Elgarøy’s second suite (1988) combines his signature, stark Nordic modality with some slightly more dissonant harmonic elements. The music is conceived for the energized voicing of a small, neo-baroque organ. The suite is subtitled “Impressions of Nonnenwerth.” Nonnenwerth is a small island in the Rhine, upstream of Cologne, Germany. In 1126 a community of Benedictine nuns was founded there. After damage in 1632 during the Thirty Years’ War, the convent was rebuilt in 1773 in a Baroque style. When the composer was young, his family had a painting of Nonnewerth that made a strong impression on him. He later corresponded with the nun who was the director of music at the convent.
Norwegian composer and organist Jan Elgarøy (1930–2018) was born in Moss and was educated at the Conservatory in Oslo. He pursued additional studies with Albert de Klerk (in Haarlem) and Bedřich Janáček (in Lund). Elgarøy was organist of Lambertseter Church in Oslo from 1960 to 1992. He was also the organ professor at the University of Oslo. As a composer, Elgarøy wrote primarily for organ and choir. He served as the editor for the “Norsk Orgelbok” (Musikk-Husets Forlag A/S), a collection of organ works by many Norwegian composers. Elgarøy’s music is cast in a strongly modal style, including a use of modal mixture for expressive effect.