Halvorsen, Johan, notable Norwegian conductor and composer; b. Drammen, March 15, 1864; d. Oslo, Dec. 4, 1935. He began violin lessons at 7 and, while still a youth, played several instruments in the local civil defense band. He pursued his musical training with Lindberg and Nordquist at the Stockholm Cons. In 1885 he made his debut as a soloist in the Beethoven Violin Concerto in Bergen, where he served as concertmaster of the Harmonien Music Soc. He then was a violinist in the Gewandhaus Orch. in Leipzig, where he studied violin with Brodsky. After serving as concertmaster of the Aberdeen Musical Soc, he taught at the Helsinki Cons. (1889–92). He also completed his studies in St. Petersburg, Berlin (composition with Becker), and Liège (violin with Thomson). Upon returning to Bergen in 1893, he became conductor of the orch. of the theater and of the Harmonien Music Soc. In 1899 he was called to Christiania (Oslo) as conductor of the orch. of the newly opened National Theater, where he led symphonic as well as theater scores until his retirement in 1929. He was married to a niece of Grieg. Halvorsen’s compositions were influenced by Grieg, Svendsen, and the folk melodies of his native land. Outside of Norway he is best known for his celebrated orch. march Entry of the Boyars (1893), as well as the Passacaglia for Violin and Viola, after a Handel keyboard suite (1897), the Andante religioso for Violin and Orch. (1903), and Bergen-siana, Rococo Variations on an Old Melody from Bergen for Orch. (1913). Among his other works were 3 syms.: No. 1 (Christiania, 1923), No. 2, Fatum (1923; Christiania, March 15, 1924; rev. 1928), and No. 3 (1928; Oslo, March 15, 1929), Violin Concerto; Norwegian Festival Overture (1899), several orch. suites, including Nordraakiana, after 5 works of R. Nordraak, 2 Norwegian rhapsodies (1919–20), incidental music to more than 30 plays, and Reisen til Julestjernen (Journey to the Christmas Star), a popular children’s Christmas play (1924).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire