Composers / Edvard Grieg / Persons catalog

Rikard Nordraak

Rikard Nordraak (1842–1866) – a Norwegian composer, who wrote the music to the Norwegian national anthem. He first trained with the Danish singer and composer Carl Ludvig Gerlach in Copenhagen. As an eighteen-year-old, he left for Berlin, where he studied with Theodor Kullak (piano) and Friedrich Kiel (composition). He was the cousin of the Norwegian writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and composed music to many of his works. One of his most famous songs to words by Bjørnson is ‘Ja, vi elsker dette landet’ (1863/1864), which became the Norwegian national anthem. He died at the age of twenty-four and left forty compositions, most of them small-scale works, including fourteen songs for male choir, incidental music to the plays Sigurd Slembe and Maria Stuart and a few pieces for harpsichord. In 1864, he was one of the co-founders of the ‘Euterpe’ Music Society of Copenhagen, which organised performances of works by young Scandinavian composers. At that time, he became friendly with Grieg, whom he urged to seek sources for his music in Norwegian folklore. Grieg repeatedly emphasised that thanks to Nordraak he found his path as a composer. He dedicated many of his works to him, and on his friend’s death he wrote, in April 1866, a Funeral March in memory of Rikard Nordraak. With his ardent patriotism and his love of Norwegian folk music, Nordraak inspired an entire generation of Scandinavian composers.


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