Composers / Thomas Tellefsen / Routes


Trasa Concerts in Christiania and Stockholm

Between 1843 and 1864, Tellefsen visited Norway ten times, always giving performances in the biggest cities. Those concerts provided him with additional revenue and in the first years secured him the means to continue his training in Paris. In 1855 and 1857, he undertook longer concert tours in many cities of southern Norway; the 1855 tour included Uppsala and Stockholm. Tellefsen also planned concerts in Copenhagen, but ultimately they did not take place.

His repertoire was rich and diverse, changing in character and composition from his early Paris years until the peak of his career as a consummate artist. He gradually moved from contemporary, fashionable composers to presenting his own works. His concert programmes often included works by Chopin, due to his firm grasp of the Polish composer’s music and style, Tellefsen soon gained a reputation as a remarkable interpreter of Chopin. Reviewers praised his way of producing the sound, emphasising that his melodiousness and rubato playing were of the highest quality.

Thomas Tellefsen lived during a period that was important for the development of Norway as a nation-state. The years 1840 to 1870 brought a rise in national awareness in culture and politics, and the struggle for an independent Norway. Those activities were founded partly on the ideas of Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803). The idea of an individual folk character was linked to the values cherished by Norwegian freemen and their lifestyle, but it was only fully developed with the national and Romantic trend at the end of the 1840s. In the field of music, it was expressed by the notion that folk songs and melodies would be a useful means for building a national identity. Tellefsen’s concert programmes, from his very first recitals, stressed the performance of compositions which included elements of Norwegian folk music. In his works, these motifs were noted by both audiences and critics. However, around 1860, new critical and sceptical voices arose concerning the way he used traditional motifs in his music. Hitherto unanimously positive, some critical voices now deemed the close relationship with the stylistic idiom of Chopin as unsuited to communicating Norwegian values.