Eva Knardahl, sixty-seven years old and pianist for fifty-five of them, is one of the greatest personalities on the Norwegian musical scene. No-one who was present will ever forget her debut: the beautiful twelve-year-old introduced herself to the music-loving public by playing three piano concertos with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in one evening: Johan Sebastian Bach's F minor, Joseph Haydn's D major and Carl Maria von Weber's Concert piece.
She was almost disappointed when it was over. Eva Knardahl would have liked to go on playing. She loved to play the piano. Nobody forced her to practice, she had to be almost forced outside to play.
Her enormous talent aroused admiration and enthusiasm, but she left the country as a 19-year-old and stayed away for twenty years. For fifteen of them she was resident pianist with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra.
During the first period, she played under Anton Dorati. She relates that he had a terrible temper - but adds that she had not yet learned to control her own. Things could get pretty heated at times. When Stanislaw Skrowacewski took over as conductor the atmosphere changed. But she is glad to have experienced those years.
“I played chamber music with the legendary viola player William Primrose, and that fantastic clarinette player Reginald Kell. Henry Mancini came to Minneapolis several years in succession. He used to dump a pile of arrangements on my lap. His music was valuable and he couldn't take a chance on distributing the score beforehand in case it was copied. Mancini used to bring key instrumental players with him, but he never brought a pianist. That was a demonstration of trust.”
In 1967 Eva Knardahl returned from abroad like a breath of fresh air and Norwegian music-lovers received her with open arms. Her first national tour was arranged immediately, to be followed by numerous others. She was once again a welcome soloist with Norway's Symphony orchestras, and equally popular among concert-goers.
Her influence reaches far beyond the audiences found in concert halls, however. With her warm, humorous, extrovert personality, she is a popular guest with TV audiences, whether she is performing in serious cultural programmes or more relaxed entertainment shows, where she has crossed the cultural divide by playing with some of Norway's best-known pop and rock groups. The last time she was nominated for the Norwegian Grammy award, it wasn't a question of whether she would win the prize - only which recording she world win it for. All the recordings nominated in the classical music category were played by the same person: Eva Knardahl!
Her career is not confined to Norway, and she has played on most continents. She has recorded all Grieg's works for the well-known BIS company and been acclaimed with praise and recognition by prestigious music magazines all over the world. Her Brahms recording with the Norwegian quality company SIMAX was received with the same, warm response.
Eva Knardahl's piano-playing technique covers a broad spectrum. Her playing is brilliant, but as one major critic expressed it, “it is particularly the vitality radiating from her playing that is fascinating, an optimistic life force, an irresistible will to shape and express, and a constant involvement”.
As the first Professor of Chamber Music at the Norwegian State Academy of Music, Eva Knardahl, who frequently performs at concerts, has her hands full. She is much in demand as a teacher, although life as a student under Eva Knardahl is far from easy. She sees through, gives advice, admonishes and berates in unmistakable direct speech. But she also envelops her students in care and consideration and never tires of reminding them that there are no short-cuts to success. “A successful performance demands yet another.”