -- Russia and Sweden. I definitely consider myself to be Swedish." According to Dahnburg, there are about 300 Swedes registered with the embassy in Moscow. "Before, we knew who all the Swedes were. Now, we don't and I think that's good," he said.


Dahnburg, who speaks Swedish, English, French and Russian says he has not tired of Russia though he has been here nearly 10 years.


"I plan to stay as long as I like it and I think that will be a very long time," he said. "It's so nice to see everything happening here -- the buildings being restored and lit up at night. I've just kept enjoying it here."


He said he is also pleased to have been transferred from St. Petersburg to Moscow. "More things happen here. It's more interesting -- there are more exhibitions, more music, more restaurants, more everything."


When spring comes to Moscow, so will Swedish music.


Dahnburg is helping organize several concerts with Swedish musicians. Pianist Janos Solyom will play 24 preludes April 24 and 25 by Dmitry Shostakovich, who, incidentally, lived in Sweden for a while.