Author Topic: Norwegian composers  (Read 37049 times)

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Offline Lethevich

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Norwegian composers
« on: January 08, 2011, 07:06:42 PM »
The Norway section of the index is looking a bit bleak, so here goes. Feel free to discuss Grieg's influence on his countries music, but this thread is primarily to discover composers less well-known than him.

Some major claimants to wider interest:

Ludvig Irgens-Jensen. His Passacaglia is one of the strongest prospects a Norwegian composer has to a piece of international value - it has that essential combination of surface beauty, inventive structure, emotional depth, and also a great span that never feels too long. His symphony is another major landmark in the national repertoire, and is strong by any standard. His output appears to be quite small, but everything I have heard has been music of a high order. His Japanischer Frühling song cycle is a real surprise, a very well-integrated concert work.

Geirr Tveitt. A composer with perhaps the most immediate stylistic rightness when compared to his international contemporaries. His music has something of the folkoristic aspect of Bartók similarly filtered through a prism of accessable modernism, although less radical, his music retains some of the "bite" that audiences enjoy in these mid century works. His suites of folktunes also offer Grieg-styled audience-pleasing melodic miniatures. They are well-proportioned and substantial concert works opposed to Bartók's widely varying output in this area.

Harald Sæverud. For some reason this composer's position reminds me a little of Malcolm Arnold - an "odd" figure, humorous and yet still dedicated to producing challenging and accessable music. He wrote a sizable symphony cycle of nine, several concertos and many other pieces. Stylistically, though, his music is far more unified than Arnold - it has a very strong neo-classical/neo-baroque tinge at times yet retaining the ambition of the Romantic symphony. His neo-classical leanings do mean that some of his work can be a bit pointalistic at times, and the occasional harmonic ambiguity can further muddy the waters. At its most accessable (his 8th symphony 'Minnesota') the composer is able to produce fun and wonderfully engaging music without being an obvious pastiche of any other big names of the century.

Johan Svendsen seems to be the earliest major composer along with Grieg - his output is rather less personal than his contemporary but fulfils a valuable position in establishing a national music scene. His series of four Norwegian rhapsodies and his other major orchestral works (including two symphonies and two concertos) were mainly written during a period of intense compositional activity from the mid 1860s to the late 1870s. Svendsen isn't a figure on the same level of Sibelius, but as a Romantic of the late-middle period his music is highly enjoyable.

Christian Sinding. Of several generations later than Svensen, but still writing in a Romantic style, Sinding is one of countless composers of the early-to-mid 20th century to be (arguably, rightly) branded as archaic. Similar to Wilhelm Peterson-Berger of Sweden, his personality gives an impression of being somewhat embittered by this status. Sinding's music is of course not fully Romantic, as even the most conservative of composers could not help but be influenced some innovation, and I do find that Sinding's music has a distinct leaning towards clarity where it does not interfere with his Romantic goals. However, this could have been a lesson learned from Grieg as much as any 20th century progressive. At his best his music can be engaging, but he wrote far too much for a successful appraisal simply from scraps have been recorded.

These are the only composers I am particularly familiar with, perhaps others can provide similar overviews of a pargraph or two on other composers they have enjoyed - I know that there are many other notables not yet mentioned that I would love to learn more about: Valen, Halvorsen, Hovland, Egge, Johansen, Brustad, F. Mortensen, Nordheim, etc, and of course feel free to elaborate on the ones I have already mentioned, as they are only brief and subjective sketches.
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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2011, 12:43:43 PM »
oy,... the silence is deafening! :o



Why does Northern Swede... I mean, Norway, get such short shrift? I mean, Western Finla...er, Norway, has a very distinctive musical heritage. ;)

Not like Northern Germ,...  I mean, Sweden...



Offline lescamil

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2011, 06:18:29 PM »
A composer I would like to bring up is Eivind Groven, who is only really known in Norway for his nationalist works, like his Hjalar-ljod Overture (perhaps the only piece of his that is played regularly). He does have some other, more substantial works, such as (at least) two symphonies and a really nice piano concerto. However, there is one thing that gets overlooked about him. He was very interested in the folk music of his country, so he developed an organ capable of producing 36 different tones in the octave to accurately realize his musical interests within that realm. You can read more about it here:

http://www.wmich.edu/mus-theo/groven/

There are even some samples of his music there.

I can't say I know a huge amount of his music, but I like what I have heard so far.
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Offline The new erato

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2011, 01:50:22 AM »
The symphony disc on BIS is very fine, containing two very tuneful and colorful symphonies. One of the symphonies (Toward the mountains I think it is called), contains a tune that was used by the Norwegian broadacsting for decades as a pause signal (from the time when there occasionally was a slight wait before the next program) and therefore is known to absolutely all Norwegians of the 1950-60 generation.

A mention here also for Edvard Fliflet Bræin, who has three good symphonies in a slightly Shostakovich like style (without the angst), playful and fun. A good opera composer and some good chamber music as well, always well written, entertaining music.

His "Ut mot havet" (towards the Sea) has immense popularity in  Norway, almost achieving status as an alternative national anthem.

