Bergen International Festival

Bergen International Festival
Photo: fib.no
The Bergen International Festival (Festspillene i Bergen) is an annual international music and cultural festival that takes place in the Norwegian city of Bergen in late May and early June. The largest festival of its kind in the Nordic countries, it offers fifteen days of concerts and performances by the world’s leading artists.

The first music festival to be held in Bergen was the Bergen Music Festival founded by renowned Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg. It was held in June 1898. The first edition of the Bergen International Festival took place exactly 55 years after. Modeled after the Salzburg Festival in Austria, it opened on June 1, 1953. The festival was administrated by Christen Gran Bøgh and Frank Meidell Falch as the festival director.

Although the Bergen International Festival was inspired by the Salzburg Festival, it has become quite different from its prototype. While the Salzburg Festival mainly focuses on opera, drama and classical music, the Bergen International Festival showcases all kinds and genres of arts including classical and contemporary music, theater, opera, dance, visual arts, literature, folklore, and more. The patron of the festival is King Harald V of Norway.

The Bergen International Festival runs over two weeks in May and June. Concerts, performances, exhibitions and other events are held in different venues across Bergen including the Grieg Hall, Troldhaugen (Edvard Grieg’s former home), Villa Lysøen (the former home of Norwegian violinist and composer Ole Bull), Siljustøl (the former home of Norwegian composer Harald Sæverud), Haakon’s Hall in Bergenhus fortress, as well as in the streets and squares of Bergen.

The program of the festival features over 200 events and attractions showcasing various form of art which attract over 80,000 spectators from all over Norway and abroad. Many artists consider the Bergen International Festival a major platform for premiere performances of their new works and productions. For up-and-coming artists, participation in the festival is a chance to find new audiences and launch their career.

The Bergen International Festival has a signature work that has been performed at almost every edition of the festival since its inception. It is the Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 by Edvard Grieg. The piece is performed by a world-renowned pianist, past soloists include Kjell Bækkelund, Hans Richter-Haaser, Liv Glaser, Gina Bahauer, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Emil Gilels, Karl Enger, Bella Davidovich, Noriko Ogawa, Ronald Brautigam, and others.

Bergen International Festival

Photo: fib.no



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