Kåre Kolberg - Biography

Kåre Kolberg

Kåre Kolberg (1936-2014) studied organ at the Music Conservatory in Oslo and had an MA in musicology from the University of Oslo. In addition to his career as a composer, he was active as an organist for many years. First as a research fellow, and later as a critic and writer, Kolberg has been especially concerned with the role and function of contemporary music in society. He has also held a number of important honorary posts in Norwegian music life. From 1970-73 he served as president of the Norwegian Section of the ISCM - Ny Musikk, and from 1979-85, he was president of the Norwegian Society of Composers. The latter of these two periods coincided with the first years of the Norwegian Music Information Centre's existence.

Kåre Kolberg was one of the first composers to deal with the public's attitude towards modern music. The "neo-friendly" elements in his otherwise fairly modernistic musical language can be regarded as an indication of his desire to communicate more directly with his audience. Kolberg's music has always been characterized by contrasts. Not only does he employ dynamic contrasts, but also contrasts of sound and rhythmic and melodic contrasts in which, e.g. lyrical, melodic passages are juxtaposed with blocks of sound. However, perhaps the most characteristic feature of Kolberg's music is his juxtaposition of material from different genres. Modernism contrasted with elements from jazz or popular music, and elements from the romantic genre with idioms from contemporary music. These contrasts lend his music great expressive force and are a source of considerable musical humour - which is another typical feature of Kolberg's music. A great many of his compositions reveal subtle humour, such as The Emperor's New Tie (1973) and For the Time Being (1984). The latter work was, incidentally, selected by the Norwegian Society of Composers as Work of the Year the same year it was composed.

Translation: Palmyre Pierroux
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