The American composer and teacher, Arne Oldberg, was born in Ohio and moved with his parents, Oscar and Emma (Parritt) Oldberg to Chicago in 1886. At a very early age Oldberg exhibited musical talents and his father taught him to play the piano. He studied music with several piano instructors at the Gottschalk Lyric School in Chicago and in 1892 was graduated with honours. He continued his musical education for two years with Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna. On his return to his family’s home, now in Evanston, Illinois, he was occupied with composing, presenting piano recitals, and teaching piano in Chicago.
Arne Oldberg joined the music faculty of Northwestern University in 1897. In 1898 he traveled again to Europe to study composition with Joseph Rheinberger at Munich's Royal Academy of Art. In 1899 he accepted an instructorship on the faculty of the School of Music at Northwestern. Subsequent appointments at Northwestern included: Professor of Piano and Composition (1901-1941), Director of the Piano Department (1919-1941), and Director of the Graduate Music Department (1924-1941). The University awarded Oldberg with an emeritus appointment in 1941.
Arne Oldberg possessed a consuming interest in musical composition and wrote a large number of concertos, symphonies, quartettes and quintets for piano, string, and wind instruments. As early as 1908 his compositions were performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Oldberg attained widespread recognition by many of the great orchestras of the USA. For several summers in the 1930's he was a guest professor of composition at the University of California at Los Angeles. He also taught music at Mount St. Mary's College, again in Los Angeles. One of his compositions won first prize at a Hollywood Bowl music contest in 1931.
Oldberg married Mary Sloan on July 2, 1900. Both were honoured in 1941 when the City of Evanston named a park near Northwestern’s School of Music after them. When this land was used for a University building another property was named in their honor. In 1976 Northwestern University sponsored a recital and reception dedicated to Oldberg s memory. Northwestern and Evanston joined in celebrating Arne and Mary Sloan Oldberg Day on December 10, 1976, a recognition of their many contributions to the community.
The Oldbergs had five children: Eric, Karl, Elsa, Richard, and Robert. Oldberg died in Evanston on February 18, 1962. Mary Sloan Oldberg died in Evanston in April 1968.