Summary

Norwegian composer Halfdan Cleve’s (1879-1951) five piano concertos, written between 1898 and 1914, received considerable attention in Norway and Germany in the early 1900s, but have rarely been performed during the last 50 years. In this paper, Concerto no. 1 (A major, Op. 3) is examined with regard to its musical style. This work is closely connected to German musical culture. Its form and harmony bears a traditional stamp, while the pianistic style is influenced by Liszt’s and Xaver Scharwenka’s concertos. Concerto no. 4 (A minor, Op. 12), on the other hand, has an unusual form, which has inspired the author to interpret the work as a musical plot. Finally, various reasons for the disappearance of Cleve’s concertos from the repertoire are suggested. The best of these works have several attractive qualities that may still impress an audience, assuming a high level performance.

Keywords: Halfdan Cleve, piano concerto, virtuosity, Norwegian music history