Theater of Cruelty

The forgotten jubilant

A few years after Christian Sinding had composed poems by the communists Nordahl Grieg and Arnulf Øverland, the 85-year-old composer ended up in the arms of the National Collection. Now Per Vollestad has written a book about Sinding.


On January 11, it was 150 years since the composer Christian Sinding was born. Sinding is the man behind the piano bead Spring soda, best known by its German title Spring noise. In his time, Sinding was considered our foremost composer after Grieg, but the man committed social and artistic suicide when he joined the National Assembly eight weeks before his death in 1941.

The baritone Per Vollestad has researched Sindings songs and with the biography Christian Sinding he sheds new light on the controversial 150th anniversary.

-Why this book?

- Christian Sinding had composed many fine songs that are never sung. When the Academy of Music asked if I wanted to do a performing doctorate, it was natural to break the silence around his songs.

-What's an executive doctorate?

- The term disappeared along the way. In the end, the result was a scientific dissertation and three CDs with Sinding's songs.

-What did you discover during the research?

- A very wide. Sinding lived only on compositions and had to stand on all the time. Before he got the Cave as a residence of honor in 1924, he led a wandering life and therefore burned much of his work. Still, I found a lot unknown. Among other things, a cabaret poem about cocaine from 1925. The lyricist is unknown, but the manuscript says Obstfelder. The song was about a melancholic who found solace in the intoxication and the violin playing.

- Was this typical Sinding?

- He was far from an abstainer and quite bohemian, but the genre was just a break. He said that it was really "refreshing once in a while to put all principles aside and simply be entertained, without thinking about art morals and art duties". I also discovered a humorous and peaceable man. In 1882, the earliest songs made his scandal in Kristiania. It was the daredevils strife Song og Love Song from Songs of the Arabic Narrative Antar and Abla, as the 700-year-old Arabic texts were called in Danish retelling. Critics acknowledged the composer's talent, but said that this was the "wildest, most inaccessible thing that has ever met us in a concert hall", and that it was a break with all usual forms and musical traditions.

-How did the young composer take it?

- He went back to Germany. Much of the love for the country was due to how he was received there as a young student and later as an artist. The understanding of art was different in Germany than here at home. In Munich in 1884 he also experienced his first artistic triumph with the notes of Holger Drachmann's collection of poems Ranker and Roses. From there the song originates I wear my hat as I please, which was interpreted by many as Sinding's election language. In Norway, the concert received stricter reception, especially I wear my hat as I please. The critics concluded that some of the harmonization was contrary to the textbook. In 1985, though, he experienced his breakthrough at home with the piano quintet opus 5. But together he lived nearly 40 years of his life in Germany.

Composers such as Geirr Tveitt and David Monrad Johansen also ended up on the German side during the war. How could such cultural figures support the Nazi regime?

- All three were enthusiastic about German culture. But unlike Sinding, Geirr Tveitt and David Monrad Johansen were Norwegian in their music, so they can not be compared. I also do not know much about the fate of these two.

In 1937, Sinding was honored as a guest of honor during an international music festival in Dresden. Then he had hardly been in the country since World War I. On returning home, the already deaf celebrated and reduced the composer to the new Germany. After all, on his triumphal journey, he had only experienced the side of the country. Love did indeed blind, for it was nothing with Sinding's view of life that coincided with national socialism. Sinding's tribute to the new Germany caused no more indignation than that he was awarded the Grand Cross of St. Olav's Order the following year with a subsequent party concert and honor banquet with the royal family. But the deaf composer certainly did not bring so much of the festivities.

-How did Sinding react when the land was occupied?

- When the newspapers wrote that "the Germans had come to protect us", Sinding according to a relative must have said: "Here there must be a -t too much, they mean to protect!" In an interview, he also said: "Imagine that it is the Germans who attack us in this way. The same people I have had so much kindness and understanding for. " But the occupying power caught up with the old man. Sinding was a generous person, this may explain much of the hospitality. On the occasion of his 85th birthday in 1941, he spoke on the radio. The speech can be found in NRK's ​​archives. It contains repetitions, gossip and questions about whether he should continue. It is not written by Sinding himself. He also did not fill out the registration form for NS himself, but it contains his gnarled signature. Others had to pay his membership fee. Eight weeks later he died.

- What happened to the aftermath?

- NRK boycotted his music. Also Spring noise. It was not until the 100th anniversary of 1956 that a selection of the works were performed on the radio. Then finally in 1970, Sinding's major work stood on the orchestras' repertoire. Some have explained Sinding's disappearance number that the late romantic composer did not fit into postwar modernism. His music did not have Grieg's national romantic character. Sinding was European. He was also a mass producer, since he was to live exclusively by compositions. This created a huge tension, so you do not immediately notice the peculiarity. Furthermore, many of his orchestral works are quite technically demanding. But now foreign orchestras are constantly recording Sinding's symphonies, which the Broadcasting Orchestra has also done. In Bergen, the piano concerto was recorded this fall. Violinist Henning Kraggerud has recorded the violin concerto, among other things. Over the last five or six years he has had a boost. Even though Spring noise has become his flagship, with its combination of ingenuity and affordability, much of his production can compare with it in quality.

-Will any mugs be made on the jubilee?

- The National Library has exhibited his manuscripts. For a few hundred thousand they have bought the original script for Spring noise from the heirs of Peter's publishers. Together with pianist Sigmund Hjelseth I give a performance where I am Sinding and perform some of his songs. In Moscow, it has to be a festival. But he has none of the symphony orchestras here on the program during the anniversary year. In fact, the Bergen Games did not realize that he had been around for years. He is still not completely out of oblivion.

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