Norwegian pianist Eva Knardahl is best known for her incisive interpretations of the piano music of Edvard Grieg. She has recorded the complete piano music for BIS Records to great acclaim and has appeared in numerous solo and orchestral concerts performing the music of Grieg. But she has also drawn high praise for her interpretations of works by a diverse group of composers that includes Albéniz, Barber, Brahms, Liszt, and Gershwin.
Knardahl was born in Norway on May 10, 1927. She was a child prodigy whose enormous talent made her an overnight sensation in her homeland: at the age of 12 she appeared with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra playing concertos by J.S. Bach and Haydn and the Concertstuck by Carl Maria von Weber -- all in a single concert!
At 19 she left Norway and soon took a post with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra as the resident pianist. She worked first under Antal Dorati, then under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. She spent 20 years abroad altogether, 15 in Minneapolis, before finally returning to Norway in 1967.
Thereafter, Knardahl toured her homeland to great acclaim, giving recitals and appearing with the major orchestras. She began recording Grieg's solo piano works in 1977 for BIS Records. In 1978, the first LP was issued, followed over the years by 11 more to complete a project that also included the works for two pianos and the piano concerto. Critics and audiences were impressed, and in 1987 BIS released the complete set on 10 CDs.
By this time Knardahl had become a well-known figure in her homeland not only from her concerts and recordings (she won numerous Norwegian Grammys), but from frequent appearances on television shows, where she often performed with rock and popular music groups. In 1986 Knardahl had begun recording for the Simax label, divulging a much broader Classical repertory.
While many of her recordings in the latter 1980s and 1990s showcased her talents in the works of Brahms and a wide range of other composers, she also re-recorded some Grieg: her 1995 Simax CD featured the piano concerto along with a clutch of shorter solo works. Knardahl also took on a teaching post at the Norwegian State Academy of Music, serving as professor of chamber music. One of Knardahl's later recordings, on the Aurora label, was issued in 2000 and featured her with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in Øistein Sommerfeldt's Towards a Yearning.