The Norwegian cellist, Truls Olaf Otterbech Mørk, is the son of two professional musicians, his father a cellist and his mother a pianist. His mother began teaching him the piano when he was 7. He also played the violin, but soon switched to the cello, taking lessons from his father. Truls liked the instrument because of its larger size, and insisted on starting his studies with the J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 (BWV 1007) and the Johannes. Brahms’ E minor Cello Sonata. "This turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it would be," he says, but he kept working at it. He says his father did not push him for fear that he would practice too much and become a musician. At the age of 17, Mørk began studying with Frans Helmerson at the renowned Edsberg Music Institute. Later he studied with Austrian cellist Heinrich Schiff, then in Moscow with Natalia Shakhovskaya, a pupil of Mstislav Rostropovich, whom Mørk had admired for his broad range of color and his flexible, melodic use of vibrato. Mørk dislikes the German style of even vibrato, which, he says, drains the music of its vitality. In 1982, Mørk became the first Scandinavian musician to reach the finals of the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow since Arto Noras in 1966, and won 6th Prize. He subsequently went on to win the Cassado Cello Competition in Florence in 1983, the 2nd prize at the Naumburg Competition in New York in 1986,.and the UNESCO Prize at the European Radio-Union Competition in Bratislava.
In 1989, Truls Mørk embarked on his first major concert tour, soloing with many of the finest orchestras of Europe. In 1994, he toured the USA with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra under Mariss Jansons, including debuts at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. Since then he has appeared with orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris, Dresden Staatskapelle, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra amongst others. Conductor collaborations include Myung-Whun Chung, Mariss Jansons, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Simon Rattle, and Christoph Eschenbach.
Truls Mørk’s compelling performances, combining fierce intensity, integrity and grace, have established him as one of the most pre-eminent cellists of our time. He is particularly noted for his romantic, emotional approach. Mørk is large in the international concert scene. Mørk is also an active chamber musician and appears frequently in festivals throughout the world. His passionate interest in chamber music led to the foundation of the International Chamber Music Festival in Stavanger, which he directed for its first 13 years.
In April 2009, Truls Mørk experienced an infection of the central nervous system, presumably caused by a tick bite he received in the USA in 2006, with subsequent encephalitis, and paralysis in the shoulder muscles of the left arm. In the autumn of 2009 he expressed concern that he might never be able to perform again. However, he recovered and he is now back on stage, returning also to the studio with new recordings.
Truls Mørk continues to give regular recitals at major venues and festivals throughout the world. As part of the 2011 International Festival he performed the complete L.v. Beethoven Cello Sonatas over two evenings, together with the Variations for cello and piano - last presented at the Festival in this format by Jacqueline du Pré in 1970.
A committed performer of contemporary music, Truls Mørk gave in spring 2012 the UK premiere of Rautavaara’s Towards the Horizonwith the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Other premieres have included Pavel Haas’ Cello Concerto with the Wiener Philharmoniker (under Jonathan Nott), Krzysztof Penderecki's Concerto for Three Cellos with the NHK Symphony Orchestra (Charles Dutoit) and Hafliði Hallgrímsson’s Cello Concerto, co-commissioned by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Iceland Symphony and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Last season (2012-2013) saw Truls Mørk as Artist in Residence with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra - the orchestra’s first project of this kind. He has also recently collaborated with Lisa Batiashvili performing the J. Brahms’ Double Concerto with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (including a summer festival tour) and the Dresden Staatskapelle.
Forthcoming highlights of the 2013-2014 season include concerts with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Vladimir Jurowski), Berliner Philharmoniker (Alan Gilbert), Philharmonia Orchestra (Jakub Hrůša), Wiener Symphoniker and Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (both with James Gaffigan), HR-Sinfonieorchester (Frankfurt) (David Zinman), and Münchner Philharmoniker (Lionel Bringuier). Truls Mørk will tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Mariss Jansons) to London and Paris, and with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Neeme Järvi), where he performs J. Brahms’ Double Concerto with Vadim Repin. In North America, Mørk collaborates with Vadim Repin in summer 2013 performing J. Brahms’ Double Concerto at the Mostly Mozart Festival under David Afkham, and with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Kent Nagano) as well as a return to the Philadelphia Orchestra (Yannick Nézet-Séguin) which will include a performance at Carnegie Hall. Mørk makes a return to both the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2014, which will be followed by a European tour with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis.
Truls Mørk has recorded for Lyrinx and Simax, made a number of records for BIS, and is an exclusive artist on the Virgin Classics label. He is a winner of the Diapason d'Or, Le Choc, and Gramophone Awards. His extensive discography spans from a Grammy-award-winning recording of the Dmitri Shostakovich Cello Concertos to a critically acclaimed recording of the complete J.S. Bach's Suites for Solo Cello (BWV 1007-1012). Rautavaara’s Towards the Horizon recorded for Ondine with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgårds and nominated for a GAward. Mørk’s recording of the highly acclaimed Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Cello Concerti disc for Virgin Classics with Les Violons du Roy under Bernard Labadie was awarded a 2011 ECHO Klassik Award. Other recordings include the J. Brahms Double Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly and Vadim Repin on Deutsche Grammophon, and Haflidi Hallgrímsson's works for cello and orchestra for Ondine. For Virgin Classics, amongst others he has also recorded Robert Schumann's Cello Concerto with Paavo Järvi and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, as well as the Benjamin Britten Cello Suites, which won a Grammy Award in 2002.
Truls Mørk holds a Professorship at the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo.
His numerous awards include the Norwegian Critics’ Prize in 2011 and the 2010 Sibelius Prize. Mørk plays a rare Domenico Montagnana cello (Venice, 1723), the scroll of which was made by Stradivarius. Valued at around 12 million NOK it once belonged to a Belgian gentleman who named it the "Esquire". It was bought by a bank in Norway (SR Bank), and is on loan to him.