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Norway loses a prolific composer

Egil Hovland, who died today aged 88, wrote in every known style, from neo-baroque to post-serial. He studied one summer with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood was was organist at Frederikstad from 1949 to his death.

egil hovland

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  1. He was a lovely man. I went to see him at his home in Fredrikstadt ten or fifteen years ago. He picked me up in town and drove us up to his house overlooking the town and the islands — a hugely spacious building which seemed to have a piano in every room (even the loo, my memory suggests, doubtless exaggeratedly). On the way up there we were chatting in the car and Egil, being hard of hearing in his right ear, would lean towards me to hear better — without adjusting the position of his left hand on the steering wheel. But the time we had hit the kerb three times I twigged what was happening and shut up till we arrived.
    The best of his music is very good indeed, but he didn’t really seem to realise just how good it was. When I suggested that he prepare an independent orchestral work from the overture to his opera _Fange og fri_, he didn’t think anyone would be interested. And though he got a commission for the coronation, he didn’t realise it might be a matter of some moment until he heard it mentioned on TV.
    Martin A

  2. David Hackbridge Johnson says:

    Thanks, Norman and Martin for telling me something about Hovland. I had not heard of him until now and have been listening to his music for the last few hours thanks to youtube. The Agnus Dei for bassoon and choir is a stunningly beautiful work. Sad to hear of his passing.

  3. And what a nice piece, too. It makes me want to write for this combination, one I never would have thought of. And it makes me wish contemporary classical music were integrated more into the activities of institutions people frequent: churches, universities, museums, and so forth–even if the music would serve as little more than pleasant background. And, finally, I’m heartened to learn of another composer who doesn’t let the quest for transcendent genius (though heaven knows there’s nothing wrong with transcendent genius) scare him or her away from writing quickly and within many different styles.

  4. Stephen Duncan says:

    I had never heard of Mr. Hovland before today. But listening to this piece, I can tell he was a beautiful person and incredible musician. As a bassoonist and vocalist myself this piece resonates very strongly with me. May I ask if anyone knows the bassoonist and choir in this recording?

  5. I personally wonder why you labeled this specific posting, “Norway loses a prolific
    composer”. In any event I actually adored it!Thank you,Julian

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