The Grieg Academy – Department of Music

The Grieg Academy – Department of Music was established at the University of Bergen in 1995, and is now one of three departments at the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design (KMD).


Our profile is modelled on internationally recognised performing arts environments (classical, jazz, folk music), composition, music therapy, musicology and music education. The study programme emphasises independence and reflection. Students are able to explore a wide range of expressions and practical approaches, and develop through dialogue and critical discussion. Our aim is to create meeting points between different artistic and scientific disciplines at the department and elsewhere at the university.
Our teaching staff represents a broad range of active professionals who are recognised both nationally and abroad. Artistic research forms the basis for all teaching. Many of our orchestral instrument teachers are also prominent musicians with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and other professional ensembles.

Bergen is a cultural city with many opportunities for active participation. The Grieg Academy has close contact with the musical and cultural scene and collaborates with the Bergen International Festival, Nattjazz, the Borealis festival, the Royal Norwegian Naval Forces Band, 1B1, BFUng, the Edvard Grieg Museum Troldhaugen, the Bergen National Opera, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, and many others.

Artistic research comprises both individual and joint thematic projects. Currently, we are carrying out two major projects funded by the Project Programme for Artistic Research: Wheels within Wheels and (Un-) settling Sites and Styles: Performers in Search of New Expressive Means.


The Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre (GAMUT) is dedicated to developing knowledge about music and health. GAMUT’s work lies at the forefront in international research.

The POLYFON network allows our researchers in music therapy to collaborate with health institutions in Bergen and Western Norway, representing an interaction between education and research at the highest level.

Musicology at the Grieg Academy is an interdisciplinary area of study that incorporates methods from both the humanities and the social sciences.
The Grieg Academy fosters close collaborative research with the Centre for Grieg Research. 

The visiting address and reception to the Grieg Academy is Lars Hilles gate 3. Postal address is The Grieg Academy - Department of Music, PO Box 7805, 5020 Bergen.

BA in Music Performance or Composition

Are you a performing musician of classical music, traditional music or jazz? Do you compose? Do you want to study music at a high level in a creative and international environment?

The Grieg Academy offers one of the country’s best programmes in music. In an intimate and creative environment that counts musicians such as opera singer Lise Davidsen, pianist Ellen Ugelvik and composer Ruben Sverre Gjertsen among its students, you can develop your skills and artistic potential and immerse yourself in your main instrument.

Our four-year BA programme in Music Performance or Composition lays the foundation for a career in music. The curriculum facilitates exploratory and experimental approaches, and the students’ own practice and individual lessons lie at the core of the programme. 

The Grieg Academy – Department of Music offers professional expertise and facilities that enable you to explore a wide range of artistic practices, methods and forms of expression. Emphasis is on critical thinking and independent approaches.

As a student of the programme, you will receive individual lessons and group tutoring within your main discipline. You will also learn about the history of music and the connection between music, culture and society in addition to relevant topics in music theory and supporting disciplines.

Our BA programme offers four areas of specialisation: classical music, jazz, composition and traditional music.


Classical Music

The Grieg Academy’s curriculum in music performance is founded on the European conservatory tradition. This means that our teachers themselves are performers at a high level and maintain close and regular contact with the students. Main instrument studies in classical music include the development of technique and personal expression, interpretation, repertoire, ensemble activities, joint projects and instrument knowledge/vocal physiology. The core of our Music Performance Programme is based on individual lessons with the main instrument teacher and – in applicable cases – with an accompanist. This is supplemented by teaching in small groups and, of course, participation in small and large ensembles.

Our study programme largely relies on self-study in tandem with individual lessons. Students are expected to be able to work independently and with a clear focus, both individually and in collaboration with others. The programme will enable you to extend your own knowledge, reflect on your own practice and technical issues, and take responsibility for your own professional development.

An important part of our study programme is to introduce students to different working methods and approaches within classical music. While our teaching staff contributes to creating a framework and room for critical reflection, students are expected to be able to make independent choices. 

Students are assigned practical tasks to work on and opportunities for active participation in performance activities. We offer many different elective courses and flexibility in how studies are structured. In their 3rd and 4th year of study, students can choose from many different subjects and thereby shape their own artistic expression.

