Bull, Edvard Hagerup


Bull, Edvard Hagerup

Duo no. 2 pour violon et piano op. 44c (score and parts / first print)



Edvard Hagerup Bull

b. Bergen, 10 June 1922 – d. Oslo, 15 March 2012)

Duo no. 2 pour violon et piano op. 44c

premier mouvement p. 2
deuxième mouvement p. 11

Edvard Hagerup Bull obtained an organist diploma in Oslo in 1947 after studies with Arild Sandvold (1895-1984). He also studied piano with Erling Westher (1903-86) and Reimar Riefling (1898-1981) and composition with Bjarne Brustad (1895-1978) and Ludvig Irgens Jensen (1894-1969). His father, Sverre Hagerup Bull (1892-1976), was a respected music critic as well as the editor and one of the main authors of the Norwegian music encyclopaedia “Musikkens Verden”. Edvard Hagerup Bull had an impeccable ancestry for a Norwegian composer: his paternal grandfather was a cousin of Edvard Grieg, while Ole Bull was the grandfather’s uncle. The same grandfather was several times finance and justice minister under the Christian Mikkelsen government, the first Norwegian government after Norway became independent from Sweden in 1905. Between 1948 and 1953 Edvard Hagerup Bull studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire with Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) and Jean Rivier (1896-1987) and musical analysis with Olivier Messiaen (1908-92). Later on he spent two years in Berlin (1959 – 61), where he studied composition with Boris Blacher (1903-75) and analysis with Josef Rufer (1893-1985). Back in Norway he was ready to establish himself as a working composer. This was not to be, however. He encountered a great deal of indifference, even downright hostility towards his music in his own country. The latter was epitomised by the overwhelming flood of negative reviews his Second Symphony received after its premiere in Oslo in 1963. After a long crisis, and with a young family to take care of, he decided to move to France, but not before his beloved master Milhaud had reassured him that he was indeed on the right track and that the Second Symphony was an outstanding work that did not deserve the bad reviews it had received. Indeed Milhaud considered Hagerup Bull to be one of his most brilliant pupils and described him as “a musician with a solid technique and a very winning, commanding and highly imaginative personality.” Milhaud’s original words were “Je

[…] certifie que le compositeur norvegien Edvard Hagerup Bull […] est un musicien d’une technique solide et d’une personnalité vraiment très attachante, vigoureuse et pleine de fantaisie” (17 oct. 1963)

While he lived in Paris, Hagerup Bull received commissions from Radio France (Sinfonia Humana op. 37, Air Solennel op. 42 and Posthumes op 47) and from several outstanding French ensembles, such as Quatuor Instrumental de Paris, Ensemble Moderne de Paris and Trio Ravel. He was also the first Norwegian composer to receive two commissions from the French Cultural Ministry. The resulting works were his 5th Symphony  (Sinfonia in Memoriam op. 41), and the Concerto pour flûte et orchestre de chambre op 33.
Hagerup Bull returned to Norway in 1987. His 80th year (2002) was, in Norway, marked by the world première performance of his Sinfonia Espressiva (Symphony No. 3 – written in 1964!) by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under David Porcelijn (b. 1947), as well as by a major concert of his chamber music given under the auspices of the Bergen Chamber Music Society.
On August 13th 2006, to mark the 45th anniversary of the Berlin Wall, Hagerup Bull’s Épilogue op. 26 for string orchestra (the only known piece of music written in protest against the Berlin wall) was performed at Checkpoint Charlie by the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin conducted by Jon Bara Johansen (b. 1952) with the composer in attendance. He presented the original score of the work to the Mauermuseum. This was to be his last public appearance.
Due to blindness Hagerup Bull was unable to compose during the last eleven years of his life. After a period of illness he died in Oslo in March 2012, three months short of his 90th birthday.
Edvard Hagerup Bull is one of the great Scandinavian composers of the 20th Century, with an instantly recognizable and original voice. More than half of his production is still unpublished and only a fraction of his music has been recorded professionally. Performances of his music are, likewise, infrequent. It is therefore with great pride that we present this edition of his first duo for violin and piano. The work exists (as is the case with quite a few of Hagerup Bull’s compositions) in two versions: the present one and a version for viola and piano that bears the opus number 44b. Interestingly the first of Hagerup Bull’s operas, Fyrtøyet (“the tinderbox”, based on the Hans Christian Andersen [1805-75] tale and as yet, unperformed) bears the opus number 44a. The reason for this is that the overture to the opera is an orchestration of the first movement of the duo.
Duo pour violon et piano op. 44c dates from 1973. It fits squarely within Hagerup Bull’s mature style, which crystallized after his studies in Berlin with Blacher and Rufer. This style is characterized by great density of aural information and expressive concentration. Harmonies are often based on solid fourths and fifths, but are usually obscured by tritones and major sevenths/minor ninths, as well as by an intricate melodic design. Meter and tempo changes are quite frequent. The physicality that had always been present in Hagerup Bull’s music, the rhythmical pulsation, becomes even more up-front in his later compositions. This is truly invigorating music to perform and to experience as a listener.
Although the work was written in 1973 it had to wait until May 23rd 1999 for its first performance, given at Siljustøl (the home of Harald Sæverud) by Ricardo Odriozola and Einar Røttingen during the Bergen International Festival. The composer then decided to dedicate the work to the performers, who later recorded it on the CD “Reflections” (VNP CD 2004 – 0061). They can also be seen and heard performing the piece on YouTube.
Espen Selvik wrote the following in Bergens Tidende after the first performance:“I have to use strong words when judging the music [by Hagerup Bull]. It shows sparks of genius because it economizes with its means of expression in an incredibly clear and superior way. Not a single note seems wasted. At the same time, Hagerup Bull introduces small pauses of complete silence. I have seldom experienced a composer mastering the unfolding of form to the degree that Edvard Hagerup Bull does. The tonal language is powerful, but the energy has a continuous flow that unveils many nuances and colours along the way.”

Ricardo Odriozola, Svelvik 8 July 2016

Score Data

Special Edition

Amethyst Edition


Chamber Music


225 x 320 mm


First print


Set Score & Parts



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