July 25, 2010 at 3:54 PM
When looking at the nationality of the great classical composers it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that nearly all of them were from Mid Europe with Russia also having it´s share. Germany, France, Russia and Italy all boast of being the countries of some of the most famous composers today.
For someone like me that´s about as Scandinavian as I could possibly be as well being an enthusiastic music nut I admit it can be a bit depressing that in the world of the famous composers, precious few are from Scandinavia.
If anything, the musical heritage of Scandinavia isn´t exactly big whe it comes to classical music (possibly traced back to the oh so heathen and and uncivilized viking roots ;)
But thankfully there are a few that hold up the flag for Scandinavia proudly in the world of classical composers. The one´s that first come to my mind are Grieg and Sibelius.
Grieg is in my opinion one of the best composers out there. His music is so incredible, beautiful and hunting. Not to mention it sounds wonderfully Norwegian.
Sibelius certainetly keeps everyone on his toes with his wonderful violin concerto and his incredible symphonies. and the best part is he´s Finnish!
So everytime I hear music by those composers I admit I feel proud that they come from Scandinavia. It´s good to know that there are composers proudly holding the flag for us Scandinavians in a classical world so filled with Mid-European composers.
I love the Leonard Bernstein young peoples concerts that talk about folk songs and culture/language:
Anna ,I was trying to work out your exact country.I think Finnish from the blog. Here`s one remarkable thing I read about Sweden. The article was about most popular hobbies or activities in different countries . In England----Fishing (yawn ).
In Sweden-----Singing in choirs !.To me that`s remarkable . But their songs are really tonguetwisters. I like the song that was on" Terry and June " ( tv comedy )from Sweden.It was something about the Rillerup and the Brawlla Brawlla Suet.
Anna - remember that the Scandanavian countries do not have large populations, and, except for Denmark and a few cities, the populations are not highly concentrated and are culturally fairly homogeneous. This may explain at least part of what you experience as a lack of great composers, although there have always been some (e.g., during the Baroque, Johan Helmich Roman). Central Europe has traditionally had an enormous concentration of population and an incredible cultural diversity.
Just look to the 20th century- Arvo Part, Kalevi Aho, Kaija Saariajo, Rautevaara (probably ALL spelled wrong)- the North, especially Finland, is where it's at! I have some nice mid-19th century string quartets written by a Swede who's name escapes me at the moment, too. Carl Nielsen wrote some marvellous pieces. Scandinavians just aren't as self-aggrandizing, maybe, but they're out there.
The quartets were written by Franz Berwald in Stockholm between 1819 and 1849.
Given the total population, the Scandanavian countries have done and are doing quite well. Another thing that perhaps bears on this issue is the historically small, assimilated Jewish populations in these countries. Because of their interest in and devotion to all sorts of classical music, the presence of a significant Jewish population tends to be a catalyst. This was/is particularly true in Central Europe where the Jews tended and tend to furnish a disproportionate number of the very good musicians and some composers and provided a certain amount of cultural diversity.
Well they must not be doing to bad since my community orchestra in rural Illinois is opening this season with a concert entitled "Scandinavian Splendor." The Grieg Piano Concerto along with Sibelius #2 and Swan of Tuonela. I wouldn't mind playing something by a modern Scandinavian composer (especially Rautavarra), but we have to be mindful of the tastes of our audience.
Oh my, I LOVE Scandinavian music. Yes, I suppose most is from the composers you mentioned, but yes, an enthusiastic thumbs' up for Nielsen as well. The Grieg violin sonatas rank among my favorite (to listen to). All of Grieg's music; I wish he'd done a violin concerto.
I once read a statistic about Finland that now eludes me - something about having the highest number of classical music enthusiasts in its general population in the world, by far. So that's what I now think of when Finland is mentioned. That, and the kingly Sibelius, of course ((cue for sound of chorus of angels)). His violin concerto is a spiritual experience.
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