One’s musical expression really has more to do with instinct, a kind of voice of the heart, than with the outer intellect. All I have heard and studied, however, has strenghtened my belief in the tonal principle.
Like most Norwegian composers of my generation, I began writing music with close ties to Norwegian tonal feeling, but without integrating folk music. This applies to all the early works, like songs opus 4 and Norwegian Overture op. 7, things that are still performed, the overture even very often. Eventually a need to orient myself away from this direction emerged. In the longer term, the stay in Paris from 1952 to 1954 helped me in this struggle. It wasn’t in any way a break with tonality, only an expansion and enrichment of aids towards what I would call a modern tonality. This is perhaps most noticable in Symphonic Epos, op. 22 and even more in the String Quartet No. 2 op. 27.
With the music of Skipper Worse, I was involuntarily led back home, and an assignment from the Bergen International Festival to produce adaptions of Norwegian folk tunes for piano for the first time brought me in direct relation to Norwegian folk music (apart from small adaptions in op. 5). With the experience I had gained in the meantime, I could now approach the folk music without being encumbered by some sort of national issues, but look at it from a more healthy angle, as a distinctive and interesting music in and of itself.
When it comes to the Stev tunes (op. 40), I would like to mention that my mother was a great connoisseur of Norwegian folk music and sang the old folk and stev tunes for me since I was little. Only now did I, however, feel so free in relation to the material that I would dare to attempt at an adaption. In Antagonia op. 38 I think I have managed to gather and combine my experiences in the best way. In the last movement I use a stev tune, but in such a way that it is completely integrated in the style. I studied Herbert Eimerts Lehrebuch Zwôlftontechnik and in the 60s I followed closely the development, by doing many study trips. All I have heard and studied, however, has strenghtened my belief in the tonal principle.
But one’s musical expression really has more to do with instinct, a kind of voice of the heart, than with the outer intellect.
from a handwritten note by Kvandal