Ingolf Dahl

Ingolf Dahl


• 1912 1970


Ingolf Dahl was born in Germany to a Swedish family. He studied with Philipp Jarnach at the Conservatory in Cologne, Germany, but left Germany when the Nazis took over. He continued his studies in Switzerland at Zurich Conservatory with Volkmar Andreae and at the University of Zurich with Walter Frey. In 1935 he visited the United States to study with Nadia Boulanger, who was then teaching in California. Seeing the European situation became more unsettled, he moved permanently to the United States and took up residence in Los Angeles. He became successful as a film and radio arranger, and he also composed, conducted, and gave lectures.

Dahl was particularly successful in his role as conductor and pianist of concert series called Monday Evening Concerts and Evenings on the Roof. These programs, featuring contemporary music, attracted the attention of composer Igor Stravinsky, who employed Dahl as a musical assistant. He entrusted the translation of his Norton Lectures into English to Dahl.

Dahl became highly respected as a professor at the University of Southern California, whose faculty he joined in 1945. He was a longtime conductor of the university's orchestra (1945 - 1958) and taught both conducting and composing. Among his pupils are conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and composer Frederick Myrow.

His own music evolved from a thickly scored Central European style, with considerable Hindemith-influenced counterpoint, to a more American style, open and lighter in scoring with a brisk neo-Classical element influenced by Stravinsky. The bulk of his relatively small output is instrumental. His music is usually tonal, although he wrote a few serial or twelve-tone pieces. He is especially well regarded among wind instrumentalists for his compositions for band and other wind ensembles, and for his saxophone concerto, his concerto for two clarinets, his Allegro and Arioso for woodwind quintet, and his Music for Brass Instruments.

In addition to teaching at USC (with which he remained affiliated until his death), he also taught at Tanglewood and was director of the Ojai Festival, The Young Musician's Foundation of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Guild Opera Company. He received numerous honors and awards, and inspired great devotion from his pupils.