Per Brevig Conductor

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Biography


Born in Norway, Per Brevig began playing trombone professionally at age 16, and at 17 he was engaged as the euphonium soloist in a national military band. At that time, in 1953, he was made a sergeant, which created some havoc since one generally has to go through basic training before advancing to that rank. This was just the beginning of an incredible journey through musical performance, conducting, and more.

Military Band & After

Mr. Brevig played in the military band for three years. During this time, he was frequently a soloist in concerts and radio broadcasts. Afterwards, he was engaged by the Bergen (Norway) Philharmonic Orchestra and, after two years there, he made his debut as a soloist in Ferdinand David's Concertino for Trombone. Soon after, Mr. Brevig received a scholarship to study in Denmark with the renowned Palmer Traulsen, the principal trombonist of the Royal Danish Opera Orchestra.

Brevig's stay in Copenhagen whetted his appetite for studying, and in 1959, he obtained a one-year leave of absence from the Bergen (Norway) Philharmonic to study at Juilliard on a full scholarship. He followed this with a summer at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where he was awarded the Koussevitzky Fellowship and the Henry B. Cabot Award for best instrumentalist. He would also attend Tanglewood in the summer of 1966.

Per Brevig and Palmer Traulsen in His Garden in CopenhagenPer Brevig and Palmer Traulsen in His Garden in Copenhagen


Back to New York for Further Studies

In 1965, Brevig decided to embark on a career as a freelance musician and resume his education at Juilliard, where he was one of the first students to be admitted into the newly created doctoral program; he is still the only trombonist to have received a Doctor of Musical Arts from Juilliard.

While at Juilliard, Brevig was also performing freelance symphonic, Broadway, and avant-garde music. When he auditioned for Leopold Stokowski, the conductor immediately engaged him as principal trombonist with the American Symphony Orchestra (1966-70), with which he performed the Ferdinand David and Lars-Erik Larsson concertinos with Stokowski conducting.

In 1968 Brevig joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he would remain for 26 years, initially serving as co-principal trombonist with Roger Smith, his professor at Juilliard. In 1971, Per Brevig received his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree; his thesis was called "Avant-Garde Techniques in Solo Trombone Music: Problems of Notation and Execution,"  teachers and composers refer to his chapter on standardizing avant-garde notation to this day. He is the only trombonist to receive a DMA from Juilliard.

More Solo Performances

While still a student at Juilliard, Brevig performed numerous recitals, including two of his three DMA solo recitals at Carnegie Recital Hall. He was one of the first trombonists to play full-length recitals in New York. Brevig has also been active in the International Trombone Association from its inception in 1972, has served on its board of directors, and now holds a lifetime achievement award. This is the highest honor that is bestowed upon it's members.

Brevig was always an active soloist with national and international orchestras and was credited with numerous commissions, including the Egil Hovland Concerto which he premiered with the Bergen (Norway) Philharmonic and the Carlos Chavez Concerto at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with Maestro Chavez conducting. The latter became historic, as it was the last composition Chavez wrote and the last concert he conducted before he passed away. Brevig also performed with the New York Composers' Orchestra at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Walter Ross Concerto as well as the Lars-Erik Larsson Concertino. 

Concurrent with his solo career, Brevig gave numerous master classes in the US, Japan, Europe, Korea, and Brazil. Over the years, his students have gone on to hold many positions in major orchestras in the US as well as abroad.

Per Brevig Trombonist

NYT Review Oct 6 1969
NYT Review Oct 20 1969

The Edvard Grieg Society

In 1991, Per Brevig founded the Edvard Grieg Society, Inc., New York to celebrate the great composer's sesquicentennial, which took place in 1993. Brevig has lectured and written many articles about Grieg and contemporary Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim, so founding this organization felt all but inevitable to him. Berit Brevig, his wife, has been the executive director of the Edvard Grieg Society since the couple founded it in 1991.

The society has, under the Brevigs' leadership, produced more than 100 events, including recitals, chamber music performances, radio broadcasts, symposia at Columbia University, and symphony orchestra concerts, all to critical acclaim. An Edvard Grieg Society season often ends with a performance at Lincoln Center with Brevig conducting music by Grieg and his contemporaries as well as contemporary Norwegian music.

Per Brevig and Arne Nordheim

In 1991, the Grieg Society was instrumental in bringing Nordheim to the Aspen Music Festival as composer in residence. During the nine-week festival, Nordheim and Brevig collaborated on "The Return of the Snark," the sequel to "The Hunting of the Snark," which was played at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. "The Hunting of the Snark "is for an unaccompanied  trombone. "The Return of the Snark" is for trombone and electronic tape, which Brevig gave the premiere performance of at the Aspen Music Festival at the end of the 1991 season.

Recognition

Per Brevig has received many awards, including a Koussevitzky Fellowship, Henry B. Cabot Award, several Naumburg Fellowships, and a prizewinner placing at the XIV International Music Competition in Prague. He has received the Neill Humfeld Award for Teaching Excellence from the International Trombone Association, as well as the association's: (2012) ITA Award. The award was presented "in recognition of his distinguished career and in acknowledgment of his impact on the world of trombone performance." And most recently in 2016 the International Trombone Association honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award which is the highest honor.

In 1990, King Olav V of Norway even awarded Mr. Brevig with the Royal Medal of St. Olav, recognizing his efforts on behalf of Norwegian music and culture in the United States. In 2008, Brevig's wife received the same recognition for her work with The Edvard Grieg Society, Inc., New York.


Present Day

Brevig continues to work as the music director and conductor of the Grieg Festival Orchestra, which includes some of the finest freelance musicians in New York City. Among these musicians are some of Brevig's former colleagues from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Mr. Brevig has also studied the various medical problems faced by musicians today. He serves on the advisory boards of Medical Problems of Performing Artists and Musikphysiologie und Musik Medizin, a publication in Stuttgart, Germany. He has written for both publications and has given lectures under their auspices.

Per and Berit Brevig have four children: James, a heart surgeon; Elizabeth, a psychologist; Ingrid, a social worker; and Chris, a managing partner at an investment company. Naturally, all of them are talented musicians as well.