The family name of Nystedts is known for its musical gifts and strong faith. Trond Nystedt is remembering his father’s – the late Norwegian orchestral and choral composer Knut Nystedt (1915-2014) life’s work. Knut Nystedt had founded such choirs as the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and Schola Cantorum. He published his Grammy-nominated CD “Immortal Nystedt” in 2005 being the first composer to bring Grammy nomination to Norway. The same CD with his works was elected to one of Norway’s 100 best recordings by “Morgenbladet” in 2011. Today in this interview Trond Nystedt – the son of his – remembers his childhood, the music he was listening, the profession his father had and the memory of his that are cherished today by Trond and his daughter while they are launching a website about the composer www.knutnystedt.com.
You have dedicated yourself for spreading your father’s music and memory. What are the ways you go about it? Are there any future projects that you are excited about?
My daughter and I are building a web-site. There the main purpose is to inform about his works and him as a composer. We hope that this will contribute to more sale of scores and that his works can be performed more around the world. We make it international in the way that we make it in English, and not in Norwegian. We will also inform about him as a conductor, organist, lecturer, honorary posts and other aspects of his career. We have not published these other parts of his career yet on our web-site. But that will come. And we pay adds in some magazines to promote the website.
There are several of his works that are not published yet. Two Norwegian publishing houses are eager to publish almost all of his works, so this week, his first symphony, opus 5, is published. And there are more to come. I am proofreading several of these works, which is quite a job. And there are some organists that are eager to play his organ works.
Your father was from a musicians’ family where hymns and classical music were an important part of every day. You are also from musicians’ family. Maybe you could compare your upbringing with your father’s upbringing? How do you think the musical environment affected you as a child?
I am not a performing musician. I have had lessons in piano and flute, but not in a professional degree. Of course, music was a central part of my upbringing also, but my father did not force me to anything. His upbringing was more focus on performing music than mine. And I have encouraged my children, so both my sons are musicians. When I was young, it was boring to attend so many concerts, but now I look back on them as precious treasures, and am very thankful for my musical upbringing.
How do you understand your father as a important historical and cultural figure in Norway? Do you ever see him not as your father?
I have always been proud of him and his career. He was also a family man that cherished his family in high priority. So I have always seen him as my father. I have several times attended when he was appointed with honors and attended many of his concerts, both when he himself played organ or conducted, and when others performed his works.
How much you knew about your father’s professional life as a child? What impression had it left on you?
When one is little, everything seems normal, and I saw him just like my friend’s fathers. He had a profession like the other fathers, and I did not think this was anything special.
How people can familiarize with the cultural heritage of Knut Nystedt in Oslo?
He is well known among musicians in Norway, not particularly in Oslo, and also among the middle and older generations in general. Not so much known among youth, since he did not work with the popular music genres. Several people know his name, but not everyone can relate to his music. Very many Norwegians sings in choirs, and among them, he is well known.
Religion was a very important theme in K. Nystedts creative work. Was religion a part of his and his family‘s life?
Yes, very much. He had an extreme positive Christian faith. The love of God was essential to him, and the joy of being a Christian is reflected in a lot of the titles of his works, like: “Praise to God”, “Sing and rejoce”, “Cry out and shout”, “In Praise of Love” and many more. It was important for him to show the love of God thru his works and thru the lyrics he chose. And he and us children attended the church and still are.
Do you have any relationship with the ensembles, founded by your father? How could you describe this connection nowadays?
I have not much contact with them. But I know very well the conductor of The Norwegian Soloist choir, which is my father’s successor. The other choirs have other conductors I don’t know personally.
How did your relationship with your father changed during different stages of your and his life?
I have always had a very good relationship with him. I cannot see that has changed in any special way during my life. As time went by, of course I got more to know who he was and his profession, but the relationship stayed the same.
What was your relationship with music and your father’s creative work when you was a child?
Some of his music was a bit strange for the ears of a child. And some more accessible. I needed time to appreciate his music. His musical style has changed from the national romantic to experimental and back to more harmonic, so one cannot say he had only one type of music, one genre. And therefore, some works I liked, others not. I did not fancy popular music like The Beatles or Elvis. That was not part of my world.
Thank you for the conversation!