Sivertsen, Kenneth


Sivertsen, Kenneth

Døtrene for violin, guitar and mixed choir (score and parts, first print)


Kenneth Sivertsen – Døtrene
for violin, guitar and mixed choir (1987)

(b. Mosterhamn [Bømlo], 16 January 1961 – d. Bergen, 24 December 2006)

Kenneth Sivertsen was arguably the most staggering musical talent to emerge from Norway at the tail end of the 20th century. Born in the island of Bømlo (south of Bergen) he learned to play the guitar at a very young age, soon forming a pop band with two of his older siblings and becoming very active in the local music scene. He took composition lessons from Magnar Åm (b. 1952) for a year and guitar lessons from Arild Hansson for a short period. Other than this Sivertsen was essentially self-taught. He wrote his first symphony at the age of twenty. At twenty five he was the youngest Norwegian to be accepted into the Norwegian Composers’ Union. His work For Ope Hav was chosen to represent Norway in the 1986 edition of Nordic Music Days in Iceland.
Sivertsen was equally active as a composer and performer. He was a world class guitarist and an able singer and pianist. Being of a restless and inquisitive nature he worked and excelled in many different musical genres: contemporary classical music, popular song, jazz and rock. He wrote two symphonies, numerous chamber works, many songs, an oratorio, a trumpet concerto, ballet music and a Requiem, besides countless arrangements. The recordings he left behind attest to his baffling versatility. These include several CDs of songs in popular style, an album of guitar compositions, ballet music, religious songs, chamber music and three acclaimed jazz albums in which he played with some of the world’s finest jazz musicians at the time.
Kenneth Sivertsen became a very public figure in Norway, particularly from the early 1990s. Besides his musical ability, he possessed an uncanny comical talent. The latter was exploited relentlessly by the media and made him a darling of the entertainment circuit in Norway for many years. The chaos of life of the road eventually took its toll on Sivertsen’s health. After several years of intermittent illness he died on Christmas Eve 2006.
Sivertsen’s music defies categorization. Surprising and unpredictable as life itself, it often changes atmosphere and style radically, even within the same composition. Sivertsen was a master at creating moods that draw the listener close to the music. He wrote some of the most beautiful and gripping music ever to come from a Norwegian composer.

(1987) – English translation: “The Daughters”
Original score available from MIC (

Text by Solfrid Sivertsen:

døtrene dine
skal flyga bort
på sølvvenger
veva natta
saman med dagen
til et mønster
du aldri kjende
spre lyskjeldene sine
over flamande
når de mørke
irrgangane er murt igjen
og alle vindaugo

English translation by Solfrid Sivertsen and Mike McGurk:

your daughters will fly away
on wings of silver
entwining night and day
into a pattern you never knew
spread their light over foreign landscapes
when the dark labyrinths have been bricked up
and all windows are open
The first two minutes of Døtrene are a free fantasy based on what becomes the main melody in the sung section of the work. In this introduction the choir is used instrumentally, mostly as a provider of sonic effects or as harmonic background to the dialogue between the violin and the guitar. The text begins in measure 38. It is set to one of Sivertsen’s most disarmingly simple and direct melodies, with an equally simple and affecting harmonic background, all in the gentle lilt of a 6/8 meter. In measure 55 a new melodic idea appears, played and sung in unison to the words “til et mønster du aldri kjende”. This becomes a sort of refrain, whose development leads to a transitional passage (beginning on measure 94), that in turn leads into the guitar cadenza (see under). This cadenza divides the work into two distinct halves. The first half uses the seven first lines of the text, whereas the second half takes on the remaining seven lines.
Whereas the first half had been in the minor mode, the major mode (coloured by the Lydian fourth degree) appears as a ray of light in the final section. The key centre soon shifts from E to G, a key that, in Sivertsen’s music, is always associated with peace. The work closes with a repetition of the word “opne” (open).
As is always the case with Kenneth Sivertsen’s music, Døtrene creates an enchanting atmosphere that invites the listener into its confidence, as if attempting to share the wonders of a world that, although attainable, only exists within the music. The violin and guitar parts require two skilled musicians while the choir part can be sung successfully by capable amateurs.

General remarks
In order to facilitate the reading of the score, each of the choral parts is given its own staff, whereas in the original score soprano and alto are notated on one staff and tenor and bass on another.
Døtrene was written between July 15th and July 25th 1987. The guitar cadenza was, it seems, an afterthought, since Sivertsen wrote it on July 28th of the same year.
This piece was commissioned by the violinist Lars Erik Ter-Jung and the guitarist Njål Vindenes, who took the work on tour in the Hordaland area and performed it with a number of local amateur choirs. No date for the premiere is available.
In a letter dated March 13th 1999 Sivertsen had informed me that there was a violin part intended to be played together with the guitar cadenza. Before my first performance of the piece, in 2008, I asked Lars Erik Ter-Jung about this but he was, unfortunately, unable to find the old music twenty years after the event. The addition of an important instrumental part to a finished score (and the failure to include it in the score) was characteristic of Sivertsen’s always spontaneous approach to music making. In the absence of the composer’s intended violin part and without the possibility of asking him to produce a new one, I endeavoured to write one myself. This is the section between bars 98 and 109.
However, on May 7th and 8th 2017 I was in Sivertsen’s house in Bømlo, putting his papers in order. To my surprise and delight I found the above mentioned violin cadenza among a pile of scores, newspaper clippings and letters. This edition thus includes Sivertsen’s original violin part in the main score, while my own version is offered as an appendix. The latter is the version that can be heard on the CD “Dragning – Chamber music by Kenneth Sivertsen” (ARCD 1301)
For visual purposes the phrasing legato slur on bar 106 has been omitted. On bars 108 – 109 it has been substituted by the word “legato” (in parenthesis). Otherwise, Sivertsen’s characteristically long phrasing slurs have been kept, by and large, particularly in the violin part. The same applies to Sivertsen’s characteristic “note-to-note” legato slurs (as, for instance, in mm. 63-66 in the violin part). The choice of appropriate bowings is left to the discretion of the interpreter.
Sivertsen’s meticulous fingerings for the guitar part have been kept throughout.
The use of long vowels in wordless sections is left to the discretion of the conductor.
Although it is not common in Sivertsen’s scores, this edition adheres to the practice of showing the accidental in notes tied over a bar line.

Bars 7 – 8
and 16 – 18 no vowel is specified for the voices. The choir director may
determine this as he/she sees fit (“oo”, “aa” …)
Bars 40 – 41 missing phrasing slurs added to the guitar. Missing repetition of bar 40
on bar 41 corrected.
Bars 59 – 61 dotted quarter note triplets changed to single quarter notes.
Bar 82 “2nd time nat.” added over last two sixteenth notes on guitar part.
Bar 97 the guitar part is, without apparent reason, different from bars 94 – 96. This has been respected.
Bar 101 missing natural sign added on second last eighth note (D) on guitar part.
Bar 131 dotted quarter note triplet on violin and choir changed to single quarter notes.
Bar 143 missing sharp on second tenor note added.

Ricardo Odriozola, 2018

Score No.


Special Edition

Amethyst Edition


Choir/Voice & Instrument(s)


225 x 320 mm


Set Score & Parts


First print