‘The violin itself is not important, music is’

Leading international violinist Henning Kraggerud on what inspired him to explore the life of Norwegian violin virtuoso and composer Ole Bull

By Layla Haroon

Published: Thu 5 Feb 2009, 9:05 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:23 PM

Henning Kraggerud is truly committed to exploring musicONE OF SCANDINAVIA’S leading international musicians, violinist Henning Kraggerud is an artist truly committed to explore the everlasting fluidity of the one-time music. Born in Oslo, in 1973, Kraggerud is pursuing an intensive national and international career as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. City Times caught up with him.

How did the idea to compose on a rare Guarneri violin dating back to 1744 come about? What’s it like playing this violin?

I have always been searching for good instruments to play on. I did borrow some other Guarneri violins earlier for short periods. When this opportunity came, I was very happy that Dextra Musica would lend this Guarneri to me for a long-time use. The violin is fanatic, with warm sound and depth of tone. The wood is thick in the back as usual with Guarneri Del Gesù, so that I can put on a lot of weight with the bow.

Could you please share with us something about you recent works?

I recently recorded four new discs for Naxos including two discs of Sinding’s works for violin and piano, a selection of Ysaye chamber works and Spohr Double Concertos; all to be released during the 09/10 season.

Sinding is an underrated composer, and the works for violin and piano are excellent music. Ysayes chamber works are almost never played, but they are very exciting. Spohr was one of the great composers of his time, admired by Brahms and Wagner. These two double-concerti are worth listening to, perhaps so seldom played due to the difficulties of two soloists.

Recently, I did a fantastic tour in Germany before Christmas with Saraste, Sibelius concerto and Oslo Philharmonic. It was a great experience. I just received an award for my Ysaye solo sonata recording, after many years of hard work.

What inspired you to explore the life of Norwegian violin virtuoso and composer Ole Bull?

He was the first Norwegian to ever find success as a musician. He showed that it was possible, and he helped Grieg and Ibsen who without him might never have become what they became.

How has your own approach to music changed over the years?

Sometimes you reach a state of mind where something special happens, this is not possible to describe in words. But then it makes music one of the best things in life.

Music is not about impressing with fast notes; I improvise everyday on my instrument to build an instant path between my thought process and its output. The violin itself is not important, the music is important. So I work thinking about music not the violin.


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