Gisle Kverndokk


Gisle Kverndokk (1967) studied composition at The Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo and at The Juilliard School in New York. At the age of 15 he wrote a radio opera commissioned by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, featuring The Norwegian Radio Orchestra and chorus and soloists from The Norwegian National Opera. The Norwegian State Academy of Music premiered his first full-scale opera «The Falcon Tower» in 1990. His next opera ”George’s Marvellous Medicine” was premiered by The Kristiansund Opera in 1995, and was awarded Work of the Year by The Norwegian Composers Society.

All the major orchestras in Norway has performed his works, among them The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and The Bergen Phil-harmonic Orchestra. In the 1999-2000 season he was “Composer of the year” with The Trond-heim Symphony Orchestra. In 1992 he won The Juilliard Composers Competition, and in 1993 the 1. prize for composers under 30 at the Paris ROSTRUM.

With librettist Øystein Wiik, he has written 12 musicals and operas: “Sofies Welt” (Sophie’s World) (Schlossfestspiele Ettlingen, 1998), “Vincent van Gogh” (Schlossfestspiele Ettlingen, 2001), “Gefährliche Liebschaften” (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) (Theater Pforzheim, 2002), “Fren-delaus” (Heimatlos/Homeless) (The Norwegian Theatre, Oslo, 2003). “Martin L.” (Domstufen Festspiele, Theater Erfurt, 2008) was nominated for The Nordic Music Prize. “Dickie Dick Dick-ens” was premiered at The Baardar Academy in Oslo, in 2013. The opera “Around the world in 80 days” was commissioned for the opening of the new opera house in Oslo and was premiered there in May 2010. The New York Opera Society has commissioned two children’s operas from Kverndokk and Wiik: “Max and Moritz” and “Supersize Girl” were premiered in 2010 and 2013 in The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

In October 2016 a new version of “Around the world in 80 days” opened at Landestheater Linz, Austria, in their new opera house, to rave reviews. The production won 6 prizes at the German Music Theatre Prize in 2017, including Best Musical, as well as the Best Musical Award at the Austrian Music Theatre Awards. The German premiere was at Landestheater Schleswig-Holstein in September 2017. “The Name of the Rose” was premiered at The Domstufen Festspiele, Erfurt, in August 2019, to great success, and their newest musical “Fanny and Alexander” will premiere at Landestheater Linz in April 2020.

With librettist Ivar Tindberg, Kverndokk wrote “Bokken Lasson – stumbling success”, a radio opera commissioned by The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, which won the Prix Italia in 2000. Their opera “The fourth Watch of the Night” was premiered at The Norwegian National Opera in 2005, and was awarded the Edvard Prize in 2006. It was revived in 2012 at the new opera house in Oslo, and was presented at The Savonlinna Opera festival, Finland, the same year.

Kverndokk has written several music theatre works with librettist Aksel-Otto Bull. Their opera, “Easter”, had its world premiere in 2014 at Opera Sør in Kristiansand, and the opera “Upon this Handful of Earth”, was premiered in The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City in 2017. Their chamber musical “Letters from Ruth” was presented by New York Theatre Barn’s New Works Series in 2015, and was produced by New York Opera Society in 2017 at The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Their latest collaboration “The Guilty Mother” was presented by New York Opera Society in November 2017, also at The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Kverndokk has also written music film, theatre, church music and chamber music. His CD “Fuge der Zeit”, with the vocal ensemble Nordic Voices, received rave reviews and was nominated for two Spellemann Awards in 2016. His “Symphonic Dances” was written for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution in 2014, and premiered by The Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. The album was released in 2018 and was nominated for both the Spellemann and Grammy Awards. His newest album; «Så kort ein sommar menneska har – Songs by Gisle Kverndokk», features mezzosoprano Marianne Beate Kielland and pianist Nils Anders Mortensen, and is released by LAWO.

Gisle Kverndokk has worked extensively as a musician, as flautist and pianist, and he has been music director of several music theatre productions in Norway, Germany, USA and Canada.

He was awarded Anders Jahre’s Cultural Prize for Young Artists and Wilhelm Hansen’s Legacy in 1997. In 1999 he received The Lily Boulanger Memorial Fund from Boston University. In 2018 he won the Norwegian Critics’ Award for music, and in 2019 he was awarded Composer of the Year at The Norwegian Music Publishers’ Award.