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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.

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For more information, please contact Jessica Lewis, Marketing and Publicity Officer, at publicity.music@utoronto.ca or 416-978-0491.