Norway Music Part II

By | December 17, 2021

Above which all emerge the most decisive exponents of the Norwegian musical soul, who receive impetus from the general orientation of civil life. In fact, this is the moment of norsk norsk, extreme Norwegianism. The literati give themselves to the collection of popular songs; the figurative arts deal with scenes of popular, peasant life; efforts are made to found a national theater, Danish companies are removed and subjects of national life are brought onto the stage; there is a tendency to replace the literary language, formed under Danish domination, with that of the people; the musicians, for their part, collect the melodies of the people and are inspired, in composing, by folk dances and songs. The most representative are: the eccentric violinist Ole Bull (1810-80), Richard Nordråk (1842-66), Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), Johan S. Svendsen (1840), Ole Olsen (v.; 1850-1927)), C. Sinding (v.; 1856); musicians and composers in which the greatest musical power of Norway is added, not only, but of the whole Scandinavian region. In fact, if Norway proved to be late in starting a professional development of the art of sounds, it also gave the juiciest and most representative fruits of Scandinavia. The importance of Ole Bull, a Scandinavian Paganini, more than in the compositions, pervaded by popular sentiment and some delicious, lies in the patriotic enthusiasm that led him to urge Grieg to art; and that of Nordråk, as well as in his own production (not conspicuous in quantity, due to the short life, but in quality, which animates it in the most genuine popular sense) in having been able to reveal Grieg to himself when these, returning from studied in Leipzig, he was uncertain under the influence of German teaching. If the awakening of the Norwegian musical soul, occurred in coincidence with the German romantic musical period, it took advantage of this coincidence that pushed it, too, towards the soul of the people, but at the same time it was almost jammed: and due to the influence of the art of the German masters and because of precepts and scholastic formalism. In fact, even the Norwegian musicians, like the others in the north, formed, or at least completed their education, almost all of them abroad: some few in Paris; the majority, however, in Germany, notably at the Leipzig Conservatory of Music. They could not therefore fail to be subjugated by the spirit of the greatest exponents of German romanticism, and as though tied up in the confession of some of them by scholastic rigidity. (It was thus possible to define Scandinavian music as a detached branch of the German Romantic trunk). When they feel the discomfort of the immediate influence or are taken by despondency and inertia (as will happen in the beginning to Grieg), they will have to make supreme efforts to free themselves from it, or, otherwise, they will remain more or less under the influence of the German character (as it will happen to JS Svendsen who, a composer of very strong and robust energy, remains the least Norwegian of the musicians of his group). In reaction, these musicians have to overcome, in addition to their own internal ones, also external obstacles. The subjection (or even the forced political union with one or the other of the Scandinavian peoples), to which Norway was forced for centuries, prevented it from maintaining an uninterrupted musical tradition, so that there he had to react even to certain apparently ethnic tendencies – Grieg must even rise up against the influence of the music of Gade (Danish) “effeminate Scandinavian” in his opinion. The political independence achieved in Norway causes internal unease, hindering the people’s passion for musical art. Which is considered, in the circumstances, as a burdensome luxury. Hence efforts and tiring attempts, not always effective, which should be renewed for long periods of time. The return of popular song to the spring is the cause of new limitations, so that the Norwegian musical physiognomy is attenuated, limited, or almost, to its more delicate, intimate, folkloristic characters. That is, the opposite of what happens in literature with the theater of Ibsen and Bjørnson at the same time. The art form that could have facilitated a full manifestation of the Norwegian soul: the musical work, if it is not totally lacking, is very scarce and remains of a purely international character. Not having achieved it was Grieg’s lifelong worry. The composition in which the Norwegians are best established, after the Lieder, the small instrumental pieces, especially piano pieces, and also the sonata, the concert, the quartet, is the symphonic poem ; which seems to replace the theatrical work, ideally reconnecting to the initial and national poetic spirit of the sagas. For Norway 2004, please check topb2bwebsites.com.

The succession of the group dominated by Grieg first seemed to be welcomed by Gerard Schielderup (1859), author of the powerful symphonic drama Brand (from Ibsen); and by Hjalmar Borgstrøm, his major in the symphonic poem and the finest, most daring, and rich instrumentalist (symphonic poem Tanken [The thought]); but, although the music of these two artists may bear the Norwegian imprint in rhythm and melody, it is nonetheless too affected by European tendencies, especially post-Wagnerian. Even more attenuated is the national imprint in the music of Kleven and Fartein Valen (1887), the latter delicate harmonist, and endowed with a lively sense of form; author of many compositions for solo piano, piano and violin, for orchestra. More confident hopes arouse among young people: David Monrad Johansen (1888), revealed to be a musician of powerful imagination with an impressive composition for virile choirs and voices: Draumkvee (dream song) and with which he seems, for his technique, oriented towards French Impressionism: Arvid Kleven, who treats the orchestra in a bold way with bizarre fantasy; but with sure talent and absolute technical mastery (symphonic poem Skogen – the forest) and, younger than all, Ludvig Irgens Jensen, poetic temperament, with a daring technique in many compositions for voice and piano, for which he loves to write the text himself poetic. But despite the many qualities recognizable to the young Norwegian music school, it is certain that, after Grieg, the development of original trends was not great.

Norway Music Part II