The Nordic Ingredient – European Nationalisms in Norwegian Music after 1905 – Joint Conference

20–21 March 2018, Grieg Research Centre (UiB), Bergen

The Grieg Research Centre and the University of Münster would like to invite musicologists and historians to a joint conference at the Grieg Research Centre in Bergen, 20-21 March 2018. The conference will be co-organised by the Grieg Research Centre, the DFG-research project The German Dominance of Music in Norway 1930–45 at University of Münster, and the Goethe Institut Norwegen.

Confirmed speakers (i.a.): Prof. Friedrich Geiger (Musicologist, Hamburg), Prof. Erling Gulbrandsen (Musicologist, Oslo), Ass. Prof. Ingrid Loe Dalaker (Musicologist, Oslo), Prof. Rolf Hobson (Historian, Oslo), Prof. Christhard Hoffmann (Historian, Bergen), Prof. Tom Kristiansen (Historian, Tromsø), Prof. Dr. Arvid Vollsnes (Oslo)

The conference attempts an interdisciplinary exploration of the impact of nationalism on music, and vice versa, music’s importance for national tendencies along the following aspects:

  1. Reconstructing the reasons, conditions, and consequences of different historical phases in Norway’s nation state building during the 19th and 20th century, in relation to the influence of European nationalistic ideologies on the domestic cultural and political sphere (aesthetic vs. political independence).
  2. The cultural export of Norwegian national topics and icons, and their significance for European musical trends (Black Metal, Neo-Nazi aesthetics etc.).
  3. The function and design of national elements in lyrics and melodies (including avant-garde, folk, jazz, rock and pop music).

Music mirrors the cultural and political characteristics of the nationalisms that clashed in WW I for the first time on a global scale and triggered new conflicts with every next generation until nowadays: On the one hand, due to music’s alleged unpolitical nature, its emotional qualities have historically been proved ideal for cultural nation state building. On the other hand, music could be (mis-)used as a propagandistic means by both totalitarian regimes and resistance movements. In general, these interactions between music and politics are not limited to certain genres, but instead can be found in all musical stylistics with different aesthetic characteristics.

The development of nationalist sentiments in Norwegian culture and their relationship to various ideas of the ‘Nordic’ neither have been considered so far, nor their consequences for Norwegian musical life. Therefore the term with its unbroken semantic attraction is a key to understand the dialectics of music and politics: In Norway, with its long tradition of German-Norwegian cultural exchange, the ‘Nordic’ underwent several transitions from an aesthetic quality into an ideological category in early 20th century, with long-term consequences for Norway’s place in Europe’s music life. But far from being questioned, the fascination for the ‘Nordic’ is unbroken, diverse and conflicting (ranging from touristic marketing, artistic branding and politi- cal institutions of Scandinavian nations up to nationalist sub-cultures).

Call for abstracts: Please email an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biography (100 words maximum) to Young scholars are specially invited to apply for a limited amount of research grants. The grants include full coverage of travel costs and accommodation in Bergen and the possibility to publish in the conference proceedings. The deadline for submissions of papers is 15 November 2017, and we aim to inform you about the result of the peer reviewed selection process by mid-December 2018. For further information please visit

Publication: After the conference, the organisers are planning for a publication of edited papers in a special issue of Studia Musicologica Norvegica – Norwegian Journal of Musicology.

Further information: Full programme and information about the conference will be available on the website of the Grieg Research Center:

Venue: The conference will take place at the University of Bergen.
For further questions on accomodation, please contact:

On behalf of the organising committee,

Ass. Prof. Arnulf Mattes (Grieg Research Center, UiB) and Prof. Michael Custodis (Universität Münster)