Music and Resistance

Cultural Defense During the German Occupation of Norway 1940-45


I. Music as Resistance
– Nordic Exceptionalism
– Institutionalizing Cultural Defense
– Sivorg and Music
– The Historiography of Music and Nazism in Norway
– Music as Resistance – A Preliminary Model
– Nordic Music Politics
– The Secret List of Confidants

II. Persecution of Musicians and Music in Concentration Camps
– Locations and Numbers
– Causes for Detention
– Violinist Jac Maliniak – From Warsaw and Trondheim to Auschwitz
– Mundane Music to Remember and Forget
– Enforced Submission and Voluntary Action
– Camp Odysseys – Frank Storm Johansen and Gunnar Kjeldaas
– Acts of Musical Resistance
– Claims for Compensation

III. Artistic Liberty and Periphery
– Military Music
– Music in Churches
– Composing Resistance in Bergen and Harald Sæverud’s Symphony No. 5
– Activities in Stavanger, Trondheim, and Tromsø

IV. Remote Resistance in Stockholm
– Numbers and Procedures
– Expatriates from Norway
– A Nordic Casablanca
– Norwegian Counterpropaganda
– Sentiments

V. Different Modes of Consolidation
– Media and Occupation. Fighting Men of Norway (1942), Edge of Darkness
(1943), and Song of Norway (1944)
– A Voice of Pride and Compassion – Moses Pergament’s Den judiska sången
– Musical Resistance and Perseverance

The role of music during the German occupation of Norway (1940-45) proves to be an exceptional case for cultural opposition in a dictatorship. Few famous musicians, some local celebrities and innumerous rarely known activists preferred artistic instead of militant means to demonstrate reluctance, spread information, contradict the legitimacy of the German occupying force and raise the moral strength of fellow countrymen in Norway and abroad, while risking to be caught, incarcerated and driven into exile. The indispensable advantage was the popular belief of art as an apolitical matter. Music even could reach into fields that would have been inaccessible to open political agitation.

Based on considerable findings in public archives and private collections, this book discusses music in concentration camps in Norway and the fate of Jewish musicians, portrays choirs, military ensembles, orchestral and church music in Norway. It further analyzes Harald Sæverud’s 5th symphony and Moses Pergament’s choir symphony „Den judiska sången“, illustrates the exile of musicians in Stockholm and discusses resistance music in historic media such as Errol Flynn’s movie „Edge of Darkness“ (1943), recapitulated by a model for music as resistance.

This book addresses readers who are interested in Nordic music, in particular the music history during the German occupation of Norway, and in music as means of political resistance.

Münsteraner Schriften zur zeitgenössischen Musik, Volume 6, 430 pages
Publisher: Waxmann
ISBN: print 978-3-8309-4289-4 e-book: 978-3-8309-9289-9, open access

"Bemerkenswert am Werk des Autors ist der übersichtliche Aufbau. Schnell findet der interessierte Leser den Zugang zur Materie, erkennt die Sonderstellung Norwegens bei dieser Thematik, lernt die Organisationsstruktur und historische Hintergründe kennen. [...] Michael Custodis hat mit 'Music and Resistance' nicht nur eine hevorragende wissenschaftliche Abhandlung präsentiert, sondern auch ein erstes und zugleich umfangreiches Nachschlagewerk für den norwegischen Widerstand seitens der Musik während der Nazi-Zeit geliefert, gefüllt mit Biografien, Dokumenten und Berichten, die lange im Verborgenen waren."

Bernhard Hofer, in: Soziologie heute, Dezember 2021, pp. 44-45


review ("Soziologie heute", December 2021)