Our many popular elective courses include:

  • Second Instrument A
  • Ensemble/Chamber Music
  • Contemporary Music
  • Early Music, Ensemble I
  • Improvisation
  • Traditional Music Performance

Our faculty members are actively performing musicians familiar from concert venues and recording companies in Norway and abroad. Many of our orchestral instrument teachers are top musicians with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Norwegian Naval Forces Band and other professional ensembles. Some of the projects run by our teaching staff include recordings of Ketil Hvoslef’s chamber music oeuvre.

Our studies have a strong international orientation, and master classes are a regular part of the curriculum. In recent years, Pablo Marquez, Jan Jiracek von Arnim and Solveig Kringelborn have been among the department’s visiting lecturers.


With a focus on improvised music, the specialisation Jazz is individually adapted to each student. The core of the study programme is your main instrument with the goal of becoming a professional musician. We wish to facilitate the development of your own personal expression while at the same time allowing you to become a better musician and gain more knowledge about the architecture of music. Your study plan will be adapted to the direction you yourself wish to specialise in.

Our methodology is based on ear training and active use of the voice and body in the learning process. As a student, your curriculum will include subjects such as main instrument, music theory (ear training/improvisation and arranging/composition), ensemble, jazz history, second instrument, and much more. We offer many different choices, freedom and variety in your studies. In their 3rd and 4th year of study, students can choose from a wide range of subjects and thereby shape their own study profile. Popular elective courses for students specialising in jazz are ensemble/chamber music, second instrument and newer composition techniques for practicing musicians.

IPlaying together with others in different bands and ensembles is a hallmark of jazz and rhythmic music. Therefore, The Grieg Academy places great emphasis on ensemble playing, which is integrated into most of the subjects we offer, including theoretical subjects.

The study programme is designed to allow as much room for practice and performance as possible so our students can meet today’s high standards for performing musicians. In addition, we wish to develop students’ flexibility to enable them to master different musical situations. We offer solid working methods that provide students with the basis for learning throughout their careers.

A performing music education places high demands on the learning environment so students are able to fully benefit from their studies. In a stimulating environment, students learn a great deal by playing together. This type of peer-to-peer learning may perhaps be the most important factor in determining students’ development during and after their studies.

As a jazz student in Bergen, you will have ample opportunities to play concerts, both at the department and the city’s jazz clubs. Close cooperation with the region’s organised jazz scene has been an important factor in the study of jazz, and has included collaboration with West Norway Jazz Centre, Bergen Jazz Forum and Nattjazz from the very start. Thanks to this collaboration, today’s 2nd and 4th year students hold their exam concerts as part of Nattjazz’ programme. Additionally, students are given the opportunity to play professional concerts together with established jazz musicians. This is organised in a separate concert series we have called the GIG-Academy, in which students have collaborated with musicians such as Jon Eberson, Jon Pål Inderberg, Dag Arnesen, Kjetil Møster, Petter Wettre, Håvard, Wiik, Frank Jakobsen and Erlend Slettevoll.

Each academic year also includes a number of project weeks during which students are taught by our regular faculty members and outside musicians. The study environment has a strong international orientation, and names such as Jack DeJohnette, Steve Swallow, Kevin Dean, Jerry Bergonzi, Adam Nussbaum, Ellen Rowe, Mike Westbrook, Shannon Powell, Andy Sheppard and Marc Ducret have all been visiting guest instructors. In addition, we organise regular study trips to the United States for our teachers and students. This has included visits to New York and New Orleans, among other places.
Ever since our study programme was launched in 2004, our students have made a name for themselves in jazz, rock, pop and other forms of improvised music. 

The department’s faculty members are active performers. Here is a Spotify list of some of the recordings our teachers have made. Further information about the teaching staff in our jazz programme can be found on the website of The Grieg Academy Research Group for Jazz and Improvised Music (GAIMPRO).

L’arte della persuasione, first movement - Inventio


As a subject in the field of music, composition represents both a central cultural phenomenon and a form of artistic self-expression. Through creative and analytical work, the study of composition strengthens the ability to assess and understand different musical traditions and periods. The subject deals with key issues related to important concepts such as space, time, meaning and function from a musical point of view.

