Iver Holter started to study medicine in Oslo in 1869, and had music only as a hobby, playing viola in the student orchestra. Studied harmony and counterpoint with Johan Svendsen. He quitted his medical studies when he was almost finished in 1876, and became a musician. Studied at the conservatory in Leipzig from 1876–79 and in Berlin from 1879–81. in 1882 he followed Edvard Grieg as a conductor for the Philharmonic Orchestra in Bergen “Harmonien”. In 1886 he was engaged as a conductor of the Oslo Philharmonics.