Famous Kjærulfs

The Kjærulf family has among its members some who are known by the general public for their outstanding performance and achievements. No Kjærulf has so far achieved global fame. Below are some of those most well known in their own country.

Halfdan Kjerulf (1815 -1868) Composer, Norway

Helge Kjærulff-Schmidt (1906 - 1982) Entertainer, Denmark

Otto Richard Kierulff (1825 - 1897) Prime Minister, Norway

Theodor Kjerulf (1825 - 1888) Geologist, Norway

Skipper Klement (1484 - 1536) Revolutionary, Denmark

Villy Kierulff (1900 - 1944) Composer, Denmark

Axel Kjerulf (1884 - 1964) Composer, Denmark

Halfdan Kjerulf (17 Sept. 1815 - 11Aug. 1868) Composer, Norway. He wrote the music to the national Norwegian play "The Wedding in Hardanger" (listen to sample by clicking on Halfdans picture) and his music is known by all Norwegians. Another wellknown piece is "Norges Fjælde" (Norway's Mountains). He is considered to "have an important and indispensable position as part of Norway's cultural inheritance from 19th century".

He was son of a high government official, was born at Christiania, Norway on the 15th of September 1815. He graduated from school in 1834 and His early education was at Christiania University, for a legal career, and not till he was nearly 26 - on the death of his father - was he able to devote himself entirely to music. As a fact, he actually started on his career as a music teacher and composer of songs before ever having seriously studied music at all, and not for ten years did he attract any particular notice. Then, however, his Government paid for a year's instruction for him at Leipzig in 1850 and was gradually recognised as a composer. For many years after his return to Norway Kjerulf tried in vain to establish serial classical concerts, while he himself was working with Bjornson and other writers at the composition of lyrical songs. His fame rests almost entirely on his beautiful and manly national partsongs and solos; but his pianoforte music is equally charming and simple. His health was not well for many years and he died unmarried in Norway at Grefsen, on the 11th of August 1868. A statue created by Middelthon has been erected in Oslo on "Halfdan Kjerulfs Plass" (Halfdan Kjerulf Square).

Halfdan Kjerulfs Plass by green number "1" not far from the Parliament (Stortinget), Royal Palace and the National Theatre (Nationalteatret)

A wellknown song  in Scandinavia with music by Halfdan Kjerulf: "Denne sang hører til Bjørnsons bondefortælling "Synnøve Solbakken" fra 1857.

Sang: Og ræven lå under birkerod
Tekst: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, 1857
Melodi: Halfdan Kjerulf, 1858

Og ræven lå under birkerod
bort ved lyngen, bort ved lyngen,
og haren hoppede på lette fod
over lyngen, over lyngen.
Det er vel noget til solskinsdag!
Det glitrer for, og det glitrer bag
over lyngen, over lyngen.
Tra, la, la, la, la.

The Norwegian classical piano player Audun Kayser writes:

One doesn't have to go far outside Scandinavian territory before the name appears to be unknown to the general public.


Go to top


Helge Kjærulff-Schmidt (22-Feb-1906 - 09-Jul-1982), Entertainer, Denmark.

He became very popular in Denmark because of his quiet and baroque humor. He also played a number of classical roles and modern character roles on the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen from 1961.


Go to top

Otto Richard Kierulf ( 29 January 1825 - 7 January 1897). Prime Minister, Norway.

Prime Minister 1871 - 1873, Prime Minister in Stockholm 1873 - 1884

Prime Minister 1 November 1871-21 July 1873.

Norwegian Prime Minister in Stockholm 21 July 1873-21 March 1884.
Norwegian Prime Minister in Interim Governments in Stockholm 6-21 July 1875 and 16-26 September 1881.

Born in Christiania (Oslo) 29 January 1825, son of Lieutenant Colonel Christian Kierulf and Anne Marie Sophie Winge.
Married in Christiania 27 May 1857 to Ida Marie Louise Bertelsen (1835-1858), daughter of merchant Paul Fredrik Bertelsen and Anine Wilhelmine Collstrop.
Married in Christiania 10 May 1861 to Petrea Fernanda Bertelsen (1839-1875), sister of his deceased wife.
Deceased in Kristiania (Oslo) 7 January 1897. Buried at Vestre gravlund (Western Cemetery) in Kristiania.


