Duo no. 1 pour violon et piano Op. 18a (first print, score and parts)
Bull, Edvard Hagerup
Edvard Hagerup Bull
Duo no. 1 pour violon et piano op. 18a (1956)
(b. Bergen, 10 June 1922 – d. Oslo, 15 March 2012)
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
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 original one (presented here) and a version for violin and string orchestra entitled Dialogue pour violon et orchestre de chambre op. 18 B (as yet unperformed).
Duo pour violon et piano op. 18a dates from 1956. It is typical of the music Hagerup Bull wrote during and immediately after his studies in Paris. The work is full of vitality, freshness and a seemingly unstoppable flow of imagination, while exhibiting a rigorous compositional craft. The composer’s love of jazz comes to the fore in sections of the second movement. Tellingly, he favours the joyous lilt of triple metre throughout the work.
Duo pour violon et piano op. 18a was premiered at ORTF in Paris in 1957 by Janine Volant-Panel (violin) and Françoise Petit (piano; 1925-2015)
The work is recorded on Vestnorsk Plateselskap (VNP CD 2004 – 0061) by Ricardo Odriozola and Einar Røttingen.
The critics had the following to say about this work:
Duo for violin and piano by Edvard Hagerup Bull is a significant work. He is endowed with a very strong personality. After the very first bars one becomes immediately aware that he, assuredly and convincingly, presents himself with a completely new musical language. (Marcel Claudel – La Vie Musicale et Théâtrale – Paris, July 1957)
We would like to draw attention to Duo for violin and piano as being amongst the most interesting performances here. Edvard Hagerup Bull is a young Norwegian composer, pupil of Jean Rivier, whose secure and elegant technique shone strongly. (Maxime Bellard – Jours de Paris – 31.5.1957)
In Duo for violin and piano […] the composer’s character and originality once more came unmistakeably to the fore. (Jean Micault – Jours de Paris – 5.3.1958)
Ricardo Odriozola, Svelvik, 7. September 2015