Lindberg studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki under Einojuhani Rautavaara and Paavo Heininen, beginning with piano. He attended summer courses in Siena (with Franco Donatoni) and Darmstadt (with Brian Ferneyhough). After graduating in 1981, he travelled widely in Europe, attending private studies with Vinko Globokar and Gérard Grisey in Paris, and observing Japanese drumming and punk rock in Berlin.
Compositions and style 
Lindberg's juvenilia include the large orchestral work Donor, composed at age 16. Quintetto dell’Estate (1979) is generally held to be Lindberg's first opus. His first piece performed by a professional orchestra was Sculpture II in 1982, the second part of a trilogy whose first and third sections were long unwritten. His first great success came with "Action-Situation-Signification" (1982), the first work in which he explored musique concrète. This piece was written for and premiered by the new-music ensemble Toimii ("It Works" in the Finnish language), which Lindberg founded during the summer of 1980. Also around the same period, Lindberg founded an informal grouping known as the Ears Open Society including Lindberg and his contemporaries Eero Hämeenniemi, Jouni Kaipainen, Kaija Saariaho and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Lindberg is a trained pianist and has performed several of his works as part of Toimii.
Kraft (1983-85), another piece written for Toimii, is Lindberg's largest work to date, with harmonies of over 70 notes and a meter-high score. It uses traditional instrumentation as well as percussion on scrap metal and spoken word. After finishing it Lindberg found it hard to compose, and with the exception of 1986's Ur, which he called "Kraft in chamber form", he entered a creative hiatus that was to last for over two years. During this time he was not only rethinking his style but also recovering from a tropical disease contracted during travel in Indonesia.
Kraft made use of a chaconne-type structure where the progression of the piece is based on a repeated chain of chords. It was this idea that served as the basis for Lindberg's next style. He returned with an orchestral trilogy consisting of Kinetics (1988), Marea (1989-90), and Joy (1990). Though Lindberg became less interested in electronic manipulation of sound, he continued to explore the possibilities of compositional software, and Engine displays complex computer-generated counterpoint. Since Joy, Lindberg has shown a gradual refining of his style, orchestrations and harmonies. This showed itself first in the work for chamber ensemble, Corrente (1992) (and its subsequent orchestral version, Corrente II from the same year), and Duo Concertante (1992). In these works, Lindberg showed influences ranging from Pierre Boulez and Tristan Murail to Igor Stravinsky and Minimalism. His symphonic work Aura (1994) reflects a newer, more eclectic style.
Since then, Lindberg has built upon these developments, further refining his style, which now leans toward a type of new tonality hinted at in works such as Joy and Aura. This development has culminated in one of his most popular scores to date, his Clarinet Concerto (2002), which has a folk-like melody and rich orchestration.
Awards and honors 
He has received a number of composition prizes, including the Prix Italia (1986), the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers (1986), the Nordic Council Music Prize (1988) for Kraft, and the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for large-scale composition (1992).
Lindberg became the new composer-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic with the 2009-2010 season, at the invitation of the incoming music director Alan Gilbert. The September 2009 opening night gala of the Philharmonic, which was Gilbert's debut as music director, featured a well-received new work by Lindberg, EXPO.
