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Fartein Valen 1887-1952

From 1938 Fartein Valen lived permanently in Valevåg, and for the following seven years his longest journey was the forty miles to Haugesund. For him, Valevåg was the centre, but his horizons were broader than Valesåta and Siggjo. He had previously travelled far and wide gathering memories and experience, from his childhood years on Madagaskar, his student years in Berlin, his visits to Rome, Paris, Sicily and Majorca. He was an internationalist.

This is also evident in his music, both stylistically and in his choice of themes. He was drawn to the “classical” European traditions, from Palestrina, through J.S. Bach and the Vienna School: Haydn and Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, to the great romantics, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner and Bruckner. In addition he felt a strong affinity to painters such as El Greco and Rembrandt, and authors such as Shakespeare, Shelley and Goethe. His interest in philosophy and his deep religiosity are also connected to his feelings of affinity with mankind in general and the spiritual impulses of western civilization.

Valen was also closely aware of the currents of his own time. He was inspired by Arnold Schönberg to find beauty behind the pretty façade of music, and he developed his independent, expressive atonal music after having written radically romantic works such as Legende, Piano Sonata nr.1 and Psalm 121. Before the Norwegian parliament awarded him an artists’ salary he worked for many years at the University Library. There he made acquaintance more with radical painters and poets than with conservative colleagues.

His radical works were performed by enthusiastic friends, but not all were easily understood. It was during this period that the myths surrounding Valen were created – concerning his perfect ear, his high intelligence, his linguistic abilities, his love of nature, his humility – and his very difficult music. There are fewer today who would regard his orchestral work “Kirkegården ved havet”, his Violin Concerto or his symphonies as radical or difficult music, which in his own time won international recognition.

Now, we attempt to penetrate beyond the myths. Younger musicians approach his music directly and find it fresh, lively and new, and play it as such. Fartein Valen’s music has a message to them and us. His music is also classical in the sense that it is exemplary, in many ways timeless music of its time, and as such important today.

Arvid Vollsnes

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Fartein Valen – some milestones

1887 (25th august) Birth in Stavanger

1890-95 Stay in Madagascar

1906-09 Studies in Kristiana, philology, organist, composition

1 Legende for piano 1907-08

1909-15 Studies in Berlin

2 Sonate for violin and piano 1906-12

– String quartet n°0 1909

– Psalm 121 for choir and orchestra 1911

1915-24 Stay in Valevåg

3 Sonate for violin and piano 1912-17 (1919)

4 Ave Maria for soprano and orchestra 1915-21

1922 Three months studies in Italy

5 Trio for violin, cello and piano 1917-24

1924-38 Stay in Oslo (september-mai) and Valevåg (june-august)

6 Drei Gedichte von Goethe (Sakontala, Weiss wie Lilien, Suleika) 1925-27

7 Mignon. Zwei Gedichte von Goethe (So lasst mich scheinen, Heiss mich nicht reden) 1927

8 Zwei Chinesische Gedichte (from Bethges Die Chinesische Flöte) 1925-27

9 Darest Thou now, o Soul for choir and orchestra (Walt Whitman) 1927-28

1928 Four months in Paris

10 String quartet n°1 1928-29

11 Pastoral for orchestra 1929-30

12 Hvad est du dog skiøn (H. A. Brorson) motet for a cappella mixed choir 1930

13 String quartet n°2 1930-31

14 Two motets, women choir a cappella (Quomodo sedet sole civitas, Regina coeli laetare) 1931

15 Two motets, men choir a cappella (O Salutaris Hostia, Qui vidisti me) 1931

16 Two motets, mixed choir a cappella (Et dices in die illa, Deus noster refugium) 1931-32

17.1 Sonetto di Michelangelo for orchestra 1931-32

1932-33 Stay in Sicily and Majorca

17.2 Cantico di Ringraziamento for orchestra 1932-33

18.1 Nenia sulla morte d’un giovane for orchestra 1932-33

18.2 An die Hoffnung for orchestra 1933

19 Epithalamion for orchestra 1933

20 Le Cimetière marin for orchestra 1933-34

21 La Isla de las calmas for orchestra 1934

22 Four piano pieces (Nachtstück, Valse Noble, Lied ohne Worte, Gigue) 1934-35

23 Variations for piano 1935-36

24 Gavotte and Musette for piano 1936

25 Kom regn fra det høie (Stegmann/Brorson) for women choir a cappella 1936

26 O store Konge, Davids Søn (Urbimontanus) for men choir a cappella 1936-37

27 Vaagn op, min Sjæl (Kingo) for mixed choir a cappella 1937

1936 Composer for the Parliement

28 Præludium and Fuga for piano 1937
29 Two preludes for piano 1937
30 Symphony n°1 1937-39

1938- Permanent residence in Valevåg

31 Zwei Lieder (Schiller, Goethe) for soprano and piano 1939
32 Die dunkle Nacht der Seele for soprano and orchestra (Juan de la Cruz) 1939
33 Præludium and fuga for organ 1939
34 Pastoral for organ 1939
35 Ode til ensomheten for orchestra 1939
36 Intermezzo for piano 1939-40
37 Consert for violin and orchestra 1940
38 Sonate n°2 for piano 1940-41
39 Zwei Lieder for soprano and piano 1941
40 Symphony n°2 1941-44
41 Symphony n°3 1944-46
42 Serenade for wind quintet 1946-47

1947 Success in the festival in Copenhagen, also in 1948 in Amsterdam (ISCM)

43 Symphony n°4 1947-49

1949 Fartein Valen Society founded in London and Oslo

44 Consert for piano and orchestra 1949-50

1952 (14th December) Death in Haugesund’s hospital av heart failure after a pneumonia


© Fartein Valen-festivalen
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The Fartein Valen Festival

Detailed program for this year’s edition is to be found on the frontpage of this website.

The Fartein Valen-festival takes place in Haugesund and Sveio communities. The region is situated between Bergen and Stavanger on the west-coast of Norway. International visitors may easily get here from several destinations.The airport in Haugesund has several domestic and international arrivals. By bus it takes appr. 2,5 hours to Bergen in the north and Stavanger in the south.

Please read more about our region on http://www.visithaugesund.no/en/ The detailed program of the festival is published on www.farteinvalen.no
The main goal for the festival is to spread knowledge and interest for Fartein Valens (1887-1952) life and music.

The festival is an important opportunity to experience Valens music, in the middle of the landscape that was his home and inspiration.
The festival cooperates with Thon Hotel Saga for our travelling guests. We wish to make your stay as nice as possible, making it possible for you to meet both the musicians and the public attending the festival !
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phone: + 47 52 74 45 45

Opening hours: weekdays 1100-1500, Thursday 11-19; Saturday 1100-1400

You can buy tickets here
Become a member of The Fartein Valen Society and buy a festival card for 600 NOK which gives you admition to all concerts at the festival! A membership costs 350 NOK and may be bought at the ticket office.
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The Fartein Valen Society

We wish to increase the number of members of the Fartein Valen Society ! Sign in or suggest it to someone you know before the 8th of april and get a chance to win free accommodation and free tickets to concerts during the 2016 edition of the festival !

As a member, you will revive several newsletters during the year. You will also get offers on the price of the tickets for the festival concerts ! The members can get a Festivalpass for 600NOK, giving access to all the festival events 13-17th of april.

The members who need accommodation for the festival will appreciate the arrangement with our festival’s hotel, Thon Hotel Saga.
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Valen’s house

Valen’s house is in Øvre Valo in Valevåg. It is situated in a rich natural environment with very nice views as for example the shipping route and the Siggjo mountain.
Sigrid Valen writes «My parents, missionaries Arne and Dorthea Valen, wanted the house to be open welcoming.» After Fartein Valen’s death in 1952 and after the 50’s and 60’s she was concerned that their vision would be realized. Today, the house is nearly as Arne and Dorthea wanted it, and as Sigrid saw it for her and as she made the plans for the rooms and the use of the house. Valen’s house is in Øvre Valo in Valevåg. It is situated in a rich natural environment with very nice views as for example the shipping route and the Siggjo mountain. Around Easter time, the hill is covered with a carpet of crocus flowers.
Next to the house, one can see the old rebuild chicken coop. Valen’s house is big with many rooms and treasures. It is full of history : musical, missionary and artistic. It is particularly worth it to mention all the paintings by Agnes Hiorth, one of Fartein’s close friends for many years. In addition, one can find many other small chests around the house. Some of them have been used to travel to Madagascar in 1874-1894. The doors are open and you are invited to walk around – and listen to the house’s diverse music.
Opening by appointment. Call Sveio kommune: 53748000
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