The Kennedy Center

Arne Nordheim



Biography

Born in Larvik, Norway, in 1931, Arne Nordheim is considered by many to be the greatest living Norwegian composer. He studied organ, piano, music theory and composition at the Oslo Music Conservatory from 1948 to 1952.

In the mid-50s he had lessons with Vagn Holmboe, and gained international recognition in 1960 with his orchestral work Canzona per Orchestra. Also at this time, he started studying "musique concrete," a name given to a class of electronic music produced from editing together fragments of natural and industrial sounds. From 1967-1972 he spent much time in Warsaw studying electronic music, which resulted in the work Pace (1970), a commission from Polish Radio.

When his electronic compositions first appeared in Norway more than 30 years ago, they were dismissed in academic circles.  Now, widely recognized, his work is distinguished by its sheer musicality and sense of structure. Electric instruments and recorded tape glide in and out as a natural part of the orchestra.

Nordheim is a humanist in his approach to music, in which he attempts to portray themes like loneliness, despair, love, warmth, and humor.

He has received numerous music prizes, including the Nordic Council Music Prize, the Prix Italia and the Heinrich Steffen's Prize. From 1960 to 1968 he worked as a music critic for several magazines and newspapers such as Dagbladet in Oslo. Since 1974 he has been president of the Norwegian Composers' Association.

Arne Nordheim

Compositions

  • "Tenebrae" for Cello and Orchestra