The Norwegian trombonist and conductor, 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 as Principal Trombonist from 1957 to 1965. 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.
Per 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 School of Music in New York 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 (1966). 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 Per 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 (1966-1970). He subsequently performed as a soloist both the David and Larsson Concertinos with Maestro Leopold Stokowski conducting. He received from Juilliard his Bachelor of Music degree in 1968, and his Master of Music degree 1969. In 1968 he 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.
Per 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, Per Brevig also dedicated time to teaching. In addition to his teaching post at Juilliard, he was Artist-in-residence at Aspen Music Festival and School; on the Faculty of Mannes College the New School for Music from 1976; Professor of Trombone at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music from 1984 to 1988; Manhattan School of Music from 1988. He gave numerous master-classes in the USA, Japan, Europe, Korea, and Brazil. Over the years, his students have had positions in many orchestras in the USA 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. Publications: Avant-Garde Technique in Solo Trombone Music; Problems of Notation and Execution. Numerous commissions, recordings, compositions for solo trombone.
In 1991, Per Brevig founded the Edvard Grieg Society, Inc., New York in anticipation of the composer's 150th anniversary in 1993. Under his leadership, the Society has become the center of activities celebrating Grieg in the USA, producing more than 90 events, including major symposia at Columbia University in New York City. The culmination of an Edvard Grieg Society season is often highlighted with a concert at Lincoln Center with Brevig conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in music by Grieg and other Scandinavian composers, as well as music by American composers. 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.
In 1994, after 26 years, Per Brevig resigned from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, to embark on a conducting career. The greatest musical experience and education in Brevig's career has been his fortunate association with the finest conductors of our time, as well as those of the past, among them, Ernest Ansermet, John Barbirolli, John Barbirolli, Karl Böhm, Herbert von Karajan, Kleiber, Rafael Kubelík, Pierre Monteux, Charles Munch, Patané, Steinberg, Leopold Stokowski, Tenstedt. His conducting career expanded quickly.and he is attracting attention in Europe, South America and the USA as a conductor of remarkable ability and insight. His career has earned him a growing reputation as a superb conductor and orchestra builder. Within five years of leaving the Metropolitan Opera, he conducted more than 20 operas of standard and contemporary repertoire. His repertoire is large and he is flexible in the programming of operatic as well as symphonic works. He is guest conducting orchestras widely to critical acclaim.
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. His future conducting engagements include operatic and symphonic performances both in the USA and abroad.
Per Brevig has been active in the International Trombone Association (ITA) 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 aperformer and conductor, he was instrumental in forming the Brazilian Trombone Association. Other honours and awards include: XIV International Music Competition in Prague 1962; Koussevitsky Fellowship, 1960, 1966; Henry B. Cabot Award, Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1966. Brevig is a member of the National Society of Literature and the Arts and is cited in the International Who's Who in Music, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Personalities of America and Who's Who Among America's Teachers. In 1990, Brevig was decorated with the Royal Medal of St. Olav by King Olav V of Norway. The medal was presented to him in recognition of his efforts to promote Norwegian music and culture in the USA.