Norway Music and Cinema


Between the 1920s and the immediate postwar period, Norwegian music was characterized by a general revival and reworking of forms drawn from popular tradition, especially through the work of composers belonging to the older generation, such as H. Saeverud (b.1897), DM Johansen (1888-1974), LI Jensen (1894-1969), B. Brustad (1895-1978), K. Egge (1906-1979), E. Groven (b.1901), O. Kielland (b. 1901), S. Olsen (b. 1903) and G. Tveitt (b. 1908).

In particular, Saeverud is one of the most representative figures of Norwegian music of the twentieth century, author between the thirties and forties of Canto ostinato for orchestra (1934) and of 4 Suites for piano (composed the first three in 1942-44 and the fourth in 1967), in which he takes the form of the typical folk dances of his nation. Olsen refers to ancient Nordic poetry in a series of lyrics composed between the end of the 1920s and the early 1940s; from 1931 are the Variations on Norwegian folk music, for chamber orchestra. Egge is responsible for some of the most significant works of Norwegian music that appeared in the second half of the century, such as the Concerto for violin and orchestra (1953) and the Third Symphony (1957). Compared to the neo-folk and impressionistic tendencies of French derivation, to which A. Hurum (1882-1972) and H. Lie (1902-1942) belong, the mostly isolated and very original figure was that of F. Valen (1887-1952), whose work was characterized from the very first compositions by the use of an atonal style (as in the Piano Trio, 1924) and the resumption of the dodecaphonic technique, which he introduced in Norway for the first time.

After the Second World War it was the emergence of a new generation of composers, mostly formed around the 1940s, that made possible a renewal such as was taking place in the rest of Europe: among others, F. Mortensen (1922-1983) belong), G. Sonstevold (b.1912), K. Nystedt (b.1915) and E. Hovland (b.1924).

Mortensen made his mark especially during the 1960s, with works such as Evolution for orchestra (1961), Concerto for piano and orchestra (1963), twelve-tone music for wind amateurs (1964), and again in the early 1970s with the series of compositions for orchestra New serialism I-III (1971-1973). Sonstevold was among the first in Norway to experiment with the electronic medium (between 1962 and 1966 he collaborated among other things at the Vienna Electronic Music Studio): he is the author of ” concrete ” music for Shakespeare’s Tempest. Nystedt, a pupil of A. Copland, is the author of sacred compositions including the Spes mundi masses (1970), Thanksgiving for the harvest (1972), A Norwegian ‘Te deum’ for choir (1977). Hovland, a pupil of V. Holmboe, Copland and Dallapiccola, composed the Second Symphony (1956), Music for ten instruments (1957), Variants for two pianos (1964) between the fifties and sixties. Alongside these authors we still remember B. Fongaard (1919-1980) and EF Braein (b. 1925).

A particular contribution to the new music in Norway is that given, starting from the end of the fifties, by A. Nordheim (b. 1931), one of the most significant Scandinavian composers of the 20th century. Particularly engaged in the field of electronic music, he composed among other things Aftonland for soprano and strings, on texts by P. Lagerquist (1957), Canzona for orchestra (1960), work for which he received the Bergen Festival prize (one of the most important Norwegian musical events in Europe, inaugurated in 1953), of the ballet Katharsis for orchestra and magnetic tape (1962); and again by Eco for soprano, children’s and adult choirs and orchestra on texts by S. Quasimodo (1967), and by Osaka-music, for magnetic tape (1970).
The major representatives of the young Norwegian avant-garde, formed between the sixties and seventies, find ample space in national events, in particular in the most recent editions of the Contemporary Music Festival, held in Oslo. In particular, in addition to K. Kolberg (b. 1936) and F. Stromholm (b. 1941), the younger ones A. Hedstrom (b. 1950) and C. Ore (b. 1954).


According to findjobdescriptions, Norway has long struggled to find a statement in the field of cinema. Since the silent years, Norwegian cinema appears decidedly less evolved than the cinemas of other nations. The 1920s are characterized by the production of popular melodramas and comedies, which we also find in the following decades. A change in trend is seen with the end of the Second World War, with a changed attention to the social dimension of problems, in particular the works of T. Sandø (Englands farere, 1946, “Journey to England”), A. Skouen (Gategutter, 1949, “Street children “; Ni liv, 1957, “Nine Lives”; Om Tilla, 1963, “About Tilla”), E., 1960, “The Hunt”), and R. Clemens (Klimaks, 1965, “Climate”). A clear change took place in the early seventies, when the state became the producer of most of the films, anticipating about 90% of the costs at very low interest rates. This policy and the collaboration between Norsk Film, the Norwegian Film Institute and a special Foundation have made it possible to have an annual production of eight to twelve films, as well as favoring the debut of directors with certain qualities. Indeed, it is thanks to state contributions that A. Breien realizes, among other things, Hustruer (1975, “Mogli”), Arven (1979, “The inheritance”) and Forfølgelsen (1981, “Witch hunt”), that L.(1981, “Zeppelin the tree house”), Svarte fugler (1983, “Black birds”), and that other directors such as S. Udnaes, E. Solbakken, L. Mikkelsen can shoot their works. Among the most recent authors are O. Einarson (who with X won a special prize in Venice in 1986), Norway Gaup (Veiviseren, The stone archer, 1987), V. Løkkeberg (Hud, 1987, “Pelle “), M. Asphang (En handful tid, 1989,” Una handful of time “), U. Straume (Til en ukient, 1991,” To a stranger “), B. Nesheim (Frida, 1991), L. Risan (Den lange veien hiem, 1992, “The long way home”). Spokesmen of the new generation, sensitive above all to formal values, are E. Gustavson (Telegrafisten, 1993, “Il telegrafista”), E. Starg Lund (Flagger-musvinger, Bat wings, 1993), E. Jensen (Stella Polaris, 1993)). In 1993 also Th. R. Tognazzi, son of the Italian actor, made his directorial debut. The production of children’s films is highly developed. Of the approximately 400 rooms, half are public property.

Norway Cinema