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Read our history

Hardanger Musikkfest was established by Stig Nilsson in 1996. The then concertmaster of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra had been looking for a few years for a place where he could invite friends and colleagues to make music together, and create a festival based on positive relationships and good music. He found the location in Hardanger, more specifically Ullensvang herad, where the cultural office welcomed both him and the idea, and helped to realize and implement the festival. The festival's center has from the first year been Hotel Ullensvang in Lofthus, which with its fantastic qualities and beautiful surroundings is ideal for both the festival, the performers and the audience.

stig nilsson som konsertmester
Stig Nilsson with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Hardanger Musikkfest quickly established itself as one of the country's finest festivals for classical chamber music and folk music. The festival grew larger in terms of the number of events and geographical spread in the region than Stig Nilsson could have dreamed of. The festival has a rich history with concerts in all Hardanger municipalities, and 30-40 concerts and performances during the festival.
fullsatt konsert i hardangerhallen
Concert in the Tennishall, Hotel Ullensvang

The artists who are invited to Hardanger Musikkfest always go home tired but happy. It's a lot of work for several days, but the close contact with the audience, the music, the other artists and the gloriously beautiful nature in Hardanger makes it a joy for everyone involved. The audience includes both local culture enthusiasts and visitors from near and far.

When Stig Nilsson chose to step down as artistic director in 2012, Anders Kjellberg Nilsson and Wolfgang Plagge were hired as artistic directors. After two great festivals, they chose to hand over responsibility to one of the country's promising composers, Therese Birkelund Ulvo, and singer Tora Augestad. They were artistic directors up to and including 2020. From 2021, Therese Birkelund Ulvo and Gunilla Süssmann are artistic directors. From 2023, Therese Birkelund Ulvo is artistic director.

Tora Augestad og Therese Ulvo
Therese Birkelund Ulvo & Tora Augestad
Gunilla Süssmann og Therese Ulvo
Gunilla Süssmann & Therese B. Ulvo 

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