My favorite things Norwegian

1. Film: The 1989 Pathfinder is one of the best "unknown" movies, why is there no DVD reissue? 

2. Classical music.  My favorite Grieg recording is Lyric Pieces, by Emil Gilels.  Mostly the composer bores me, but if you get the piano concerto try Dinu LipattiPeer Gynt reminds me of a bad coffee commercial, which in fact it once was.  For contemporary composers, Arne Nordheim is consistently interesting.

3. Jazz: Norway is now a world leader in this field; start with the Tord Gustavsen Trio, Changing Places.  Here are more resources.  That said, Jan Garbarek has never thrilled me.

4. Playwright: Almost everything by Ibsen is superb, and yes it does repay a rereading.  Too many smart people had A Doll’s House forced on them in high school and then take him for granted.  His fantasy piece Peer Gynt is one of the most imaginative literary creations, period.

5. Novels: Knut Hamsun was a fascist, still Hunger holds the reader’s attention.  My favorite is Sigrid Undset; Kristin Lavransdatter is long but a must-read.  Ole Rolvaag’s tales of the American frontier often have interesting property rights themes.

6. Pianist: Leif Ove Andsnes is remarkably consistent and tasteful.  HÃ¥kon Austbø is a strong and underrated runner-up, I love his Messiaen on Naxos.

7. Soprano: Kirsten Flagstad, anything by Wagner.

8. Economist: You’ve got Trygve Haavelmo and Finn Kydland, both Nobel Laureates, plus Ragnar Frisch; the overall slant here is technical.  I also enjoy the social science books of Jon Elster, a political scientist by training but a polymath by nature.

The bottom line: In almost every category the top offerings of Norway are underrated or at least underexplored.


Not to forget:
- Popmusic: Melody AM by Royksopp, and who can forget A-Ha
- Death(?) Metal: A flourishing scene with bands like Satyricon and Dimmur Borgir
- The ravishing Norwegian blondes
- The lovely fjords
- Sports commentary: The English still seems to remember radio commentator Bjorge Lilleliens rant after Norway beat England in qualification for the 1982 FIFA World Cup 'Maggie Thatcher can you hear me ... your boys took one hell of a beating...'

the best norwegian band is of course kaizers!

(and don't forget to check out madrugada, motorpsycho, anne brun, thomas dybdahl)

PS i have no troubles forgetting aha

Most things Norge are underappreciated because most people Norge are too self-effacing to successfully market themselves.

That Gilels disc of the Grieg Lyric Pieces is a snoozer. Not sure why you selected ity.

I agree about Andsnes -- to much piano composition is lewd. But on economists, the other Trygve (Hoff)
deserves at least honorable mention.

Jah, no wonder I want to immigrate backwards to the land of my ancestors and leave the militarism and inequality and rotten healthcare and job churn and ??? of the USA.

Agreed on Norway's offerings being underappreciated/underexplored.

You must get out of Oslo and head up to Bergen. And bring home laks!

"-Death(?) Metal: A flourishing scene with bands like Satyricon and Dimmur Borgir"

That would be «Black Metal», actually. Both bands are tremendously successful (not when compared to Beyoncé, but not actually singing - apart from DB's bassist - and praising Satan are huge handicaps) in the U.S., but they were somewhat late comers to the whole Norsk Black Metal scene - though quite influential to some extent.

Someone mentioned Xploding Plastix, which are truly excellent, and I'd also recommend the newer stuff by Ulver (a very caustic black metal band in their early days), Jaga Jazzist, Shining, Anja Garbarek (Jan's daughter), Anders Aarum and, well, countless others.

The extreme metal scene is as burgeoning as in the early 90s, as far as I'm concerned, though with a lighter emphasis on black metal.

Great post, Tyler. I had forgotten "Pathfinder," a superb film. I saw it when it first came out, I was living in Alaska at the time, and of course the winter scenery really resonated. this film clearly should be re-issued.

I find Undset boring (and overrated), and Hamsun can be quite a piece, too (Hunger is good, but read it before "Crime and Punishment" or Sartre's "Age of Reason" which explore similar themes. As for other authors, try Erik Fosnes Hansen's "Psalm at Journey's End", something by Ingvar Ambjørnsen (the movie "Elling", nominated to an Oscar a few years ago, is based on his books and deserves mention in the film category). Or perhaps something by Jan Kjærstad?

Knut Hamsun was not, however, a "fascist". He thought that cooperating with the Regime would be the best way to save the Norwegian people, he hated Hitler. For a better view I highly recommend his autobiographical novel, "On Overgrown Paths".

So, I would add a few things:

Lasso rundt fru Luna is a fantastic novel.

Kings of Convenience - great music.

Sværmere is my favorite Hamsun novel.

Flåklyppa Grand Prix - classic movie

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