Since its original publication in Oslo in 1971 and through two revisions, Nil Grinde’s history of the music of Norway from antiquity to the present has become the standard on its subject. This translation, the first in English, has been updated by Grinde to include the most recent Norwegian musicians and compositions.
A History of Norwegian Music is compact, comprehensive, and chronological in its approach except for a major excursion into Norway's folk music. Included in that section are descriptions of indigenous Sami (Lapp) music and of the instruments—among them the Hardanger fiddle and the langeleik—used in the Norwegian folk-music tradition.
Grinde bases his survey of Norwegian music on archeaological and literary evidence: surviving instruments; wood carvings depicting musicians; ancient poems and sagas; and rolls and account books of troupes, theaters, and associations. His focus is always on the part music has played in Norwegian culture, from the calls to war on the ancient lurs through church music to the development of music societies, choral festivals, and public concerts. Although a recurring theme is the influence of indigenous folk music on Norwegian composers, flag-waving nationalism does not intrude; Grinde takes full account of the contributions of other countries, especially Germany, to Norway's music. This work will please music lovers everywhere.