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Home / Member / Einar Solbu

Einar Solbu’s long-standing relationship with the International Society for Music Education dates back over thirty years from when he became a member in the 1970s to the present day. His countless contributions to the cause of music and music education range from his native Norway to literally every continent around the world. He became completely immersed in the Society that believes every human being has a right to quality music education, the same belief that Einar Solbu holds dear. His often quiet, unobtrusive manner and his skillful leadership have had significant impact within ISME and other international organisations.
Einar’s leadership, his futuristic vision, his clear-minded critical and creative thinking, his passionate but humble demeanor and his energetic work ethic to initiate and complete the tireless work that is involved with any position he embraces, are admired by all who have the opportunity to work with him. Diplomacy is part of his nature, as is his compassion, his communication skills and his unequivocal, optimistic belief in people.
In 1982 the ISME Board appointed Einar as chair of its newly formed Commission, Community Music Activity (CMC). During his eight-year term Einar actively engaged the international community of music educators in the development of the Commission and began the process of cooperatively working with other Commissions. In addition, Einar was instrumental in forging a relationship, through the CMC Commission, between ISME and the European Music School Union, both of which are member organisations of the International Music Council.
As an active member of the ISME Board (1988 – 1992) Einar’s letter to the President, “Some Thoughts about ISME – A Personal Memorandum”, became the main resource in shaping “A Strategic Plan for the International Society for Music Education 1991”. Out of this Plan came one of ISME’s most important documents, its “Statement of Beliefs” (”Declaration of Beliefs”), initiated by Yasuharu Takahagi, and developed by Paul Lehman.
In 1989, Einar, at the Board’s request, submitted a report, “ISME and the Musics of the World”. He then facilitated, on behalf of the Board, an international Advisory Panel with Bruno Nettl as chair. The result was the 1998 ISME publication, Musics of the World’s Cultures, and later the ISME “Policy on Musics of the World’s Cultures”.
Einar began his six-year ISME Presidential term in 1996. Detailed, strategic plans came into play and an expanded vision for the future of ISME in the 21st Century became the Board’s focus. As President-elect, Einar’s dedicated work to ISME Commission reform led to greater communication and collaboration amongst the Commissions with the Commissions taking a more central role in ISME matters and policy making.
A number of ISME projects were the recipients of generous funding from several Norwegian sources because of Einar’s efforts, among them the “Sponsorship Programme” and the “Focus on Africa Group” which he led. This latter group provided the professional and financial support to assist the formation of the Pan African Society for Music Education, launched in Zimbabwe in 2000. Under its new banner, the Pan African Society for Musical Arts Education, it continues to thrive as an ISME Regional Conference.
The transition between the ISME Office’s relocation from Netherlands to Australia in 2001 was largely facilitated through Norwegian funding that Einar was able to secure.
Einar’s international work extended to The International Music Council. As a Board member, he chaired committees and worked on various music, music education and fundraising projects. He was made an Honorary Member of the IMC in 2007.
Samspel, is a Norwegian word which finds its roots in community with an emphasis on working together in various human activities. Throughout his life and throughout his dedicated work for music education in every corner of the world, Einar Solbu has more than emulated Samspel.
To mark the 50th Anniversary of the International Society for Music Education, Marie McCarthy was commissioned to write a history of the Society - Toward a Global Community: The International Society for Music Education 1953-2003. It is from this publication that much of the information for this citation has been drawn.