Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud is known for his deep natural musicianship, which, combined with his virtuosity and beauty of tone, has earned him the esteem of his musical colleagues as well as the admiration of audiences worldwide. His versatility and collaborative nature bring him to the concert stage as concerto soloist, play/director, chamber musician and recitalist. An accomplished improviser and inspiring educator, Henning is also a prolific composer, performing many of his own works, arrangements and cadenzas in concert.
Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud is Artistic Director of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, with a tenure extending to 2020.
Henning’s extraordinary reach as an artist is a result of his versatility and passion for music, as well as the genuine quality to his playing and the beauty of his performances. His teaching and educational writings provide fascinating insights into his multi-faceted approach to music-making, while his composing, arranging and improvising – frequently bringing his own works into the concert hall – recall the spirit of the old masters such as Fritz Kreisler and Eugène Ysaÿe.
Henning is invited time and again to join many of the world’s most significant orchestras, most recently the Toronto Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Baltimore Symphony and Los Angeles Chamber orchestras, as well as the Danish National Symphony, Tonkünstler Orchestra Vienna and Brussels Philharmonic.
Henning is a prolific composer whose works are performed by many prominent musicians and orchestras around the globe. His largest-scale work to date is entitled Equinox: 24 Postludes in All Keys for Violin and String Orchestra. Commissioned, premiered and recorded by the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra with Henning as soloist, the work was composed as a musical counterpart to a story specially written by world-famous author Jostein Gaarder, and has been hailed as “a fascinating composition to return to over and over again” (MusicWeb International).
Henning’s output as a composer also includes Preghiera, commissioned and performed by the Brodsky Quartet in 2012, and The Last Leaf, given its first performance in 2014 by the Britten Sinfonia, as well as cadenzas for two of Haydn’s cello concertos commissioned by Clemens Hagen in 2015 and Victimae Paschali for choir and orchestra commissioned by the Trondheim Chamber Music Festival. In 2017, the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra commissioned and performed Topelius Variations for string orchestra, which Henning performs again in the 17/18 season in an extensive national tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Other highlights of the current season include return visits to the Portuguese Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony and Macao orchestras for play/direct projects, and concerto engagements with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Hallé and BBC Scottish Symphony orchestras.
With his ever-present spirit of discovery, Henning gave the 21st century premiere of the Johan Halvorsen Violin Concerto with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra at the 2016 Risør Chamber Music Festival. Originally premiered in 1909, the concerto was subsequently considered lost until its re-discovery over 100 years later. Henning went on to play the work with the Oslo and Bergen Philharmonic orchestras, and in 2017 released a recording on the Naxos label with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Bjarte Engeset, leading BBC Radio 3’s Record Review to comment, “It’s difficult to imagine more ardent advocates for this sleeping beauty of a piece”.
Henning regularly performs both on violin and viola at major festivals and venues; recent collaborations have taken place at Wigmore Hall, King’s Place, Bruges Concertgebouw and Berlin Konzerthaus, with artists such as Steven Isserlis, Joshua Bell, Lawrence Power, Leif Ove Andsnes, Håvard Gimse, Imogen Cooper, Adrian Brendel, Christian Poltéra and Jeremy Menuhin. Last season saw Henning appearing at Budapest’s kamara.hu festival, Incontri in Terra di Siena Festival and the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. In the 17/18 season, he returns to the Wigmore Hall with Natalie Clein and Christian Ihle Hadland, performs with the Nash Ensemble in Bern and gives a recital with Kathryn Stott at Musis Arnhem.
In 2015, Henning became International Chair in Violin at the Royal College of Music in Manchester, and in 2017 was announced as the recipient of a Fellowship. Passionate about musical education, Henning is a Professor at the Barratt Due music conservatoire in Oslo, and in 2018 is a Jury member at the Menuhin Competition in Geneva, where he also performs the opening concert with Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
Henning’s eclectic discography includes many recordings on the Naxos label, the most recent being Mozart Concertos Nos. 3, 4 and 5, including Henning’s own cadenzas, with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. The CD was awarded an ECHO Klassik Award and chosen as Classic FM’s Album of the Week, NDR Kultur’s CD of the Week, Editor’s Choice in Classical Music Magazine, Recommended in The Strad, and featured on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review where it was hailed as “so alive with such engaging articulation”. In 2013, also on Naxos, Henning released Grieg’s three sonatas, arranged for violin and chamber orchestra by Henning and Bernt Simen Lund.
On the Simax label, Henning’s most recent release is a collaboration with the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra and world-famous author Erik Fosnes Hansen. Entitled Between the Seasons, the disc features Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons interspersed with Henning’s own compositions. Also for Simax, Henning has recorded the complete solo sonatas of Ysaÿe, on a disc which won the prestigious Spellemann CD award. On the ACT label, he released a disc entitled Last Spring which explored improvisations on Norwegian folk music with jazz pianist Bugge Wesseltoft. Henning also appeared in a major television and cinema documentary about the Norwegian 19th century violin virtuoso and composer, Ole Bull, and received the Ole Bull Prize in 2007.
Born in Oslo in 1973, Henning studied with Camilla Wicks and Emanuel Hurwitz. He is a recipient of Norway’s prestigious Grieg Prize and in 2007 was awarded the Sibelius Prize for his interpretations and recording of Sibelius’ music around the world.
Henning Kraggerud plays on a 1744 Guarneri del Gesù, provided by Dextra Musica AS. This company is founded by Sparebankstiftelsen DNB.
“Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud is clearly a native speaker when it comes to Grieg … Kraggerud brings an ideal fluency that allows him to integrate the folk idioms into the music’s otherwise classical discourse. His tone is robust and, when required, impressively muscular.”
Bruch Violin Concerto and Kraggerud Variation Suite encore (Seattle Symphony Orchestra)
Some of the most delightful concert moments occur in the encores — when spontaneity and surprises overrule the strictures of the printed program…
… Kraggerud chose one of his own pieces as an encore, following an ovation for his concerto performance. The encore was a sparkling, folk-influenced violin-cello duo called “Variation Suite,” performed with the symphony’s principal cellist, Efe Baltacigil. The two players clicked as if they had been rehearsing together for months, not hours, and were ready to take the duo on the road. Members of the audience roared their approval and headed out for intermission still wearing appreciative smiles.
Nielsen Violin Concerto (BBC Symphony Orchestra with Andrew Litton: BBC Proms)
“Nielsen’s ambitiously conceived violin concerto followed, with the Norwegian soloist Henning Kraggerud making an instant impression with his very forward account of the work’s early cadenza. The openness and commitment of Kraggerud’s playing maintained the tension through the concerto’s darker pages and made a compelling case for what is a surprisingly neglected score.”
Martin Kettle, The Guardian (September 2015)
“it was good to hear his Violin Concerto played by a soloist as sprightly as Henning Kraggerud. Halfway through the second movement he took off his jacket, throwing it on the floor, but nothing impeded the silvery beauties leaping from his violin.”