Backer-Grondahl, Agathe Ursula


Norwegian woman composer of remarkable achievement, and a famous pianist. In a discussion of the three Scandinavian schools of music, A. E. Keeton gives her this high praise: "It is to the credit of Norway to possess a very remarkable woman composer, Agathe Backer Grondahl, whose merits are, with the general consent of her countrymen, placed upon a level with those of Grieg. Without being in any way an imitator, she has much the same quiet humor and drollery as Grieg. But the highest praise that one can bestow upon Agathe Backer-Grondahl is, perhaps, that her music is undoubtedly written by a woman. In this respect, her genius may be justly compared with that of Mrs. Browning or Madame Lebrun." She was born at Holmestrand, Norway, studied in her own country under Kjerulf and Lindemann, in Berlin took a protracted course at the celebrated Kullak academy and studied composition under Richard Wuerst. She then settled quietly in Christiania, devoting her time to teaching and composing with occasional appearances in local concerts. In 1871 she played at the Gewandhaus in Leipzic, went to Florence and there won yon Billow's recognition of her exceptional talent; at Weimar delighted Liszt with her playing and for some time was under the influence of this master. In 1875 she was married to the celebrated singing teacher, Herr Grondahl of Christiania. Since her marriage she has made various successful tours through Scandinavia and played with very great success in London and Paris. As a teacher she is markedly successful and of wide influence. Her children have studied under her and are counted with her gifted pupils. She is the author of many songs and a great deal of music for the piano, and both as pianist and composer stands at the head of modern music in Norway.