Hans-Jørgen Holman

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Hans-Jørgen Holman (20 February 1925 – 6 August 1986) (also Hans-Jorgen Holmen-Guttormsen) was a Norwegian-American musicologist and educationalist. Holman spent the larger part of his life teaching and researching at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan—specializing in Medieval and Renaissance music. His 1961 Indiana University doctoral dissertation The responsoria prolixa of the Codex Worcester F 160 is considered one of the principal authoritative works on the vocal music of the Medieval church.


Early years[edit]

Holman was born in Drammen in Buskerud County, Norway. He was the only child of Hans and Kirsten Halvorsen Guttormsen. His father was a successful businessman, and had a large estate called Holmen at nearby Konnerud, where he farmed minks, a weasel yielding precious fur. The family’s affluence meant that Holman enjoyed a relatively comfortable upbringing—a contrast to the economic hardship endured by most Norwegians at that time. An illustrative curiosity is the fact that Holman’s mother, Kirsten Halvorsen, was the first woman in the city to have a driver’s licence. Holman came from a family of profoundly religious Christians, and it possibly imbued him with an acute spiritual awareness. Holman displayed early on that he was fitted with a powerful intellect and an inquisitive mind; he took a deep interest in music, but also pursued studies in mathematics, physics and chemistry. Holman was only 15 years old when Hitler’s troops invaded Norway. Even though he was a mere teenager focusing on his education, it did not prevent him from becoming an active member of the underground resistance movement.

Emigrating to America[edit]

In 1950, Holman passed the Piano Teacher’s Examination at the Conservatory of Music in Oslo. Not long after he also received his Diploma in Pharmacology from the University of Oslo. Possibly disillusioned with the limited professional opportunities in post-war Norway, the Holmans decided to emigrate to the United States the same year. They settled at Takoma Park in Maryland, near Washington DC. Later they changed their surname from Guttormsen to Holman (an anglification of the name of Hans-Jorgen's family estate Holmen) to make their names easier on English speakers. In Maryland, Holman was attracted to Washington Adventist University. Holman enrolled at the college’s music department, where he graduated the following year with a bachelor's degree in Piano Performance. Holman was then offered the position of Chairman of the Music Department at Indiana Academy, a school for secondary education, and he moved to Cicero, IN. Yet, Holman thirsted for more education, and developed his lifelong infatuation with Medieval and Renaissance church music through studies at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. The university awarded him a master's degree in 1954.

A Musicological Tour-de-Force[edit]

Holman had become one of the better educated Norwegians of his time. Furthermore, he had devoted much time developing his spirituality at the Christian universities and elsewhere. After Holman had graduated from the Catholic University of America, he then approached Indiana University, Bloomington, with a proposal for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He wanted to conduct a musicological study of the Worcester Antiphoner - a collection of Old-Roman antiphones held at the Worcester Cathedral Library, England. This 13th-century manuscript - also known as Worcester F 160 - is often considered a unique and rare example of its genre. Holman, inspired by his profound affinity with the vocal tradition of the church, had taken the trouble of acquiring an intimate knowledge of Greek and Latin. Now he was determined to employ all his extraordinary knowledge and his insights in the tradition not only to do a scholarly study, but also a personal study. In 1961, Holman was awarded a PhD in paleography and musicology for his dissertation on the antiphoner entitled The Responsoria Prolixa of the Codex Worcester F 160. The dissertation, which comprises two large volumes and 855 pages, is widely quoted and by many considered an authoritative work in its field.

At Andrews University[edit]

Rumors were heard of the results of the hard-working Norwegian while he still was writing his doctoral thesis. In 1957, Holman was approached by Andrews University — perhaps the most renowned educational institution of the Seventh-day Adventist Church — and offered to join its staff. Holman accepted, and worked as Associate Professor to the Department of Music. The Holmans moved to Berrien Springs, MI looking to a prosperous future on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Holman had a remarkable professional career at Andrews University. He taught the piano and the harpsichord and continued researching. In 1963 he married Rae Constantine, a music graduate of the university. The following year he became Professor of Music at age 39. From 1965 to 67 he directed the Andrews University Orchestra—an unusual capacity, he was involved in up to 200 musical performances yearly. Furthermore, he developed and taught a competitive Master’s program, producing several brilliant scholars, including Dr. Carlos Flores, the current Chairman of the School of Music at the university. A recognized authority in his field, Holman gave papers at numerous musicology conferences and published widely—contributing to the Harvard Dictionary of Music and the Michigan Academician. He traveled extensively and taught at various universities around the world. He also produced special programs for several American and European broadcasting companies, including the Norwegian National Broadcasting (NRK). Dr. Paul E. Hamel of Andrews University stated that Holman "was one of our most productive, loyal, and esteemed professors of music."

Following a lingering illness, he died in 1986. The day before he died, he was presented with the John Nevis Andrews Medallion 'in recognition of his significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge and education' ("Focus," Andrews University Alumni Magazine, Winter, 1986/87). The medallion is the university’s highest award. After Holman's death his family together with Andrews University inaugurated a scholarship in his name. The scholarship is awarded annually.

Relations in Norway[edit]

Holman's family were already declining before he emigrated from Norway in 1950. Holman's mother, Kirsten Halvorsen Guttormsen, lost her husband, remarried - only to lose her second husband as well. Her niece, Ella Azora Borge, who had survived her mother (Kirsten's sister Alvilde who died at age 22) then died just after the age of 30. Ella A. Borge left behind two young boys - one of whom was Erik Borge (b. 1935). It was Erik Borge and his wife Laila who later would look after the aging Kirsten Guttormsen. She died of extreme old age in 1981. Whenever Hans-Jorgen Holman occasionally visited Norway he would often stay with the Borge family. Laila and Erik Borge live in Larvik, Norway. Other relatives of Holman in Norway includes Lisbeth Borge, Lene Borge, Toril Azora Borge Kielland and their families.



Other source[edit]