Postcard from Oslo
Oslo has transformed in the last five decades. What felt like a provincial port town 50 years ago is now a thriving metropolis with one of the most rapidly changing skylines in the world. As the capital of one of classical music's new powerhouse territories, Oslo is becoming a creative force to be reckoned with too.Read more…
But it took its time getting there. In the 19th century, Norwegian composers like Christian Sinding and Edvard Grieg were sent to Germany to learn their craft. When the latter returned home and began to breathe the spirit and freshness of Norwegian folksong into his music, a distinctive language was born that influenced a generation. Nature lay at the heart of that process, just as it surrounds Oslo with dramatic mountains on one side and serene fjords on the other.
After struggling through much of the 20th century – and enduring Nazi occupation during World War II – Norway literally struck oil in the 1970s and the transformation of its capital began. Mariss Jansons started his 23-season tenure at the Oslo Philharmonic in 1979, making a string of benchmark Tchaikovsky recordings – a legacy carried forward by one of his successors, Vasily Petrenko, with music by another Russian, Alexander Scriabin.
The influx of oil money has seen Norway build beautiful new venues including the now iconic Oslo Opera House, whose semi-submerged auditorium rises from the fjord like an iceberg. Much has been invested in education, which has seen Norway produce a string of talented instrumentalists from Leif Ove Andsnes to Vilde Frang, Christian Ihle Hadland and Tine Thing Helseth.
With each new generation of confident and curious artists – and a string of excellent regional orchestras – Norway has become as good at exploring its fascinating musical past as it has long been at investing in the sounds of the future. Our 'Postcard from Oslo' profiles the city's rich music life but includes some potential discoveries too – from the warm-hearted musical geometry of Ludvig Irgens-Jensen to the wonderful world of Norway's very own Arnold Schoenberg, Fartein Valen.