Literature, Art and Music

For a country with a population of only 4.5 million people, Norway has produced a surprising number of well-known artists, writers and musicians. The writer Ibsen and the painter Munch are world-famous, and Grieg's music is played all over the world. Today, there is an exciting musical scene spanning from classical music to pop and electronica.

You may already know of the artist Edvard Munch, whose painting ‘Scream’ was once stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo. Because it is so famous, ‘Scream’ has been used in many ways, from book covers to posters and in TV shows such as The Simpsons and Doctor Who.

The writer Henrik Ibsen wrote many plays which have been performed around the world, such as A Doll's House, Hedda, Peer Gynt and An Enemy of the People. He wrote in Norwegian, but his works have been translated into many other languages, including English. Norway also has a strong tradition in children's literature, although not much has been translated into English. You may have read the Mrs Pepperpot stories by Alf Prøysen or People and Robbers in Cardamom City by Thorbjørn Egner. The author Roald Dahl was born in Britain but his parents were Norwegian. Some of his stories are set in Norway, where he used to visit his grandparents in the school holidays.

Edvard Grieg is Norway's most famous classical composer whose music from Peer Gynt is very popular the world over. His piece called In the Hall of the Mountain King is said to sound like trolls thumping along, and his beautiful piece Morning sounds like a spring morning. His best-known work is the Piano Concerto in A Minor.

You may have heard of the pop band A-ha. The group has sold over 35 million albums and 36 million singles worldwide since the 1980s.

Norwegian kids do of course listen to pop music, including many of the same artists as in the UK, such as Justin Bieber and Rihanna. They also listen to Norwegian popmusic such as Madcon or Maria Mena.

Norwegian hip hop and rap is also very popular. Check out Erik & Kriss here.   


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Did You Know?

The Norwegian national anthem is called 'Ja, vi elsker' (‘Yes, We Love with Fond Devotion’). Norway also has a royal anthem, which is sung to the same tune as Britain’s national anthem, ‘God Save the Queen’.