Nordic Music Days – festival for contemporary music and sound

The festival Nordic Music Days has been arranged since 1888, and we are proud to say that it is one of the oldest and well respected festivals for contemporary classical music in the world. Our festival is unique in the respect that it is arranged by the composers themselves. Each year one of our members, the national societies of composers, arranges the festival on behalf of the Council of Nordic Composers. You can read more about the current or upcoming festival at the festival’s own website.


(From wikipedia)

From Nordic Music Days 2014. Photo: Vemund Bergland/Norsk Komponistforening

From the mid-nineteenth century, at regular intervals, song festivals were arranged where choirs from all over the North met. The repertoire was decidedly ‘national’ – one could say that when the Nordic countries were gathered there was a need to express national distinctiveness. But joint activities were arranged too, for example in 1929 when a choir of 1000 sang the Nordic cantata Song of the North, composed jointly by five composers – one from each Nordic country. The song festivals continued well into the first half of the twentieth century.

The first true “Nordic Music Days” was held in Copenhagen in 1888 and its main emphasis was on instrumental and orchestral music. This was to be a forum where Nordic composers could have their works performed, and the first festival presented works from Denmark, Norway and Sweden – among other ways in seven large-scale choral and orchestral concerts.

The next festivals were held in Stockholm in 1897, and in 1919 – again in Copenhagen, where among others Carl Nielsen, Jean Sibelius, Wilhelm Stenhammer and Johan Halvorsen conducted. The first time the festival was held in Helsinki was 1921, then it was held in Stockholm in 1927, in Helsinki again in 1932, and finally in Oslo in 1934. The Copenhagen 1938 festival was the last one before the outbreak of World War II.

After the war the Nordic composers’ societies joined forces to form the Nordic Council of Composers, which immediately after its establishment in 1946 assumed the main responsibility for Nordic Music Days. Since 1948 the festival has been held in turn in the Nordic capitals every other year. Until the 1970s the repertoire profile was still purely Nordic, but from 1974- 82 composers and works from a ‘guest country’ were invited: Poland in 1974, Canada in 1976, the GDR in 1978, the UK in 1980, and in 1982 France. After this it went back to being a festival exclusively for new Nordic music.


Past festivals:

London 2017 – Sweden Stockholm 1998 – Sweden Reykjavík 1967 – Iceland Helsingfors 1921 –Finland
Reykjavík 2016 – Iceland Reykjavík 1996 – Iceland Helsingfors 1964 –Finland København 1919 – Denmark
København 2015 – Denmark København 1994 – Denmark København 1962 – Denmark Stockholm 1897 – Sweden
Oslo 2014 – Norway ULTIMA, in Oslo 1992 – Norway Stockholm 1960 – Sweden København 1888 – Denmark
Helsinki 2013 – Finland Turku, Espoo, Helsinki 1990 – Finland Oslo 1958 – Norway
Stockholm 2012 – Sweden Stockholm 1988 – Sweden Helsingfors 1956 –Finland
Reykjavík 2011 – Iceland Reykjavík 1986 – Iceland Reykjavík 1954 – Iceland
København 2010 – Denmark København 1984 – Denmark København 1952 – Denmark
Oslo 2009 – Norway Oslo 1982 – Norway Helsingfors 1950 –Finland
Helsinki 2008 – Finland Helsingfors 1980 –Finland Oslo 1948 – Norway
Norrköping 2007 – Sweden Stockholm 1978 – Sweden Stockholm 1947 – Sweden.
Reykjavík 2006 – Iceland Reykjavík 1976 – Iceland København 1938 – Denmark
Cph/Mmx/Hel 2004 – Denmark København 1974 – Denmark Oslo 1934 – Norway
MAGMA, in Berlin 2002 – Norway Helsingfors 1970 –Finland Helsingfors 1932 –Finland
Lahti, Turku, Helsinki 2000– Finland Stockholm 1968 – Sweden Stockholm 1927 – Sweden

Search the musical history of the Nordic Music Days: