by Njål Sparbo

The artistic research project 2017-2020 “(Un-) settling Sites and Styles - in Search of New Expressive Means” consisted of eight individual projects focusing on music by 20th century and contemporary Norwegian composers. The research project was initiated by Professor Einar Røttingen and Associate Professor Arnulf Mattes to create a forum and environment for intersubjective musical research at the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design (KMD), University of Bergen. It was funded by the Grieg Academy (KMD) and the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme.

The aim of the project was:

Radically reconfiguring aesthetical perceptions is crucial for bringing a music investigation process into the realm of artistic research. Njål Sparbo and Einar Røttingen's contribution to the research cluster revolved around meaning and ambiguity in seventy songs for voice and piano by Geirr Tveitt (1908-1981). The theoretical mode of conceiving music by reading a score (eidos; music-as-analysed) was combined with a phenomenological investigation (aesthesis; music-as-experienced). The primary sources of the investigation of Geirr Tveitt’s songs were Tveitt's own musical treatise “Tonalitätsheorie des parallelen Leittonsystems” (Tonality Theory of the Parallel Leading Tone System) published by Gyldendal in 1937, and Lasse Thoresen’s book about phenomenological musical analysis “Studies in Music - Emergent Musical Forms: Aural Explorations” published by University of Western Ontario in 2015. In addition, score and poem analyses and other background inquiries were made.

Tveitt seems to connect a particular character (ethos; fundamental value) to each of the modal modes, and the tonal centres constitute the basis of the gravitational forces in the music, affecting the expressive arcs of tension as well as subtle expressive intonation alterations in the vocal part. The rhythmical aspects are particularly important in Tveitt’s music, countering the so­ftness and bendability of the modality with structural strictness, and sporadically adding rhythmical Norwegian folk-music associations to the songs. None of the chosen songs were published, and copies of Tveitt’s manuscripts were found at the National Library in Oslo. The classical music training leans towards submerging personal intuitions in awe for the composer's pre-eminence, and following scores dogmatically are considered to be respectful. However, many of Tveitt’s manuscripts lacked tempo markings, and articulation marks were sparse. When searching for suitable interpretations of Geirr Tveitt's songs it therefore seemed constructive to follow our own basic instincts, and gradually develop a sensitivity for his musical palette. A series of experiments were made with alternate tempos, articulations, rhythmical displacements (dismissing bar lines) and rubato.

Staying true to the notated score - but reframing the performative mindset

"It is the mindset - not the music - that is the main theme. I am not thinking about the musical score, but about the eloquence." Geirr Tveitt

Investigations of Tveitt’s treatise led to a series of auditive experiments with modality, polymodality and ambiguous modalities. The most unsettling experiments resulted from mentally refashioning the fundamental structures in a song by deliberately choosing alternative “imagined tonal centres”. This intentional shifting of “structural hearing” during musicking affected the gravitational points in the harmonic progressions as well as the rhythmical structures, gradually leading to a more intuitive and innovative palette of dynamical phrasing options.

For the singer, this type of mental reframing stimulated variants in vocal timbre, melodic trajectories and expressive intonation (according to the imagined tonics). Allowing the prosody of the lyrics to follow the musical interpretation (contrary to the norm) resulted in new and ambiguous literal meanings, providing a variety of perspectives on the emergence of possible interpretations in each of the poems. For the pianist the mental reframing motivated shifting the harmonic weight and articulation in order to support the intended tonics as well as raising various musical elements from the deeper (structural) levels to the foreground, creating alternative rhythmical patterns as well as melodical counterpoint.

Continuous experiments with form-building elements and musical flow

Performing music with a preconceived resilient interpretation supports clear and professional expressions. However, a series of authoritative and fixed statements often decreases the sense that something genuine is happening in the spur of the moment and may also diminish the listeners’ sense of autonomy to make their own interpretations. If the experience is perceived as a second-rate “copy” – a duplicate of a “flawless”, but absent original – the performative responsiveness is reduced for the performers as well as for the audiences.

Christopher Small coined the term “musicking”, which means highlighting music as a process (verb), not as an object (noun) (Small: 1998). Artistic research involves spending considerable time with process - “musicking”, incorporating artistic experience, intuitive notions, tacit knowledge and musical analysis into a methodological approach. The study of sounds (Sonology, or “music-as-heard”) is one of Lasse Thoresen’s points of departure in his methodological approach, which “combines a phenomenological perspective with a pragmatic use of selected structuralist techniques. Phenomenology provides the global outlook, with its emphasis on the Lifeworld (hence music-as-heard), its explication of internationalities, and its emphasis on describing and reflecting on an experienced object, rather than on its explanation.” (Thoresen: Studies in Music, p. 164).

Incorporation of Thoresen’s viewpoints in the research process led to a variety of intentional “listening behaviours” whilst rehearsing the songs, and several focused mindsets were tested systematically. Using the scores as points of departure rather than as musical recipes, the aspired attitude of the researchers could be described as applying phenomenological sonology in real time by actively changing mindsets and listening behaviours during “musicking” – and immediately responding to the perceived emergent meanings. Increasing the aural attentiveness towards multiple perceptions of music and lyrics during performances and the equivocal attitude towards musical expressions could be described as applied sonology in real time: a fusion of aural analytic reflections and intuitive improvisations.

Embracing the mindset of continually altering our attentive focus and generating innovative reflections whilst musicking, the suffix “sono-logy” was altered to “sono-tic”, coining the musical endeavour: "sonotical interpretations". Allowing spontaneity and free associations to shape the musical form and flow requires a heightened sensitive alertness between singer and pianist.

The prosess of unlearning, dismissing preconceived intentions, disregarding bar lines and improvising with tonics led to an increased aural awareness during musicking, and a sense of personal creativity and ownership of Tveitt’s music. One could argue that these experiments were apophenic, constituting falsifications of Tveitt’s musical intentions; that the creation of alternative patterns and meanings would lead to profound misunderstandings about the central essence of a piece of music, and that the singer’s intonation could be perceived as “out of tune” when based on eccentric tonics.

However, when the sonotical improvisations of some of the songs were presented to the research group, the listeners responded that the focused sonotical attitude only seemed to activate the listeners’ attention to details, contrasts and musical form. The musical alterations were observed merely as subtle changes of rhythm, articulation and timbre – as intentional expressive gradations to enrich communication. It also seemed to offer the listeners more freedom to make their own interpretative choices.

"A genial interpretation of the music can give increased insight into a piece of art." Geirr Tveitt

In various ways this approach linked into the various research topics of the group: “Unsettling sites and styles - in search of new expressive means” - 1) Performance tradition, 2) Score fidelity, 3) Essential means of expression, 4) Extra-musical contexts, 5) Articulating tacit knowledge, and 6) Intersubjective collaboration and research methods. This completed the artistic research circle, bringing the researchers back to being performing musicians after three years of unsettling and resettling their habitual mindsets. Results were performances, commented editions, and recordings.


The songs of Geirr Tveitt were chosen for the “un-setting” research project, because Tveitt’s aesthetics challenge musicians to destabilize their own musical mindset and explore "outside of the box". The aim was not to achieve indisputable interpretations of Tveitt’s songs, but rather to raise questions about different modes of understanding, and to observe how the music changed with different modes of exploration. The research was consequently not directed towards finding irrefutable answers to the group’s initial key questions, but towards immersing the questions into artistic practice, utilizing the resulting musical expressions to seek additional, and perhaps even more excavating questions.

Meaning and ambiguity

Conscious thoughts are often linked to a particular language, and multilingual people can "think" or communicate in different languages, which again leads to alternate modes of reasoning due to the grammatical structures, the vocabulary and the subsequent paradigmatic associations. Other modes of “reasoning” can be through recognition of e.g.:

If music is defined as “an expression which is meant to be communicative in a defined context, using a combination of sounds and silence organized over a period of time”, then music can be considered to be a way of reasoning.

“Music is language”. Arne Nordheim

Performers normally assume that the musical aspects of a song are closely interlinked with the lyrics (or the title), and the interpretation of words seems to be the main entry for reflecting about a song’s essence. The performers’ presentation seems to personify the quintessence of the music, inviting the audience to make similar reflections. However, if the expressed meanings become exceedingly definite (as is often the case with classically trained singers), the expressions might lose important aspects of their artistic attractions. Poems generate associations and rarely aim to delimit the inherent issues. Artistic potential can be unlocked if the performers generate awareness of embedded meanings (sub-texts), coalescing the words with various connotations, turning the performative expressions into an ambiguous complex of possible meanings.

Music itself rarely has any obvious semantic content, and musical meaning is a rather abstract phenomenon. Aside from lyrics, musical meaning is shaped through the interpretation of sounds – much in the same way that meaning can be constructed by different impulses in the central nervous system through the semiosis of language. During tacit reading, the words may sound like an echo of a sounding "voice" with prosodic features in the reader’s consciousness. Likewise, music can take place completely silently in the mind as musically formulated layers of sounds, melodies, harmonic progressions etc. The cognitive analysis of the sum of these musial parameters is utilized as reliable predictions of the inherent meanings of the textual and musical expressions of the score, intended to promote informed and coherent interpretational choices.

Analysing separate segments of a song may assist performers to distinguish pieces of a puzzle, but the question of how to interpret the whole picture will still be unresolved; intertwined with subjective experiences of patterns, contrasts and dynamic developments and synergically associated with issues relevant to the interpreter’s personal mindset and emotional dispositions.

One might consider the composer of a musical piece to be the original constructer of musical meanings, but the performers and listeners recreate meanings as a result of an intricate interaction with a variety of entirely separate elements, based on cultural and individual frames of reference. Everything associated whilst composing, singing, playing or listening is included in addition to the sounding music, contributing to an all-embracing musical experience: a fusion of subjective associations, memories, thoughts, cultural allusions and factors such as venue, context, relationship to the composer and/or era, instrumentation, the body language and attire of those present, as well as random sounds or events that may occur during a performance.

Every meaningful expression implies a specific intention, but the receiver will always interpret intentions in a different way than intended. Even if performers of classical Western music realize that they can never succeed completely, tremendous efforts are made to tune into the composer’s and poet’s minds in an attempt to comprehend and convey the inspirational intentions and assumed essence of the composition to their audiences. A sense of fidelity towards the creators’ original intentions is in the forefront, even if the performer acknowledges that the listeners reconstruct meaning in their own ways, according to their presonal habits and preferences.

Exploring exploration

Exploring a piece of music also involves exploring the mode of exploration. Today, classically-trained musicians are extremely competent to analyse music from scores. Even before starting to rehearse a piece of music, a process of conceptualizing musical content through examining the score has already begun, giving the musician a framework with regards to key, meter, tempo, tonality, dynamics, texture, phrasing, structure, dramaturgy, complexity, form, timbre, articulation etc. This includes technical reflections as well: for the singer - range, register, breath; for the pianist - fingering, pedals, etc. If the composer's name and style are known to the musician, there will be anticipations of performance tradition, style, musical pallette and aesthetics. This enables many musicians to transform the score into sound whilst reading it for the first time (prima vista).

“Once a musical style has become part of the habitual responses of composers, performers, and practiced listeners, it may be regarded as a complex system of probabilities … Out of such internalized probability systems arise the expectations — the tendencies — upon which musical meaning is built.”
(Meyer: 1957, p. 414)

In the introduction to Tveitt's controversial treatise "Tonalitätsheorie des parallelen Leittonsystems" from 1937, he states that the modal scales express different mindsets, originated from cultural affiliations. In order to comprehend his music, he requests that musicians depart from the Major/minor mindset deriving from the European music tradition and embrace the essential feelings for the different modal scales. Tveitt's deliberate use of modality is basically expressive, and for a classical trained European musician it takes time and effort to realize what that entails. Working with Geirr Tveitt's songs involves a challenge towards habitual ways of working with musical perception.

This change of mindset is not merely about analytical or intellectual aspects or about the basic feeling of tonality, but also the embodiment of rhythmical energy and the very ethos of expression. Tveitt's music is founded on his ideas about the force of nature and human primordial will (urvilje). He was drawn towards what he believed to be the Viking attitude to life in general and was extremely critical to cultural or religious attitudes that encourage people to suppress their basic instincts in the name of civilization or oppressing deities. He named the most preferred scales after "Hávamál" – a set of 165 stanzas attributed to the Norse god “Odin”, containing practical and philosophical words of wisdom.

“Hávamál” - verse 160:
Þat kann ek it fimmtánda
er gól Þjóðreyrir (RIR)
dvergr fyr Dellings durum 
afl gól hann ásum (SUM)
en álfum frama  (FUM)
hyggju Hroptatýr (TYR)

I know a fifteenth,
that first Thjodrerir
sang before Delling's doors
giving power to gods, prowess to elves,
foresight to Hroptaty

Possible readings of the ethos of the scales could be:
RIR (Dorian) => Thjodrerir sang before Delling's door => “emergence, creativity, radiance ...”
SUM (Phrygian) => the gods => “strength, authority, power...”
FUM (Lydian) => the elves => “skill, proficiency, prosperity ...”
TYR (Mixolydian) => Hroptaty = Odin => “wisdom, prudence, clarity ...”


However, Tveitt's tonal universe is frequently in constant flux. Every interval seems to be charged with nested meanings, and the tonality is evasive. His expressive use of modal scales can be paralleled to a train of thoughts or a flow of emotions. When the tonic of a phrase seems to be momentarily clear, the expression is perceived like a statement, but at the same time the chord progression offers other posibilities of tonal anchoring, suggesting intertwining thoughts or ambigous emotions. When two or more modes occur simultaneously, the impression is that of a suspended reflection – without conclusion.

Ambiguity – layers of meaning

Reading or listening to music with a mindset oriented toward comprehension stimulates a series of interpretations that may turn sounds into something meaningful. We all have interpretive behaviours; a selection of elements we habitually tune into, from which we evaluate the musical experience. In our search for comprehension and artistic experiences, we actively construct patterns to support our interpretations. These interpretations are personal, and not necessarily connected to the era, style, intention or cultural context which prevailed during the composition’s conception.

We can, however, break down, modify, and extend our own interpretive behaviours by consciously increasing our interest in certain topics, creating innovative layers of meaning. This can make us able to get into a state of a flowing musical experience, even if the music was composed or performed in a way which we normally would label as unengaging.

During the research project, we consciously aspired to change our attentive focus, taking interest in a variety of topics, modifying our conceptual strategies and working with multiple layers of meanings. Inspired by Lasse Thoresen’s reflections, we tested a variety of “listening behaviours”. In particular we applied the phenomenological reductive attitude of accumulating additional information about the music by deliberately attempting to suspend our prejudiced conceptions. In many ways this is contrary to our classical, comprehension-oriented professional training. The mindset of being “focused, but not settled”,opened up for alternative experiences of musical meaning, making us aware of multiple possible interpretations of Tveitt’s songs.

Arcs of tension

Initially we focused on the movements from or toward tonal centres, using Tveitt’s theories of the modal scales as a basis. When the music moves away from its basic tonal platform, the melodic and harmonic tensions intensify, raising anticipations for a return to the perceived tonal centre or to a moment of tentional release (temporary rest) before moving on. Since Tveitt’s use of modality often seemed to suggest a variety of potential tonal centres, we decided to experiment with “imagined tonics”, entailing that any of the seven modes could be put into play at any time.When tested, the different “imagined tonics” resulted in different arcs of tension. The hypodorian, hypolydian, hypophrygian, hypomixolydian etc. were put into play. Consequently, new associations and unexpected musical meanings emerged. This led to further experiments and improvisations with increasingly random “imagined tonics”, gradually braking our perception of static tonics apart.

In a seminar in December 2019 we attempted to exemplify how the vocal intonation varied according to the singer’s “imagined tonic”. We repeated the follwing bars sevaral times, with varying imagined tonics.

SCORE (exerpt)

SEE VIDEO “Svarte krossar” (exerpt)

The complete song was also performed during the seminar, focussing on the singer’s intonation and exaggerating the “blue notes” (deviations from the tempered piano tuning) to fully expose the tonal implications.

SEE SCORE “Svarte krossar”
SEE VIDEO “Svarte krossar” (Black Crosses in the white snow)

Expressiveness can be considered to be a variation of communicative “codes” or “signs”, intended to add content or context to words, music or physical gestures. In the project “Sonotical interpretations”, the search for various means of expression was considered to be an ongoing, never ending process, based on the expressiveness tested during the rehearsals as well as tuning in to emerging expressions during performance that might be appreciated as meaningful. To be able to challenge habitual ways of dealing with expression, the focus was systematic during the initial phases of the project, experimenting with different

An exaggerated sense of settledness or fidelity towards the score, composer or tradition, does not only restrict the performers’ musicality during performance; it also restrains their physical autonomy and technical capacities, leading to distressing psychopysical tensions, or even anxieties. Towards the end of the sonotical project the focus was directed towards different ways of listening whilst singing and playing, attempting to emancipate ourselves from premeditated intentionality, and tuning in to the expressiveness that occurred in the spur of the moment.

