The friend, composer, cultural personality – by Kjell Bækkelund

Johan Kvandal is today central to Norwegian music and cultural life. His unwavering belief in art’s authenticity has been the guiding star in his compositional work. He has triumphed by virtue of abilities, his great talent and a workforce and zeal that impresses.

I do not want to analyze his multifaceted work. What I would like, is in small sketches to focus on the elements in the headline.

The friend. The faithful. The one who can ‘ignite’. Behind Kvandal’s outer tranquility and sincerity, a fiery temper swells. It resides – something still unresolved? – in the person Johan Kvandal. (…)

The composer, yes. I’m not the only Norwegian pianist who has played Kvandal’s ‘Fantasies on Three Country Dances’, they are to be found on many repertoires. But is questionable if anyone else has performed the work as diligently as me. I have performed the three Fantasies in French and Dutch radio, in the BBC and in London’s Wigmore Hall, in the former Yugoslavia and China, Australia and South America. Every time I have looked forward to see how audiences far away from Oslo have so well receive the deeply authentic in the compositions. From the powerful beginning through the introverted and beautiful, rich in sound, until the virtuoso unfolding in the third. What I want is a piano concert signed by Johan Kvandal. May it come!

The cultural personality? Yes, he is noticeable. Well educated in the older as well as in recent history, Kvandal is no nerd. He closely follows the contemporary political fluctuations. He is impressively well-oriented and knows his time. Likewise, he is concerned with the classical literature, but also with Olav Aukrust and Olav Nygard.

Kvandal has the courage of opinion, and for many years he has conveyed his opinions in the press. He writes uncluttered and without cheating. He prioritises honesty. That’s why his position is so strong!

This – his honesty – characterizes the friend, composer, cultural personality.