Per Brevig

2012 ITA Award

Per Brevig was the principal trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera for 26 years. Although he left the Met in 1994 to embark on a conducting career, he kept his teaching positions at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College the New School for Music and the Aspen Music Festival and School. He was also on the trombone faculty at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music for four years.

Per Brevig has been active in the International Trombone Association from its inception in 1972, has served on its board of directors and is a lifetime member. He has received the Neill Humfeld Award as well as the 2012 ITA Award. During his many visits to Brazil as a performer and conductor, he was instrumental in forming the Brazilian Trombone Association.

Born in Norway, Per Brevig began playing trombone professionally at the age of 16. At 17 he was engaged as the euphonium soloist with a national military band.

After three years in the military band, during which time he was a frequent soloist in concerts and radio broadcasts, Brevig was engaged by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. During his tenure with the Bergen Philharmonic , he received a scholarship to study in Denmark with the renowned Palmer Traulsen, the principal trombonist of the Royal Danish Opera Orchestra. This was the time when he made his debut as a soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic in Ferdinand David's Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra.

Brevig's stay in Copenhagen whetted his appetite for further study, and, in 1959, he obtained a one-year leave of absence from the orchestra to study at Juilliard where he received a full scholarship, which he followed with a summer at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where he was awarded the Koussevitzky Fellowship and the Henry B. Cabot Award for best instrumentalist. He also attended Tanglewood in the summer of 1965.

During his first year at Juilliard, he joined the Juilliard Big Band. Here he met a fellow student, Jonathan Tunick, who was to become one of Broadway's top composers and arrangers. Tunick wrote many great arrangements for the big band and when Brevig returned to Norway, after one year of studies, he formed Per Brevig's Big Band and Per Brevig's Dixieland Bank and Tunick's great compositions and arrangements were the core repertoire.

In 1965 Brevig left Bergen Philharmonic to return to New York to finish his education and try his luck as a freelancer. He became a first call freelancer and won the position as principal trombone with the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. He subsequently performed as a soloist both the David and Larsson Concertinos with Maestro Stokowski conducting.

In 1968 Brevig won the position as Principal Trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the same year he was engaged to teach at Juilliard. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Juilliard in 1971 and is still the only trombonist to have received his DMA from The Juilliard School.

Brevig was one of the first trombonists to give full-length recitals in New York. After one of his Carnegie Recital Hall concerts, New York Times reviewer Theodore Strongin wrote:" How aptly his recital represented his century was even clearer when one realizes that this was not just a single trombone recital but the second of three devoted to new music. It would never have happened 100 years ago. To make the point even stronger, when he is not giving recitals, Mr. Brevig's principal post is solo trombonist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. From Verdi to Berio? Possible only with today's young, versatile musicians."

Concurrent with his solo career, Brevig gave numerous master classes in the US, Japan, Europe, Korea, and Brazil. Over the years, his students have had positions in many orchestras in the US as well as abroad.

Brevig has studied medical problems faced by musicians and serves on the advisory boards of the journals Medical Problems of Performing Artists and Musikphysiologie und Musik Medizin. He has written for both publications and also given lectures under their auspices.

In 1991, Per Brevig founded the Edvard Grieg Society, Inc., New York to celebrate the composer's sesquicentennial, which took place in 1993. The society has, under his leadership, produced more than 90 events.

Brevig has lectured and written articles about Grieg and contemporary Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim. In 1991, the Grieg Society was instrumental in bringing Nordheim to the Aspen Music Festival as composer in residence. During the nine-week festival, Nordheim and Brevig collaborated on "The Return of the Snark," the sequel to "The Hunting of the Snark," which Brevig had edited and prepared for publication the previous year. Both pieces are for unaccompanied trombone, and Brevig gave the premiere performance of "The Return of the Snark" at the Aspen Music Festival at the end of the 1991 season. "The Hunting of the Snark" was played at the opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994.

Upon leaving the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Brevig found that his conducting career expanded quickly. In the ensuing 5 years he conducted more than 20 operas.

In 2011 Per Brevig finished his nine-year tenure as music director and conductor of East Texas Symphony Orchestra, conducting more than 200 standard and contemporary compositions including many commissions. Among the soloists he engaged were Itzhak Perlman, Lang Lang, Lynn Harrell, Hilary Hahn, Christine Brewer, Cho-Liang Lin, Pepe Romero, Ralph Kirshbaum, Mark O'Connor, the Eroica Trio, and Randy Owen, the lead singer of the country and western band Alabama.

Brevig continues as the music director and conductor of the Grieg Festival Orchestra and the Strathmere Festival Orchestra, New York,both of which include some of the finest freelance musicians in New York City, among them some of Brevig's former colleagues from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.