Anna S. Þorvaldsdóttir

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Anna Thorvaldsdottir
Anna Sigríður Þorvaldsdóttir
Anna Thorvaldsdottir . Prisutdelning vid Nordiska raoedets session i Helsingfors 2012.jpg
Nordic Council Music Prize 2012
Background information
BornJuly 11, 1977

Anna Sigríður Þorvaldsdóttir (Anna Thorvaldsdottir) (born 11 July 1977) is "one of Iceland's most celebrated composers"[1] and 2012 winner of the Nordic Council Music Prize.[2][3] Her music is frequently performed in Europe[4] and in the United States,[5] and is often influenced by landscapes and nature.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Anna Thorvaldsdottir trained as a cellist in her youth,[7] and began composing at a young age.[8] She studied composition at Iceland Academy of the Arts (BA in Composition), and later attended the University of California, San Diego, gaining her MA and PhD.[3]


Anna Thorvaldsdottir has been commissioned by Berliner Philharmoniker,[4] New York Philharmonic,[9] Los Angeles Philharmonic,[10] Orchestre de Paris, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Intercontemporain,[11] BBC Proms,[12] and Carnegie Hall among others.

Portrait concerts of Thorvaldsdottir's work have been presented at many major venues and music festivals, including: Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in NYC, Münchener Kammerorchester’s Nachtmusic der Moderne series, National Sawdust, the Composer Portraits Series at NYC’s Miller Theatre,[13] the Leading International Composers series at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s Point Festival, and Wigmore Hall.

As an educator, she has given lectures and presentations at Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Northwestern,[14] University of Chicago,[15] Sibelius Academy, and the Royal Academy of Music in London.[16]

Thorvaldsdottir is currently composer-in-residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.[17] She is based in Surrey, UK, near London.[5]

Major Orchestral Works[edit]


Dreaming, for which Thorvaldsdottir received the 2012 Nordic Council Music Prize[1][3] (see below), was premiered by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Bernharður Wilkinson on Jan 14 2010. The UK premiere was given by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Rumon Gamba on Jan 11 2019.


AERIALITY was an important work for catapulting Thorvaldsdottir's orchestral writing into the interest of American orchestras. It was commissioned by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and premiered in November 2011.[6] It was selected as a top 10 recording in 2014 by The New Yorker's Alex Ross,[18] and by John Schaefer for WNYC's New Sounds Year in Review.[19]


The New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer Award[20] (see below), and the associated commission of METACOSMOS, premiered on April 4, 2018 under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall, cemented Thorvaldsdottir's status as “one of the most unique and expressive voices in the compositional scene today.”[21] The European premiere was given by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Alan Gilbert.[22]


Aiōn, co-commissioned by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, was given its world premiere on May 24, 2019, at the Point Music Festival[23] in the Gothenburg Concert Hall, Gothenburg, by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anna-Maria Helsing.[24] It received its US premiere at Spoleto Festival USA in 2022, conducted by John Kennedy.[25]


CATAMORPHOSIS was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic and Kirill Petrenko on Jan 29 2021.[26] The work was a Berlin Philharmonic commission (co-commissioned by New York Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Iceland Symphony Orchestra). CATAMORPHOSIS also received the UK's Ivors Composer Award for Large Scale Composition in 2021 (see below for other Awards and Honours). The UK premiere of CATAMORPHOSIS was given by the CBSO and Ludovic Morlot.[27]


ARCHORA was commissioned by the BBC Proms (co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Klangspuren Schwaz, and Iceland Symphony Orchestra). The work was premiered by the BBC Philharmonic and Eva Ollikainen on August 11 2022 at Royal Albert Hall.[28]

Awards and Honours[edit]

  • CATAMORPHOSIS received the UK's Ivors Composer Award for Large Scale Composition in 2021.[29]
  • Thorvaldsdottir received the Lincoln Center’s Emerging Artist Award and Martin E. Segal Award, 2018.[15]
  • In 2015, she was chosen as the New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer, an honor that includes a $50,000 cash prize and a commission to write a composition for the orchestra; she is the second recipient.[9] The orchestra later performed the premiere of her symphonic poem Metacosmos under the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen in April 2018.[30][31]
  • Anna Thorvaldsdottir was awarded the 2012 Nordic Council Music Prize for her orchestral work Dreaming, one of the pieces on her album Rhízōma which was released on 25 October 2011 on Innova Recordings.[3]

Selected works[edit]



  • Enigma (2019), for string quartet[37][38]
  • Spectra (2017), for violin, viola, and cello
  • Illumine (2016), for string octet
  • Aequilibria (2014), for large ensemble
  • In the Light of Air (2014),[39] for percussion, harp, piano,  viola, cello, harp, and electronics
  • (2013), for bass flute, bass clarinet, percussion, piano, two violins, viola, cello
  • aura (2011), for percussion trio
  • Hrím (2010), for large ensemble


  • Ad Genua (2016), for choir and string quintet
  • Heyr þú oss himnum á (2005)
  • Hey mig mín sál (2003)

