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Music History: July 2008 Archives

Reconstructing Music in Norway

Geirr Tveitt

Rediscovering a Norwegian Master

By Jeff Dunn
San Francisco Classical Voice

Last month I witnessed an unusual spectacle: the Bergen Music Festival in Norway. After three or four curtain calls, clapping in unison began and, as if by prearranged signal, everyone stood at once in enthusiastic acknowledgement. The orchestra that did the playing was the visiting Stavanger Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ole Kristian Ruud. The music that did the arousing was a new "reconstruction" of the Julekvelden (Yule Eve) Symphony No. 1 by Geirr Tveitt.


Geirr Tveitt (1908-1981, rhymes with "fire fight") is virtually unknown in this country, but the hundredth anniversary of his birth was being celebrated by the concert I attended, and other concerts elsewhere, for good reason. His music, in its stark power, speaks to the overwhelming influence of nature on those living among the deep fjords. His technique, superbly developed at the Leipzig Conservatory and subsequent studies in Paris and Vienna, was second to none of his generation of Norwegian composers. The range of expression found in his Hundred Hardanger Folk Tunes suites, and the instantly recognizable originality of his sound, makes him an artist of international significance.

Read more about this at the San Francisco Classical Voice website:

Scanning Strads

CT Scan of Starivarius Violin Cross-section

CT scans may explain Stradivarius violins' sweet sound

By Greg Gilbert
CBC News

Growth rings in the wood used to make Stradivarius violins in the 1700s may hold the explanation for their unparalleled sound, say Dutch scientists.

Researchers at the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, who put the instruments through a computed tomographic (CT) scanner, published their research Wednesday in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Many music lovers believe the classical violins made in Cremona, Italy, by famous masters such as Antonio Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu, produce unique tonal expressiveness and projection. Despite three centuries of technological advancement, modern violin makers have been unable to duplicate the sound.

The scientists, who tweaked a computer program used to analyze scans measuring lung density in patients with emphysema, said that may be because of important differences in wood from the 1600s and wood today.

Read more about this at the CBC News website: