I like the idea of birthday and memorial posts, although with so many glorious composers sometimes it's hard to remember the dates! (Nils) Geirr Tveitt was an important Norwegian composer and a celebrated figure in Norwegian musical life (especially due to his intense, life-long interest in the folk musics of Norway and Norse legends) He was an extremely prolific composer, but tragically 80% of his entire output was destroyed in a fire in the year 1970. Most of Tveitt's unstoppable need to create and compose was also "destroyed", emotionally arid was he after the massive loss (such tragedy must be a "cosmic" and soul-sucking loss for any artist I imagine). The music that survives is to be cherished needless to say, as it is of such high quality. Geirr Tveitt was full of endless invention and musical joie de vivre. His Concertos for Hardanger Fiddle seem the perfect experiences to celebrate his life.
The Hardanger fiddle resembles its ancestor the viola d'amore in that it has a course of resonating strings under the fingerboard, and this gives the otherwise thin-toned instrument a certain huskiness that sounds oddly compelling. Tveitt composed two terrific concertos for this folk fiddle. The first, dating from 1955, is quite a substantial piece (nearly half an hour long), and as might be expected the music takes traditional Norwegian melodies as its starting point-but like Bartók, Tveitt integrates the idiom into a contemporary musical language. It's a lovely work, one that consistently engages the ear and skillfully contrasts solo episodes with evocative and powerful passages for full orchestra. The second concerto, from a decade later, has three movements named for three famous fjords. Tveitt marks the slow movement "Danza determinata e lenta", and "determined" is the quality that comes most readily to mind in this compact (less than 20 minutes), tuneful, and purposeful piece.
Nykken, subtitled a "symphonic painting for orchestra", tells the story of a mischievous water sprite who takes the form of a white horse, lures a young man onto its back, and then takes him on a wild ride that culminates in a deadly plunge back into its native pond. The music is extremely colorful and quite graphic, making the story easy to follow and one heck of a good time too. Enjoy!