No Song is Safe From Us

No Song Is Safe From Us - The NYFOS Blog
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My parents were both of Norwegian heritage, and hailed from Minnesota. They met as grad students at the Eastman School of Music, and spent their careers as music educators. Needless to say, our house was filled with music, and I was introduced to the works of Edvard Grieg at an early age. Later in life when I began to sing his songs, I could feel myself tapping a rich vein of familiarity and love. Grieg is the foremost Norwegian composer, and his songs stand out as premiere examples of the Scandinavian contribution to the art form.

The song I have chosen for my final contribution is one of Grieg’s “greatest hits”: “Ein Traum”, the final song in the wonderful Opus 48, consisting of six songs set to German texts.  I learned it first in Norwegian, and I must confess that I have never sung it in German in performance. The Norwegian translation is extremely singable, and somehow seems more ‘original’—but then, I’m biased.

Kirsten Flagstad was, is, and always will be, the queen of Norwegian classical singers. (Not that she has much competition, as the group is quite small.) It’s only fitting that her statue greets all who visit the gorgeous opera house in Oslo—she was an amazing artist and is highly venerated in Norway.

The recording I’ve chosen was made in 1936 with the wonderful Edwin McArthur, Flagstad’s musical partner of many years. It’s a masterful song in the hands of true masters.

Karen Holvik

Soprano Karen Holvik began her musical life in folk music, wishing she could be Joan Baez. She later spent ten years singing rock and jazz professionally before deciding to try the classical repertoire. After earning a master’s degree in vocal performance at the Eastman School of Music (where she also sang jazz), she settled in NYC and finally got serious about singing opera, oratorio and classical song. She was very active with NYFOS during its early years, and she appears on a NYFOS cd, Marc Blitzstein: Zipperfly & Other Songs with Steven Blier and baritone William Sharp. She now lives in Boston, where she is chair of the voice department at the New England Conservatory.

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