Morten Gaathaug (born 1955) is a native of Sande in Vestfold. He graduated Spring 1978 from the Barratt Due Institute of Music, where his main subjects were piano and music theory. In addition, he studied composition under the direction of Johan Kvandal, counterpoint under Olve Borgir and piano under Kari Edgren Gierløff. He spent the winter of 1981-82 in Bratislava with a state scholarship. His teachers were Eva Fischerová (piano) and Vladimír Bokes (composition). During his stay there his first string quartet received its premiere on Slovak Radio. Later he completed his B.A. degree at the University of Oslo, and continued his piano studies with Prof. Hanna Marie Weydahl and Jens Harald Bratlie.
Gaathaug’s compositions range over a number of genres including orchestral works, solo pieces, chamber music and songs. His chamber music occupies a central position in his body of compositions. However, he has also composed concerts for trumpet and oboe, in addition to a De Profundis for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, all of which count among his most important works. His form of expression is built on the style of the classics, as well as those composers of the previous century who functioned as renewers of the tonal idiom. Gaathaug defines himself as a clean-cut romanticist, with a clear and simple style of melody. He made his debut with an all-Gaathaug programme in Oslo on April 10th 1983, and has since given numerous concerts featuring both his own works and the works of others. At many of these arrangements he has participated either as conductor or as pianist.
The title of the composition A Survivor from Darmstadt defines Gaathaug’s attitude towards dogmatic modernism. Even though in some works he has received important impulses from contemporary avant-garde, it has always been more important to him to continue ties with tradition. Thus, in addition to his international orientation, Gaathaug has also been concerned with his national heritage. He has worked a great deal with Norwegian folk music, and this has left its mark on several of his compositions. Nature is also a source of inspiration for Gaathaug, especially birds.
Morten Gaathaug served as member of the board for the Norwegian section of ISCM (Ny Musikk) from 1985-87, as well as for the Society of Norwegian Composers, 1990-92. Besides his other activities, he also teaches piano. In connection with this, he has composed many pieces for children. Further, he has found time for journalistic activities. For many years, he contributed to the music and literature columns for the newspaper Drammens Tidende and Buskeruds Blad. From 1984 to 1990, he wrote for Norway’s most widely read newspaper, Aftenposten, as a free-lance music critic. Since 1996, Gaathaug has taught piano part time at the Kontra Cultural School in Ski.