Youtube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlL1EUSbCXY

Offline just Jeff

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2011, 04:21:45 AM »
I have several Arne Nordheim discs I plan on listening to very soon.  Considered a legend over there, yet not real well known in the US.

Ok, I posted.  These are some nice LPs, but I do have a few CDs as well.  The Decca Headline is a rather rare LP.



« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 04:29:35 AM by just Jeff »
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Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 06:22:18 AM »
Another fine composer in the fields of piano music and lieder is Backer-Grøndahl. See my new thread: Agathe Backer-Grøndahl
A friend and contemporary of Grieg's, her music is inventive and quite modern for that age. If you like violent troll music try 'I Blaafjeldet' (Op. 44). All of  her piano music has been recorded by Natalia Strelchenko ( 4 cds ).
(Correction: these recordings only go up to Op. 55)
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 06:29:45 AM by Ten thumbs »
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Offline mjwal

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2011, 09:52:08 AM »
Arne Nordheim is one of my favourite contemporary composers. I have that Epitaffio - Greening - Doria as a CD, I love the setting of Pound's poem in the latter. In general, it has been his vocal music that really rang my bell: Wirklicher Wald, The Tempest, Aurora. But i would like to hear all of his work (I've never heard Ariadne, for instance, a pity because I am writing a piece on this myth as represented in music) - unfortunately little of it has been available in Western Europe (or only briefly).
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Offline Cato

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2011, 10:25:12 AM »
Fartein Valen is my nominee to be (one of the) greatest Norwegian composer(s) of the 20th Century!

Check this out:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ40f1Vnga8

And I happened to find this, which seems intriguing, but my computer at school has no speakers, so I cannot verify how good it is:


http://mnmproductions.biz/marit_valen.html
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Offline Est.1965

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2011, 07:15:21 AM »
Johan Svendsen is a real swashbuckler.
He is in that same brilliant thrust of musicality as fellow Scandinavians Atterberg, Alfven and Rangstrom.  A total delight to listen to.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2011, 07:20:19 AM »
Klauss Egge's Symphony No 1, the very lyrical String Quartet and Piano Concerto No 2 are all very fine (last two on Naxos).
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline The new erato

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2011, 08:03:21 AM »
Johan Svendsen is a real swashbuckler.
He is in that same brilliant thrust of musicality as fellow Scandinavians Atterberg, Alfven and Rangstrom.  A total delight to listen to.
And a brilliant conductor reputedly. Carl Nielsen was violinist under him (even Konzertmeister IIRC) in Svendsen's days in Copenhagen.

snyprrr

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2011, 08:18:52 AM »
am i logged in??????

snyprrr

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2011, 08:19:38 AM »
ugh,...my looooong post on the Naxos SQ cd got eaten by ravenous site. >:D

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 02:11:19 PM »
Eyvind Alnæs was a relative unknown to me until a few years ago. The Hyperion Romantic Piano Concerto disc (with Sinding) was a revelation to me. Not too long ago, Sterling released a disc of his symphonies. Now I see that a piano disc is planned for March 2011. I'm very much looking forward to it:

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Offline Papy Oli

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2011, 12:13:08 PM »
For those who might be interested, I came across this among the future releases :



samples here :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-D-Tellefsen-Complete-Works/dp/B004VDOAE4/ref=dm_cd_album_lnk
Olivier

Offline The new erato

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2011, 12:27:37 PM »
For those who might be interested, I came across this among the future releases :



samples here :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-D-Tellefsen-Complete-Works/dp/B004VDOAE4/ref=dm_cd_album_lnk
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Offline Papy Oli

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2011, 12:34:32 PM »
ok thank you  :)

it only triggered my curiosity when i saw solo piano works on the cover. I had to search his name to find his nationality as i had not read his name here before.

I quite like the mazurkas samples.
Olivier

Offline MDL

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2011, 02:27:33 PM »
I have several Arne Nordheim discs I plan on listening to very soon.  Considered a legend over there, yet not real well known in the US.

Ok, I posted.  These are some nice LPs, but I do have a few CDs as well.  The Decca Headline is a rather rare LP.




Loved that LP and played it so often, it's scratched to buggery and I've had to replace it on CD. Epitaffio is obviously the finest work, but Greening and Doria are indelibly etched into my memory. Beautiful Decca recording, too.

Offline Ten thumbs

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2011, 12:43:05 AM »
Pleased to say Backer-Grondahl volume 5 is now available.



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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Norwegian composers
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2011, 03:29:08 AM »
Jut a plug for this wonderful CD - discovered thanks to 'J' on this Forum. Alf Hurum (born Oslo 1882, died Honolulu 1972) wrote in a late-romantic style, showing the influence of Sibelius and Debussy.  The music is also individual, the themes memorable and I find the music to be moving and inspiriting, ideal if you need cheering up or consolation (my default position  ;D). The String Quartet is very good but it is the two orchestral works which draw me back: 'Bendik & Aarolilja' and the Symphony in D. There is a strong sense of nature. At times I was reminded of Peterson-Berger and Atterberg , although wth a greater sense of warmth, and I suspect that this music, if better known, would have wide appeal.


« Last Edit: April 13, 2011, 03:39:24 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).