Hvoslef, Ketil


Hvoslef, Ketil

Erkejubel for brass quartet, synthesizer and percussion (score and parts) first print



Ketil Hvoslef

»Erkejubel« für Blechbläserquartett, Synthesizer und Schlagzeug (1982)

(b. Bergen, 19 July 1939)

Ketil Hvoslef is the youngest son of Norway’s preeminent symphonist Harald Sæverud (1897-1992) and Marie Hvoslef (1900-82). His birth coincided with the completion of Siljustøl, the great mansion in the outskirts of Bergen where the Sæverud family settled and where Harald Sæverud lived until his passing on 27 March 1992.
Being the son of a great composer, music was naturally very present during Hvoslef’s upbringing. He learned to play the piano and the viola and, in his teens, he became heavily involved in Bergen’s jazz and pop music environment, becoming a member of what was, reportedly, Bergen’s first rock band. Hvoslef (who retained the Sæverud surname until his 40th birthday, when he decided to adopt that of his mother) had, however, plans to become a painter and took serious steps in that direction. It was in the Bergen Art Academy that he met the painter Inger Bergitte Flatebø (1938 – 2008), who would become his wife and adopt the Sæverud surname.

With the birth of their first child, Trond Sæverud, in 1962, Hvoslef abandoned his dreams of becoming either a pop star or a painter and he took an organist’s diploma at the Bergen Music Conservatoire. Upon finishing his studies, he was offered a position as theory teacher at the Conservatoire by its director, the legendary Gunnar Sævig (1924-69).

Hvoslef became a composer almost by accident. In his 25th year he composed a piano concertino for his own satisfaction. Shortly after, his father passed on to him a commission for a woodwind quintet he had no time or inclination to write. And after that he simply kept going. He had study periods in Stockholm (with Karl-Birger Blomdahl

[1916-68] and Ingvar Lindholm [b. 1921]) and in London (with Henri Lazarof [1932-2013] and Thomas Rajna [b. 1928]).

Since the 1970s Hvoslef has received a fairly steady stream of commissions and his work list counts with some 140 compositions to date. Hvoslef always enjoys a challenge and he has often written for unusual or seemingly “hopeless” instrumental combinations, always using the limitations of the ensemble as a stimulant for his imagination. He has written for large orchestra, for a great variety of chamber ensembles and for solo instruments. He has so far composed nineteen concertos and three operas.

Hvoslef was the Festival Composer of the Bergen International Festival in 1990 and has received several prizes, such as the Norwegian Composers’ Society’s “work of the year” on four occasions (1978, 1980, 1985 and 1992) and TONO’s Edvard Prisen in 2011.

Hvoslef’s music is characterized by great transparency and by a conscious building of tension achieved by accumulating latent energy. He wants his listeners to lean forward and listen rather than sit back and be lulled into a rêverie. Listening to a Hvoslef composition is always an adventure: one never knows what to expect. He stretches sections of the music almost to breaking point and only then introduces a new idea. His music has a classical clarity and transparency and is therefore always easy to follow. Although his very personal and concentrated language is very much of its time, Hvoslef is not averse to using material that is recognizably tonal (such as major and minor triads) albeit always in a context that sets these familiar sounds in conflict with their surroundings. Rhythm is a very prominent aspect of Hvoslef’s music. Although the vast majority of his production is notated in 4/4 metre, his rhythmical patterns almost never conform to it, always favouring patterns of odd-numbered notes.

Ketil Hvoslef is, without a doubt, one of the greatest composers to emerge from Scandinavia in the past fifty years, as well as one of the truly original masters of our time.

The composer writes: “Erkejubel was written for the 80th anniversary of Trondheim’s Architect Society in 1982. The premiere took place the same year in Erkebispegården (Archabbey) in Trondheim. Thus the title could not be any other than “Erkejubel” (“Arch-anniversary”). The environment around Erkebispegården is dominated by stone. This has left its mark in both the instrumentation and the musical expression. Erkejubel is a short work where the sound is divided between four brass instruments, a quasi choral four-part synthesizer and percussion. In several sections the synth acts as a sonic contrast to the brass, approaching the function of a string group. The percussion shifts between support for the brass and freer sections, while the brass goes back and forth between celebratory 16-note motifs and softer soloistic interventions”

The Norwegian dedication reads: “for the 80th anniversary of the Trondheim Architect Society (in the Archabbey)”
It is worthy of note that Hvoslef uses ff as the highest possible dynamics in the given instrument(s) and pp as the lowest. This is, as he puts it, his way of “fighting inflation”. To complete the dynamic range he uses mff (in-between f and ff) and mpp (in-between p and pp). Almost all of Hvoslef’s scores from the mid 1970s on bear the note: “OBS: ff = max. pp = min.” as is indeed the case with Erkejubel.
Ricardo Odriozola, June 2016


Score Data

Special Edition

Amethyst Edition




225 x 320 mm


First print


Set Score & Parts



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