30 January 2020: Premiering the documentary Songs to Survive. Gunnar Kjeldaas’ “Fangesongar frå Kirkenes”

Department of Musicology – University of Münster – 30 January 2020 – 19h

In 1942 the teacher and composer Gunnar Kjeldaas who was incarcerated in a Nazi-prison camp in Northern Norway. Like many of his colleagues he had refused to join the “gleichgeschaltete” new teachers’ union. During his imprisonment he turned the experience of hunger, cold and severe forced labor he and his fellow inmates had to endure into deeply moving songs. With the help of his granddaughter Anna-Ma Kjeldaas, the cantor at Hønefoss, Stein Sødal, the artists Anne Wik, Benjamin Kallestein, Kristi Anna Isene and Stefan Veselka the musicological research project Nordic Music Politics (led by Prof. Michael Custodis) reconstructed this story. In addition, the Marienschule in Münster turned these findings into an impressive concert program in June 2019 to commemorate the fate of known and unknown victims of Nazi-persecution. The documentary Songs to Survive. Gunnar Kjeldaas’ “Fangesongar frå Kirkenes”, produced by Andreas Bußmann, Michael Custodis, Adele Jakumeit, Arnulf Mattes and Ina Rupprecht and supported by many colleagues, archives and research institutions, recounts the story of this unique discovery.

The premiere will include addresses from the mayor of Münster, the University of Münster, the principal as well as musicians of the Marienschule and a discussion with the protagonists including Anna-Ma Kjeldaas.

13 June 2019: „wird nicht immer Winter sein“. Lieder von Gunnar Kjeldaas aus einem norwegischen Gefangenenlager

At Münster’s Petrikirche Daniel Lembeck, Jürgen Laumann, Marlies Baar and Simon Niehaus and the music and history project at Marienschule Münster created an intense and heart-moving experience about historical and present musical resistance against persecution and nationalist indoctrination.

The original bowl Gunnar Kjeldaas carried along his odyssee through NS-prison camps in Norway and his own volume of his „Fangesongar frå Kirkenes“ were shown in the center of the performance. In his bowl Gunnar Kjeldaas had engraved the first notes of the melodies from his „Fangesongar“. Nordic Music Politics and all participating artists are very grateful to Anna-Ma Kjeldaas for bringing these family items to the concert.

12 June 2019: Recording Session for the Gunnar Kjeldaas-Documentary. Thanks to Kristi Anna Isene and Stefan Veselka for a great performance.

11 June 2019: Preview-article by Claudia Korsmeier about the Kjeldaas-school project

13 June 2019: School Project with the Music of Gunnar Kjeldaas

Recently, Arnulf Mattes and Michael Custodis rediscovered the music of Gunnar Kjeldaas, who was arrested during the Norwegian teachers‘ strike in 1942. During his imprisonment in Elvenes he composed extraordinary songs, the „Fangesangar frå Kirkenes“. With the support of his granddaughter Anna-Ma Kjeldaas at the moment the „Nordic music“-team produces a documentary about Gunnar Kjeldaas‘ story. Additionally, the Marienschule Münster developed a school project based on the „Fangesangar“ and will present the results in Münster’s Petri-church on June 13. Anna-Ma Kjeldaas will be attending the concert.

26-27 March 2019: Conference Persecution – Collaboration – Resistance. Music in the „Reichskommissariat Norwegen“ (1940-45)

19 March 2019: Conference Proceedings Online

The new volume „The Nordic Ingredient. European Nationalism and Norwegian Music since 1905“, edited by Michael Custodis and Arnulf Mattes, is out and available open access at

It documents the following articles: Ina Rupprecht „Manifesting the National Idea. Edvard Grieg or How his Biographers saw him“; Andreas Bußmann „Expressing ‚Nordic‘ Greatness. Wagnerism in Norway 1905-1945“; Ingrid Loe Landmark „Ideas on National Music in Interwar Norway“; Arnulf Mattes „‚Monumentalism‘ in Norway’s Music 1930-1945“; Michael Custodis „Master or Puppet? Cultural Politics in Occupied Norway under GW Müller, Gulbrand Lunde and Rolf Fuglesang“; Friedrich Geiger „Harald Sæverud’s ‚Kjempeviseslåtten‘. A Typical Resistance Composition?“; Arvid O. Vollsnes „Rebuilding Norwegian Music. From Valevåg to Tanglewood and Darmstadt“; Michael Custodis „‚Nordisk‘ – ‚Aryan‘ – ‚Identitär‘. Music for the New Right“; Arnulf Mattes „No Escape from Politics? On Grieg’s Afterlife in Norwegian Memory Culture“; Boris Previšić „Resistance to Totalitarism. The Polyphony of Literature and Music“

13 March 2019: Michael Custodis and Arnulf Mattes in Falstad!

This Wednesday at 7 p.m., Michael Custodis and Arnulf Mattes will be giving a lecture on music in concentration camps at the memorial center of former concentration camp site in Falstad. In addition to their lecture the Levanger Kulurskole will perform several pieces of camp prisoners.

