Marcus Paus

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Marcus Paus
Born (1979-10-14) 14 October 1979 (age 40)
Oslo, Norway
Occupation Composer
Signature of Marcus Paus.svg

Marcus Nicolay Paus (born 14 October 1979) (pronounced [ˈmɑrkʉs ˈpæʉs]) is a Norwegian composer and one of the most performed contemporary Scandinavian composers.[1] He is noted as a representative of a reorientation toward tradition, tonality and melody, and his works have been lauded by critics[2][3] in Norway and abroad.[4] His work includes chamber music, choral works, solo works, concerts, orchestral works, operas and symphonies, as well as works for theatre, film and television. In 2010, he was artistic director of the Oslo Opera Festival. Marcus Paus has several times collaborated with his famous father, Ole Paus.


He is a son of the troubadour Ole Paus and the former pop star Anne-Karine Strøm, and is a member of the Norwegian Paus family (pronounced [ˈpæʉs]) that first appeared as members of the elite of 16th century Oslo and that later was one of a handful of families that governed Upper Telemark for two centuries.[1][5] His grandfather, General Ole Paus, was born in Vienna to the Norwegian Consul-General Thorleif (de/von) Paus and a Viennese mother of Jewish descent, and later became one of the founders of the Norwegian Intelligence Service and the highest-ranking Norwegian NATO official. His branch of the Paus family were noted as steel industrialists in Oslo since the late 19th century, and also owned Kvesarum Castle in Sweden; his great-great-grandfather, the steel industrialist Ole Paus, was a first cousin of Henrik Ibsen; Villa Paus in Oslo was built for Ole Paus. Marcus Paus was "born in the purple;" both his parents were prominent cultural figures and their wedding in 1979 as well as his own birth were front page news in Norway, and he was described as a celebrity child already as a newborn.[6][7]

Paus attended Oslo Waldorf School. As a high school student he also took two summer courses at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood in the mid 1990s. He studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music from 1998 to 2002; at the age of 18, he became one of its youngest students ever to be accepted at its composer programme.[8] After graduating, he left for New York City, where he studied at the Manhattan School of Music from 2003 to 2005. In New York he was a student of Richard Danielpour and spent a semester working as his assistant.[9]

He has lived in Oslo, New York City, London and Berlin.


Paus is a noted representative of a reorientation toward tradition, tonality and melody. Although often tonal and melodically driven, Paus' music employs a wide range of both traditional and modernist techniques, including aleatoricism and serial procedures. Paus' harmonic writing is typically complex, combining non-traditional structures such as clusters and symmetrical harmonic shapes with triadic harmony. Several of Paus' works have been influenced by folk music and non-Western classical music, among them Lasuliansko Horo (2004) for violin and piano (Bulgarian folk music), the flute concertino A Portrait of Zhou (2012) (Chinese music), and Fanitull (Devil's Tune) from Two Lyrical Pieces (2007) for string orchestra (Norwegian folk music). As a teenager, Marcus Paus was active as a progressive rock guitarist, and this experience is at times reflected in some of Paus’ most energetic music, like the Scherzo II from his Cello Sonata (2009) and the 3rd movement, Mosh, from his Three Movements for Solo Cello (2012).

As a young composer in 2007, he described himself as a "cultural conservative non-modernist."[10] In a 2013 interview, he said that he is not opposed to modernism, but that he supports diversity in musical styles and influences, and a "greater acceptance of a tradition-inspired musical style."[11] In a 2017 interview he said he felt ostracized by older atonal modernist composers in the late 1990s, but that "thankfully, the climate is quite different now, and more generous and open-minded."[9]


Known for his virtuosic and idiomatic writing, Paus has collaborated with some of Norway's finest soloists, including violinists Henning Kraggerud and Arve Tellefsen, saxophonist Rolf-Erik Nystrøm and singer Tora Augestad. Marcus Paus is also known for his collaborations with other artists, most prominently Swedish painter Christopher Rådlund, as well as singer/songwriter and poet Ole Paus (the librettist of several of Paus’ operas). Other collaborators have included film director Sara Johnsen, dancer, choreographer and FRIKAR founder Hallgrim Hansegård, and actress Minken Fosheim. Paus has set a number of poets in English and Norwegian, among them André Bjerke, Arne Garborg, Knut Hamsun, Johan Falkberget, Harald Sverdrup, Ole Paus, William Shakespeare, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Siegfried Sassoon, Dorothy Parker and Richard Wilbur. All of Paus’ four string quartets to date are themed after painters (nos.1 and 4 on paintings by Edvard Munch, no.2 on a painting by Halfdan Egedius, and no. 3 on paintings by Christopher Rådlund).

