Finn Arnestad was born in Oslo in 1915 and died in 1994. The musical home of his childhood provided early impressions, and he was interested in contemporary composers like Debussy, Stravinsky and Fartein Valen during his youth. He studied violin and theoretical disciplines at the Music Conservatory in Oslo, and had periods of study in France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. In addition to the usual studies in composition, he studied African and Oriental music in Paris. As a composer, despite his studies, he considered himself
Arnestad was a fastidious composer. His production is not large, but his works are of high musical quality. The musical style is very personal, and is characterized by a strong expressivity. In his works, one can find traces of Neo-Classical ideals as well as Serialism. However, first and foremost, Arnestad was particularly interested in acoustics and the problems surrounding harmonic structure and polarity. Through his studies of classical theory, he developed a tone-system based on interference-tones. Within this system, tones that are part of an interference-timbre are considered as consonant harmony, and those which are not, as dissonant. The interference-timbre sound serves as structured, solid harmonies, as points of rest and calm in polyphonic development, while the dissonant harmonies are treated as dependent and disquieting.
Orchestral works figure prominently in Arnestad's production. He was a skillful orchestrator, and his treatment of timbre in the pivotal work "INRI" (1952-58) has been characterized as almost brutally expressionistic. The work attracted considerable attention at its premiere in 1958. The most well-known orchestral works might be considered "Aria Appassionata" (1962), where interference-tonality combined with twelve-tone technique melt into an intense, emotionally-charged tonal language. In addition, one should mention the violin concerto
from 1962, and "Suite i gamle danserytmer" (1966), which builds on "The Blacksmith and the Baker" for baritone and chamber orchestra, with libretto by Johan Herman Wessel. Arnestad has also composed works for chamber orchestra, voice and piano.