Andsnes, Leif Ove

Andsnes, Leif Ove
▪ 2008

born April 7, 1970, Karmøy, Nor.

      By 2007 it was clear that pianist Leif Ove Andsnes was practically a hero in Norway and effectively his country's musical ambassador to the world. In August he received the Peer Gynt Prize, awarded by the Norwegian Storting (parliament) to individuals in recognition of their contributions in politics, sports, and culture. All year Norwegians commemorated the 100th anniversary of the death of their beloved composer Edvard Grieg. In concerts throughout the year, Andsnes featured Grieg's music, notably the challenging Ballade in G Minor, with which, the pianist claimed, he had only recently come to terms. Andsnes collaborated, moreover, in a yearlong Norwegian Television project on Grieg's life that culminated in a dramatic outdoor performance of the Ballade high in the Hardanger Mountains.

      Andsnes was the son of school music teachers. Though he studied piano, as a child he was more interested in playing in the school band and on the football (soccer) team until at age 15 he met Czech pianist Jiri Hlinka, who taught at the Bergen Conservatory. At age 16 Andsnes entered the conservatory and immersed himself in the study of his instrument. His reputation grew quickly and steadily; he won the German Paul Hindemith Prize in 1987, both the Norwegian Music Critics' Prize and the Robert Levin (Bergen International) Festival Prize in 1988, and the Grieg Prize in 1990. More recent honours included being made Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 2002 and winning the Classical Brit Instrumentalist of the Year Award in both 2006 and 2007.

      Andsnes's broad repertory included piano works of Norwegian composers (including little-known pieces); large-scale concerti such as those of Johannes Brahms, Sergey Rachmaninoff, Bela Bartok, and Witold Lutoslawski; other significant solo piano music; and chamber music, including collaborations with string players (such as German violinist Christian Tetzlaff) and singers (such as British tenor Ian Bostridge). Critics and audiences appreciated the clarity and lyricism of his approach to music; he managed to be brilliant and self-effacing at the same time, according to the New York Times. Andsnes was a cofounder of and regular participant in the Risør Chamber Music Festival in eastern Norway, and in 2005 he became a professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo.

      Although Andsnes was honoured with a Dorothy B. Chandler Performing Arts Award (1992), the quadrennial Gilmore Artist Award (1997), and four Grammy Award nominations, he was still better known in Europe and Asia (especially Japan) than in the U.S. An extensive U.S. tour planned for 2008 seemed likely to raise his profile there.

Charles Trumbull

* * *

▪ Norwegian musician
born April 7, 1970, Karmøy, Nor.

      Norwegian musician who drew international notice beginning in the 1990s for his lyric approach to music and his varied piano repertoire.

      Andsnes was the son of music teachers. Though he studied piano, as a child he was more interested in playing in the school band and on the football (soccer) team, until at age 15 he met Czech pianist Jiri Hlinka, who taught at the Bergen Conservatory. At age 16 Andsnes entered the conservatory and immersed himself in study. His reputation grew quickly and steadily; he won the German Paul Hindemith Prize in 1987, both the Norwegian Music Critics' Prize and the Robert Levin (Bergen International) Festival Prize in 1988, and the Grieg Prize in 1990.

      Andsnes's broad repertoire included piano works of Norwegian composers (including little-known pieces); large-scale concerti such as those of Johannes Brahms (Brahms, Johannes), Sergey Rachmaninoff (Rachmaninoff, Sergey), Béla Bartók (Bartók, Béla), and Witold Lutosławski (Lutosławski, Witold); other significant solo piano music; and chamber music, including collaborations with string players (such as German violinist Christian Tetzlaff) and singers (such as British tenor Ian Bostridge). Critics and audiences appreciated the clarity and lyricism of his approach to music. Andsnes was a cofounder of and regular participant in the Risør Chamber Music Festival in eastern Norway, and in 2007 he became a professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo. He played a significant role in the 2007 celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of the beloved Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (Grieg, Edvard). That year he was also awarded the Peer Gynt Prize, given by the Norwegian Storting (parliament) to individuals in recognition of their contributions in politics, sports, and culture.

Charles Trumbull
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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