Ilja Bergh 1927-2015

The music world lost a colourful voice when Ilja Bergh passed away on September 5 at 88 years of age.

Ilja Bergh, foto: Michael Gottschalk

Even though Bergh spent most of his life in Copenhagen, he largely saw himself as an outsider to the Danish music scene. In his obituary Poul Pilgaard Johnsen wrote: 

“He was an original in the broadest meaning of the word; ill-adjusted, provocative and artistically homeless in his own country, even though Mogens Wenzel Andreasen – author of several composer biographies – once called Ilja Bergh “The Franz Liszt of Denmark”.”

Bergh was brought up in both Berlin and Kiev, before the family relocated to Denmark. Bergh trained as a pianist at the music academy in Copenhagen. Upon finishing his education in Copenhagen, he moved to Munich for a longer stretch of time. Here he continued his piano studies while getting acquainted with the artistic milieus of Central Europe. After this Bergh moved back to Copenhagen where he stoked up social and working relationships with other musicians and artists. A couple of years later Bergh retuned to Germany, later moving to the artist retreat “Decenter” situated on the Danish island Møn and owned by writer Elsa Gress. Here Bergh had a room and access to a grand piano. This stay, according to Bergh himself, proved to be a rescue from the festive, but physically demanding, bohemian lifestyle he was leading in Copenhagen.

Read Poul Pilgaard Johnsen's full obituary (in Danish) here.