Re-searching relevance 

FINAL VERSION: Conference programme January 7th – 9th 2016

with abstracts, biographies and list of participants

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Thursday January 7th

08.30        Coffee and registration at Ringve Music Museum

09.00        Opening by the museum’s director Ivar Roger Hansen

09.30        Svein Gladsø: Introduction: Re-searching relevance – questioning canons

10.00        Coffee break

10.30        Sigrid Egtvedt: Canon – in the eye of the beholder?

11.00        Maria-Christina Mur: Vittorio Alfieri’s Tramelogedia Abele: A physiognomic reading of a marginalized play by a canonic author

11.30        Lunch

12.30        Penelope Cave: Meeting the Masters: Repertoire Choices for Young Ladies

13.00        Katrina Faulds: Artefacts of Movement: Rediscovering Relevance in Nineteenth-Century Dance Music

13.30        Wendy Stafford: Is there any great music there?

14.00        Departure for Trøndelag Teater

15.00        Trøndelag Teater – attending the rehearsal of August von Kotzebue’s Armuth und Edelsinn (given in Norwegian as Armod og edelt sinn).

17.00        Coffee and conversation with the play’s director Sigrid T’Hooft till 18.00

Those interested, dine together

Friday January 8th

09.00        Ellen K. Gjervan: The classics of Equestrian drama – a canon in the margins

09.30        Olivia Sabee: Revisiting the French Romantic Ballet’s Exotic “Other”

10.00        Dóra Kiss: “Canonisation”, re-interpretation and re-”canonisation” of the belle dance, the example of the menuet

10.30        Coffee break

11.00        Elizabeth Svarstad: “Now please proceed to the Dancing part”. The Minuet as social education in Norway around 1800

11.30        Anne M. Fiskvik: Doubly marginalized? Scrutinizing the endeavours of two itinerant, female and “world famous” artists

12.00        Lunch

13.00        Tour of the collection at Ringve Music Museum by Mats Krouthén

13.30        Meike Wagner: August von Kotzebue – Popular playwright and controversial public persona

14.00        Svein Gladsø: The fear of irrelevance

14.30        Jon Nygaard: Ibsens’s development of trivial comedy into “serious” drama

15.00        Coffee break

15.30        Astrid von Rosen: From Haunted Historiography to Historiographic Hybridity

16.00        Mats Krouthén: Working with mechanical instruments in the context of Ringve Music Museum (till 16:30)

19.00        Conference dinner at Emilies (next to the theatre in town)

Saturday January 9th

09.30        Jørgen Langdalen: The Musical Rhetoric of Johann Mattheson

10.00        Annabella Skagen: Oehlenschläger’s Freya’s Altar: A case study of a rejected Singspiel

10.30        Randi M. Selvik: Freya’s Altar in Norway – which music?

11.00        Coffee break

11.30        Eva Hov: Out of Canon – Out of Interest? Circulation of cultural products and knowledge in informal amateur sharing networks

12.15        Gediminas Karoblis: Mesmerising waltz

12.45        Lunch

13.45        Final discussion, summary and comments (over by appr. 15.00)




Thursday January 7th

Sigrid Egtvedt

Canon – in the eye of the beholder?

In my Doctoral theses Flute playing in Norway around 1800 – a study of Jacob Aall’s (1773-1844) collection of flute music I look at a repertory that we seldom or never get to hear on the musical scene today. Jacob Aall was the owner of Nes iron works, and an amateur flutist. His collection of flute music includes over a 300 titles. This is chamber music for flute and strings, written during Aalls lifetime, intended for use at private gatherings and musical societies. Jacob Aalls musical practise is part of a continental practice which can be seen in the context of the ideas on aesthetical education as described by Friedrich Schiller in his letters on the topic from 1795. 

 The overall impression amongst classical musicians today are that chamber music played in private homes around 1800 – so-called salon music – do not have the aesthetic qualities that the classical canon requires and is thus irrelevant for today’s musical scene. But is relevance a question about aesthetics alone? I will use Jacob Aall’s collection of flute music as a case to discuss examples on how the historical context can determine the relevance of a repertory throughout history.  For, as history shows, Jacob Aalls repertory was left in oblivion from the end of the 1860’ies and has not gained any interest until the present. I will look at how today’s context is producing new relevance for Jacob Aalls repertory.

Maria-Christina Mur

Vittorio Alfieri’s Tramelogedia Abele: A physiognomic reading of a marginalized play by a canonic author

 “La tragedia alfieriana infiammò il sentimento politico e patriottico, accelerò la formazione d'una coscienza nazionale, ristabilì la serietà d'un mondo interiore nella vita e nell'arte.” (Francesco De Sanctis)

Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803) is considered one of the most influential and important playwrights of the Italian theatre in the 18th and 19th century, as he is a common reference point for both a moral and a political understanding of the late 18th century. My research on the circulation of Physiognomical Discourse in European theatrical culture discusses canonic authors such as Goethe, Schiller, Lessing, Pixérécourt, Chénier and Holcroft and their understanding of the art and science of Physiognomy. Vittorio Alfieri – driven by the research on and establishment of the “real Italian theatre” – creates the genre “Tramelogedia” and uses his play “Abele” to demonstrate this theory. This paper aims to examine Alfieri in a European context both in terms of the related genre and a physiognomical point of view. My research questions are: How is Alfieri’s Tramelogedia related to the theory and practice of the Melodrama in other European countries? Why did Alfieri create this “genere mostruoso” and what was his assessment of it? Why was “Abele” almost ignored by Alfieri’s contemporaries and critics, and why does this still seem to be the case today? How did Alfieri approach the “canonic” theory of physiognomic reading of the human face in his play?

Penelope Cave

Meeting the Masters: Repertoire Choices for Young Ladies

In 1829, The Young Lady’s Book incisively distinguished between “ordinary parade pieces, of which the music-shops are so prolific” and refined compositions that exemplified aesthetic ideals and “the purest harmony”.  The anonymous author consistently referred to “the solid masters”, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, whose compositions “resulted in the perfection of thought and feeling, - that kind of expressive, yet regular music, which is the joint product of the head and heart.” Handel’s music continued to adumbrate all else, in both concerts and collections, but by 1830, the notion of canon as expressive of particular artistic values, was expanded by the congnoscenti to include the classic triumvirate.

A more nuanced viewpoint to that advanced in The Young Lady’s Book may be presented within English country house music collections, where the concept of a hierarchy of works can be seen to be both actively, if unconsciously, sought yet largely disregarded.  A significant body of music was owned and used by the family at Tatton Park, the Egerton’s Cheshire estate, analogous to that at Killerton House, a Devon home of the Aclands. It highlights both the acquisition of canonic scores for study or show, and the preference for performing pieces by composers whose presence in current concert culture remains limited. and marginal, such as Kozeluch and Pleyel who, even in Vienna, were more highly regarded by their contemporaries, than Mozart and Haydn.

This paper will demonstrate that the formation of the canon was partly owing to those popular composers of “parade pieces”, who also published English instruction books and arrangements of orchestral works and operas. Humble educational material led to enjoyable keyboard transcriptions, indispensible to sociable music-making, and both were of relevance in subtly introducing the masterworks that informed later musical criticism and discernment.

Katrina Faulds

Artefacts of Movement: Rediscovering Relevance in Nineteenth-Century Dance Music

Within the disciplines of dance history and historical musicology, nineteenth-century social dance and its music have teetered on the borders of invisibility.  Theresa Jill Buckland noted how the “sphere of the social” became “the Cinderella of dance studies”, considered to be unworthy of sustained investigation, while Lawrence Zbikowski argued that the “embodied knowledge” of dance music effectively relegated it “to a subhuman status.”  In the face of the overwhelming body of music that appeared throughout the nineteenth century, such neglect is perhaps not surprising from our current position: of necessity, dance music required simplicity of structure and rhythm to make it functionally viable, and few such compositions would be considered as canonic.  However, this generalised disregard for dance music fails to recognise the rich cultural environment in which it was conceived and performed, and the intense relevance it retained in the lives of those who danced and played.  Dance music belonging to actual women sheds light on how it was tightly tied to concepts of sociability, status and gender.  The music collection of the Egerton women of Tatton Park in England provides a rich resource from which to examine the multitude of ways that dance permeated music-making: dance music facilitated the sharing of experiences amongst women, broadened access to theatrical works and developed aural-kinaesthetic awareness, to name but a few.  Many of the compositions in the collection have slid across the pages of history, relegated to bookshelves away from contemporary consciousness.  Although these works would have difficulty standing alone in modern concert culture, they need to be taken on their own merits – the social and cultural context behind their composition brings depth and richness to their form, and moves them gradually away from the margins of forgotten history.

Wendy Stafford

Is there any great music there?

It was not until the 1990s that the assumed dominance of the canon in British musicology was challenged, with the advent of the ‘new musicology’ holistic perspective, looking at music from a far wider theoretical base, including feminism.  These changes are opening up the study of the musical-socio-cultural context of domestic music making in all of its aspects. 

Analysis of the music collection of a Victorian aristocrat, Frances Bullock (1818-1895) who lived at Uppark House in the south of England, reveals an eclectic domestic repertoire.  This includes not only well-known pieces considered to be canonic, but also many lesser-known pieces, both vocal and instrumental.  To rely only on the canon as a reference for definition of this collection denies its spread and interest, and distracts from consideration of its social-political relevance.  

A more nuanced approach employing contrasting theoretical perspectives may be used to explore the music collection.  This widens the scope of enquiry into music in the domestic domain, through the application of a combination of structural and agency perspectives, and the adoption of a feminist framework. 

This approach has enabled me to develop a model which addresses:

‘discovery’ – how is the repertory understood?

‘delivery’ –  how does the music arrive in the collection?

‘decisions’ –  what are the factors that influence the content of a collection?

This model may be used as a tool for managing information in the analysis of domestic repertoire; and for comparison of different music collections.  The Uppark collection evidences a diversity of musical items whose analysis stands beyond the boundaries set by staying within the confines of the concept of canon.  As more work takes place on domestic music collections, a bigger picture will emerge in respect of the relevance or otherwise of the canon to collections.


Friday January 8th

Ellen Karoline Gjervan

The classics of Equestrian drama – a canon in the margins

According to Anthony Hippisley Coxe, an equestrian drama is a play enacted by horses and riders. Arthur H. Saxon, preferring the term hippodrama, describes it as “literally a play in which trained horses are considered as actors, with business, often leading actions, of their own to perform.”

Equestrian drama came into being in 1780s London, and was well established as a popular form of entertainment at minor theatres in England around 1800. After Astley’s Amphitheatre had a major success with The Blood Red Knight in 1810, the patent theatres could no longer ignore the lucrative form – making it blossom on all kinds of Regency stages. By then this form of entertainment, shaped by historical events relating to legislative, artistic and social-economical aspects of late Georgian and Regency England, had already spread to the European continent where it would flourish in cultural contexts both similar and disparate to that of its origins.

December 15, 1839, an itinerant troupe called “Mr D. Gautier with family and company” arrived in Trondheim, Norway, ready to provide a season of entertainments. During their four-month stay, the Gautier’s presented 16 different plays that we know of. The majority of these plays were equestrian dramas. In this paper I will focus on this popular form of entertainment, and discuss some classical pieces within this marginalized form, using the repertoire of Gautier & co as a reference point

Olivia Sabee

Revisiting the French Romantic Ballet’s Exotic “Other”

Why did La Sylphide (1832/36) and Giselle (1841), rather than other ballets, survive to enter the modern canon? What role does the French Romantic ballet play in canon today? And how are ballets from this period interpreted differently today than they were during the Romantic era?       La Sylphide and Giselle presented only one of the major themes of the Romantic ballet, the supernatural, through their portrayal of the sylphs and wilis that are now representative of the genre. Yet these ballets are tightly linked to other works from their time through their representation of the exotic, a paradigm for understanding ballet during the Romantic period that has lost its meaning today. Exoticism was primarily presented in three related ways that hinged on what was considered the highly expressive body: the Oriental or New World “Other,” the supernatural world, and mute female characters who were exotic because highly expressive and perhaps not fully human. In content these works could not have been more diverse, but in practice their forms were strikingly similar. An exploration of the relationship between these works allows us to better understand how the visual and thematic dissimilarities between these ballets have obscured their common origins.      In order to address how the original productions of these ballets relate to the modern canon, I will survey the dance criticism of both periods, illuminating how La Sylphide and Giselle were interpreted by contemporary audiences and critics in opposition to ballets that have since disappeared from the repertory as well as how they are interpreted today outside the context of their historical roots. This analysis will help illuminate aspects of the Romantic period as a whole and canonical works still performed today, but whose nineteenth-century roots have been veiled by the turn toward formalism that affects contemporary stagings of these ballets.

Dóra Kiss

“Canonisation”, re-interpretation and re-“canonisation” of the belle dance, the example of the menuet

Belle dance is an important ‘canon’ of dance. It developp itself during the eighteenth century, and its importance in France is testified through sources either manuscript or printed, verbal (in the case of description) or codified (in the case of Beauchamps-Feuillet notation). These sources could testifed that the ‘canon’ of belle dance existed, but they probably also contributed to establish it.

Around 1760, belle dance was not so much notated any more through conventional Beauchamps-Feuillet notation. And, at that time, it was still mentioned in theoretical reflection about dancing, but not necessary in a positive way. Noverre mention it in his Lettres, for example, but as an anti-model. The ‘canon’ of belle dance seems already to be old fashioned at his time.

Nevertheless, till the beginning of the 18th century, some sources of different kind mention an emblematic character of the belle dance style: the menuet.

After a short presentation of the belle dance ‘canon’ and its basic technical features, this paper propose to study several of the 19th and even 20th documents that mentioned the menuet to understand how such an emblem of one of the ‘canon’ of dance becomes a pretext for re-constructions, re-inventions, and maybe de-construction.

It will also propose allusions to the nowadays practice of menuet, as it favors certain sources and ignore others, so as constructing a new ‘canon’ of the belle dance.

Elizabeth Svarstad

“Now please proceed to the Dancing part”. The Minuet as social education in Norway around 1800

The minuet was an important dance in Norwegian social dance repertoire during the 18th century. The presence of the minuet in Norwegian sources (dance books, tune books, memoirs, newspapers etc.) reflects the strong position it had in the European dance practice during the 17th and 18th century. Although Norwegian sources are sparse, it can be noted that it has served an important role as a ballroom and theatre dance. It was frequently used in the education of young people from rich families in Christiania as well as in the teaching of the cadets at the Military academy. 

This presentation will focus on the minuet as a means of social education in Norway. It will be shown how it remained a favourite with dancing masters: They continued to use it in their teaching of discipline and correct behaviour even after it went out of fashion in the ballroom.

Anne M. Fiskvik

Doubly marginalized? Scrutinizing the endeavours of two itinerant, female and “world famous” artists

The latter part of the 18th century was a prosperous one for itinerant performances in the Nordic countries. Several artists travelled form city to city offering a variety of entertainment. However, one could safely say that these itinerant performances have remained marginalized and outside of the dance- music- and theatre canon.

Who were these itinerant artists, what did they perform? What was their life like? How were they treated and what kind of social status did they have? And, particularly relevant for this paper: What was it like to be a female performer in this time and age?

Within international dance scholarship, there has, in the last twenty-thirty years been a strong emphasis on gender studies and on possible difficulties faced by female performers. Were they for instance doubly marginalized, being both itinerant as well as female? Two female entertainers active around 1770, Madame Stuart and Madame Scaglia, are thus the topic of my paper. Both of them operated “on their own” during parts of their career, offering a variety of entertainment for audiences in Norway as well as other Nordic countries. An outline of Madame Stuart’s and Madame Scaglia’s endeavours are given, as well as an analysis of what role gender played a role for their artistic career.

Meike Wagner

August von Kotzebue – Popular playwright and controversial public persona

Around 1800 August von Kotzebue was the most popular playwright in nineteenth-century theatre. 227 theatre pieces were published under his name during his lifetime and after. Even though he served light drama and comedy best and therefore did not count as a ‘serious’ dramatist, all stages (including Goethe’s) happily welcomed his writings as they promised full houses and a substantial income. In 1819 the radical nationalist student Karl Ludwig Sand assassinated August von Kotzebue. Sand justified this murder with a semi-religious mission: he considered himself to become the saviour of the German nation by stabbing its ‘archenemy’ Kotzebue. State authorities of the German Federation (Deutscher Bund) reacted to this political murder with repressive legislation concerning censorship, political activities and student movement to prevent political upheaval (Karlsbader Beschlüsse).

Today August von Kotzebue’s pieces have disappeared from theatre repertoires. If ever remembered, his name is only mentioned in the context of the political repression after 1819. In my paper I am asking why Kotzebue’s humongous popularity until the second half of the nineteenth century did not prevent him from falling into oblivion today. I will investigate his controversial position in the public discourse on German nationalism and the role of theatre in this. I state that August von Kotzebue became the ‘archenemy’ not only because he refused to take a clear position in the political debate but also because his idea of theatre opposed the concept of a national theatre building a German nation. Instead, his plays were closely connected to the Enlightenment discourses of education and the emergence of bourgeois morals and values as fundament of a new society. He was neither a classicist nor an idealist and clearly crossed the clear-cut distinctions between high and low art, between professional and amateur theatre.

Svein Gladsø

The fear of irrelevance

The call for paper of the conference states that "[d]ifferent notions of 'relevance' have played a crucial part in the canonisation processes". In some constructivist manner, the claim is that relevance, historically, is "produced", and that relevance may be evoked anew through the efforts of, among others, the work of scholars.  The link between the processes of canonisation and questions of relevance is not an obvious one, and in my presentation I would like to contribute to the substantiation of this claim, proposing relevant approaches to the problematic.

The notion on relevance needs, in itself, to be qualified and related to its historical appearances and its relation to the fields in question (theatre, music, dance). However, my contention is that it is possible to establish some overarching perspectives guiding the understanding of the workings of "relevance". I will present a couple of such perspectives in my presentation. My stepping stone in the presentation will be that, for art criticism and art practices during the nineteenth and twentieth century, the modernist belief in meaning, relevance and progression of art was taken as granted.  The search of relevance (and the fear of irrelevance) haunted artists and art institutions at least until postmodernist thinking removed some of the burden. To what extent modernist thinking still guides our understanding of relevance lies beyond the primary scope of my presentation. But we will have to ask, especially as the issue of the conference is the role of scholarly work in bringing "forgotten" works onto the stage again, whether re-searching relevance is a fight against the waves of history or a real chance to bring works "in from the margins" by revising the narratives. Are we facing a real renaissance of Kotzebue?

Jon Nygaard

Ibsen’s development of trivial comedy into “serious” drama

My starting point will be how Ibsen scholarship has contributed to the canonization of certain works – as serious or more relevant dramas or texts for Ibsen’s artistic development – as Shakespeare, Holberg, Heiberg or Kierkegaard – and have neglected or marginalized other, first of all the repertory of farces and light comedies, which Ibsen staged in his period as theatre director and theatre manager in Bergen and Christiania 1852-64.

My intention is to bring the forgotten and neglected works – the repertory of Ibsen’s theatre - back from the margins and question if they have been more important than the canonized dramas and texts for Ibsen’s later development as “father of modern drama”.

My claim will be that to understand Ibsen’s development we have to reconsider the artistic practices in Norwegian theatre before Ibsen, as Anette Storli Andersen (2010) has started, – and the repertory of “trivial” dramas in his contemporary theatre.

We have accordingly to re-examine the “canons” – as Narve Fulsås (2011) has claimed. But I will go further and question the  “timeless” traits of Ibsen’s dramas – and the need to find “timeless” models and inspirations for Ibsen’s drama in serious dramas and philosophical texts.

My thesis will be that the claimed social and political relevance of Ibsen’s drama is a result of the technique of double actions, sudden changes, mistakes and confusion, which he had learned from staging the repertory of the theatres in Bergen and Christiania in the years 1852-64. He has not lowered the classic, tragic drama to a middle class, but he has developed the pattern of popular comedy to be “serious” drama.

Astrid von Rosen

From Haunted Historiography to Historiographic Hybridity

Between 1896 and 1900 Swedish scholar of history, archeology, and genealogy Wilhelm Berg published three volumes under the heading Anteckningar om Göteborgs äldre teatrar (Notes on Gothenburg’s older theatres) mapping almost every detail of the city’s theatre life, from the late 16 hundreds to the mid 18hundreds. Reporting every minute finding he has detected in various archives and collections Berg fits neatly into the image of a passionate empiricist explorer. The play lists he constructs out of these fragments for the cities theatres are layered with summaries of plots, quotations from reviews, letters, contextual anchoring of buildings, businesses and persons. No doubt these pluralistic lists are a valuable result, not the least because no scenic expressions or hybrid constellations seem to have been excluded. However, when comparing Berg’s way of making history with a recently published national theatre history, the exclusionary and repetitious operations of canon become obvious. In other words historiography is “haunted” (Carlson 2008) by layers of previous selections and writings. Albeit our well implemented theoretical understanding of this, I would argue that in practice the current model of producing history are not opening towards any really radical additions or changes. To speak with Derrida (1994) we have not yet learnt “how to live with ghosts”, the excluded, yet somehow present or felt voices from a pluralistic and hybrid history. What I plan to do in my paper is to revisit and re-theorize Berg’s work, focusing on the years around 1800 in relation to present day claims (and disclaims) for diversity and inclusion of marginalized, devalued, and precarious aspects of theatre history. In particular I will relate my discussion to digitization and the digital world, not the least because since 2014 Berg’s writings are accessible online, thus opening for debates over a more democratic and accessible theatre history.

Mats Krouthén

Working with mechanical instruments in the context of Ringve Music Museum

In the 18th century, long case, wall and lantern clocks, used in the bourgeois and aristocratic homes, sometimes were equipped with a mechanical instrument, a musical clock. Melodies were sounding in the dining rooms, salons etc. every hour, or at regular intervals. Common for all technological versions of the musical clock from this period is the use of a pinned & rotating barrel where the music is programmed. The melodies are then performed via a mechanical device on a barrel organ (in German: Fløtenuhr), a set of clocks or metal plates (Glockenspiel) or hammers hitting a set of strings (Harfenuhr).

The repertory performed at the musical clock represents a cloud of contemporary popular songs or works in various social and geographical groups. In addition, the arrangements are idiomatic (written directly for or adapted to the particular technology). Sometimes it is even possible to draw conclusions on performance practice and to apply it to playing technique on 18th century organ, flute & keyboard instruments.

This paper will focus on the repertory found on some musical clocks in Norway. I will discuss some possibilities and limitation with using Norwegian musical clock barrels as a source in repertory studies. I will also compare the repertory with corresponding material found in musical clocks in the rest of Europe and in the United States.


Saturday January 9th

Jørgen Langdalen

The Musical Rhetoric of Johann Mattheson

In my presentation I discuss the use of contemporary treatises on musical rhetoric in the interpretation and performance of eighteenth-century operas. In addition to being useful sources of performance practice—supplementing well-known eighteenth-century singing and playing treatises—these treatises go beyond the question of execution to the stucture and meaning of the drama as such. Thus, in the second part of his Vollkommene Capellmeister (1739) Johann Mattheson presents a theory of musical invention including a complete musical topic with eight loci topoi. These loci do not only demonstrate the possible articulation of individual melodies and musical numbers, but by extension the possible articulation of the drama at large. Two loci describe the fusion of words and music: The locus descriptionis concerns the musical expression of passions, that is, the ability of melody to imitate human speech and emotions. The locus notationis, on the other hand, indicates a mode of expression that is based on the laws of music itself, such as scales, keys, counterpoint etcetera. Now, these two loci engage in a productive struggle, in which the transparent representation of passion and the opaque display of purely musical effects alternate and blend. I shall explore the dramatic potential of this struggle in selected scenes from Reinhard Keiser’s Der Hochmütige Gestürzte und Wieder-Erhobene Croesus (Hamburg, 1711/1730). Other loci topoi in Mattheson’s system relate specifically to the theater; the locus adjunctorum, guiding the dramatist in the characterization of persons in a drama, the locus effectorum, exploiting features of a performance space, and the locus causae finalis which is related to characteristics of an audience. Discussing these various loci topoi I shall explore their possible usefulness in the staging of eighteenth-century musical drama.

Annabella Skagen

Oehlenschläger’s Freya’s Altar: A case study of a rejected Singspiel

A general impression of the Norwegian and Danish private theatres in the late 18th and early 19th centuries is that the repertory reflects that performed by the professional Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. In the provinces as well as in Copenhagen, the general fare consisted of a similar mix of Continental and Dano-Norwegian bourgeois drama, comedy and singspiels. However, we find deviations from this general principle; one of them being plays that were repeatedly staged by local dramatic societies, but not seen on the twin-state’s official public stage.

This paper presents a case study of a play repeatedly rejected by the Royal Theatre, but performed in private theatres in both kingdoms. The piece Freya’s Altar by the acclaimed poet and dramatist Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger (1779–1850) was written and rewritten in four different versions over the years 1804–1828. However, it seems it was primarily the earliest version, printed in 1805, which achieved merit with audiences – and this version was never performed at the Royal Theatre.

In my paper, I would like to give a presentation of the play’s background and history in Danish-Norwegian theatres, as well as take a closer look at its dramatic contents, in an attempt to outline a possible framework for an understanding of the play’s role within the Danish-Norwegian repertory. As a play both rejected and performed, it was firmly placed outside of the canon by the Royal Theatre’s censors, while leading social circles outside of the professional theatre considered it relevant for their stages.

Randi M. Selvik

Freya’s Altar in Norway – which music?

In Norway Freya’s Altar was performed by dilettante theatre companies, as no professional theatres existed before later in the nineteenth century. In my paper I want to examine some aspects concerning the composers of the music for the performances in Trondheim and Christiania. Two different local musicians composed music for the play: town musician in Trondheim Peter Eberg (ca.1766–1815) and dilettante musician in Christiania Hans Hagerup Falbe (1772–1830). Neither of these belongs to the Norwegian canon of outstanding composers, and possible reasons for this will be considered.

As to Peter Eberg, only a few aspects of his musical orientation will be discussed and some circumstances concerning the music for Freya’s Altar, although none of the musical pieces from this play nor any other theatre music of his has survived. Hans Hagerup Falbe – although a dilettante – was one of the country’s most outstanding composers of the time. He wrote music for at least four Singspiels: Geheime–Overfinantsraaden (1825), Anglomanien (1808?), Fredsfesten (The Peace Festival, 1810) and Freya’s Altar (1816?). Only fragments of these have survived. Based on the music that was in all likelihood used as concluding chorus in Freya’s Altar, a few pieces from The Piece Festival, some of his dances and the style of his instrumental music in general, I will argue that Falbe’s reputation as a composer of limited artistic value may in part be due to the fact that his music to a great extent has been jugded by standards far from his aesthetic ideals, and also that the genre of the Singspiel until recently has been held in fairly low esteem among the genres of music drama.

Eva Hov

Out of Canon – Out of Interest? Circulation of cultural products and knowledge in informal amateur sharing networks

Literature concerning music, dance and theatre in Trondheim around 1800, regardless if written in 1870 or recently, focus on institutions and organised activities: Concerts staged by organists, town musicians or musical societies, dancing masters' classes, formal balls and theatre performances.

However, this well documented activity represents only the tip of an iceberg, as there also existed parallel, informal amateur practices: Networks of friends who amused themselves with and shared whatever they liked and found interesting. Surviving manuscripts show extensive circulation of sheet music and (mostly anonymous) favourite pieces copied into music books. Foreign visitors were taught dances needed for social life, and new dance created. A theatre play was written, copied, learnt by heart and enjoyed for years before eventually put on stage. These manuscripts have been practically overlooked and forgotten, possibly because unremarkable persons involved in unpretentious activities don't fit into the Canons of Performing Arts. Also, as urban and literally transmitted, these practices are on the fringe of the research field of traditional music and dance.

Informal activities were and are an important part of everyday life, and more knowledge about them is vital to a more holistic view of cultural history. The manuscripts show what was closest to heart of those who wrote them and may tell us about tastes, values and sense of identity.

There is nothing to suggest that the situation in Trondheim was unique. Although what manuscripts came to survive in archives seems random, there are probably treasures to be found many other places as well. Hopefully, presenting some of the material from the Trondheim manuscripts may inspire others in the quest for and research of what's “out of canon” – out of INTEREST!

Gediminas Karoblis

Mesmerising waltz

The phrase “mesmerising waltz” conceals in itself more than just a nice metaphorical expression.

Mesmer’s (1734-1815) theories about cosmic fluid and its constant circulation between bodies as well as his “mesmerising” somatic practice sessions including phenomena of deep corporeal suggestion, hypnosis, somnambulism and the music of glass harmonica had enormous influence upon the arts, literature and theatre  of the nineteenth century thus predominantly occupying the public imagination (Darnton 1968). The concept of Romantic philosophy of dance includes not only ethereal or national characters (Brandstetter und Neumann 2004), but also the mesmerising waltz which “carried currency in the ballet fantastique precisely because it was part of a larger discourse on the fantastic” (Meglin 2005: 91). Such character as Mephistopheles undoubtedly possesses “infernal magnetism” and enacts it by the waltzing (Meglin 2004:115). Two images dominating the public imagination – mesmerism and the waltz – in quite a few moments merged in the arts, theatre and literature of the early nineteenth century. It seems that certain kinaesthetic features of this imagination developed around 1800. Peter Sloterdijk (1998:211-268) described it as the fascination with closeness. In my presentation I will compare basic kinaesthetic features of mesmerism and the waltz and will show how they complemented and enforced each other.


Biographies of conference speakers


Cave, Penelope

Penelope Cave is an international prize-winning harpsichordist who has performed and recorded throughout Europe.  She holds the honours of LRAM, GRSM and ARAM, and she was awarded a PhD on music in the English Country House at the University of Southampton in 2014. She regularly gives papers, tutors courses and workshops and writes and reviews for various early music publications. Penelope Cave project-managed and appeared in four films about music at Tatton Park directed by Professor Jeanice Brooks. She was invited, by the National Trust, to be a visiting musician-in-residence at Dyrham Park, near Bath, during 2015. Her CD, From Lisbon to Madrid, received 5 stars from the BBC Music Magazine, and she is currently working on a recording of 20th century harpsichord repertoire, and music for four hands, using historic pianos.

Egtvedt, Sigrid

Sigrid Egtvedt, born in Trondheim, Norway, studied musicology, education and performance at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim and the Norwegian Academy of Music. Her specialisation in early music and historical flutes was achieved at Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Trossingen in Germany. She is a PhD-fellow in performance practice at the Norwegian Academy of Music and performs regularly in chamber ensembles and Norwegian early music orchestras.

Faulds, Katrina

Katrina Faulds studied music at the University of Western Australia and the Australian National University before completing postgraduate studies on the fortepiano and clavichord at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. She completed her PhD at the University of Southampton, England in April 2015 on social dance and dance music at Tatton Park. She is an Attingham Trust scholar and is currently administrator for Sound Heritage, an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded network overseen by Professor Jeanice Brooks (University of Southampton) and Professor Jonathan Wainwright (University of York). The network aims to bring together scholars of domestic music collections and curators and heritage-sector professionals, to promote the role of music in English country houses.

Fiskvik, Anne Margrete 

Anne Margrete Fiskvik (Dr. Art) holds the position as Associate Professor at the Department for Musicology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim. She is chair of Program for Dance Studies. Previously a professional dancer and choreographer she has pursued an academic career and today her main research areas are: early dance history, Norwegian theatre dance history, choreomusical analysis and practices in theatre dance, and popular dance and music cultures. Fiskvik’s interest in itinerant practices is reflected in several recent articles, for instance “Working in Nordic Dance Venues” in K. Vedel & P. Hoppu (eds.) Nordic Dance Spaces. Practicing and imagining a region (2014) Her two most recent published articles are: “Itinerant challenges and newspaper support: The Johannesénske Balletselskab’s Norwegian tour 1878–1879” (2015), and “La Famille Dansant. Investigating the Family Structure and Repertory of the Johannesénske Balletselskab” (2015).

Gjervan, Ellen Karoline

Ellen Karoline Gjervan is, as of January 2016, Associate Professor of theatre at Queen Maud University College in Trondheim. Between 2012 and 2015 she was a postdoctoral research fellow in the interdisciplinary research project “Performing arts between dilettantism and professionalism. Music, theatre and dance in the Norwegian public sphere 1770–1850” (pArts) at NTNU. In this project, Gjervan focused on the itinerant theatre artists operating in Scandinavia around 1800, and in the popular theatrical entertainments of that era. Gjervan received her PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of Bergen, Norway, in 2010, with a dissertation on how Henrik Ibsen created and used theatrical space in the production books he kept during his employment at the Bergen theatre, 1851–1857. Gjervan has co- authored an academic textbook on dramaturgy, Dramaturgi – forestillinger om teater (Dramaturgy ­– concepts of theatre, 2005/2015). She has published articles on Ibsen’s theatrical career, on dramaturgy and on late 18th century and early 19th century stagecraft.

Gladsø, Svein

Svein Gladsø is a professor in theatre studies at the Department of Art and Media Studies at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. He is a co-founder and member of the research project “Performing arts between dilettantism and professionalism. Music, theatre and dance in the Norwegian public sphere 1770–1850.” Svein Gladsø has been doing research on theatre history, historiography, cultural policies and dramaturgy. Among his scholarly works are “Another turn – cognitive science as a general theory for theatre historiography?”, Teater mellom jus og politikk (Theatre between law and politics) (2008); and, together with other scholars, a textbook on dramaturgy, Dramaturgi – forestillinger om teater (Dramaturgy ­– concepts of theatre) (2005/2015). Svein Gladsø has been the chair of the Association of Nordic Theatre Scholars and the editor of Nordic Theatre Studies, the journal of the association. For the period 2013–2017 he is also the vice dean of education at the Faculty of Humanties at NTNU.

Hov, Eva

Eva Hov is a piano teacher at Trondheim Municipal School of Performing Arts. She has also been studying and researching Norwegian traditional music and dance. For the last years much spare time has been spent on exploring literary and musical manuscripts from the period 1770 to 1830, in cultural and local historic contexts. She is also researcher and musician of Trondheim Balldans, a group that performs social dances of the same era.

Karoblis, Gediminas

Gediminas Karoblis (Dr. Phil. from 2003) is Associate Professor in Dance studies at the Department of Music, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Currently, he is the Coordinating Convenor of Choreomundus, Erasmus+ International master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage. His fields of interest are: phenomenological philosophy, philosophy of movement, social and competitive ballroom dancing and 19th century-derived round European dancing. He also teaches dance sport, Argentine tango and other social ballroom dances.

Kiss, Dóra

After an international career of teacher, dancer, and choreographer, Dóra Kiss fulfilled her studies in French literature (master in 2010) and in musicology and dance research (PhD in 2013). Her dissertation won the Prix Jacques-Handschin of the Societé suisse de musicologie in 2014.  After publishing several peer-reviewed articles, she is currently publishing a monography with the Parisian editor Classiques Garnier: Saisir le movement: lire et écrire les sources de la belle danse (1700–1797).  Her research integrates her practice of dance and choreographic creation (contemporary dance; baroque dance). It is focused on body techniques (a concept developed by Marcel Mauss), relationship between oral and written knowledge and transmission, dance-music relationship and otherness representation. 

Krouthén, Mats

Mats Krouthén has been working as a curator at Ringve Music Museum since 2000. He has studied musicology, history and history of ideas at Gothenburg University. His main research focus is organology with keyboard & mechanical instruments as a speciality. 

Langdalen, Jørgen

Jørgen Langdalen is trained as a music historian, specialising in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music theatre. He has published articles about opera in Venice and Rome, Hamburg and Copenhagen. His current interest is the «galant style» pursued in European theatres around 1700. Jørgen Langdalen is currently head of the Music Department of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim.  

Mur, Maria-Christina

Maria-Christina Mur is a Ph.D. student at Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, at LILEC – Dipartimento di Lingue, Letterature e Culture Moderne, within the Ph.D. program DESE – Doctorat d'Études Superieures Européennes – Les littératures de l'Europe unie, cycle “La Science en Fiction” (2012–2015). The topic of her dissertation is “The circulation of Physiognomical Discourse in European Theatrical Culture, 1780–1830”. At present she is exchange student at NTNU.

Nygaard, Jon

Jon Nygaard is research fellow at NRK, 1969, and the University of Oslo 1970–72. He was Associate Professor and founder of the study of Drama, Theatre and Film, University of Trondheim 1973–84. He was Associate Professor and Professor in Theatre studies, University of Oslo 1984–2004 and has been Professor in Theatre studies at Centre for Ibsen Studies, University of Oslo since 2005. 

Sabee, Olivia 

Olivia Sabee is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, USA. Her research focuses on language, characterization, and politics in ballet in France from the end of the Ancien Régime through the July Monarchy. Her teaching reaches across numerous departments including Dance, Music, Theatre and French, and looks broadly at issues related to performance in Early Modern Europe. She holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, both in French.

Selvik, Randi M. 

Randi M. Selvik is Professor of musicology at Department of Music, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). She specialises in music history in the 17th and 18th centuries and is currently project manager of the interdisciplinary research project “Performing arts between dilettantism and professionalism. Music, theatre and dance in the Norwegian public sphere 1770–1850” (pArts). In this project she has focused on Singspiel in Norway in the decades around 1800. Her dissertation was about dilettante and professional musicians and concert activity in Bergen 1750–1830 (2005). Among her most recent publications is a book on Lully’s operas co-authored with Hans Erik Aarset (2015), and she is one of four authors in a book about Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra’s 250 years anniversary (2015).

