MUSIC: JOHAN GOTTFRIED CONRADI (1820 -1896)
In 1843 Johan Gottfried Conradi organized a Male Quartet at the University of Oslo and a Male Chorus of about twenty academicians and craftsmen in Oslo. He is considered the founder of the organized Norwegian Male Chorus (choral) movement together with Johan Didrik Behrens (1820-1890) who in Oslo on July 13, l845, organized Den Norske Studentersangforening (The Norwegian Students Singing Society), recognized as Norway’s first Male Chorus.
Fierce rivals, the two “musical titans” are mostly responsible for the “giant strides” in the development of 19th century musical life in Norwegian society. While Behrens dedicated his efforts to the male chorus movement, Conradi devoted himself with the total musical life of society as conductor, orchestra instructor and music teacher.
Conradi traveled to numerous cities –– among them Drøbak, Kongsberg, Moss, Porsgrunn, Skien, Tønsberg –– as well as organizing Sangerfester (Bastø 1850, Tønsberg 1851, Horten 1852). The “Sixth Great Sangerfest” (Sjette Store Sangerfest) was held June 16-18, 1883, [this time] in Trondheim. Twenty-eight choruses and 698 singers were in attendance at a time when there was estimated to be approximately 200 choruses in Norway. Grieg’s famous song “Sangerhilsen” (Singer’s Greetings) to the text of Sigvald Skavland, was premiered by a 200 voice host chorus –– “trönderkoret” –– under the direction of Conradi. The song was an immediate success and by request was performed numerous times throughout the festival. It has since become a tradition to be sung by the Sangerfesthost chorus, greeting fellow visiting singers.
The multi-talented poet, musician, composer and accomplished pianist Frantz Johannes Hansen (1810 –1852) followed a career in the Danish Ministry of Justice ending up as an Administrator. He studied with Danish author and poet Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) and was also a pupil of Danish composer Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse, (1774-1842), whose prolific compositions of song are found in the Norwegian repertoire.