Olav Kielland (1901-85) was born in Trondheim. He studied at The Norwegian Institute of Technology during 1919-21, and at the same time took classes in piano and music theory. In 1921, he travelled to Leipzig where he studied conducting, composition, piano and bassoon. He also took study travels to France, England and Italy, and participated in Felix Weingartner's master course for conductors.
Kielland had his debut as a conductor and pianist in Trondheim in 1923. He was repetiteur with the Casino Theatre in Oslo, and conductor with the Stora Teatern in Gothenburg. In 1931, he became the conductor for The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and was their artistic director from 1933 until 1945. Kielland has also lead the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, and went to Iceland in 1951 to develop their symphony orchestra. He has been a guest conductor for a number of other large orchestras abroad, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a composer, Kielland represents the national line in Norwegian music. His music is strongly influenced by Norwegian folk music and perhaps particularly by the Hardanger fiddle. In 1955, he took up residence in Bø in Telemark where he began to study the Hardanger fiddle dances, in particular the polyphonic elements. The melody, rhythm and timbre of this instrument have given expression to many of his compositions. Kielland's music has a prominent polyphonic tendency, with penetrating dissonant lines. Music which, at it's best, performs a synthesis of the folk music's national accent and a contemporary musical idiom.