Kjell Marcussen was born in Arendal (Norway) in 1952. He received his education as a guitar teacher at the Agder Conservatory of Music in Kristiansand, taking his final exam in 1976. In addition he studied guitar in London with Prof. Hector Quine (Royal Academy of Music) and composition with Edvin Roxbourgh (Royal College of Music). He continued at Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Gerhald Lee (guitar) and Robert Saxton (composition). He has also studied music for film and theatre.
He had his debut as composer and guitarist at the Cardiff Festival of Music in 1982, where he was invited to participate as a result of a competition. I 1994 he was given an award for his Festivalouverture for symphonic band at Concorco Internazionale di Composizione Originale per Banda, Italia.
He has been teaching classical guitar for 40 years and has been active as a composer most of his adult life. He is a member of Norwegian Composers Society and he was chairman for New Music Composers Group from 1986 to 1988. He has been a teacher in composition and theory at Østlandets Musikkonservatorium, Oslo, and Buskerud Musikkonservatorium, Drammen.
His compositions range from music for teaching purposes, to chamber music, cantatas, concertos, orchestral pieces and dramatic music. He has been (awarded) for his many years of commitment to music for mentally handicapped people for the musical Dissimilis.
His music has been performed by leading Norwegian orchestras and ensembles: Oslo Philharmonic, Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Sinfonietta and Cikada . Abroad he has been performed by among others Lithuanian National Orchestra, St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra, Kharkov Symphony Orchestra, Pacifica Chamber Orchestra (USA), and members from the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (USA). He has also worked with The Belarus State Orchestra that has performed his concertos, including debut performances.
I 2021 members from the Greek Radio orchestra of Athens presented a 45 minutes long radio program of his chamber music.
I 1983 Oslo Philharmonic gave the debut performance of the orchestral piece Morning Glory with soloists Alf Emil Eik, electric guitar, and Bjørn Ole Rasch, synthesizer. His cooperation with Duo Oktava: Povilas Syrrist-Gelgota, viola, and Toril Syrrist-Gelgota, cello, has led to a considerable amount of original works and pieces arranged for viola and cello. His Double Concerto for viola, cello and Chamber Orchestra is internationally known. Marcussen is perhaps best known for his viola and cello piece Berceuse that many duos worldwide include in their programs. The work Water Lilies for viola and harp is also scored for bassoon (and Harp?). His cooperation with the duo Roman Reznic (bassoon) and Delphine Constantin Reznic (harp) has led to Double Concerto for bassoon, harp and string, as well as arrangements of shorter pieces for the duo. Roman Reznic, Delphine Constantin Reznic, Povilas Syrrist-Gelgota and Toril Syrrist-Gelgota formed the group Ensemble International, and have performed Marcussen’s music in concerts and festivals in Norway and abroad.
Marcussen, as classic guitarist, has naturally written a wide range of music for solo guitar, and guitar in combination with other instruments. Central are his Four sonatas, Sonatine, 12 short preludes, Postludium and a Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Ensemble. Concertino for 3 Guitars is a popular work. It was first scored for guitar orchestra and solo guitar. The virtuoso work Varieté was written for the Norwegian guitar trio Arctic Trio. Retrospect, a work for two guitars based on Norwegian folk music, was written for the Norwegian Guito Duo. These are good examples of cooperation with Norwegian musicians. His cooperation with the Norwegian guitarist Trond Davidsen and saxophonist Eli Marie Davidsen has resulted in many compositions for guitar and saxophone.
These works include: Guitar sonata nr. 2, Moments for soprano saxophone and guitar, Street dance for saxophone quartet, and Concerto for Alto saxophone and Orchestra.
He has also worked together with the Scottish- English duo: The Campbell Duo for which he has written Sonata for flute and guitar. Mysterium Sanctitatis for recorder and guitar was written for the English flutist John Turner and guitarist Neil Smith. He has written as well a solo recorder piece for Turner: Norwegian Herbarium.
His many years of cooperation with the Norwegian flutist Torolf Mørk Karlsen and guitarist Roy Henning Snyen has resulted in the CD ”Inside- outside” with works by Morten Gaathaug and Kjell Marcussen.” Canzoni” for alto flute and marimba, was written for Torolf Mørk Karlsen and released on the CD “Icon”.
Additional works for the guitar in combination with other instruments includes
”Equilibrium” for obo and guitar, ”Danza della vita” for cello and guitar, and ”Fantasy” for violin and guitar.
Finally his many years of cooperation with flutist and visual artist Marit Bockelie together with guitarist Karsten Andersen should be mentioned. A number of works have been dedicated to the duo through out the years.
In addition he has written great deal of guitar music for educational use, original compositions and arrangements.
His works for string instruments include: ”The Sonnets ” for string quartet based on five sonnets from Shakespeare. ”Electio” for violin and cello and “Quattro impressioni” for solo violin written for Lise Strandli Pedersen, a violinist that Marcussen has cooperated with for many years. ”In a Norwegian landscape ”for solo violin, written for Jean Sebastian Aubert, ”Intermezzo” for solo cello, written for Toril Syrrist-Gelgota.
“Woodcut” for flute(s), chimes, violin and cello
“Quartet” for soprano saxophone (ore clarinet) violin, cello and piano
“Sextet” for oboe, string quartet and piano
“Double Concerto for violin and viola”
”Spurv” for chamber orchestra. ” Capriccio” for piano and chamber orchestra.
In addition many arrangements for strings and string orchestra.
Marcussen`s many years work with school band has led to considerable amount of original compositions as well as arrangements for this media. “ Festivalouverture” is one example. Further can be mentioned the dramatic cantata ”Tordenskiold” for Symphonic band, soloists and choir. Performed more than 50 times in Norway and Denmark. It resulted in radio production for NRK and a CD production. He wrote ”Partita jubilante” for brass band, a work that has been used in the Netherlands national brass band competition.
Other compositions for wind players are: ”Concertino” for trombone and strings (piano), written for Marie Nøkleby Hanssen, and ”Genus” for trombone and piano. ”Antifonale” is a piece for eight brass players and organ. ”Two lyrical pieces” for solo tuba was written for Mikkel Andrè Remme,
“Three moments” for clarinet and chamber orchestra (piano) written for Kjell Magne Andersen, “Four Processions” written for the flute quintet Five Across and ”Pastourell ”
And ”Pan” for flute solo.
Works for voice: ”Three songs, poems by Arnulf Øverland” for baritone and piano.
”Veslemøy ved rokken, poems by Arne Garborg ” for soprano and piano. ”Munken Vent” for tenor and piano.
”Two songs, poems Knut Hamsun ” For vocal alto flute and guitar. ” Three songs, poems by Per Askø” for vocal, flute and guitar.
Cantatas, dramatic works and orchestral pieces:
”Askeriana” for choir, and orchestra
“Fauve ” Orchestra
“ Effatha” Orchestra
“ Festivalouverture” Orchestra
” Officium ” for four soloists, choir and ensemble (orgel)
” Rapunzel ” for one actor, violin and double bass
Marcussen has in addition written musicals and theatre music.