Backer-Grondahl, Agathe (1847–1907)

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Backer-Grondahl, Agathe (1847–1907)

Norwegian concert artist and composer who wrote many works she performed. Born in Holmestrand, on the Oslofjord, Norway, on December 1, 1847; died in Ormoen near Christiana, Norway, on June 16, 1907; one of four daughters, one of whom wasHarriet Backer , of Consul Nils Backer (a much-traveled shipowner) and Sophie (Petersen) Backer; married with two sons who retained her name and were well-known: Fridtjof, a pianist and composer, and Nils, a professor of medicine at the University of Bergen.

A student of Theodor Kullak and Hans von Bülow, Agathe Backer-Grondahl was well regarded in her lifetime. Contemporary accounts speak of her as an extraordinary musician. Wrote George Bernard Shaw: "A great artist—a serious artist—a beautiful, incomparable unique artist! She morally regenerated us all." Her repertoire was a large one, and her own piano compositions, effectively written in the style of Mendelssohn and Schumann, are warmly Romantic, imaginative, and more pianistically idiomatic than those of her fellow Norwegian Edvard Grieg.

suggested reading:

Christensen, Inga Hoegsbro. Biography of the Late Agathe Backer-Grondahl. NY: Roy Press, 1913.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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