tisdag, augusti 21, 2007

Baltic Sea Festival

Tomorrow, Wednesday 22 of August, is the last day for the Baltic Sea Festival.
This festival is arranged for the fifth year in a row and one of the initiators was the Finnish-Swedish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. (Photo).
Music is being performed both at Berwaldhallen (below), at sea and in other premises around Stockholm.

At the same time one uses this occasion to discuss the climate in the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic Sea is in a worse condition than ever before and at the same time many experts says that now we are in a better situation than ever to come to terms with these problems.

Let's hope so but we have to wait and see (not sea).

(Photo Esa-Pekka Salonen copied from: http://www.classiquenews.com/images/articles/0YGCRhwQrm_Salonen_portrait.jpg)
(Berwaldhallen exteriorally copied from: https://www.visitstockholm.com/see--do/attractions/berwaldhallen/)
(Berwaldhallen interiorally copied from:https://www.audioease.com/IR/VenuePages/berwald.html)

lördag, augusti 18, 2007

Uniformity in Swedish literature

In Sweden, as in many other countries, the discussions around what is 'good' literature, music, film or any other form of cultural expressions is a recurrent debate.

During the spring and summer 2007 this discussion has been made topical again.
It started already before the general election last year when a representative for the liberal party proposed that Sweden should adopt a canon of literature.
This canon had to be put together by different representatives from both the cultural 'elite' and other citizens interested in 'good' Swedish literature.
This proposition also included ideas of some kind of national identity within literature and it became a hotly debated suggestion.

The government earlier this year decided to abolish the support to The Swedish Institute concerning translation of Swedish literature into other languages.
This specific economic support totalled the amount of 2 mllion kronors (222 000€ or 285 700$), a subsidy hardly ruining the Swedish economy.

Now the government suggest that the financial support for something called A book for all (En Bok för Alla) also should be abolished. This is an institution in Sweden with the aim to make Swedish and other literature known to a larger public.

Instead a new 'literature centre' is supposed to be created and in principle do the same job as The Swedish Institute, namely distribute money to foreign publishing houses showing interest in translating Swedish literature into other languages. 
The Swedish Institute is going to promote international cultural exchange.

All this is surely fine but a problem with this idea could be that the work would be carried out by The Financing Institute of the Publishing Houses (my literate translation from Swedish Bokbranschens Finanseringsinstitut AB) a subsidiary to Svenska Förläggare Föreningen/'The Swedish Publisher's Association'
This is a special interest group/-organization representing the big publishing houses and it was from this organization the idea for this literature centre came.

Concerning the economic support aimed at translating Swedish literature, the memorandum from the government states that: 
"No difference between so called commercially negotiable book titles and what is not regardes as such" (my translation) should be made.

In this memorandum it is also said that an openness in this sense could lead to that foreign publishing houses would dare back up different kinds of authorship.

One problem is that if the above mentioned organization in Sweden is so tightly knit to the publishing houses and if it becomes their duty to distribute money for the translation of Swedish literature, it could lead to that foreign publishing houses only dare to risk money on the literature already being 'hot items'.
This would in turn lead to the same uniformity as we can see in Sweden at this very moment.

People do not seem interested in reading something intellectually challenging, they instead choose the more easy read literature - like 'easy listening'. 
This might be acceptable if it's the first encounter with literature, leading to other readings of different kinds but unfortunately it seems as if all to many people continue reading the same type of literature over and over again.

Another problem concerning literature is that one can find good Swedish literature in other countries translated to the native language of this very country but at the same time not find the same literature in Sweden - in Swedish!
My fiancée and I thought this was very obvious when visiting Paris last year and the book-/music- and DVD-store FNAC (among others). At FNAC (and elsewhere) we could find a number of Swedish high quality literature in French, literature we had not found in Sweden, in Swedish!

When it comes to culture (in the forms of literature, music, film and other expressions) Sweden is extremely bad in promoting these different areas both within the country and outside it. 
Through the Swedish Institute we promote the concept Sweden or the concept of certain Swedish cultural expressions but this is an image often 'smashed to pieces' when foreigners visit Sweden.

They think of Sweden as the country of August Strindberg, Selma Lagerlöf, Jussi Björling and Ingmar Bergman, the idea of the intellectually, culturally open-minded society - and it's not.

If we talk about IT, other technological areas and economy, Sweden has been much more succesful in promoting these sectors and that is because they generate more money in the short run but also more problems in the long run. These are also domains within society not having much problems applying for subsidies AND receiving them.

The 'money generating, consumerist factor' is more important than anything else for our politicians, decision makers and people in general. 
This is very much due to the fact that the 'materialistic thinking' is more developed in Sweden than in many other comparable countries at the expense of our historic cultural heritage, in a wide perspective.

Sweden has, unfortunately, become a culturally undeveloped country.

(Picture cover 'A History of Swedish Literature' copied from: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41qIofc5%2BoL.jpg)
Foto 'Then svenska Argus' kopierad från: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5e/Then_Sv%C3%A4nska_Argus.png/220px-Then_Sv%C3%A4nska_Argus.png)
(Foto Kungliga biblioteket Stockholm, läsesalen kopierad från: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4070/4698743229_7b191aa11d.jpg)

Ernst Brunner: Youngster on Gold

The Swedish author Ernst Brunner (unfortunately I could not find any information in English about Ernst Brunner though his books have been translated into other languages) recently had a new book published: 'Youngster on Gold' (my own, literal translation of Yngling på guld).

This is the Swedish title on a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn - a self portrait.
This painting is one of many works by Rembrandt we have been able to see when visiting The National Musuem of Fine Arts in Stockholm.

This book tells the story of how this piece of art and two other famous paintings were stolen from the museum in 2000. The story told in this book is in other words built on facts.

Three armed robbers ran in to the musuem a couple of days before Christmas that year, stole this painting and two paintings by Auguste Renoir.
They fled in a boat and they also used different kinds of methods to delay the police when the latter in turn started pursuing the thiefs.
It took the police a couple of months to detect and apprehend the perpetrators.
It would last five years before the painting by Rembrandt was found and brought back to the museum.
Brunner also tells the story of the persons behind this coup, some quite young men from the suburbs of Stockholm.

Brunner has earlier written historic novels using some fictional ideas of his own.
The two latest books by Brunner is one about the Swedish 18th Century poet Bellman ('Fukta din aska') and one about king Karl XII ('Carolus Rex').
Ernst Brunner in his library(?)

(Photo 'Yngling på guld' copied from: https://www.albertbonniersforlag.se/bocker/158281/yngling-pa-guld/)
(Photo Ernst Brunner in a/his library copied from: http://www.ullamontan.com/en/portraits_sw_authors/brunner_ernst//)

måndag, augusti 06, 2007

The Poodle

Svenska (English below):

Imorgon (enligt hans hemsida) fyller den norsk-svenske konstnären Kjartan Slettermark 75 år (enligt radion idag 5/8).

Denne provokatör - som han kommit att bli betraktad som - intervjuades i radio häromdagen och berättade där att efter att i Norge (Oslo) ha uppfört ett konstverk som behandlade Vietnamkriget fann han sig tvingad att 'emigrera' till Sverige.
Detta dels efter att någon försökt förstöra hans konstverk med en yxa dels att det senare kom att bli förstört genom 'stening'.
Det främsta skälet var dock att han själv kom att bli utsatt för så pass häftig kritik från olika representanter för det norska officiella samhällsetablissemanget och allmänheten, att han inte kände att han kunde verka i Norge mer.

I Sverige kom han bl.a. att ägna sig åt undervisning men blev vid en skola avskedad eftersom han inte kunde acceptera det utvärderingssystem som användes då det gällde att bedöma elevernas kunskapsnivåer och kvaliteter som konstnärer.

Efter ett antal utställningar och performances blev han av en psykiatriker diagnosticerad 'psykiskt sjuk' med borderline-karaktäristiska drag. Han fick Hibernal (starkt psykofarmaka) utskrivet men vägrade ta det. Läkarna ville t.o.m. lägga in honom på en psykiatrisk avdelning för vård.
Efter detta begärde han 'politisk asyl' på Moderna museet.

Hans första uppmärksammade 'Pudelföreställning' skedde på Liljevalchs vårutställning 1975.
Numera finns ju denna pudeldräkt att se i Moderna museets permanenta utställningar.

Ett händelsrikt liv med många strider och motgångar men även succéer i olika konstnärliga sammanhang. Se mer om honom via länken vid hans namn ovan som leder direkt till hemsidan.

The Norwegian-Swedish artist Kjartan Slettermark tomorrow (according to his homepage) celebrates his 75th birthday (today according to Swedish radio).

This provocateur (as he has been regarded) was interviewed in Swedish radio the other day and he told the reporter that after the work about the Vietnam war, a work displayed in Oslo, Norway, he found himself forced to 'emigrate' to Sweden.
This partly because someone had tried to destroy it with an axe, partly because someone succeeded in destroying it by throwing stones at it. The prime reason though was that he became heavily criticized by the official Norway as well as by the general public and this made him unable to continue to work in his native country.

In Sweden he taught art but was dismissed because he refused using the evaluation system the school had initiated in order to assess the standard of attainment and the quality of the works of the students.

After a series of exhibitions and performances in Sweden he became diagnosed as 'mentally ill' with borderline charasteristics by a psychiatrist. He was prescribed Hibernal (a strong psychotropic drug) but refused to take it. The doctors even wanted to take him in to hospital for treatment.

After this he applied for 'political asylum' at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm (Moderna museet). He wanted to move in there.

His first 'Poodle performance' that attracted attention toke place at the Liljevalchs art gallery, Stockholm, in 1975. Nowadays one can see this poodle costume as a part of the permanent exhibition at Moderna museet in Stockholm.

He has lived an eventful life with many conflicts, setbacks but also great success in different artistic contexts.

See more about him through the link above connected to his name.

(Photo Kjartan Slettemark at the top copied from: http://gfx2.aftonbladet-cdn.se/image/11733966/480/normal/4b9b7afd24fc0/Kjartan+Slettemark)
(Photo 'The Poodle' copied from: http://www.fineart.no/edoc/campaign_img/IMAGE_83-4.JPG)
(Photo Kjartan Slettemark at the bottom of the page copied from: http://static.vg.no/uploaded/image/bilderigg/2008/12/13/1229199828315_546.jpg)

söndag, augusti 05, 2007

Gunnar Bucht


Gunnar Bucht är en av våra stora svenska tonsättare vilken föddes i Stocksund 5 augusti 1927.
Han studerade musiklära (Fil.lic. 1953) och komposition för Karl-Birger Blomdahl vid Uppsala universitet mellan åren 1947 och 1951. Andra namn som figurerat som hans lärare är Carl Orff, Goffredo Petrassi och kanske den mest betydelsefulle av dem alla, Max Deutsch.

Bucht debuterade som pianist 1949 men kom senare att uteslutande koncentrera sig på komposition.
Han kom från 1963 att bl.a. undervisa i musiklära vid Stockholms universitet och var mellan åren 1975-1985 professor i komposition vid Kungliga Musikhögskolan i Stockholm. Därefter har han innehaft en rad olika viktiga positioner inom svenskt musikliv.
För en verksförteckning se hans hemsida via länken vid hans namn ovan.


Gunnar Bucht is one of our foremost composers during the 1900:s.

He was born the 5th of August 1927 in a suburban residential district called Stocksund.

Between 1947 and 1951 he studied musicology and composition for composer Karl-Birger Blomdahl at Uppsala university. He also had teachers like Carl Orff, Goffredo Petrassi and maybe the most important one for Bucht as a composer, namely Max Deutsch.

Bucht made his debut as a pianist in 1949 but later on concentrated exclusively on composition.
From 1963 he came to teach musicology at Stockholm university and between 1975 and 1985 he was professor in compostion at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. After this he has held a number of important positions within the official music life in Sweden.
For a closer look at his life and work click at the link connected to his name above.

(Photo Gunnar Bucht copied from: http://www.gunnarbucht.com/index4.jpg)