It’s Norway that comes underneath the highlight this week in our Nordic composers survey. Iceland + Sweden and Denmark featured within the first two instalments; Finland will take the finale spot. The seven Norwegian composers on this chapter can be heard in chronological order, with one exception.
Ole Bull (1810–1880) was the primary Norwegian musician to place his nation on the map. Often known as The Nordic Paganini, he was celebrated as one of many world’s nice violin virtuosos, taking part in 1000’s of live shows in Europe and America over a span of virtually half a century. As late as 1879, the yr earlier than he died, he was taking part in to a full home in Vienna’s prestigious Musikverein. Like different virtuoso musicians of the time, it was his personal music that he principally carried out, aiming to impress audiences together with his dazzling method.
Bull put his ability as an improviser to good use when utilizing people melodies from the nations he visited as the idea of a composition. Los Recuerdos de Habana (Reminiscences of Havana) for violin and orchestra is an efficient instance of how such items had been put collectively. It’s one of many earliest examples of using Creole/Cuban melodies in classical music (Bull visited Cuba in 1844). The rating and solo half are misplaced, however a whole set of orchestral elements survives. Utilizing these as his starting-point, Henning Kraggerud – the performer on our recording – tailored the habanera melodies and composed the variations and remaining coda. The resultant format is a potpourri of contrasting sections which we be part of part-way via the work.
Los Recuerdos de Habana (8.572827)
In 1859, whereas nonetheless a youngster, the longer term conductor and composer Johann Svendsen (1840–1911) met Ole Bull, whose encouragement, by the way in which, had additionally set a younger Edvard Grieg on a profitable profession path. When he was 23, Svendsen obtained a royally-sponsored scholarship to allow him to check violin in Leipzig. He additionally used his time there to nurture a rising curiosity in composition. This led to the completion of his Symphony No. 1 in D main, Op. 4 in 1867, a piece that Grieg later described as exhibiting scintillating genius, very good nationwide feeling and actually good dealing with of an orchestra; “all the pieces”, Grieg continued, “had my fullest sympathy and compelled itself on me with energy that might not be resisted.” The expertise led Grieg to withdraw his personal symphony from additional efficiency and to jot down on the rating the injunction, obeyed till comparatively just lately: “Must not ever be carried out.”
You possibly can choose for your self whether or not Grieg’s admiration for Svendsen’s work was comprehensible by listening to the third motion.
Symphony No. 1 (8.553898)
Some 25 years youthful than Svendsen, Johan Halvorsen (1864–1935) was one in all Norway’s most gifted violinists and an internationally famend conductor and composer. From 1899 to 1919, he directed Norway’s largest skilled symphony orchestra, which then numbered 43 musicians.
In his late twenties, Halvorsen began to compose in earnest; he went on to finish greater than 170 works. In 1907 he talked about in a number of newspaper interviews that he was “for the time being … engaged on a violin concerto”. The world of Norwegian music eagerly anticipated the work’s premiere however, for regardless of the actual motive, Halvorsen refused to carry out it within the spring of 1908, allegedly as a result of he was nervous about how it will be obtained by the critics. The premiere did, nonetheless, obtain its premiere in 1909, albeit within the Netherlands. The soloist was the Canadian violinist Kathleen Parlow, who advised a Norwegian newspaper: “I love Grieg and Sinding and Halvorsen. I’ve come right here for the only objective of taking part in Halvorsen’s new concerto. It’s very attention-grabbing to carry out, and likewise tremendously lovely. I believe it’ll catch on, nevertheless it’s by no means doable to know that for positive upfront.”
The viewers, nonetheless, had been unequivocal about each composer and soloist, the newspaper reporting that “Each of them had been known as again 8–10 occasions, and Halvorsen thanked Miss Parlow with a gallant kiss on the hand.” The rating and elements for the work had been subsequently misplaced, and rediscovered solely in 2015 within the archive of that authentic soloist. Right here’s a part of the second motion.
Violin Concerto (8.573738)
Christian Sinding (1856–1941), a recent of Halvorsen, is probably finest remembered in the present day by formidable beginner pianists for his Rustle of Spring. He was a extra essential determine within the music of Norway, nonetheless, than this may recommend; in his time, he was arguably second solely to Grieg. Educated in Leipzig, he fell underneath the affect of Liszt and Wagner, producing a big amount of music that loved modern reputation. In contrast to others, Sinding tried to assist himself purely from earnings derived from his compositions, taking up no different commitments, reminiscent of performing, writing or instructing. This steadily required composing to order, notably piano works. Sinding himself even referred to this as his “piano work conveyor belt.”
Though his massive output spanned many genres, it turned clear early on that Sinding loved a particular relationship with textual content as a way of inventive expression, one thing which resulted in additional than 250 songs, composed all through his profession. Right here’s one in all his later songs, Den sorte vin (The Darkish Wine), Op. 128, No. 3.
Den sorte vin (8.553905)
Geirr Tveitt (1908–1981) was one of the crucial particular person and prolific of Norway’s Twentieth-century composers, a number one determine recognized all through his musical life as a composer, pianist and trainer. He was captivated as a youngster by native songs and particularly by the Hardanger fiddle, the adorned people violin of western Norway, with sympathetic strings under the fingerboard. Through the Second World Battle, Tveitt collected over a thousand folk-tunes which he included into a whole lot of his works.
A decade earlier than his dying, Tveitt suffered a horrible blow when each his residence and most of his music had been destroyed by fireplace. Because of the efforts of his household and fellow musicians, nonetheless, Tveitt’s vivid sound world is being rekindled in current recordings. He wrote 5 piano concertos, although solely the final was revealed. Tveitt himself was the soloist in a efficiency of the work in Paris in 1954; the identical live performance noticed him additionally performing each the Brahms and Tchaikovsky First Piano Concertos! Right here’s the second motion of his personal Fifth Piano Concerto, titled Danse aux campanules bleus.
Danse aux campanules bleus (8.555077)
Arne Nordheim (1931–2010), the main Norwegian composer of his era, studied first on the conservatory in Oslo earlier than transferring to Copenhagen, the place the composer Vagn Holmboe launched him to the compositional methods of Bartók. A go to to Paris in 1955 introduced him expertise of digital music, and after additional research in Stockholm, the place he met György Ligeti, he was capable of pioneer new methods in his native Norway, a rustic that musically had remained typically conservative in style.
His 3-movement Rendezvous, initially a string quartet written in 1956, was revised by Nordheim for string orchestra in 1986, with the brand new title suggesting a gathering together with his youthful self. Nordheim was initially influenced by Sibelius and, nonetheless extra, by Mahler, after which by Bartók’s string quartets, and these influences are mirrored in Rendezvous. Right here’s the second motion, Intermezzo, within the association for string orchestra.
After all, Edvard Grieg (1843–1907) stays Norway’s most well-known composer. Works from his output are so comparatively well-known to music lovers, nonetheless, that I made a decision to flippantly go over him for this weblog. Besides that I assumed you may like to listen to an extract from his C minor Symphony, accomplished in 1864, on which he slapped that ‘never-to-be-performed’ discover after listening to Svensen’s First Symphony, described earlier (his ban was ultimately ignored within the early Nineteen Eighties). Was he proper to have been so bashful in regards to the work? You possibly can determine for your self as we play out with the symphony’s fourth and remaining motion.
Symphony in C minor (8.557991)