One of Norway’s most famous writers, Jens Bjørneboe, was born i Kristiansand in 1920. He was a poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, journalist, and  one of the most important public voices in Norwegian society from the 1950s to the 70s. He took his own life in 1976, but his books, plays and poems live on. In 2020, to celebrate the centenary of  Jens Bjørneboe, Nedland Kultur produced an album of songs consisting of his poems , with melodies composed by singer/songwriter Arild Fredriksen. 

Jens Bjørneboe

The poems of Jens Bjørneboe range from tender, poetic expressions, to harsh social and political criticism. Arild Fredriksen has been composing music to Bjørneboe’s poems since the 1970s. The majority of songs on the album are from the theater plays “The Bird Lovers” and “Many Happy Returns”, but also from Bjørneboe’s volumes of poetry, as well as one poem, “Spansk vuggevise – Spanish Lullaby” published as a comment about the Franco dictatorship in a Norwegian weekly newspaper. Several Norwegian artists have put to music many of Jens Bjørneboe’s poems, but hardly any of them have spent as many years of their life immersed in this great poet’s works as Arild Fredriksen. Over decades, he has dedicated a major part of his work as composer and arranger to these poems, and to making music for the theater plays of Jens Bjørneboe.

For the project “Ilden i mitt hjerte”, Arild Fredriksen assembled an orchestra that were to give the songs a unique and different musical expression. The line up is guitars, bass, drums, violin and accordion. Arild himself wrote full and rich music scores for the songs. The music can be associated with a classic salon orchestra, but it also has elements of Greek music, including the use of bouzouki in a few songs. A flamenco influence, jazz elements, and certain nods to Balkan music can also be discerned. In a predominantly acoustic soundscape, the very active role of the electric bass guitar is an inventive and special element. On some songs the arrangements are rich, with an orchestra feeling, while others are stripped down to almost only bass and drums. All the time, the music, arrangements and playing are primarily underlining and highlighting the poems and their messages.

The band “Olivenensemblet” consists of Markus Eriksen Hernes, drums(above, left), Reino Ilkama, guitar and Einar “Wallen” Mjåland, bass (center), Kristin Jæger, violin and Ole-Bjørn Gullbring, accordion (right). Jo van der Eynden (left) contributes recitation, and was responsible for editing and presentation of poems. Vocalists: Hilde Hefte, (center left), Arild Fredriksen (center right) and Miguel Emilio D. Steinsland (far right)

Concert at the Central Library of Kristiansand, the home town of the poet Jens Bjørneboe.

The album was recorded at the UiA studio in Grimstad by sound engineer Konstantinos Kokogias. All compositions and musical arrangements are by Arild Fredriksen. Artistic director and producer: Sigbjørn Nedland of Nedland Kultur.