The communication between singer and pianist was developed through a common appreciation of aesthetics, based on nearly two decades of collaborative rehearsals and performances, including the research period. We did not attempt to change anything in Tveitt’s notated score, but articulation, rubato, gravitation points, dynamical flow and colouring were all improvisational elements. This kind of intuitive, “unsettled” expressiveness was perceived as acceptable to us as professional musicians due to all of the preceeding preparations, experiments and rehearsals. Like any other form of improvisation, it can be both risky and fruitful. Sensing, trusting and reacting to each other’s expressions in real time is an essential part of the performative setting.

In our search for musical apprehension of Tveitt’s songs, we focused on the following musical levels (ref. Thoresen: Studies in music, 2015):

This led us away from traditional notions of fidelity towards scores in notated music into a more co-creative space. We wished to immerse the group’s initial key questions into artistic practice and utilize the resulting musical expressions in our search for new questions. We realized that our approach might be reprocessed when working with works of other composers and hoped that some of our research results would be of general interest to the field of musical practice.

SEE SCORE Geirr Tveitt / Arnulf Øverland: “Dagvise”
SEE VIDEO Dagvise Geirr Tveitt / Arnulf Øverland: “Dagvise”

SEE SCORE Geirr Tveitt / Aslaug Låstad Lygre: “Eg henta ei glede”
SEE VIDEO Eg henta ei glede Geirr Tveitt / Aslaug Låstad Lygre: “Eg henta ei glede”

SEE SCORE Geirr Tveitt / Jan-Magnus Bruheim: “Stig ei båre”
SEE VIDEO Stig ei båre Geirr Tveitt / Jan-Magnus Bruheim: “Stig ei båre”


Geirr Tveitt: 13 Lygre songs

1 Raudnande blome som blømer i fjell
2 Vi skal ikkje sova
3 Godnatt
4 Mjukt skjer åra
5 Mørkt eventyr i november
6 Det einøygde huset
7 Spelet
8 Natta kan tala
9 Bera ei sorg
10 Kveld i sundet
11 Eg henta ei glede
12 Fest i september
13 Folkevise

Geirr Tveitt: 17 Bruheim songs

1 Tyding
2 Kvelden spør
3 Knust korn
4 Skilnad på
5 Kveldsfred
6 Den makteslause
7 Stig ei båre
8 Ljose minne vaker
9 Når ordet leitar
10 Den same tyngd
11 Avdagsstund
12 Kva kjenner frøet?
13 Vegvisaren
14 Prøva
15 Blomar i skymd
16 Dagane, dine vener
17 Til ein ung

Geirr Tveitt: 8 Hauge songs

1 Revebjøllor
2 Fela
3 Snø
4 Is-soleie
5 Fortrolla skog
6 Svarte krossar
7 Langeleiken
8 Selje-fløyta

Geirr Tveitt: 5 Wildenwey songs

1 Dobbeltportrett
2 Ennu en vår
3 Myrth
4 Galgenfugl
5 Donna Clara

Geirr Tveitt: 14 Vaa songs

1 Fann eg dei stigar
2 I hasseldokk
3 Svara meg, mi harpe
4 Hestmennan
5 Paa Vegakanten
6 Sommormessa
7 Lykelen
8 Den gamle apalen
9 Det stusselege romet
10 Nordlysun
11 Villarkonn
12 So rodde dei fjordan
13 Marskveld
14 Vaka og vente

Geirr Tveitt: 10 Øverland songs

1 Der flakker så røde stjerner
2 Og si meg
3 Fluen
4 Utopia
5 Lindormen
6 Dagvise
7 Vuggevise
8 Det jodlet i grønne skoger
9 Stjernenes hus
10 Et seil glir bort

Other songs by Geirr Tveitt

1 Nótt og Dagr (Snorre)
2 Des Iles (Our)
3 Vårherre han vild' ikkje ha meg
4 Eg hev tvetta haoret mjukt
5 Jonsokkspel (Holm)


Biographical notes about Njål Sparbo

Njål Sparbo studied singing with Jan Sødal, Aase Nordmo Løvberg, Ingrid Bjoner and Tor Hommeren in Norway. He has attended Master Classes with Hans Hotter, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Kurt Moll, Jorma Hynninen, Thomas Hemsley, Edith Mathis, Galina Vishnevskaya and Oren Brown. Following his official debut concert in 1991, he has distinguished himself as one of Norway's most active and versatile singers with an exceptionally broad repertoire spanning from art song, sacred music to opera. His special interest in contemporary music has led to many commissions, numerous world premieres, stage productions and recordings.

