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Kjell Bækkelund was born in Oslo, Norway. He was a student at the Oslo Conservatory of Music from 1935 until 1944. Bækkelund debuted as a prodigy in 1938 with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of eight. After the Second World War, he trained with Gottfrid Boon (1886-1981) in Stockholm. In 1953 Bækkelund won first prize in the Scandinavian Musicians' Festival held at Trondheim. That same year, he was granted the Harriet Cohen Memorial Music Award for young professional musicians of outstanding promise. Subsequently he studied for three years with Ilona Kabos in London.
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