Otto Richard Kierulf. Photo: Stortinget


Otto Richard Kierulf was army officer and politician.

Otto Richard Kierulf was educated as an infantry officer and became second lieutenant in 1842. In 1847 he transferred to the artillery, in 1860 reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel and Army quartermaster.

In addition to his military service, Kierulf had a broad spectrum of interests and activities. As a young lieutenant in 1852 he was secretary to the first army commission, and in 1858 he was – as a captain – secretary to the second army commission. For many years he was on the editorial staff of the military quarterly Militært Tidsskrift, and as military writer he became member of the Royal Swedish War Academy and later of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters. He was member of the boards of the Main Railway Line and Kongsvinger Line, member of Kristiania City Council for many years and deputy member of the Storting for Kristiania 1871-1873.

In the autumn of 1871 Kierulf was appointed Norway’s prime minister after Georg Sibbern, as the first without the experience of a government member or a central civil servant. Although his predecessor was disappointed of having “a common artillery officer” succeeding him, Kierulf soon turned out as one taking his office seriously and able to voice his own opinion. On the other hand the office as Norwegian prime minister in Stockholm was now becoming second in importance to the office as first minister in Kristiania, leading to a situation where Kierulf no longer had the possibility to influence politics in the way his predecessors had known.

When the office as first minister in Kristiania in July 1873 was converted to an office as prime minister, Kierulf continued as Norway’s prime minister in Stockholm. His major task was to work for the best possible Swedish attitude towards Norway. In this he succeeded, with the Union Act of 1874 and the Coinage Convention of 1875 as clear results.

By the 17 March 1884 judgment of the Court of Impeachment Kierulf, as most members of  Christian Selmer’s Government, was relieved of his office for not having implemented the Storting’s decision that government members should participate in the Storting’s meetings. Later that year he returned to the Army as colonel and quartermaster general. He was appointed major general and artillery commander in 1890, and promoted to lieutenant general shortly before his resignation from the Army in 1896.

Source: government.no


Go to top


Theodor Kjerulf (30-Mar-1825 - 25-Oct-1888) Norwegian Geologist.

He was born at Christiania, Norway. He was educated in the university at Christiania, and subsequently studied at Heidelberg, working in Bunsen's laboratory. In 1858 he became professor of geology in the university of his native city, and he was afterwards placed in charge of the geological survey of the country, then established mainly through his influence. His contributions to the geology of Norway were numerous and important, especially in reference to the southern portion of the country, and to the structure and relations of the Archaean and Palaeozoic rocks, and the glacial phenomena. His principal. results were embodied in his work Udsigt over det sydlige Norges Geologi (1879). He was author also of some poetical works. He died at Christiania on the 25th of October 1888.

The "Kjerulf-Glacier" was named after him on the island of "South Georgia," 54 degrees South of the Equator, 37 degrees West of Greenwich, England, in the Antartic. He was commemorated on a postage stamp in Norway in 1974 as an outstanding Norwegian Geologist.


Go to top

Skipper Klement  (1484 - 1536) a revolutionary, Denmark. He was the son of Anders Kjærulfs daughter. During his short life he became a reputable merchant, ship-owner and a captain. He was a "famous freebooter," or privateer, who had served for a time as a vice-admiral under Frederick I, and then had fought for 10 years against enemies of Christian II, especially the Hanseatics, as a freebooter, scoring well known exploits in this capacity. He was joined forces with by the pirate Norrby in 1526. Captain Clement was a loyal champion of Christian II, and in this capacity became the right-hand man of Count Christopher of Oldenborg, who was acting as the champion of Christian II in a struggle over the succession to the Danish throne.

