Old Lodge (Gamle Logen)
The Lodge is a venue for concerts and celebrations. It was opened in 1839 as a building combining the functions of freemasons' lodge and public event hall. The cellars housed the most exquisite restaurant in the Norwegian capital and its first theatrical café. The first artist to use the Great Lodge Hall was the violin virtuoso Ole Bull. In those times, the hall could accommodate up to one thousand spectators. Throughout the nineteenth century, many Norwegian and foreign musicians performed in the Great and Small Lodge Halls. Here, Edvard Grieg and Johan Svendsen conducted Music Society concerts, in 1930 King Håkon celebrated his silver jubilee, and in 1945 the Nazi leader Vidkun Quisling was put on trial. The former Lodge gradually fell into decline, and for a long time it was used as a social space, where lunches were eaten and tasks were distributed among the dockers of the Oslo Laste- og Losseforening, an association of docking companies. In 1988, the building was restored and reopened as a concert hall and club space.
Arne Nordheim's father did not have the means to support his son financially. While at university, Nordheim earned his living as a telegram delivery boy at a post office and as a transport worker. He often stood in the concert hall of the Old Lodge waiting to be called out and get his share of the dock work. He would also eat his lunch here, if he happened to have one, as he was often desperately short of money. In some cases, help came in the form of “Jensen the Watchman’s private distribution of slices of bread in the cellars of the Conservatory”. No wonder that the composer's favourite book at that time was Hamsun’s Hunger, the first-person account of a poor, unknown young man who tries to make a career as a writer, balancing constantly on the verge of death from starvation, his mental instability tossing him from one extreme to another. In this portrait, Nordheim seemed to find his own reflection.
Nordheim celebrated his sixtieth birthday at the Lodge, with a concert in the Great Hall and a reception in the clubs.