For further information, please visit:

18-20 February 2018: (Heidelberg) Michael Custodis and Andreas Bußmann attended the interdisciplinary conference „mit vorsichtig ausgewählten Ausländern zusammenkommen“ – Internationale Tagungen und wissenschaftlicher Austausch in der Zeit des Nationalsozialimus.

Custodis spoke about communication practices of the exiled Norwegian resistance movement in Stockholm, while Bußmann gave a lecture on the propagandistic cultural work of Goebbels’s adjutant Georg Wilhelm Müller in the Reichskommissariat Norwegen.

17 November 2018 –  Music and Resistance workshop in Münster

On November 17, 2018 Prof. Michael Custodis and Prof. Arnulf Mattes (Bergen) hosted a joint workshop at the Institute for Musicology in Münster. Together with Master and PhD students from Münster as well as musicians from Bergen (N) the workshop intensely discussed the role of music as a means of resistance within Norwegian concentration camps. For the first time music by concentration camp inmate Gunnar Kjeldaas and songs by revue-legend and Grini-prisoner Otto Nielsen were performed by two musicians from Bergen (p: Benjamin, v: Anne).

A second workshop will be held on December 8, 2018.

11 November 2018 – Lecture 

    • Lecture by Arnulf Mattes & Michael Custodis on Music in Norwegian concentration camps


The results of the joint international conference „The Nordic Ingredient“ held by  NORDIC MUSIC POLITICS at the Grieg-Research-Center in Bergen in March 2018 will be published soon in early 2019, by Waxmann Verlag Münster (Programm)

26/27 March 2019Music in the Reichskommissariat (Location: Institute for Musicology at the University of Münster, Germany)

October-December 2018 – Joint Seminar by Michael Custodis & Arnulf Mattes titled: Music and Resistance in European Dictatorships (Location: Institute for Musicology at the University of Münster, Germany)

August 30, 2018 – Michael Custodis will give a lecture at the Agder Vitenskapsakademi in Kristiansand on the topic  „Musikk i Leirene i Norge“

August 26, 2018 – NORDIC MUSIC POLITICS ON NRK: Article on a 1943 Grieg-Propaganda film by Walter Fyrst found by Michael Custodis & Arnulf Mattes

May 9, 2017    Note about the German Project-Part in the journal

May 4, 2017 Oslo    Lectures on New Findings and Perspectives about the Norwegian Musical Life 1940-45, including Bjarte Bruland, Michael Custodis, Friedrich Geiger, Ingrid Loe Dalaker, and Arnulf Mattes. Note at the Grieg Research Centre, Bergen; at Litteraturhuset; at Goethe-Institut Oslo. Report about this event in

November 23, 2016 Manchester   Mutual Paper at the Conference “Music and Nation, 1918-1945 – Europe-Americas”, Michael Custodis and Arnulf Mattes “Celebrating the Nordic Tone – Fighting for National Legacy: The Grieg Centennials 1943”

October 15, 2016 Leipzig   Mutual paper by Michael Custodis and Arnulf Mattes about Edvard Grieg’s legacy in occupied Norway 1943 at the International Edvard Grieg-Conference. Conference report

October 2, 2016   Report about Custodis and Mattes and the launch of their Norwegian-German project at

September 27, 2016 Oslo, National Library   Lectures by Michael Custodis and Arnulf Mattes about “War and Politics in Norway, 1940-45” and a panel discussion with Rolf Hobson, Tom Kristiansen and Tore Helseth

September 26, 2016 Bergen, Public Library   Lectures by Michael Custodis and Arnulf Mattes about “War and Politics in Norway, 1940-45” and a panel discussion with Lorentz Reitan and Sigurd Sandmo

September 14, 2016 Mainz   Papers at the Conference of the German Musicological Society (Gesellschaft für Musikforschung), September 14, 2016 in Mainz: Michael Custodis “Blinde Flecken. Grundzüge der norwegischen Musikhistoriografie nach 1945”, Arnulf Mattes „Das Musikerbe – Musikarven, Grieg-Institut und andere Formen der Förderung norwegischer Musikkultur“

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