Day 3 In Bergen – So Inspiring


Day three began with a practice slot in room 209 from 9 o’clock to 10 o’clock. We performed four of the songs that we prepared for the trip yesterday in our lesson with Solveig, so today we decided to work on a new piece from the Haugtussa cycle, Møte.  I had previously worked on the translation and pronunciation with my dear friend Martina whilst in Glasgow, so George and I decided to explore the musical ideas conjured up by the piece after yesterday’s inspiring open lessons.


Then at 10 o’clock we then went to the opening of the conferences and lectures held by musicologists interested in Grieg’s works.  The Grieg Society started in 1996 and they held conferences by annually.  The Society now hold the conference sessions every four years with little projects and workshops in between. This conference was the first time that workshop and lectures had been combined.

This resulted in bringing musicologists and performing musicians together in close contact to discuss ideas and create a web of information which we can all draw from. This was the goal of the society and I believe they have succeeded.

The conference represents over 20 different countries. The theme for the conference was the vocal production of Grieg music, there are 180 different songs that Grieg wrote.  Einar Røttigen, a fabulous pianist and leader of the workshop, explained that his hopes for the conference were that we could all take away what we had learned from our experiences and share them with others.  His hope is that the conference will create a network of Grieg enthusiasts, who in turn will inspire people to learn,listen and perform these beautiful Norwegian songs.
Beryl Foster from the UK was the keynote speaker, and she led the very interesting lecture ‘Grieg The Dramatist.’   She went into great depth that about his music and his compositions for the voice. She explained that he was a master of subtle difference shifting the Bar line and the inclusion of the tritone to represent dramatic ideas. He also wanted to feature ideas brought from Norwegian folk music to give a flavour of this fabulous culture within his works.

Then at 11 o’clock Jorma Daniel Lünenbürger, from Germany, gave a lecture on Grieg songs using German words, in context to German lieder. This was a very interesting talk, as he explained that Grieg went to Leipzig Conservatoire to study. Grieg decided that he wanted to compose in the German language and in the German manner. The basis of the lecture was to compare how the different famous composers such as Grieg, Schubert, Wolf, Franz and Reinecke ( Grieg’s teacher) all set poetry to music. However it was the ending quote that I found the most interesting! this lead me to wonder whether I can show the different nationalities more when I sing in different languages and whether this can colour my text and interpretation.

At 12 o’clock George and I had a lesson with Turid Bakke Braut. We performed for her and worked in great depth on Møte. Together we explored the different options for phrasing the musical line in order to achieve a flowing thought. This was a very rewarding process as we delved into the musical depth of the peace. This resulted in a truly close connection to the poem and musical ideas.

After a well-deserved lunch break we had an open panel discussion about performing Grieg songs with singers Njål Sparbo, Solveig Kringlebotn and pianists Einar Røttingen and Signe Bakke. This was especially interesting as the speakers explained their views on performing Grieg’s songs. The pianists recommended that the text must always have a sense of direction to enable the pianist to move and express the emotion of a harmonic progression.  Solveig explained her views in depth and they were so absorbing. She explained that Grieg wanted to write music that was sympathetic to the original intention of the poet . Njål encouraged us to take what had been discussed and incorporate it into our own performances. Einar recommended never to play different composers from the same era in the same way. This is because they should all be seen as sensitive and individual human beings who have their own stories to tell.
At 4 o’clock George and I then signed up to perform in the open masterclass, which was to be held in front of the musicologists and musicians together. There were seven participants overall and we performed fourth. Originally we decided to sing Ved Gjætle Bekken, but after connecting so strongly with Møte during the day we decided to take the risk of performing it because we wanted to gain as much insight and advice as possible. We performed the song in full and then we received great advice and input from multiple teachers and musicologists. This was brilliant as it allowed me to think about all the different options and alternatives that are available to a performer and it also gave me the confidence to make my own decisions on how I think the piece should be performed.

After a quick bite to eat we met back up at 7 o’clock at Bergen public library it was here that we got the chance to see and touch Grieg’s original scores. This is a very exciting process is we could get a sense of the actual beginnings of the works, to experience the seed from which the music and ideas grew from.



The Haugtussa Manuscript had a beautiful painting on it’s the front cover, sadly the artist is unknown. I went on to looking through the scores and I found that Grieg wrote the music in pen but the bar lines in pencil. Although it may seem like a simplistic thing to discover but it really spoke to me especially after all that I had learned today in the lectures. I wondered as I read through Grieg’s scores was this use of pencil intentional? Was there some glorious purpose behind it or maybe had his pen just run out of ink. We may never know.


