Yngve Slettholm attended the Norwegian State Academy of Music from 1974 to 1980. He received his degree in music education in 1977 and completed his studies in composition under Finn Mortensen, receiving his diploma in composition in 1980. From 1986-88, with a Fulbright grant, he studied theory, musical history and composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo, with Morten Feldman as his teacher in composition. Slettholm received his PhD in composition in 1989, and has since been awarded several prizes and grants.
Slettholm has broad experience as a teacher. He has worked as a conductor and instructor within the Norwegian Band Federation, as a teacher within the Norwegian educational system and has for many years been assistant professor of composition and music theory at the Norwegian State Academy of Music. 2001-2005 he was appointed State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs. In 2006 he took over as Executive Director of Kopinor, the Norwegian reprographic rights organisation.
Yngve Slettholm has been continuously active as a composer since 1980 and has written music for most types of ensemble: orchestral, band, chamber music, works for solo instruments and choral works. In recent years Slettholm has been particularly interested in the relationship between music and time. He points out as an important aspect of modern thought, that our linear conception of time is by no means exclusive. This is reflected in music of the 20th century, which not only attempts emancipation from goal-directed tonality and periodicy, but also from goal-directed form. In his own music this reflection has led to a strong concentration on timbral nuances and a more introvert form of expression.
Slettholm has held several honorary posts. He has been President of Ny Musikk (the Norwegian section of ISCM), executive board member and vice-president of the Society of Norwegian Composers, pro-rector at the Norwegian State Academy of Music, board member of the Norwegian Fund, and board member and vice-chairman of the ULTIMA Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, chairman of the board of the Composers' Remuneration Fund and member of the board of TONO (the Norwegian performing rights' society). He is currently chairman of the board of Queen Sonja International Music Competition.