Jan (Carl Christian) Maegaard is a Danish composer and musicologist. He studied composition, music theory, music history, piano and double bass at the Royal Danish Academy of Music (teacher's diploma in theory and music history, 1953), and then musicology at the University of Copenhagen (M.A., 1957), where took his doctorate in 1972 with the thesis Studien zur Entwicklung des dodekaphonen Satzes bei Arnold Schoenberg. From 1958 to 1959 he also studied at the University of California at Los Angeles.
After teaching at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music from 1953 to 1958, Jan Maegaard joined the faculty of the University of Copenhagen in 1959, where he was an associate professor from 1961 to 1971, and professor from 1971. He also was a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974, and professor of music at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1978 to 1981. In 1986 he was made a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.
Jan Maegaard has had a dual career in Danish music: on the one hand a composer, on the other a professor of musicology. As a musicologist Maegaard enjoys international respect for his work on Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone music. As a composer, inspired by the same music, he provoked the Danish musical establishment by being among the first to break with the imitation of Carl Nielsen. Maegaard attacked the inhibiting myths of Danish musical life and worked as a teacher, author and organiser for an understanding of the Modernism of the Vienna and Darmstadt schools. He has written chamber music, choral music, orchestral and solo works, exploring a wide range of styles, from tonal to serial. In the 1950's and 1960's he wrote his own twelve-tone and serialist works. In recent years his has developed a personal type of tonality, and musical idioms related to those of Late Romanticism. Jan Maegaard is an exquisite orchestrator, and among his more recent orchestral works we can mention a cello concerto and the violin concerto Triptykon. He has however mainly concentrated on chamber music as well as choral works, for example the large-scale work for male choir “Konkyliens Sang” (The Song of the Seashell).