Then as the evening drew on we became enthralled as the library transformed into a bar as loads of people started to come in to meet and socialise. It was very different to our University library and created a fabulous atmosphere. Perhaps we don’t need to be quiet and libraries in the evening? It was lovely to spend some time with my fellow participants, share stories and discuss musical ideas.


Tomorrow the conference is to be hosted by the musicologists and will be dominated by the Haugtussa cycle. I’m very excited to hear their ideas and take on their advice and information which I hope will help my performance of the work.


45 thoughts on “Day 3 In Bergen – So Inspiring

      1. maybe sometime you’ll find time to compose, clearly the will is there and you have a wealth of sounds now in your head with which to play with…… rob~

  1. Wow! It sounds as though Grieg’s made a big impression on you, your bubbling with enthusiasm. It is very interesting to hear about the composer behind the song, all too often we only hear the end result of all their hard work, but it’s always worth it. Keep up the good work Charlotte xx

  2. I t sounds exhausting but wonderful. I really like your decision to change the song for the Masterclass – it’s not easy to open yourself up to such close scrutiny and possibly criticism. I’m sure it’s one of the things that distinguishes the very best artists from the very good, the willingness to take criticism constructively.

    1. I had four of the songs in my final exam recital so had spent the most time on those, so it was a bigger challenge the song I changed to is amazing I can’t wait to perform it again.

      Best wishes

  3. I love pianos and violins and harps. I tried to buy a harp for my daughter but could only get a violin..unfortunateley my daughter got underhandedley taken from me and someone broke the violin. I emailed your blog to my sister tracey.

  4. Beautiful! And even more interesting than you already have a polychrome voice that you adapt auw song you interpreter ! All the best for you an george. Still enjoy your trip .

  5. May the Lord continue to Bless you Charlotte, and I love all the beautiful pictures that you keep sending us. May the speed of God be with you in my prayer in Jesus name

  6. I’m so enjoying making this journey with you! But it’s exhausting! However, you are young and clearly have LOTS of energy.

  7. What a wonderful and rich experiences you’re having, Charlotte! An informative post and interesting sights there. Seeing the original manuscripts of Grieg’s must be quite an eye opener. Love all your photos. Thanks for the detailed descriptions. 😉

  8. Music is such a small world. Thursday I happened to mention your blog to a friend here in Boulder and learned that he has performed with the Bergen Philharmonic and knows many people there! Naturally he knows all about the Grieg Academy and knows you will have a wonderful experience there. And I am so happy to see that this is indeed true! Keep enjoying this great opportunity. 🙂

    1. Yes that’s so true the music world is smaller and I bump into people who know other people I know all the time that’s what is so brilliant.

      Best wishes

  9. p.s. I love seeing the pictures you are posting. It really makes the event come alive.

  10. I agree with you, Charlotte, that understanding different nationalities can change your interpretation of a song–or indeed any art form, or even different theories of philosophy, government, and science! I’ve lived in so many different places, and I’ve learned how much our culture shapes us. It becomes very exciting to discover where our shared human conceptions end and those of our particular culture begin; we can learn so much from one another that way. Funnily enough, the more I see how different national cultures are (I mean, even two Anglophone countries like the U.S. and England have amazingly different cultures), the more I realize how alike people are, over all the world and all the ages of history. And that can really help in understanding what an artist was trying to say–probably the same thing you or I would say in the same situation, but with a different cultural expression. It challenges your own preconceptions, definitely.

    Well, now having given you more deep stuff to ponder on top of your lectures–I’m sure you appreciate that! :-)–I’ll just add, Keep on having a great time!

    Best regards,


    (P.S.–I think the library transformation from study place to social space is delightful too. Makes me think of The Music Man, when they all start dancing and singing in the library.)

  11. You have certainly packed a lot into your day! Very brave of you to change the song you were to sing at the last moment! I can appreciate how you felt in seeing Grieg’s original scores. To be able to see and touch the very paper that he worked on must have been so thrilling!

  12. Hi Charlotte,
    The Haugtussa Manuscript painting looks a lot like a painting that Lder painted. Lder is the only name on the painting, don’t have any more information. Just a thought,

  13. Stunning post, dear Charlotte…. 💗💖💕💓💝
    Thanks for sharing your updates with us …. Plus those great photographs, including Grieg’s manuscripts!. Love and best wishes!. Aquileana🌷

  14. Hmm…perhaps the bar lines are repetitive, like a simple he decided to draw several pages of bar lines at a time in pencil. Then, when inspired, the musical notes would stand out in pen..the notes are more important & would not smudge out as easily over time written in pen.

    However, I’m not that familiar with this process, so this is just a guess.

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