Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music
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The Norwegian Academy of Music History Project

Svart-hvitt-bilde av Norges musikkhogskole i 1983

In 2023, the Norwegian Academy of Music will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The Academy’s History Project will provide research and documentation of the institution’s activities and development throughout its long history.

What driving forces ensured the establishment of a government funded academy of music in 1973 – 90 years after Ludwig Mathias and Peter Lindeman founded an organists' school, subsequently known as the Oslo Conservatory of Music? What priorities have been given to various disciplines over the years, such as pedagogy, performance, and different musical genres? To what extent have the most prominent Norwegian professional musicians influenced the institution, and what issues and concerns have been important to the changing principals and administrations?

The Academy’s History Project, which is supported by the Lindeman Foundation, does not aim to provide exhaustive answers to all these questions, and additional ones will arise. However, some of these issues will form the core of the work towards the anniversary. The project aims to provide research on and documentation of the Academy’s history and to look into the institution’s connections to the history of music education in general.

Archival material, interviews and communication

Extensive archival material is at the project’s disposal, covering the entire lifespan of the institution – from the days of the organists' school to the present-day conservatory, in addition to already existing books and publications about the Academy and comparable institutions. This material, and relevant theory will be used to elucidate the institution’s history from numerous angles. Additionally, the project seeks to uncover and include practical knowledge, to access valuable information otherwise rarely documented in writing. How do the teachers of the Academy describe and reflect upon their respective disciplines, whether they teach music history, classical singing, folk music, jazz improvisation, music therapy, conducting, church music or music pedagogy? Or, for that matter: what do principals and leaders in other positions think about running an institution like the Academy?

To obtain this knowledge, central actors connected to the Academy from the time before and after 1973, representing different disciplines, generations and functions, will be interviewed. These interviews will provide background material for research and analysis, and for journalistic presentations online or in printed publications, aimed at the general public.

For more information about the project's privacy protection policy, please confer wtih the Norwegian website, or contact the project manager (see below).

The project has two main goals: to convey new knowledge through academic publications, and to communicate the history of Norwegian music education in general, and the Academy’s activities in particular, through popular channels – on paper, on screen, through text, pictures and sound. Several researchers and writers will be connected to the project. The faculty of the Academy and of other institutions, as well as freelance writers, may apply for funding to contribute to the project, and openings for PhD and master scholarships linked to the History Project are made available for qualified applicants.

Contributing researchers and subprojects

Anders Førisdal is employed as a post-doctor to study the activities of the Oslo Conservatory of Music, up until it became a government funded academy in 1973. Førisdal will pursue questions concerning the cultural, pedagogical and aesthetic values inherent in the institutionalization processes within higher music education in Norway, with a particular focus on the relationships between national and international ideas.

Bjørnar Utne-Reitan will study the teaching of music theory in his Ph.D.-project (2019-2022), and the significance of this discipline, in various forms, within the training of musicians, from the organists' school started in 1883 up until today’s Academy. Debates on the discipline’s function and value are of special interest to Utne-Reitan, who will also compare it with the music theory training at institutions abroad.

Associate professor Gjertrud Pedersen, who teaches music history at the Academy, will conduct research on the position of this discipline, how it has been taught and how it has been and is considered a contribution to the training of professional musicians.

The piano holds a central position in music teaching at many levels, in public and private schooling, and is studied from different perspectives in the project. Olaf Eggestad conducts a study on the first professor in piano at the Academy from 1973, Robert Riefling (1911-1988), focusing on the relations between teaching, ethics and aesthetics in the tradition Riefling came from, and the heritage he left to his students. Ingrid Loe Landmark has studied another profiled pianist and pedagogue, Mary Barratt Due (1888-1969), a prominent representative of the many well-educated women who both taught and kept up their careers as solo pianists in the early 20th century and, in some cases, composed.

Processes of change are of particular interest to the history project. What happens when new genres, disciplines, instruments and technologies are included in the higher education programmes? Hans Weisethaunet studies the actions and arguments that set the ground for jazz to become part of the curriculum in higher music education in Norway. Other researchers will look into how folk music studies were introduced and have developed over the years.

The disciplines with the longest teaching history within the Academy will also be researched, such as the training of orchestral musicians, singers and church musicians as well as a range of pedagogical studies.

Anniversary book

Last but not least, Alfred Fidjestøl – who has written books on the Oslo Philharmonic, the Arts Council Norway and Det Norske Teatret – is engaged to write the official 50th anniversary book of the Academy, aimed at a broader public.