Despite their severe climate, The Nordic countries are often home to great talents – people who not only change cultural discourse but the world as well. This article will introduce only a few of them but keep in mind – there are many more.
Edvard Grieg, the founder of Norwegian classic music
In the second half of the XIX century, Norwegian culture began to develop significantly, it was affected by Norway’s independence of Sweden in 1905. Musical art developed also – Ludwig Matthias Linneman collects folklore throughout Norway, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson writes the lyrics of the national anthem of Norway, and Rikard Nordraak – his cousin – sets them to the music.
Edward Grieg, in his turn, stood out, especially among his predecessors and contemporaries. Grieg has reproduced Norway's national coloring very accurately and authentically in his music, thus becoming the founder of Norwegian classics.
The composer was born in 1843 in a family of musicians; his mother was a pianist, so from the age of six, little Grieg has already played the piano. After his father's friend, the famous violinist Ole Bull, had heard Grieg playing the piano, he recommended the kid to study at the Leipzig Conservatory. After getting his diploma, Grieg returned to his homeland, where the young musician was greeted with his first successes. The fellow countrymen were captivated by the novelty of Grieg's music and his melodious gift.
Grieg created musical scenes from folklife and embodied Norwegian folklore in music in his work. That is the reason whyHenrik Ibsen, one of Norway's most talented playwrights, proposed Grieg to write music for his drama “Peer Gynt”. Grieg willingly agreed and created piece that glorifies him even today. The composer is usually recognized for his famous composition "In the Cave of the Mountain King", but there are other noteworthy works, such as his second violin sonata op.13 or “Holberg Suite”
Astrid Lindgren, the second mother to children around the world
Lots can be said about Lindgren’s creative path and the characters she has created, and indeed, she is the writer who has made the greatest contribution to children's literature since World War II. Her books have been translated into more than 100 languages.
Her first work was “Pippi Longstocking” which she made up for her daughter when she was ill with pneumonia. This was the starting point of her popularity. Inhabitants of the former USSR literally fell in love with Carlson, though in Sweden, he was actually disliked. Lindgren's favorite book for the Swedes is the tale about little scamp “Emil of Lönneberga”. Her last book, “Ronia, The Robber's Daughter”, was released in 1981 and has been one of the most popular children's books.
What is Lindgren's popularity phenomenon? The thing is that she is the first who has started to write books for children about children and their pranks, adding a lot of comic relief. The storytellers that had written before Lindgren did usually wrote about mythical creatures, monsters, or talking animals. That is why Lindgren not only started writing as no one had done before but also has changed the course of the whole genre.
Niels Bohr, one of the creators of modern physics
The native of Denmark, Niels Bohr, is rightly called one of the creators of modern physics. Bohr is the pioneer and the father of Quantum theory of the atom, the creator of the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics. Thanks to his postulates, which emerged in 1913, quantum physics began to evolve.
In 1920, a physicist founded the Copenhagen Institute for Theoretical Physics, which he headed until his death. Today the institute is called Niels Bohr Institute. At the Institute, he worked on atom’s structure and radiation. He received the Nobel Prize (1922) for creating a model of the atom. He established a large international school of physicists. At his Institute of Theoretical Physics at various times worked F. Bloch, V. Weisskopf, H. Kramers, L. D. Landau, J. Wheeler, and others, their ideas crystallized in lengthy grueling conversations with Bohr.
During World War II, Bohr was forced to immigrate to the United States. In the US, the scientist advised physicists who were working on the creation of the atomic bomb, but did not directly participate. He opposed the use of atomic warfare, repeatedly warning of its danger. In 1950, a scientist addressed a letter to the UN calling for international control of deadly weapons. 7 years later, Bohr became the first winner of the Atom for Peace Award.
At the age of seventy, Bohr left his professorship, though he remained chairperson of the Institute and continued to work on the development of quantum physics. At the end of his life, a special interest of the scientist aroused molecular biology.
Alvar Aalto, the father of modern architecture in Northern Europe
Finn Alvar Aalto was an architect and designer, the houses he designed became a part of architectural textbooks and encyclopedias. He successfully combined functional modernism with humanism. In addition, Aalto worked extensively on furniture, coming up with effective ways of creating them, which he later used in his projects and the company Artek (art + technique), which he founded, successfully sells his furniture nowadays.
The buildings of universities, libraries, offices, schools, etc. are still standing across Finland. However, the architect was not confined only to Finland - many of his buildings are located in the US and throughout Europe.
Aalto was a true architectural artist: he did not adhere to any particular style or concept but relied on an image born of imagination. The architect was inspired by nature and his ultimate goal was humanism.
Probably his most famous building is the public library in Vyborg (today The Alvar Aalto Vyborg library). This is one of Aalto's first projects where his own style was fully manifested: a combination of functionalism that dictated the severity of forms, and soft, flowing organics in the interior, plus the reliance on man in every detail, plus attaching great importance to ergonomics.
Arnaldur Indriðason, author of European bestsellers
Only few Ukrainians are really familiar with Iceland, which is a bit of a pity, because this seemingly small country is home to many talents, one of which is Arnaldur Indriðason.
People often search for his books in Icelandic libraries, and there is no wonder - the writer is one of the most well-known detective writers in the world.
An educated historian and a journalist in the past, Indriðason published his first book in 1997, finding himself immediately on the wave of success. His novel, “Jar City”, also known as “Tainted Blood” (icel. Mýrin) published in 2000, made him the most famous Icelandic writer of nowadays. Since then, his detective saga about Erlendur Sveinsson’s investigations is often in the European lists of the bestsellers.
The Guardian, the British newspaper, says: "Indriðason is a true master of storytelling that can evoke genuine sympathy within even the coldest people."
Many people like to read about successful people to get inspired. Did you recognize yourself? There are many books about the Normans and their achievements, especially in the Ukrainian translation, below you can find a shortlist and choose something for yourself!
Kamprad I., Torekull B. Leading By Design: The Ikea Story – The IKEA brand needs no introduction, right? Is it interesting to read about its founding from Kamprad itself? This book is just for you!
Bergman I. Laterna Magica – is an autobiographical book by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, an incredible gift for anyone interested in cinema.
Heyerdahl T. Kon-Tiki – Are you tired of sitting in quarantine already? Do you want to sneak abroad as soon as possible? Well, Thor Heyerdahl once rafted a float and sailed on it from South America to Polynesia. And you can join his journey directly from your sofa!
The Memoirs of Marshal Mannerheim – Diplomat, military leader, President of Finland - all the titles of Mannerheim cannot be listed. Have you heard exactly about that one line? Who, why, and how – this book will answer all these questions.
Torvalds. L. Just for fun: The story of a random revolution – A story about the Linux operating system from its founder, as well as plenty of facts from the personal life of a genius programmer.
Danielsen A. Magnus Carlsen og sjakkspillet – If you play chess, you've probably heard of Magnus Carlsen. If not, the success story of this world-famous Norwegian can be found in this book.
Stoltenberg J. Min historie – is an autobiographical book by the ex-Prime Minister of Norway and current NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Have you ever wanted to look behind the scenes of Norwegian policymaking? Read that one!