In 1534 the peasants in Northern Jutland decided that they had had enough of suppression from the ruling class, noblemen and of the Danish king Christian 3rd. Then Skipper Klement took the command of a peasant army and in the battle of Svendstrup in 1534 he and his army actually gained a victory over the crown. However, Clement's peasant forces lacked artillery to successfully follow-up their early successes, and they were defeated in battle at Aalborg, by forces under the command of Johan Rantzau, when Clement was badly wounded. Although the wounded Clement escaped from Aalborg, he was thereafter betrayed to the enemy, who first imprisoned and then executed him by drawing and quartering him, along with other peasant leaders on 9th of September 1536.

Ever since, Skipper Klement has been a symbol of freedom for oppressed peasants. An impressive statue of Skipper Klement can be found in Aalborg, Denmark not far from "Fogedgaard", where Anders Kjærulf settled in mid-1400.

In Danish:

Skipper Klement  (1484 - 1536)
Skipper Clement (Clement Andersen) blev født omkring 1484 i Aaby sogn i Vendsyssel og døde 1536 i Viborg. Dansk bondesøn af Kjærulf slægt og søofficer der blev kendt som leder af bondeoprøret i 1534.

Skipper Clement var søofficer under Christian 2. og fungerede i perioden 1525-34 som fribytter der ernærede sig ved kapervirksomhed i Christian 2.s navn, men hans berømmelse knytter sig først og fremmest til den blodige borgerkrig, Grevens Fejde, som fandt sted i perioden 1533 til 1536.

I 1523 var Christian 2. sendt i landflygtighed og hans farbror, Frederik 1., havde overtaget tronen. Striden mellem Christian 2. og Frederik 1. kulminerede med at Christian 2. i 1531 blev taget til fange og indespærret på Sønderborg Slot.

Da Frederik 1. døde i 1533 var hans søn ikke umiddelbart villig til at overtage kronen på Rigsrådets betingelser, så Danmark stod nu uden konge.
Grev Christoffer af Oldenborg, som lagde navn til den opståede borgerkrig, så nu en mulighed for, at få den gamle konge, Christian 2., genindsat.

Lübeck besatte, under ledelse af Grev Christoffer af Oldenburg, hele den østlige del af Danmark. Rigsrådet, der bestemt ikke interesseret i at få den gamle konge tilbage, måtte nu anmode Frederik 1.s søn, Christian 3., om at overtage den ledige trone, og Christian 3. blev indsat som konge i Jylland.

Borgerkrigen var nu en realitet og i september 1534 rejstes et omfattende bondeoprør i Nordjylland under ledelse af Skipper Clem
ent. Skipper Clements bondeoprør bredte sig efterhånden langt ned i Midt- og Vestjylland lige til Varde. Clement samlede ca. 6.000 mand i Vendsyssel, mens en adelshær på 450-500 ryttere og nogle hundrede fodfolk tog form. De to stødte sammen ved Svenstrup syd for Aalborg 16.oktober 1534. Bondehæren, der var bevæbnet med alt forhåndenværende, lokkede med taktisk snilde modstanderen ud i et blødt terræn, og en kombination af taktik fra Clements side og simpelt overmod fra adelsfolkene sikrede bønderne en overvældende sejr.

Adelens stilling var på dette tidspunkt meget kritisk, men endnu engang kom Frederik 1.s gamle feltherre Johan Rantzau til undsætning. Skipper Clement's bondehær blev splittet og jaget på flugt af Rantzaus hær, som på rekordtid trængte op gennem Jylland. Skipper Clements resterende styrker blev indesluttet i Aalborg, som faldt efter få dages belejring den 18. december 1534. Skipper Clements forsvarere, mellem 7-800 mand, blev hugget ned, hvorefter byen blev givet fri til plyndring.

Skipper Clement selv undslap blodbadet i Aalborg. Han blev nogle dage senere forrådt af en bonde og taget til fange. Den 9. september 1536 blev Skipper Clement henrettet på Viborg Landsting. Han blev halshugget, liget blev parteret og lagt på fire stejler og på hans afhuggede hoved satte man en bly-krone. Skipper Clements bondeoprør blev det sidste i Danmark.


Go to top

Willy Kierulff (1900 - 1944) Composer, Denmark
Style(s): Popular/light Music

Go to top

Axel Kjerulf ( 24-Jul-1884 - 19-Sep-1964) Composer, Denmark
Style(s): Popular/light Music

Go to top