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Nystedt, Knut

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Knut Nystedt (1915-2014), studied composition with Bjarne Brustad and Aaron Copland, organ with Arild Sandvold and Ernest White, and conducting with Øivin Fjeldstad. He was organist at Torshov Church in Oslo from 1946-1982 and professor of choral conducting at the University of Oslo from 1964-1985. He was conductor of the Norwegian Soloists` Choir from 1950-90, and toured with them not only in Scandinavia, but also in Germany, France, and the United States (twice under the management of Colombia Artists in New York). A visit to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand in 1978 was followed by concerts in China (1982) and Israel (1984 and 1988).

As a composer, Knut Nystedt held a central position throughout a long period of rapidly shifting musical currents. With unfailing artistry he showed a remarkable ability to adapt essential new discoveries to his own, highly personal, style, which is rich in colours and, at the same time, delicately nuanced.

While most of his works, both orchestral and choral, were premiered in Norway by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra or by his own choir, he is one of the few Norwegian composers of today whose works are performed worldwide. He earned both national and international honours. In 1966 the King of Norway made him knight of the Order of St. Olav in recognition of his contribution of Norwegian music. In 1975 the Augsburg College in Minneapolis awarded him their Distinguished Service Citation for his innovative influence on choral composition in the United States. In 1980 the Norwegian Arts Council gave him their Music Prize. And in 1984, his choral work De Profundis was elected "Best work of the year" - all categories - by the Society of Norwegian Composers.

His 85th birthday was celebrated with concerts and various arrangements in Germany, USA, and the Nordic countries. Of later major works could be mentioned: Apocalypsis Joannis : Symphony for Soli, Chorus and Orchestra, op. 155 (1998), commissioned by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, The Word Became Flesh, Op. 162 (2001) for 13 part choir, a commission for the Augsburg College Choir, and Reach Out For Peace for soprano, choir and orchestra, Op. 164 A (2001) a commission from the Norwegian choir Caeciliaforeningen.