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Halfdan Kjerulf (1815–1868) is considered to be the founder of the Norwegian art song and exerted a considerable influence on Edvard Grieg, among others. The author identifies cyclic elements in his Åtte norske viser [Eight Norwegian melodies] (1859) and problematizes the alleged «Norwegian sound» in these songs. He concludes that the «Norwegian sound» may be ascribed to their structural simplicity, diatonicism, frequent pastoral character, and traits that were later to be associated with Grieg. The German-language song «Das Schiff» (1866) has a more complex form, with a multifaceted relationship to the poem. Apparently, this song was inspired by Robert Schumann’s «Die beiden Grenadiere», thus demonstrating Kjerulf’s closeness to the German lied tradition. Åtte norske viser and «Das Schiff» contain several poetic and sensitive details, and illustrate Kjerulf’s wide stylistic scope as a song composer.
This article will discuss how Groven’s theoretical and technical work had its basis in musical rather than technical challenges, and how his investment in music technology was musically rather than technologically driven. This discussion traces how his technological thinking evolved over time, and how he came to see the electronic organ as the optimal tool for moving research on intonation systems forward, integrating new tuning presets and timbres in the instruments. Groven’s technical contributions may be viewed in relation to international contemporary initiatives and the general wave of optimism emerging from increased electrification, particularly in broadcasting.
This article addresses a question that is not often raised explicitly in opera studies: In the moments when the orchestra takes on a narrative «voice» in opera, who among the protagonists on the stage are able to hear this voice and who apparently do not? Who is supposed to be talking? And what kind of «meaning» can the orchestra’s voice possibly convey?
These questions evoke certain general discussions of musical meaning, but they are also situated in an ambiguous position between the interpretation of music, text, performance, and stage direction. If one protagonist visibly reacts to «answers» that sound from the orchestra, whereas other protagonists do not, this is clearly also a matter that relates to the stage direction.
In this article, different stagings of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde are analysed and discussed, and one crucial, dramatic moment is referred to in particular; namely, the point in act 2 when King Mark poses an emphatic question to Tristan, and Tristan cannot answer. The orchestra simultaneously, and through purely instrumental means, proposes an «answer» of its own. From this example, the king’s role in the music drama is unfolded. Certain paradoxes seem to be unavoidable, both in a historical and dramatic sense. In the final analysis, the staging of royal power in Tristan instead turns out to be the «staging of powerlessness». King Mark is apparently unable to hear the orchestra’s voice, and tragedy ensues. Similarly, and perhaps symmetrically, the «power of staging» becomes a «powerlessness of staging», since it is mainly through music, and not through text and stage direction, that the final word is spoken – a «word» that remains both crystal clear and completely ineffable to the listener.
Visiting concerts in schools – relational aesthetic practices?
Visiting concerts in Norwegian schools can mainly be seen as centred on the musician and the artistic work. However, a strong emphasis on communication with the audience can be observed when studying this artistic form. This focus on communication shapes how the visiting concerts in schools are produced. They facilitate a young audience, and the musicians create situations during performances where pupils can join in or respond musically. The aesthetic of today´s visiting concerts in Norwegian schools can thus be labelled performative. The performativity of the visiting concert, though, exposes a relatively weak emphasis on interactivity, because pupils are seldom allowed to take initiative, but must play the role of receiver in a sender-receiver relation of art. A work-oriented, sender-receiver-oriented conception of evaluating quality encounters problems in the school context. To establish meaning, pupils and teachers seem to need the concerts to be more contextually interwoven in everyday school life to create meaning. This article argues that contemplative and artist-driven approaches to performances at school need to be informed by aesthetic and educational theories and practices that are more genuinely partnership-oriented and relational in kind than today’s mainstream practices. The article considers the strong focus on communication observed in the productions as a starting point for exploring heteronomic aesthetic practices, aesthetic learning practices and relational pedagogy as a new rationale for visiting concerts in schools.
Casting New Light on Syngespill: Opera in Norway from 1790–1825.
This article discusses the term syngespill (light opera), which in Norwegian is closely linked to the German Singspiel. However, this is an understanding that is not adequate when the term is used to describe the musico-dramatic repertoire in Norway from 1790 to 1825. Instead, the article argues that the Danish use of the term, which encompasses comic opera in general, as well as a particular Danish version of the genre, is more suitable, as it gives a better understanding of the repertoire’s diversity. Moreover, the article shows how the genre has been attributed, perhaps undeservedly, a minor role in Norwegian musical history, despite it being the most popular musico-dramatic genre in Norway at the time. This can be linked to the fact that it was never a distinct Norwegian genre, and therefore could not have been used in the nation-building that was such an important part of Norwegian historical writing after 1814.
This essay is written in memory of Morten Eide Pedersen, the author's former teacher in composition, who passed away unexpectedly in October 2014. A musical composition can sometimes be full of «emphatic meaning,» which is incurred through an affirmative and style-centered musical language. At other times music subtly calls on us to relinquish the interpreting distance, to embrace unestablished new paths. The latter approach will be portrayed as «composition in essay form,» in response to the concept of the «essay» as presented by Theodor W. Adorno. An essayist composition necessarily lacks an affirmative voice. It is a vulnerable and honest music which is not inclined to seek reconciliation within an institutionalized, fixed musical syntax, and suggests the dangerous and incomprehensible «Other.»