He was born in Porsanger, and was a son-in-law of Finn Strømsted.
Among his compositions are the opera Under kors og krone from 1985, and the orchestral work Over kors og krone. Both these works are based upon the Kautokeino rebellion in 1852. He initiated and was the first leader of the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival.
He was awarded Lindemanprisen in 1999, and Edvardprisen twice, and was awarded honorary membership of the Norwegian Society of Composers.