Skagen, Annabella  

Annabella Skagen holds a PhD in theatre history from NTNU. Her thesis, “From Count's Manor to Prince's Street: Theatre in Trondhjem 1790–1814”, focuses on early dilettante and semi-professional theatre in Norway. In addition to having published scientific articles and given public lectures on this topic, she is also the co-author of a textbook on dramaturgy for university students, Dramaturgi – forestillinger om teater (Dramaturgy ­– concepts of theatre 2005/2015).  She now works as a curator at Ringve Music Museum in Trondheim, where she is currently planning an exhibition on 18th century musical life.

Stafford, Wendy

After over 40 years of professional life in social work practice, family courts and academia, alongside continuing participation in amateur music making, I chose to pursue (again!) the student pathway. An MA in British music and a dissertation about women and music within the home environment provoked my interest in domestic music making.  This has led to my work in exploring the nineteenth century music repertoire, particularly that found in an aristocratic country property in the south of England. I have been looking at this music, seeking to understand how it reflects and interacts with life in the house, through its meanings, performance and reception.  I am currently interested in how social theoretical perspectives may be used to deepen and broaden our knowledge of the ‘story’ of repertory.  

Svarstad, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Svarstad is a PhD candidate in dance at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Her project Dance in Norway 1770–1850 researches dance as social education and artistic expressions. She is a member of the project “Performing arts between professionalism and dilettantism. Music, theatre and dance in the Norwegian public sphere 1770–1850”. Svarstad holds a MA in dance on the subject “Reconstruction and interpretation. The 18th century sarabande”. She has a BA in dance from The Norwegian College of Dance, and she has studied baroque dance in France, England and the USA. Svarstad works as a freelance dancer, teacher and choreographer. She has performed with Scandinavia’s leading baroque ensembles and is artistic director of the dance ensemble Compagnie Contours. 

von Rosen, Astrid

Astrid von Rosen is senior lecturer in Art History and Visual Studies, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and a research coordinator for the Staging the Archives cluster, within Critical Heritage Studies. A former classical and contemporary dancer, Astrid is interested in the intersections between artistic and academic research, particularly in the fields of archives, dance, scenography and art history, and has written books and articles on these subjects. As part of an interdisciplinary research group she works on “Turning Points and Continuity: the Changing Roles of Performance in Society 1880–1925”, a three-year project financed by the Swedish Research Council. Astrid is also engaged in a joint project with Dr Andrew Flinn at University College London, exploring a critical re-imagined Dig Where You/We Stand approach, Dancing Where We Dig grounded in the interstices and contact zones between artistic, activist and academic approaches to participatory knowledge-production. 

Wagner, Meike

Meike Wagner is the Professor of Theatre Studies at Stockholm University. Her book Theater und Öffentlichkeit im Vormärz (Theatre and the Public Sphere in the Early 19th Century) (Berlin 2013) is based on her historical research on the early development of bourgeois theatre in German speaking countries. Her current research interest lies in the ideas, models and practices of theatre, which materialised in the early 19th century as a result of social, political and aesthetic transformations around 1800, and prefigure modern theatre as we know it today.



Abrahamsen, Jardar Eggesbø

Aune, Ingrid Galadriel

Bue, Margrethe

Cave, Penelope

Egtvedt, Sigrid

Faulds, Katrina

Fiskvik, Anne Margrete 

Gjervan, Ellen Karoline

Gladsø, Svein                

Hansen, Ivar Roger       

Hov, Eva                       

Karoblis, Gediminas      

Kiss, Dóra                     

Kolderup, Trude            

Krouthén, Mats             

Langdalen, Jørgen                   

Mur, Maria-Christina    

Nygaard, Jon                 

von Rosen, Astrid                   

Sabee, Olivia                 

Sauter, Willmar             

Selvik, Randi M.           

Skagen, Annabella                  

Stafford, Wendy            

Stensrud, Cecilie Louise Macé

Svarstad, Elizabeth       

Trolie, Tor                     

Wagner, Meike              

Plakat 2016

The poster of our conference! The conference venue is still the marvellous Ringve Museum

The pdf-version of the call for papers is still available here.

Call for papers: conference 2016

Call for papers: conference 2016

We are happy to inform you that the venue will be the marvellous Ringve Museum

Download the pdf-version of the call for papers here.

Lidenskap eller levebrød?

Lidenskap eller levebrød?

Ny bok publisert på Fagbokforlaget i april 2015!

For å lese mer om boka:


Performing arts between dilettantism and professionalism

Performing arts between dilettantism and professionalism

– Music, theatre and dance in the Norwegian public sphere 1770–1850

Prosjektet Performing arts between dilettantism and professionalism (pArts) arbeider med de historiske og kunstteoretiske forutsetningene for utviklingen av musikk, dans og teater i tiårene rundt 1800, da de performative kunstartene sto i en brytning mellom dilettantisme og profesjonalitet. 







I tillegg til det overordnede temaet «profesjonalisering», behandler prosjektet periodens kunstpraksis ut fra offentlighets-, makt- og dannelsesperspektiver, med sterk vekt på kjønnsaspekter ved utviklingen.


Performing arts between dilettantism and professionalism. Music, theatre and dance in the Norwegian public sphere 1770–1850 (pArts) is a multi-disciplinary research project with the aim of generating new knowledge about the preconditions of the development of the performing art forms theatre, dance and music in the transition from the 18th to the 19th century.

Along with the primary focus on the process of professonalisation, the project will look at other aspects of the development, like publicity, power and self-fashioning in the period. with gender issues will be given further priority.