What is recognized as the Norwegian composer Fartein Valen’s international breakthrough took place at the 1947 festival of the ISCM (International Society for contemporary Music) in Copenhagen. This article investigates what this alleged breakthrough, followed by performances of Valen’s music at the ISCM festivals also in 1948, 1951 and 1953, implied, and the role of the chairman of the Norwegian section, Pauline Hall, in promoting Valen’s music and supporting him in opposing to the nationalist trends among Norwegian colleagues. Considering the reception of Valen in the ISCM and the support he gained especially in Britain, the text also suggests possible reasons for why his music seems to be best received in the North-western parts of Europe as well as Canada and the USA and less so in musical cultures where Austro-German modernism was hegemonic.

Keywords: Fartein Valen, Pauline Hall, ISCM, Nordic music, modernism.