He has been a soloist with all the major Norwegian choirs, orchestras, and the Norwegian National Opera. He has given numerous performances throughout Europe, Russia, Japan, South-Korea, and the United States. In Norway he has given more than 150 recitals together with the nation’s leading pianists and has regularly appeared at festivals, in operas, and in radio and television. His discography comprises 32 recordings, including the first two recordings of a CD-anthology of Norwegian songs, “Norge, mitt Norge!”, and “Natt og Dag”.

Sparbo has been awarded numerous awards and scholarships, among others, the Ingrid Bjoner scholarship and the Kirsten Flagstad Prize. After performing all the songs by Edvard Grieg in concerts, he received the Grieg Prize in 2009.

Sparbo received the Norwegian Government Grant for Artists for two periods, 1997-1999 and 2005-2008, to study Norwegian, German and Russian art song repertoire. In 2009-2014 he worked as a research fellow at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in the Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme. His project «Singing on the Stage - with a Psychophysical Approach» merged different aspects of artistic performance practice (Konstantin Stanislavski, Roy Hart, Rudolf Laban, Jacques Lecoq) with the Norwegian psychomotor tradition (Trygve Braatøy, Berit Heir Bunkan). He continued as a researcher of psychophysical stage presence, combining contemporary aesthetics with concepts from Norwegian psychomotor physiotherapy. He has coached many choirs and vocal ensembles, including the Oslo Philharmonic Choir. Sparbo has had educational engagements as associate professor at the Opera and Ballet Academies within the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. 

In 2014-15 he joined the research group "The Reflective Musician – Interpretation as co-creative process" at the Norwegian Academy of Music. In 2017-20, his project “Sonotical Interpretations of 70 Songs by Geirr Tveitt” was part of the research group "(Un-) settling Sites and Styles - in Search of New Expressive Means" at the University of Bergen.

Sparbo has conducted peer reviews at the Norwegian Academy of Music, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the University College of Opera in Stockholm. He has been managing director of Oslo Grieg Society and festival director of the Oslo Grieg Festival. In addition, he has been a member of the board for the Norwegian Operatic Association, the Artists' Union Scholarship Committee, and the International Edvard Grieg Society. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several websites and a record company, Quattro Records.

Biographical notes about Einar Røttingen

The pianist Einar Røttingen is Professor of Music Performance at the Grieg Academy, University of Bergen. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, USA, Japan, and China. In addition to performing standard repertoire, such as concert series with Beethoven’s piano and chamber works, he has actively collaborated with composers and commissioned new works. He has especially contributed to presenting works by Norwegian composers throughout the world. Røttingen is an active chamber musician and a member of the Valen Trio together with violinist Ricardo Odriozola and cellist John Ehde. His extensive collaboration with the singer Njål Sparbo resulted in performances of Edvard Grieg’s complete songs in 2007.

CD recordings include the complete solo piano music and “Piano Concerto” of Harald Sæverud, solo CDs “Avgarde” and “Norwegian Variations”,andcollaborativeCDs “Hika” (with violin), “Chromos” (with flute), “Serre Chaudes” (with voice), “Fête Galantes” (with voice), “Voices of Women” (with voice) andGeorge Crumb’s “Makrokosmos III-IV” (four hands). Recent CDs include “Gardens of Hokkaido” (with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra), “Valen Trio, Chamber Works of Knut Vaage” and “Chamber Works of Ketil Hvoslef” (9 CDs).

In 2006, he completed the PhD dissertation Establishing a Norwegian Piano Tradition: Interpretive Aspects of Edvard Grieg’s “Ballade” Op. 24, Fartein Valen’s “Sonata No. 2” Op. 38 and Geirr Tveitt’s “Sonata No. 29”, Op. 129. He was the project leader for the three-year artistic research project (Un-) settling Sites and Styles: In Search of New Expressive Means (2017-2020) sponsored by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme.

Røttingen has initiated and organised contemporary music activities in Bergen (festivals, ensembles, concert series). As board leader of the International Edvard Grieg Society (2012-2021) he has been involved with arranging bi-annual conferences/workshops and international exchanges. Einar Røttingen was awarded the City of Bergen Cultural Prize (1993) and The Bergen International Festival Robert Levin Festival Prize (1997).