New, experimental and older aesthetic approaches within the classical tradition are introduced and treated by way of seminars, musical exercises and individual follow-up. One of the main objectives is for the student to find his or her own form of expression. Central to this is the ability to work independently and initiate collaborative projects in order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by our environment. Interdisciplinary collaboration is encouraged.

At the beginning of their studies, students are introduced to the nature of creative and compositional processes. The first year also presents a broad overview of the subject of composition and a systematic follow-up of student’s own compositions, leading to an awareness of different personal forms of expression. The basic technical foundation is laid early in the course of study.

Gradually, more room is allowed to focus on specific topics, based on perspectives and knowledge from relevant musical works, composition techniques and issues related to different areas of musical tradition. By combining creative work and analysis, students hone their skills in assessing and understanding the technical and aesthetic aspects of their own compositions, as well as musical practice in general.

Joint projects for composers are regularly organised. In recent years, the study programme has collaborated with The Grieg Academy’s Young Talents (GUT), The Grieg Academy Sinfonietta, the department’s vocal students, BIT20 Ensemble, Lutherfestdagene (carillon of St. John’s Church), Avgarde, and the Borealis festival. Since 2006, The Royal Norwegian Naval Forces Band has carried out annual projects involving rehearsals and performances of works by all composition students. The opportunity to hear their own works performed is a crucial experience for our composers.

Traditional Music

The specialisation Traditional Music is a collaboration with the Ole Bull Academy. See for more information.

MA in Music Performance or Composition

The Master’s Programme in Music Performance or Composition is aimed at instrumentalists, singers and composers working with classical music or jazz. The emphasis is on further developing the student’s artistic profile and reinforcing the ability for professional reflection and independence.
Our master’s programme offers two basic courses of study: main instrument or composition, and project work. Project work is divided into three sub-projects and allows for specialisation in one or more self-chosen topics within the student’s own performing or creative field of interest. Projects are designed to support the student’s performing/creative work by raising awareness about and reflecting on musical issues. Much leeway is given to choice of different forms of documentation, depending on the project’s particular subject matter (oral or digital presentation).

Teaching takes place in the form of individual lessons in the student’s main instrument/project, and in seminars. Seminars are founded on open, interactive group discussions and address questions related to working methods, use of sources and issues concerning relevant topics in the students’ work.

Photo: Magne Sandnes

Topics can focus on such issues as interpretation, performance practice, style, musical understanding/analysis, improvisational methods, aesthetics, instrumental techniques, oral traditions, collaboration between composer and performer, the study of historical recordings, experimental exploration, cross-over projects and psychological or social issues related to musical performance and composition.

Because our master’s programme attracts many students from abroad, English is used as the main language in some group contexts. In addition to instruction by our highly qualified faculty members, Norwegian and international guests are invited to host seminars and master classes. As a master’s student, you have the opportunity to go on an exchange programme at a foreign institution, and you can apply for financial support in connection with your project and master’s exam concert. A completed master’s degree qualifies you to apply for the Artistic Research Programme.


BA in Musicology

What are the roles of music in culture and society? How is music used to create identity in an increasingly global world? What is the link between musical creativity and technology? How does musical meaning arise?

Musicology explores music both as an aesthetic object and a social phenomenon. Gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, social affiliation and class are some of the phenomena discussed in the field of musicology, placed in the context of different historical periods and societies. What specifically distinguishes the musicology programme at UiB is its great historic, geographic and thematic range.

By studying musicology in Bergen, you will come into contact with theories and methods from different academic musical traditions with the aim of understanding music and sound based on perspectives derived from more recent cultural and social theories. We avail ourselves of theories and knowledge from music history and ethnomusicology, but also from such diverse fields as popular music studies, literature and culture studies, media research, history, ethnology, anthropology and sociology. Thus, as a student in our BA programme, you will not only discover the functions of music in culture and society, but also gain knowledge of music history, musical traditions, style and aesthetics.

Over the past 25 years, musicology has been concerned with the study of ‘sound expression’ in a broad sense. In today’s world, the interaction between ‘local’ and ‘global’ is no longer unambiguously defined. Therefore, the study of music production and the social and aesthetic role of music in constructing social identity – within culture, history and society – is central to the field of musicology. Many researchers are studying the way in which music circulates in our modern media society. Here, musicology begins to approach disciplines such as media science and cultural studies.

