Ole Kristian Rudd: Geirr Tveitt Sun God Symphony

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Sun God Symphony by Geirr Tveitt. Conducted by Ole Kristian Rudd with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra.
Geirr Tveitt
 Geirr Tveitt

I. The Gods Forget The Mistletoe - 00:00
II. Baldur's Bonfire Journey - 5:53
III. Arrow DAnce - 13:25

Geirr Tveitt, born Nils Tveit (October 19, 1908 -- February 1, 1981) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. Tveitt was a central figure of the national movement in Norwegian cultural life during the 1930s.

Tveitt was born in Bergen, where his father briefly worked as a teacher. His parents were Håkonson Lars Tveit (1878--1951) and Johanna Nilsdotter Heradstveit (1882--1966). His family were of farmer stock, and still retained Tveit, their ancestral land in Kvam - a secluded village on the scenic Hardangerfjord. The Tveit family would relocate to Drammen in the winter to work, but return to Hardanger in the summer to farm. Thus Tveitt enjoyed both a countryside existence and city life. Tveitt had originally been christened Nils, but following his increasing interest in Norwegian heritage, he thought the name 'not Norwegian enough' and changed it to Geir. He later added an extra r to his first name and an extra t to Tveit to indicate more clearly to non-Norwegians the desired pronunciation of his name. It was during his childhood summers in Hardanger that Tveitt gained knowledge of the rich folk-music traditions of the area. Historically, Hardanger's relative isolation allowed for the development of a unique musical culture, with which Tveitt became infatuated. Tveitt was no child prodigy, but discovered that he possessed musical talent, and learned to play both the violin and the piano. And, after having been encouraged by Norwegian composer Christian Sinding, Tveitt decided to try his hand at writing music.

Tveitt's perhaps greatest musical project was the collection and adaptation of traditional folk melodies from the Hardanger district. Many composers and musicologists (including Norway's internationally recognised Edvard Grieg) had successfully researched and collected the music of Hardanger long before Tveitt. However, from 1940 onwards, when Tveitt settled permanently in Hardanger, he became one of the locals, and spent much time working and playing with folk-musicians. He thus happened upon a treasure of unknown tunes, claiming to have discovered almost one thousand melodies, and incorporated one hundred of these into his work list; Fifty folktunes from Hardanger for piano op. 150, and Hundred Hardanger Tunes for Orchestra op. 151. Musicologist David Gallagher might speak for many when he suggests that in these two opuses - their universe, music and history - are found the very best of Tveitt's qualities as a composer. The tunes reflect both profound (in fact) Christian values and a parallel universe dominated by the mysticism of nature itself and not only the worldly, but also nether worldly creatures that inhabit it - according to traditional folklore. The major part of the tunes is directly concerned with Hardanger life, which Tveitt was a part of. In his adaptations, therefore, he sought to bring forth not only the melody itself, but also the atmosphere, mood and scenery in which it belonged. Tveitt utilised his profound knowledge of traditional and avant-garde use of harmony and instruments when he scored the tunes - achieving an individual and recognisable texture. Copies of the piano versions and orchestral suites nos 1, 2, 4 and 5 were elsewhere during that tragic fire in 1970, so these works survive. Norwegian musicologists hope that suite nos 3 and 6 might be restored from the burned-out remnants held at the archives in Oslo.