- Sculpture II for orchestra (1981)
- Kraft for small solo ensemble and orchestra (1983-85)
- Kinetics for orchestra (1988-89)
- Marea for orchestra (1989-90)
- Corrente II for orchestra (1992)
- Aura (in memoriam Witold Lutosławski) for orchestra (1994)
- Arena for orchestra (1995)
- Feria for orchestra (1997)
- Cantigas for orchestra (1997-1999)
- Fresco for orchestra (1997-1998)
- Parada for orchestra (2001)
- Bright Cecilia: Variations on a Theme by Purcell for orchestra (2002)
- Chorale for orchestra (2002)
- Concerto for orchestra (2003)
- Tribute for orchestra (2004)
- Sculpture for orchestra (2005)
- Seht die Sonne for orchestra (2007)
- EXPO for orchestra (2009)
- Al largo for orchestra (2010)
- Era for orchestra (2013)
Chamber orchestra 
- Ritratto for chamber orchestra (1979-83)
- Tendenza for 21 players (1982)
- Joy for chamber orchestra (1989-90)
- Corrente for chamber orchestra (1992)
- Coyote Blues for large chamber ensemble (1993)
- Arena II for chamber orchestra (1996)
- Engine for chamber orchestra (1996)
- Corrente - China Version for chamber orchestra (2000)
- Bubo bubo for chamber orchestra (2002)
- Jubilees for chamber ensemble (2002)
- Counter Phrases for chamber ensemble (2002-2003)
- Souvenir for large ensemble (2010)
Soloist(s) and orchestra 
- Away for solo clarinet, string orchestra, piano and percussion (1994)
- Piano Concerto (1994)
- Campana In Aria for horn and orchestra (1998)
- Cello Concerto (1999)
- Clarinet Concerto (2002)
- Violin Concerto (2006)
- Piano Concerto no. 2 (2012)
Choral orchestral 
- Graffiti for chamber chorus and orchestra (2008-2009)
Wind orchestra 
- Zungenstimmen for wind orchestra (1994)
- Gran Duo for wind orchestra (1999-2000)
- Ottoni for brass ensemble (2005)
Small ensemble 
- Musik för två pianon (Music for Two Pianos) (1976)
- Arabesques for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn (1978)
- Quintetto dell' estate for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1979)
- Linea d'ombra for small ensemble (1981)
- "...de Tartuffe, je crois..." for piano quintet (1981)
- Action-Situation-Signification for small ensemble and electronics (1982)
- Ablauf for clarinet and percussion (1983)
- Metal Work for accordion and percussion (1984)
- UR for small ensemble (1986)
- Moto for cello and piano (1990)
- Steamboat Bill Jr. for clarinet and cello (1990)
- Clarinet Quintet (1992)
- Duo Concertante for solo clarinet, solo cello and ensemble (1992)
- Decorrente for small ensemble (1992)
- Kiri for clarinet, cello, percussion and electronics (1993)
- Related Rocks for two pianos, percussion and electronics (1997)
- Dos Coyotes for cello and piano (2002)
- Konzertstück for cello and piano (2006)
- Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (2008)
- Acequia Madre for clarinet and piano (2012)
Solo instrument 
- Klavierstück for piano (1977)
- Ground for harpsichord (1983)
- Stroke for cello (1984)
- Twine for solo piano (1988)
- Jeux d'anches for solo accordion (1990)
- Jubilees for piano (2000)
- Partia for cello solo (2001)
- Etude I for piano (2001)
- Mano a mano for guitar (2004)
- Etude II for piano (2004)
- Jag vill breda vingar ut for mezzo-soprano and piano (1977-78)
- Untitled for chamber chorus a cappella (1978)
- Songs from North and South for children's chorus a cappella (1993-2008)
- "Magnus Lindberg Biography". Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- Daniel J. Wakin (2009-01-13). "For the Philharmonic, Next Stop, Vietnam". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
- Anthony Tommasini (2009-09-17), "Gilbert Debuts as Philharmonic’s Director." The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
- Allan Kozinn (2006-08-24). "At Mostly Mozart, Mostly Magnus, in a Concerto and Chamber Pieces". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
- Howell, Tim. 2006. After Sibelius: Studies in Finnish Music, Chapter 9, pp 231–262. Aldershot and Vermont: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7546-5177-2
- Nieminen, Risto. 1993. Magnus Lindberg. Paris: Ircam, Centre Georges-Pompidou. ISBN 978-2-85850-732-0
- Stenius, Caterina. 2006. Chaconne: En bok om Magnus Lindberg och den nya musiken. Med verkförteckning av Risto Nieminen. Helsinki: Söderströms. ISBN 951-52-2356-3
- Magnus Lindberg @ Boosey & Hawkes
- Entry at the Finnish Music Information Centre
- Magnus Lindberg page at Ondine Records
- Interview with Lindberg conducted by Kirk Noreen and Joshua Cody in 1999.
- (French) A biography of Magnus Lindberg, from IRCAM's website.