Nordic Sounds Meeting: Hallgjerd Aksnes

Welcome to the first Nordic Sounds meeting of the new semester! Professor Hallgjerd Aksnes will give a presentation with the title "Geirr Tveitt and the Teutonic Plague: The History of Effect of Baldur’s Dreams".

For our first Nordic Sounds meeting of 2018, we are honored to feature a presentation by Hallgjerd Aksnes. The presentation will be followed by questions and discussion, and the event is open to all. Below is an abstract of the presentation. 

Geirr Tveitt and the Teutonic Plague: The History of Effect of Baldur’s Dreams

This presentation focuses on the Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt’s ideology and music during the interwar period, and will follow the history of effect of Tveitt’s most important interwar work, the ballet Baldurs draumar (“Baldur’s Dreams”). Tveitt was an avid nationalist and fervent Norseman, who confessed Norse paganism and adhered to the Ragnarok group, the Norwegian mouthpiece for the national socialist pagan movement Deutsche Glaubensbewegung, founded by the German religion scholar Wilhelm Hauer. The German program for the first version of Baldur’s Dreams was translated and revised by Wilhelm Hauer, and the work’s premiere in Leipzig Oct. 23, 1935 (in a piano version) was organised by N.S. Kulturgemeinde. Three weeks later the work was performed again in Berliner Meistersaal, where Deutsche Glaubensbewegung had reserved every seat, using the performance to promote the movement. It is obvious from the music reviews that the German performances of Baldur’s Dreams were received as an expression of Norse religion and Volksgeist. By contrast, when an orchestral suite based on the same material was performed in Paris four years later, Baldur’s Dreams was promoted and received not primarily in religious and ideological terms, but rather in more national romantic terms, as an expression of the landscape and climate from which Tveitt and his music had grown forth. Tveitt himself described Baldur’s Dreams as a “fully and wholly Norse, Norwegian work” (Aftenposten, 18.12.35); however, his attempt to create a Norse atmosphere – e.g. by means of 9 pentatonic, “neolithic” drums – sounds more like impressionistic orientalism to modern ears, a stylistic parallell that was also pointed out by Pauline Hall and several other contemporaneous music critics in Norway. The semantic richness and many-faceted history of effect of Baldur’s Dreams can serve to throw light upon the important role of the ever-evolving historical, cultural, and political contexts within which musical works’ plays of meaning are situated.

The presentation will end up with a set of questions pertaining to the relationship between musical works/performances, the intentions of their creators, and the horizons of understanding within which the works/performances are received – to be discussed within the Nordic Sounds group.

Hallgjerd Aksnes is Professor at the Department of Musicology, University of Oslo. She is an authority on Norwegian art music of the 20th century, in addition to her research on music cognition and musical embodiment.

Tags: Geirr Tveitt, nationalism, Nordic sounds
Published Jan. 26, 2018 9:48 AM - Last modified Jan. 26, 2018 9:48 AM