Media Releases

U of T librarians discover Johan Halvorsen’s long-lost violin concerto

January 4, 2016

Toron­to, ON — Librar­i­ans at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Fac­ul­ty of Music Library have dis­cov­ered Nor­we­gian com­pos­er Johan Halvorsen’s vio­lin con­cer­to that was believed lost for over a cen­tu­ry. Vio­lin­ist Hen­ning Krag­gerud will per­form the 21st-cen­tu­ry pre­miere of the con­cer­to under the direc­tion of Bjarte Enge­set in Stavenger, Nor­way in July 2016 as part of the Inter­na­tion­al Musi­co­log­i­cal Soci­ety’s annu­al con­fer­ence.

Halvors­en (1864–1935) ded­i­cat­ed his vio­lin con­cer­to to the world-renowned Cana­di­an vio­lin­ist Kath­leen Par­low (1890–1963). Par­low gave its first per­for­mance on August 14, 1909 in Schevenin­gen, Hol­land. Lat­er that year, she gave two more per­for­mances of the con­cer­to with the Nation­althe­atret Orches­tra in Oslo (then Chris­tia­nia) under the baton of the com­pos­er him­self. It is believed that there have been no fur­ther per­for­mances of the con­cer­to since.

Fol­low­ing her suc­cess­ful career as a soloist, Par­low con­tin­ued her involve­ment with the vio­lin as a teacher and cham­ber musi­cian. She lived in Toron­to from 1941 to the end of her life in 1963. Through­out this peri­od, she was involved in the cham­ber music scene of the city and taught many dis­tin­guished Cana­di­an vio­lin­ists.

Par­low’s papers, includ­ing her cor­re­spon­dences, pho­tographs and music scores, were donat­ed to the Fac­ul­ty of Music Library but the Halvors­en vio­lin con­cer­to was sep­a­rat­ed from the rest of the col­lec­tion and housed in the library’s per­for­mance col­lec­tion.

“We are delight­ed that the Halvors­en vio­lin con­cer­to has been found,” says Act­ing Head Librar­i­an Suzanne Mey­ers Sawa. “We are so hap­py to be a part of the restora­tion of this work to the reper­toire, and we look for­ward to par­tic­i­pat­ing in the sym­po­sium next sum­mer where we will hear the piece per­formed for the first time in more than a cen­tu­ry!”

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Fac­ul­ty of Music Library holds the largest music research col­lec­tion in Cana­da and is part of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Libraries sys­tem, the largest aca­d­e­m­ic library in Cana­da which is ranked third among peer insti­tu­tions in North Amer­i­ca. The Music Library hold­ings include over 300,000 books, scores and peri­od­i­cals; near­ly 200,000 sound record­ings rang­ing from wax cylin­der to blu-ray; exten­sive archival col­lec­tions doc­u­ment­ing the cre­ative activ­i­ties of com­posers and music clubs asso­ci­at­ed with the uni­ver­si­ty and the city; and access to mil­lions of elec­tron­ic resources in var­i­ous for­mats.

Down­load pho­tos of the man­u­script and let­ters from Drop­box. Pho­to cred­it: Jes­si­ca Lewis.


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact Jes­si­ca Lewis, Mar­ket­ing and Pub­lic­i­ty Offi­cer, at or 416–978-0491.