HARALD SAEVERUD (1897 - 1992)
Harald Sæverud was born in Bergen, Norway, on April 17 1897. He began composing music at an early age. He studied piano and harmony at the Musical Academy in Bergen, and published his first piece in 1919. In 1920, he attended the Berlin Hochschule für Musik where he studied under FE Koch and Clemens Kraus, after which he returned to Bergen and earned his living playing the piano and teaching. The works that he composed at this time showed the influence of Brahms and Bruckner, but by 1926, when he composed Symphony in B flat minor, his third symphony, he had begun to experiment with other musical styles. That same year, he also composed a piano suite and a cello concerto, delving further into his musical experimentations.
In 1933 he received a grant that enabled him to direct his attentions solely to composition. His 1934 work, Canto Ostinato, was presented at the fourth International Festival at Baden-Baden and was received warmly. This moment marked the beginning of his popularity outside of Norway. After the Nazi invasion of Norway, Sæverud was driven to begin composing music that was characteristically Norwegian, with works such as Shepherd’s Tune Variations, Festa Campestre and Sinfonia Dolorosa.
Sæveruds focus on the Norwegian style of music earned him great praise. In 1952, he was made a member of the Swedish Musical Society, and by the 1950s he was receiving yearly grants from the Norwegian government in recognition of his rôle as a champion of Norwegian music. In 1957, he was granted knighthood in the order of Saint Olaf, first-class.