History of the Bergen International Festival

The first Bergen International Festival was held in 1953. Modelled on the Salzburg Festival, the initiative came partly from the Norwegian opera singer, Fanny Elsta.

In addition to music, the very first audience could, among other things, enjoy a folklore parade and the crowning of Frøken Festspill ("Miss Bergen International Festival") in Nygårdsparken.

Those particular traditions have since been lost to history, but many others have been upheld throughout the years – such as the performance of Grieg's Piano Concerto in A-minor. The seed to the idea that would eventually grow into the Bergen International Festival was sown by none other than Edvard Grieg himself.

Festival Directors

2022–: Lars Petter Hagen
2012–2021: Anders Beyer
2005–2012: Per Boye Hansen
2004–2005: Erling Dahl jr.
1996–2004: Bergljót Jónsdóttir
1995: Lorentz Reitan
1994: Ole Wiggo Bang
1989–1993: Lorentz Reitan
1988–1989: Birgitte Alleen
1986–1988: Daniel Bohr
1981–1985: Knut Thomassen
1977–1980: Sverre Bergh
1973–1976: Sven Henning
1967–1972: Åsmund Oftedal
1957–1966: Gunnar Arne Jensen
1951–1956: Frank Meidell Falch*

* The first Bergen International Festival took place in 1953. Frank Meidell Falch was first hired as secretary for the newly formed foundation but was quickly upgraded to festival director.

Festival Composers

2024 Øyvind Torvund
2023 Anne-Marie Ørbeck

2021 Missy Mazzoli
2020 Jörg Widmann
2019 Unsuk Chin
2018 Sofia Gubaidulina
2017 Kaija Saariaho
2007 Bent Sørensen
2006 Magnus Lindberg
2000 Rolf Wallin
1997 Cecilie Ore, John Persen & Arne Nordheim
1996 Lasse Thoresen
1995 Ragnar Søderlind
1993 None/Grieg
1992 Arne Nordheim
1991 Alfred Janson
1990 Ketil Hvoslef
1989 Antonio Bibalo
1987 Gunnar Sønstevold
1986 Harald Sæverud
1985 Olav Anton Thommessen
1984 Arnold Schönberg
1983 Egil Hovland

Soloists Grieg's Piano Concerto in A-minor

With a few exceptions, Grieg's Piano Concerto in A-minor has been played during every single festival since its inception in 1953. Here you will find all the soloists.

2023: Leif Ove Andsnes
2022: Paul Lewis
2021: Håvard Gimse
2020: Víkingur Ólafsson
2019: Charlie Albright
2018: Ah Ruem Ahn
2017: Joachim Carr
2016: Benjamin Grosvenor
2015: Ronald Brautigam
2014: Simon Trpceski
2013: Marianna Shirinyan
2012: Christian Ihle Hadland
2011: Ikke spilt
2010: Gabriela Montero
2009: Juho Pohjonen
2008: Sigurd Slåttebrekk
2007: Percy Grainger/Pianola
2006: Rian de Waal
2005: Anti Siirala
2004: Gunilla Süssmann
2003: Håkon Austbø
2002: Leif Ove Andsnes
2001: Nikolai Luganskij
2000: Peter Jablonski
1999: Noriko Ogawa
1998: Nils Mortensen
1997: Jean-Yves Thibaudet
1996: Håvard Gimse
1995: Lars Vogt
1994: Lilya Silberstein
1993: Leif Ove Andsnes
1992: Michael Rudy
1991: John Kimura Parker
1990: Lyubow Timofeyeva
1989: Mark Zeltser
1988: Leif Ove Andsnes
1987: Bella Davidadovich
1986: Roland Pöntinen
1985: Bruno Leonarda Gelber
1984: Eva Knardahl
1983: Cécilie Ousset
1982: András Schiff
1981: Karl Engel
1980: Einar Henning Smebye
1979: Geir Henning Braaten
1978: Emil Gilels
1977: Jorunn Marie Bratlie
1976: Steffan Scheja
1975: Einar Steen-Nøkleberg
1974: Robert Riefling
1973: Håkon Austbø
1972: Radu Lupu
1971: Jens Harald Bratlie
1970: Vladimir Ashkenazy
1969: Eva Knardahl
1968: Svjatsolav Richter
1967: Jan Henrik Kayser
1966: Gina Bachauer
1965: Grant Johannesen
1964: Benny Dahl-Hansen
1963: Robert Riefling
1962: Liv Glaser
1961: Grant Johannesen
1960: Hans Richter-Haaser
1959: Robert Riefling
1958: Ivar Johnsen
1957: Kjell Bækkelund
1956: Grant Johannesen
1955: Ikke spilt
1954: Ivar Johnsen
1953: Robert Riefling

Festival Musicians

2024 Ragnhild Hemsing
2023 Lise Davidsen

2008 Bjarte Eike
2007 Trio Mediæval
2006 Per Arne Glorvigen
2005 Martin Fröst
2004 Henning Kraggerud
2003 Anne Sofie von Otter
2001 Det Norske Kammerorkester
1999 Christian Eggen
1998 Randi Stene
1997 Leif Ove Andsnes

World Premieres

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