The first part of this issue of Studia Musicologica Norvegica contains contributions that in their own way point to new ways of writing music history. Music history writing has played an important role in the Norwegian context ever since the times of cultural nation-state building. Historical musicology was also a core discipline when musicology became an independent department at the University of Oslo after World War II. Traditionally, Norwegian music historiography has maintained a balance between academic writing and popular genres such as biographies, where methodological self-reflection is held in the background.

In recent years, many new approaches have emerged, and not only to music historiography as such. Particular attention is now also given to the critical reassessment of national histories, where music, especially in Norway, played a key role. The review and renewal of national music history writing belongs to the central concerns of Studia Musicologica Norvegica, which continue with this issue, and will follow in those to come.

The other half of this issue is introduced by an article that provides the state of the art of rhythm research in folk music. The number concludes with an article about the opera field in Norway, where the concept of quality is examined as part of an evaluation process in Norwegian cultural policy.

Camilla Hambro’s article, ‘“The Intensity, the Passion Can Smoulder Beneath the Surface” – Text Meets Context in Agathe Backer Grøndahl’s Romance “To the Queen of My Heart”’, gives insight into the artistic work of this significant composer's art through a ‘performative analysis’ of her and Nina Grieg's performances, reconstructed through a variety of reception material. Hambro places the interpretations of Backer Grøndahl’s romance in a cultural-historical context, where the analysis of oppressed ‘female passions’ shed new light on the gender discourse in the nineteenth century.

Erlend Hovland’s article ‘The “Forbidden” Symphony and the Decline of Grieg Research’ can be read in conjunction with the historiographical reflections in his articles published in Studia Musicologica Norvegica 2005 (On the Relevance and Autonomy of Musicology) and 2008 (How to teach this thing called music history?). In this article, Hovland gives a critical analysis of discursive ‘strategies’ in music-historical narratives about Grieg's only symphony. These represent a national research tradition around the national icon Edvard Grieg, which prioritizes affirmative, popular education instead of methodological self-reflection. Hovland illustrates the premises behind the aesthetic judgements behind Grieg history writing. Moreover, in a larger context, he makes an important contribution to the reassessment of Nordic historiographic traditions, a topic that was dedicated a big symposium at the major German music research congress in Mainz in 2016.

Mats Johansson’s article, ‘Empirical Research on Asymmetrical Rhythms in Scandinavian Folk Music: A Critical Review’, is a comprehensive review article that at the same time provides the first overview of key contributions to an important field in empirical folk music research. Moreover, Johansson’s research and the contributions of other folk music researchers provide fundamental, new knowledge that is also relevant for the interdisciplinary approach to a still rather unexplored phenomenon: rhythm. With the ‘Center for Multidisciplinary Research on Rhythm, Time and Movement (RITMO)’, recently established at the Department of Musicology at UiO, Norway has gained a leading institution that will have an impact on international rhythm research for many years to come.

The article ‘Hummer og risgrøt – om kvalitetsforståelser i det norske operafeltet’ has been written by three researchers at Telemark Research in Bø: Ola K. Berge, Åsne Dahl Haugsevje and Mari Torvik Heian. The article is based on a report published in 2016 in connection with the evaluation of district and regional operas in Norway. Since the opening of the opera house in Bjørvika, the debate has also focused on the extent to which the regional operas help develop the artistic quality at the national level, and if this purpose is consistent with making opera accessible to the public and relevant in the local cultural life across the country. This survey of the opera field in Norway emphasizes the need for a differentiated use of the concept of ‘quality’ in the national discourse on cultural policy.

The editors would like to thank everyone who has submitted contributions to this issue. We also thank the reviewers who have made an inestimable contribution in the process of evaluating the submissions. Last but not least, we would like to thank Eli Cook Hope at Universitetsforlaget, and Per Dahl, president of the Norwegian Musicological Society, for their support during the preparation of this year’s issue.