One hundred years ago Geirr Tveitt was born. The centennial celebrations of one of Norway’s foremost 20th century composer are already well underway. The Geirr Tveitt jubilee is organized as a joint commemorative year celebrating also the poet Olaf H. Hauge.
The two had much in common besides their birth year. Both hailed form the western part of Norway; from the land of the fjords where natural mysticism, age-old tradition and a special sensitivity to nature gave content to their respective expressions. But both were also deeply inspired by foreign influences, and in that way were progressive and innovative artists.
From an early age Geirr Tveitt felt deep belonging to Hardanger, his ancestral home. He began writing down traditional tunes from these environs even before he embarked on his musical career. But it was only when Tveitt took over his ancestral farm in 1941 that this became an integral part of his work as a composer.
His name is forever associated with the work “A hundred tunes from Hardanger” which fuses his deep knowledge and love of traditional Norwegian music with influences and ideas he picked up studying music in continental Europe, notably in Leipzig and later in Paris. His insight in the tonality of traditional music, his instrumental mastery and his progressive ideas of composition made him able to lift the simple yet profound traditional tunes onto the big orchestral stage.
He was a master on the piano, in the virtuoso tradition of Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev. And during his studies, and afterwards, he made quite an impression both home and abroad. He wrote a celebrated piece based on Norwegian mythology. And his work “A hundred Hardanger tunes” features in both a Piano version (Opus 150) and an orchestral version (Opus 151). In the late fifties and sixties he composed a number of smaller piano works. But the effort that has perhaps more than anything made him a part of the Norwegian cultural heritage, shared by all, is the series of musical portraits he made of Norwegian lyricists for Norwegian state broadcasting. In so doing he wrote some of the best loved song-melodies we have.
One of the great tragedies of Norwegian cultural heritage took place when Tveitt’s farm was destroyed by fire and hundreds of original manuscripts, many of which were unpublished, with it. Reconstructing the Tveitt corpus is a still ongoing undertaking. Presently about 90 works are available.
The Tveitt / Hauge Jubilee is well underway. The official opening of the commemoration was a grand concert at Drammen theatre on January 10th where “A hundred tunes from Hardanger” was performed by the Norwegian national broadcasting orchestra (KORK).
The stated goal of the year-long happening is to organize a range of activities and events that will shed light on the life and work of the two artists and bring their work to new audiences. The program is organised on three levels: locally in Hardanger, nationally and internationally. Last week saw the first international events of the program with performances of Tveitt's music in Sudan and Italy. Throughout the spring the jubilee will tour Norway. In addition to concerts and recitals the program includes new record releases, new translations, special feature programs on TV and radio, as well as seminars and workshops.
Learn more here: (Norwegian olny)