Kjerulf, Halfdan


Northern composer of songs, whose music aptly expressed the national sentiments of Norway during her struggles for freedom. He was born at Christiania, and graduated from the Christiania University in 1834, having studied law on account of his father's high position in the government. In 1840 when his father died, he gave up the law and began his professional musical career. He began by teaching and published a few songs which attracted public notice. In 1850 he was sent by the government to Leipsic, where he became a pupil of Richter. When he returned to Norway he made an effort to organize some subscription concerts at Christiania, but while his   countrymen could appreciate the simple songs which he composed they were not ready as yet for any more advanced form of music. Kjerulf retired to Grefsen, where he continued composing, working from 1860 to 1865 in collaboration with the poet Bjornson, encouraged such musiclovers and students as sought him out. He died at Grefsen in 1868. Kjerulf's quartets and songs of national character were admirably suited to their subjects and were full of vigor and enthusiasm though they were of little technical musical value. His music is intensely suggestive, coloring the words of the songs. Among his works are the music to Bjornson's Synnove's Song, Ingrid's Song, Young Venevil and Evening Song; the Scotch "Taylor's Song;" Munch's Night on the Fjord; and Theodor Kjerulf's Longing; several of Moore's verses, as Love Thee, Dearest, Love Thee, and My Heart and Lute, which inspired the composer to his most passionate mood; many successful Spanish songs; and beautiful settings of Victor Hugo's Romances. Many of these songs were produced in England by Jenny Lind, Nilgson and Sontag. Among his piano compositions are A Spring Song; Shepherd's Song; Cradle Song; Albumleaf; Elfin Dance; capriccio; scherzo; scherzino; intermezzo; berceuse; polonaise; rondino; several sketches; and forty Norse folk-songs. A monument was erected to him in 1874 at Christiania.