Ellen Ugelvik

The Soloist in contemporary piano concerti 

Norges Musikkhøgskole

Norwegian Academy of Music


Viva Voce: 17. mars 2017


Veiledere:: Prof. Ivar Frounberg og prof. Darla Crispin



Dr. Tansy Davies

Dr. Catherine Laws, University of York

Professor Eivind Buene, NMH (Committee Leader)

From the perspective of the field of classical music, contemporary music is seen not as a natural extension of the classical music heritage, but as a distinct genre. A symptom of this is the fact that we loosely use the term ‘contemporary’ about music to denote works which may be anything up to 100 years old! Contemporary music, conceived of as a genre, ceases to mean the music of our times and, rather, implies music whose aesthetic character and value systems are distinct from the broadly open, accessible and engaging forms of earlier music. We may acknowledge the enormous aesthetic differences between, say, classical and romantic music, but still feel that they broadly occupy the same space in terms of their constituting the mainstream repertoire that is part of our Western musical heritage. By contrast, music from the start of the now-historical period of Modernism right up to the present exists apart, in a specialist niche – analogous, although not identical, to that occupied by medieval and renaissance music. The major educational institutions confirm this stance in the repertoire students are encouraged to work on during their studies, and also through the institution’s compulsory admission requirements. For example, the Norwegian Academy of Music has no contemporary music among its acceptance criteria, which stipulate one work by Bach, one work in the classical Viennese style and one Romantic or Impressionist work, plus one optional work. The implication seems to be that you might choose to perform a work dating from before Bach or after Debussy, but nobody would dream of obliging you to do so. The same message applies to the studies. Courses in contemporary music are offered, but only as an elective course. In all these respects, the Norwegian Academy of Music is typical of general conservatoire practice. By contrast, art schools – and, to a large extent, drama schools – regard contemporary practice as central to their curricula and the skill sets of their graduates.


NMH | Ellen Ugelvik: Solisten i samtidens pianokonserter

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