By Einar Solbu
Today, Norway is bustling with musical activity. New works are created in a wide range of genres, and Norwegian musicians maintain a high international standard. Young people who wish to learn music have access to a well-developed national system of culture and music schools and conservatories that are among the best in Europe. Public funding ensures that composers as well as performers can actively pursue their work and make live music available to the entire public.
Today’s lively musical scene builds on the efforts of pioneering women and men. The Lindeman family holds a unique position in the history of Norwegian music. Through several generations, its members distinguished themselves as initiators and pioneers in the building of our musical life. The most important of these was Ludvig Mathias Lindeman, who was born on 28 November 1812 and died on 23 May 1887.
In 2012, the 200th anniversary of Ludvig Mathias Lindeman’s birth will be celebrated throughout Norway
Who was he?
L.M. Lindeman was one of the outstanding personalities of his time. He was active as organist, choral conductor, composer, collector of folk music from many parts of the country, educator, and – not least – what we today would call a strategist of cultural policy. He established the nation’s first music conservatory, an institution that after 90 years as a private school was to become the Norwegian Academy of Music. He promoted public music education by publishing a wide variety of song books, collections of tunes and choral pieces. He lobbied politicians to aid in fostering a musical environment based on national traditions as well as European influences. At national occasions, he was the natural choice as composer and performer, and in 1871 represented Norway internationally as specially invited organ soloist for the dedication of the great organ at Royal Albert Hall in London, together with great musicians such as Anton Bruckner and Camille Saint-Saëns. He was instrumental in establishing Christiania’s Philharmonic Society (Det Philharmoniske Selskab), and was organist and cantor at the capital’s main church, Vor Frelsers Kirke (now Oslo Cathedral), for almost 50 years.
A living tradition – L.M. Lindeman’s work today
L.M. Lindeman’s legacy is of major importance and very much alive today. He wrote many melodies, both church hymns and popular songs. The official hym book used by the Church of Norway contains Lindeman tunes to 69 hymns, central and beloved hymns such as Kirken den er et gammelt hus (Built on the rock the church doth stand), Påskemorgen slukker sorgen (Quiet, Lord, my froward heart) and No livnar det i lundar (Now every grove awakens). Today, Norway has a vibrant and dynamic folk music community – in traditional folk music districts, children sign up for waiting lists to take lessons in Hardanger fiddle and traditional folk singing. This is not least thanks to Lindeman’s extensive collection of folk music material and his appreciation of traditional folk music, evinced by his compositions and his work as an educator. It is difficult to imagine higher music education in Norway as solid as it is today, and asserting itself so distinctly on the international scene, without Lindeman’s fight to gain recognition for the education of professional musicians as an area of public policy. Norwegian church music, too, has much to thank him for. As an organist and organ improviser, he set new and high standards for the entire profession.
The Lindeman Foundation’s bicentennial celebration
The Lindeman bicentennial will be celebrated by large parts of Norway’s musical community. The Lindeman Foundation was established by L.M. Lindeman’s grandson Trygve Lindeman with the purpose of continuing to advance the Lindeman family’s pioneering work on behalf of music. The Lindeman Foundation is contributing to the celebration, among others by maintaining this website as a public source of knowledge and information about the Lindeman tradition and bicentennial, and by providing funding for celebratory events under the auspices of festivals, educational institutions, churches, etc. The annual music award presented by the foundation, the Lindeman Prize, will in 2012 be awarded two persons of merit who in their own way have followed in L.M. Lindeman’s footsteps as artists, educators or researchers.
The Lindeman Foundation congratulates and wishes all the best to everyone involved in celebrating the 200th anniversary of Ludvig Mathias Lindeman’s birth in 2012!
Einar Solbu is chairman of the Lindeman Foundation and head of the anniversary committee.