Enthralling Lectures, Inspirational Performances and Great Company


Today was a very exciting day indeed. From 9 o’clock till 1 o’clock we attended lectures held by guest speakers. The first lecture at 9 o’clock was taken by Arne Torp, a Norwegian professor from the University of Oslo. He spoke about the Norwegian language revival as artistic inspiration for Edvard Grieg. To begin with he pointed out the connection between the Scandinavian countries Norway Sweden and Denmark. He explained that for some time Denmark and Norway had a union, in which Denmark was the mothering country. This was because the higher classes spoke Danish. People learnt how to write in this language but often they spoke Bokmål, Norwegian Danish. Then when Norway became independent in 1814, the people of Norway wanted to speak a language connected to their own nationality, hence they began to speak Nynorsk, (Landsmål). In 1944 it reached its popularity peak as the language was then taught on the school curriculum. Torp continued his lecture on the subject of music as an element for building national identity. He explained Grieg’s involvement in these projects and how he chose poems in the new language Nynorsk in order to promote this change and support Norway’s identity. An example of this is his setting of Arne Garbourg’s Haugtussa.


At 10 o’clock the lecture was led by Cheryl Christensen from the USA. The theme of the lecture was Grieg in the “world of unborn music” and his creative journey through the use of language in Haugtussa. This was a brilliant lecture because she incorporated live performances with musical examples from her research through the help of two American workshop participants. She spoke about the structural dissonances in Grieg’s Haugtussa. For example he only chose to set eight songs from the overall collection which spans over two volumes. In the story that Grieg chose to create the audience experience her transforming from a scared and fragile girl to a courageous young woman due to the experience of heartbreak.

Markéta Štefková a professor from Slovakia furthered this discussion through an in depth analysis of the musical motifs that occurred in Haugtussa. Sharon Lavery from the Juilliard School gave a lecture on the marriage of music and poetry in Grieg’s Haugtussa. She spoke about how as a singer we can choose how to modify and project the vowels and consonants in order to portray the meaning of the text. This was very interesting and tied in with the work that we were doing with the Norwegian specialists in the workshops hosted by the Grieg Academy.

Gregory Martin, gave a lecture on the midnight sun that occurs in Norway and how this affected Grieg’s desire to present a sense of timelessness in his music. Avrid Vollsnes a Norwegian professor ended the morning session by explaining about the old culture and society at the time when the poems were written. This was great to hear as it gave insight into how the character of Haugtussa was affected by her relationship to other townsmen and to nature around her.

In the afternoon George and I had a lesson with Audun Kayser, who is a very talented pianist. He worked on quite a few pieces with us and provoked us to question how we performed the music by offering a little guidance in juxtaposition whilst encouraging us to take risks and liberate ourselves within the music. It was a fabulous session and one that I will remember for a long time.



At 5 o’clock we caught the coach to Troldhaugen.  It was here that we got to visit Grieg’s villa. It was his first permanent home after starting his married life with Nina Grieg. It was brilliant to see where he forged his ideas and created this magnificent pieces such as Haugtussa. We then went to a concert performed by the professors who led our vocal workshops at the Academy. This was both outstanding and at the same time very inspirational. Both duos had a real sense of connection and kept you engaged for the whole time you were there. Even though I do not speak Norwegian, Danish nor German I was able to follow the stories that they told through their fabulous performances. I hope that one day I can perform to a similar high standard it was truly breath-taking.


To finish a wonderful day we had a delicious dinner at Spisestedet Troldhaugen and we chatted and told stories and anecdotes into the late evening. I’ll be very sad knowing that it will be my last workshop day here tomorrow. But I will make the most of time here by absorbing as much of the culture, knowledge and experiences as possible.

34 thoughts on “Enthralling Lectures, Inspirational Performances and Great Company

  1. Oh the adventures you have sound like so very much fun. I appreciate that you share and look forward to each and every installment.

    1. I was exhausted when I got back and after my final recital the following day. I have been thinking a lot and recording as many notes as possible.

      Best wishes

  2. Great photos. Sounds like you have had some interesting lectures. I simply love Norse mythology. I have quite a collection of historical books focusing on Scandinavian history.

    1. I definitely want to learn more Philip, I loved learning the Haugtussa cycle, I came across some very helpful blogs about Bergen too just before we went so we were able to make the most of the trip.

      Best wishes

  3. Very interesting – Thanks for share – I hope that we will speak of all you have learn duing this trip ! I listening you evry day and I can say you : Yes you can perform to a similar high standard !

  4. Such a good series of lectures and then a trip to his home ! A fabulous concert, tasty food and inspiring company! What could be better? I am glad you are having fun.

      1. Too much heat, especially humid heat can be very wearing. It would be nice to have a little more warmth than we have been getting recently!

  5. while it doesn’t quite relate to the post, 😀 I think I may have to start calling you bubbles for being so fantastically upbeat always. 🙂 next, I was looking up punches and arrays awhile back along with a stroll of a different internet postcards kind through norway and yours is just about double exciting! 🙂 and you don’t strike me interested in drinks maybe I’m wrong 🙂 I’m glad you’ve some incite into the art of art.

      1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrack auto correct threatens to make me unintelligable… ..not that I ever needed help…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punsch those were the two thoughts but the big one was, and please excuse- this isn’t meant to be a advertisement but a little neat thing on how the stuffs produced… http://www.drinkupny.com/Linie-Aquavit-p/s1026.htm While you were there I was reminded of that little bit of the culture of nordic ships and that little spirits gem that must travel around the world before it threatens to spin yours.

  6. Fabulous to ‘get the mood’ from so much background! It might have helped me with my current project of re-committing the piano transcriptions of the Holberg and Peer Gynt suites to memory.

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