Kjerulf, Halfdan

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Kjerulf, Halfdan

Kjerulf, Half dan, esteemed Norwegian composer; b. Christiania, Sept. 15, 1815; d. Grefsen, near Christiania, Aug. 11, 1868. He was a member of a family of artists and scholars. He studied piano as a child, then took up law, subsequently working as a journalist. In 1848-49 he took lessons with Carl Arnold and in 1849-50 with Gade in Copenhagen, then with E.R Richter at the Leipzig Cons. (1850–51). He taught piano in his homeland from 1851, and in 1865 was elected a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music. A monument was erected to him in Christiania in 1874. He limited himself to composition in small forms; although he followed the German model, he injected melodic and rhythmic elements of a national Norwegian character into his songs. Grieg was deeply influenced by his example and expressed admiration for his music, and many celebrated singers (Jenny Lind, Christine Nilsson, and Henriette Sontag among them) included his songs in their programs. He wrote about 130 songs, utilizing Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German, and French texts, some 40 works for men’s chorus, as well as over 50 arrangements for chorus, and 10 albums of piano pieces and arrangements of Norwegian melodies for piano.


K. Nyblom, H. K. (1926); B. Qvamme, H. K. og hans tid (Oslo, 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire