Bull, Edvard Hagerup


Bull, Edvard Hagerup

«Entre Deux Trains…» pour clarinette et quintuor d’archets (score and parts), first print


Edvard Hagerup Bull

«Entre Deux Trains…» pour clarinette et quintuor d’archets (2001)

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

I Animato (p. 1) – Poco più mancando (p. 5) –Adagio espressivo dolce (p. 12)
II Adagio espressivo dolce (p. 14)

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 thus with great pleasure that we present this edition of his final composition, Entre Deux Trains, for clarinet and string quartet.

Entre Deux Trains (2001) was commissioned by the Norwegian clarinettist and composer Roger Arve Vigulf, to whom the work is dedicated. Vigulf gave the work’s first performance with the Hansa Quartet on September 14th 2002 in Bergen’s Logen hall, at a concert under the auspices of the Bergen Chamber Music Society marking the composer’s 80th birthday. The work was intended to include three movements. Sadly a blood clot on both eyes stole the composer’s eyesight before he could complete the work in the way he had intended. This misfortune put a sudden end to Hagerup Bull’s compositional activity, something he had simply not contemplated. He lived eleven more years, unable to write a single note. In latter years Hagerup Bull had been returning to musical material from his youth and, without losing his trademark highly concentrated style, his music had mellowed to an extent. Where a lot of his mature music may have showed signs of struggle and occasional paroxysms of excitement, his final works return, generally, to the playfulness of the music he had written as a young man. Entre Deux Trains is no exception. The first movement is full of joy and vitality. The tautness of the motivic work together with Hagerup Bull’s characteristic game of “tonal hide and seek” (where obvious tonal centres are constantly obscured by foreign pitches) and the sense of relentless forward motion (even when the music becomes lyrical) make this movement rank among Hagerup Bull’s best work. The second movement finds our composer in a more sombre, contemplative mood. Unusually for his late compositions, the mood remains virtually unchanged for the entire movement and the tempo stays the same throughout. The opening motif (a descending figure in F# major against an accompaniment unequivocally in A minor) keeps returning throughout the movement, as do several other ideas and motifs, creating the impression that we are witnessing a very slowly changing musical kaleidoscope. The final chord (a G major harmony with an unresolved 4th on top) ends Hagerup Bull’s final musical utterance in a veritable cliff-hanger that either raises the question of what would have come next or, if one shares the composer’s restless creative nature, the urge to, somehow, complete the composition.

Entre Deux Trains is a more than worthy addition to the not exactly copious literature for clarinet and string quartet and functions extremely well as a concert opener.

Regarding this edition, an effort has been made to stay as close as possible to the way the composer’s manuscript looks. This includes the placement of dynamics and articulations. A few obvious missing “arco” and “pizz.” indications have been rectified. Otherwise only one change has been made: “quasi attacca” in between the movements instead of the original “attacca”. This because of the time, however short, required to place the mutes before the beginning of the second movement.

A live performance of the work can be watched on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Ghu20Y6HhT4

Ricardo Odriozola, Bergen, 27 October 2016

Score No.


Special Edition


Chamber Music



First print




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