In addition to compulsory courses, students can choose from a number of elective courses offered by The Grieg Academy. These include Grieg Studies, Introduction to Norwegian Folk Music, Main Instrument Musicology (separate entrance exam), Music, Gender and Sexuality, and Russian Music: Concert Hall to Dance Club. It is also possible to choose open courses at other departments and faculties at the University of Bergen.
Possible career paths depend on the combination of subjects you choose. You can qualify for work in the culture and music industry, or as a journalist working with music and culture.



Five-year Integrated MA Programme in Music Therapy

"Music in and as therapy – artistic participation as a health-promoting measure’"

Music has been important for human beings at all times. Music speaks to our feelings, creates bonds between people and, in certain situations, can make us healthier. Music therapy focuses on the impact of music on our health and is a young and rapidly growing discipline. Established in 2006 as a subject area at the University of Bergen, our music therapy programme builds on a Norwegian tradition with particular focus on social and resource-oriented values, and contributes to both national and international development in the field. In autumn 2010, a five-year integrated master’s programme in music therapy was established. Admissions are held once a year.

Music is increasingly used in health care and for vulnerable groups in society. National guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of psychotic patients strongly endorse music therapy. Music therapy is recommended by several other national guidelines in connection with drug treatment, detoxification, dementia care and palliative care for children and adolescents, among other things. Research shows that music therapy can achieve excellent results in mental health care, drug treatment, correctional care, rehabilitation following neurological damage, geriatric care and to alleviate symptoms. Music therapy is applied in both clinical and everyday situations. In music therapy, the user often participates in creating music together with the music therapist.

As a music therapist, one comes into close contact with human beings at all stages of the life cycle. For example, music therapy is used in connection with prematurely born infants at hospital maternity units. Together with the mother and father, the therapist sings lullabies adapted to the individual child and advises the parents on how music can be used. The goal is to reduce tensions and to establish contact between parent and child. If this is successful and both parents and child relax, it can in turn lead to an increase in the infant’s appetite and thus lead to improved resilience. Something similar applies to persons who are terminally ill. Music can help the dying person calm down and give rise to a musical meeting between therapist, family and patient. Here, the therapist’s most important task is to be present as a human being.

Music therapy has social relevance and helps people create communities. The band ‘Gatens Evangelium’ was founded by Lars Tuastad, associate professor at the Grieg Academy, and a group of former prison inmates. Participating in the band has been an important part of the band members’ rehabilitation and has given them a musical and personal identity. 

Our MA programme includes musical subjects, psychology, humanities, social sciences, and music therapy theory and methodology. In the course of their studies, candidates will undergo a number of practical training periods in different fields of work. The study programme concludes with a master’s thesis (30 credits) on a topic chosen by the candidate.

In the course of the Five-year Integrated Master’s Programme in Music Therapy, students learn to reflect critically based on the discipline’s core values and theories. Students also learn to substantiate, develop and communicate their own work and to avail themselves of relevant research methods to advance new knowledge. Students develop a deeper understanding of their subject area and a broad insight into the field of music and health, enabling candidates to collaborate with other professionals, users and next of kin. A music therapist must have good communication skills, interpersonal sensitivity and be able to meet other human beings with respect and understanding.

The programme has an international profile and a teaching staff with expertise in various areas of music therapy. Coupled with a broad range of research skills, our faculty members’ extensive practical experience provides students with a stimulating and relevant learning environment. The Grieg Academy conducts comprehensive research in music therapy in a research environment that facilitates critical and theoretical research, qualitative research and mixed methods, as well as art-based research.

The Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre (GAMUT) is a twin research centre established through a collaboration between UiB and Uni Research. GAMUT conducts research on the relationship between music and health. We cooperate closely with municipalities and health services via the POLYFON knowledge cluster for music therapy.

GAMUT administers a world-wide network and publishes two international journals, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy and Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy.

Our PhD programme in music therapy was developed in collaboration with the Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies.

Exchange Programmes

Incoming exchange students: If you are interested in applying to the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design as an exchange student, see our pages for Student Exchange at

Outgoing exchange students: To learn more about how KMD students can apply for an exchange period abroad, see our pages for students (only in Norwegian).

If you have any inquieries, please contact International Coordinator Tale Vik.