Obituary: Gerhard Randers-Pehrson

June 17, 1936-December 19, 1998.

From Jan. 10, 1999, Aftenposten.


Gerhard Randers-Pehrson is dead at 62 years old. For 40 years he worked as program secretary at Norwegian National Radio (NRK), until he decided to retire 6 months ago. He first worked with the Record Archive; then he worked for a generation in the Radio's Music Department, and in the last few years was associated with Radio Theater where he produced literary readings.


Through the years, Music producer Randers-Pehrson entertained several generations of listeners throughout the country with numerous programs. He used Bach against insomnia and awakened us on Sundays with carefully chosen morning concerts. For five years, he taught us with his "Music Dictionary": a series of 5 minute sound-illustrated explanations of music terminology. Before the news captured nearly every corner of the morning radio, he produced for many years "Word for the Day", intriguing combinations of poetry and music directed toward that within us which seeks something beyond the news. His creative fantasy could take surprising directions, such as when he got a Norwegian powerplant to sing by arranging concerts, sometimes with special music compositions, deep within the energy plant's mountain halls.


He took us to Moss to meet Gustav Mahler on Norgesreise (Norwegian travels) in 1892. He researched the lives of the wives of Bach, Haydn and Mozart. He took us along to the Middle Ages visionary composer Hildegard von Bingen, "a noise that God breathed on". He let us observe a chance meeting with composer Hector Berlioz at a little railway station between Vienna and Prague just to name a few of the innumerable radio amusements that he threw out with a generous hand over the land.


With clear literary understanding, he produced for several years, poetry, novels and short stories for Culture Channel P2. If only one production is to be named, it must be the series with his own favorite novel: Johannes V. Jensens mighty "the King's Fall", read by Svein Erik Brodal. Randers-Pehrson was himself also a capable reader who found his own soft-spoken way into the texts. He understood what he read, transmitted that without interpretation and did not force himself between the author's word and the listeners' ears.


Gerhard Randers-Pehrson stood for the best in NRKs popular education tradition. His connection to his listeners was not in dry teaching, but was artistic and intelligent. With knowledge and skill, he worked for good taste and rich experience, and did not throw away time with easy foolishness. Traces of his work lie hidden both in NRKs archives and in many peoples souls.


By Nils Heyerdahl Translation by Sigrid Smith.