He grew up as the son of an organist in Drammen and received musical education from early on. When his father died the 18 year old succeeded him as the local organist and took lessons to improve his piano and organ skills with Daniel Hansen and Arild Sandvold. He further increased his knowledge of music theory. He studied at the Oslo conservatory with Per Steenberg and Nils Larsen (exam 1931), and continued studies in Leipzig (1931-32) where he met Ludvig Nielsen (later to become the organist at the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim) and composer and pianist Geirr Tveitt. After his return to Drammen he continued as an organist and began to work as a music critic. He started a second career as a composer in the 1930s and became a member of the Norwegian Composers’ Association in 1940, continuing to study composition and instrumentation with Bjarne Brustad.