Selected works

Orchestral works
  • Love's Last Rites (2017)
  • Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra (2015)
  • Hate Songs for Mezzosoprano & Orchestra (2013–14), text: Dorothy Parker
  • Music for Orchestra (2012)
  • A Portrait of Zhou (Concertino for Flute & Orchestra) (2012)
  • Triple Concerto for Violin, Viola & Orchestra (2011)
  • Two Lyrical Pieces (2007)
  • Ave Mozart! (2006)
Choral works
Chamber works
  • The Song and the Catastrophe (2018), text by Ulrik Farestad
  • Confessions (2018), text by André Bjerke
  • Never (2017), text by André Bjerke
  • Everyday Miracle (2017), text by André Bjerke
  • Room Mates (2017), text by Ulrik Farestad
  • Late Summer Songs (2017), text by Jan Erik Vold
  • The Yearning of Things (2017), text by André Bjerke
  • Love Songs (2016), text by Dorothy Parker
  • Music to Hear (Sonnet VIII) (2016), text by William Shakespeare
  • Sonata for Double Bass and Piano (2016)
  • The Harvesting (2016), text by Edvard Munch
  • Afterplay: Eternity's Gaze (2015), text by Ole Paus
  • Fanfare for Two Violins (2015)
  • Requiem (2014), text by Ole Paus
  • Screwing Britten (2013)
  • String Quartet no. 4 ‘Ashes’ (2013)
  • Sonata for Cello & Piano (2009)
  • String Quartet no.3 (2006)
  • Trio for Clarinet, Violin & Piano (2006)
  • Lasuliansko Horo for Violin & Piano (2004)
Solo works
  • Intrada for Solo Oboe (2018)
  • Kleiberg Variations for Solo Piano (2018)
  • Mathias' Song for Solo Piano (2018)
  • Sarabande for Solo Clavichord (2018)
  • Stetind (2018)
  • Alone for Solo Cello (2017)
  • September Lines for Solo Clarinet (2017)
  • Sonata for Solo Clarinet (2017)
  • Christiania, 1899 for Solo Piano (2016)
  • Elegy for Solo Alto Recorder (or Oboe) (2016)
  • Hauntings for Solo Flute (2016)
  • Marble Songs (2016)
  • Prowling (2016)
  • Sonata for Solo Bassoon (2016)
  • Three Lines (2016)
  • Two Idylls (2016)
  • Two Pieces for Solo Harpsichord (2016)
  • A Prologue to the Past (2015)
  • Inventory (2015), text by Dorothy Parker
  • Summer Sketches (2015)
  • Theory (2015), text by Dorothy Parker
  • A Farther Front (2014)
  • Sur le nom de Bach (2014)
  • Vita (2014)
  • Three Shades of Evil (2013)
  • Trauermusik for Solo Cello (2012)
  • 4 Memento Mori for Solo Piano (2012)
  • The Ladies on the Bridge for Solo Violin (2010)
Operas and stage works
Film scores
  • Mortal, directed by André Øvredal
  • UMEÅ4ever (2011), directed by Geir Greni
  • Upperdog (2009), directed by Sara Johnsen


  • Wessel Prize, 2012
  • Composer of the Year Prize of the Norwegian Music Publishers, 2017[12]


  1. ^ a b Nordal, Ola. "Marcus Paus". Store norske leksikon.
  2. ^ Astrid Kvalbein, «Vakker Marcusmesse», Aftenposten, 05.03.2008, kultur s. 2
  3. ^ Olav Egil Aune, «Messe midt i verden», Vårt Land, 05.03.2008 s. 19
  4. ^ "Marcus Paus" (in Norwegian). Opera til folket. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  5. ^ Røyseland, Halstein (25 August 2009). "Marcus Paus: - Det er mye kreativt DNA" (in Norwegian). VG Nett. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Dagen da Ole Paus fikk sin Anne Karine: Vårens bryllup" [The Wedding of the Spring] (cover story), , No. 20, 16 May 1979
  7. ^ "Kjendis-barna: Årets fire nyfødte" [The celebrity children: The four newborn of the year], , No. 6, 6 February 1980
  8. ^ "Marcus Paus klar for Musikkhøyskolen: Tenker musikk 20 timer i døgnet," Aftenposten, 2 April 1998
  9. ^ a b "Marcus Paus, composer," Meet the Artist, 1 November 2017
  10. ^ Bjørnskau, Erik (2 January 2008). "– Musikk er språk". Aftenposten.
  11. ^ Ibsen, Alexander Z. (11 October 2013). "Brøt med klisjeene". Minerva.
  12. ^ Dette er vinnerne av Musikkforleggerprisen, Music Norway

External links

  • Official website
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