Fartein Valen

Norwegian composer Olav Fartein Valen was born in Stavanger on 25 August 1887 into a strongly religious family of Christian missionaries and kept his religious beliefs all his life. Part of his childhood was spent in Madagascar, while his parents worked as missionaries.

He was an all-round-achiever, speaking at least nine languages and achieving top grades in almost all the subjects he learned.

His music teachers included Catharinus Elling in Oslo and Max Bruch in Berlin.

Known for his atonal polyphonic music, Valen created a polyphony based on that of J S Bach but using dissonance and motivic working instead of harmonic progression.

For a while he worked as a music archivist at Oslo University.

His compositions became better known internationally after 1948, and admirers of his music included Glenn Gould.

Fartein Valen died in Haugesund on 14 December 1952, aged sixty-five.


A selection of articles about Fartein Valen

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