Selected Recordings[edit]

  • Aerial (Sono Luminus, 2022)[39] [Originally released on Deutsche Grammophon in 2014][40]
  • ENIGMA (Sono Luminus, 2021)[38][37]
  • Rhizoma (Sono Luminus, 2020)[39][41] [Originally released on Innova in 2011][42]
  • AEQUA (Sono Luminus, 2018)[43][44][45]
  • In the Light of Air (Sono Luminus, 2015)[39]


  1. ^ a b "Anna Þorvaldsdóttir: Dreaming". Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  2. ^ "Morgunblaðið, 11.07.2017, "Tónskáld sem skynjar heiminn sem tónlist" (Icelandic)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-28. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  3. ^ a b c d "Anna Thorvaldsdóttir". Nordic Council Music Prize. 2012. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b Philharmoniker, Berliner. ""Composing is my life" | Berliner Philharmoniker". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  5. ^ a b "San Francisco Symphony - METACOSMOS". San Francisco Symphony. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  6. ^ a b c Lanzilotti, Anne (May 18, 2017). "Anna Thorvaldsdottir: A Part of Nature". Music & Literature.
  7. ^ Anna Thorvaldsdottir in Conversation with Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti: Introduction & Electronics, 2020-12-04, retrieved 2022-08-15
  8. ^ "Meet The Composer: Anna Thorvaldsdottir | Specials". WNYC. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  9. ^ a b Michael Cooper, "Philharmonic Chooses Anna Thorvaldsdottir for Emerging Composer Program," New York Times, June 5, 2015 (url)
  10. ^ "Anna Thorvaldsdóttir". LA Phil. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  11. ^ "Anna Thorvaldsdottir : nature, textures, structures". Ensemble intercontemporain. 2020-01-09. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  12. ^ a b "Prom 34: BBCPhil/Ollikainen review – Thorvaldsdottir's study in sonority is impressive and engaging". the Guardian. 2022-08-12. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  13. ^ "New York Classical Review". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  14. ^ "Bienen School hosts fourth biennial new music conference virtually on April 24". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  15. ^ a b "Colloquium: Anna Thorvaldsdottir | Music Department". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  16. ^ "Royal Academy of Music at the 2019 BBC Proms". Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  17. ^ "Anna Thorvaldsdottir named new Composer-in-Residence". Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  18. ^ Ross, Alex. "Ten Notable Performances and Recordings of 2014". The New Yorker.
  19. ^ "New Sounds Year in Review 2014: 4 | New Sounds". WNYC. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  20. ^ "Anna Thorvaldsdottir: Tales of Intuition and Inspiration". National Sawdust Log. Retrieved 2022-08-17.
  21. ^ "Just Announced: Anna Thorvaldsdottir Named Kravis Emerging Composer | What's New: Latest News and Stories About The New York Philharmonic". Retrieved 2022-08-17.
  22. ^ Thorvaldsdóttir: Metacosmos / Gilbert · Berliner Philharmoniker, retrieved 2022-08-15
  23. ^ "theartsdesk in Gothenburg: concert-hall storytelling rivets at the Point Music Festival | reviews, news & interviews | The Arts Desk". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  24. ^ Nice, David (May 30, 2019). "TheArtsDesk in Gothenburg: Concert-hall storytelling rivets at the Point Music Festival". The Arts Desk. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  25. ^ "Rhapsodic Overture | Spoleto Festival USA 2022". Retrieved 2022-08-17.
  26. ^ Anna Thorvaldsdottir - CATAMORPHOSIS (excerpt), retrieved 2022-08-15
  27. ^ "CBSO/Morlot review – remarkable Thorvaldsdottir and phenomenal Kopatchinskaja". the Guardian. 2022-06-16. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  28. ^ "Anna Thorvaldsdottir discusses ARCHORA - her latest orchestral work". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  29. ^ Brown, Anna (2021-12-08). "The Ivors Composer Awards 2021 winners announced". The Ivors Academy. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  30. ^ Barone, Joshua (April 4, 2018). "The New York Philharmonic Channels the Chaos of the Cosmos". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  31. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (April 5, 2018). "Review: An Orchestral Odyssey Through Chaos and Beauty". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  32. ^ Philharmoniker, Berliner. ""Composing is my life" | Berliner Philharmoniker". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  33. ^ "AIŌN". Göteborgs Symfoniker. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  34. ^ Thorvaldsdóttir: Metacosmos / Gilbert · Berliner Philharmoniker, retrieved 2022-08-15
  35. ^ Barone, Joshua (2018-04-04). "The New York Philharmonic Channels the Chaos of the Cosmos". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  36. ^ "Anna Þorvaldsdóttir: Dreaming". Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  37. ^ a b Huizenga, Tom (2021-12-08). "The Top 10 Classical Albums of 2021". NPR. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  38. ^ a b "The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2021". The New York Times. 2021-12-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  39. ^ a b c d "Contemporary composer: Anna Thorvaldsdóttir". Gramophone. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  40. ^ "AERIAL Anna Thorvaldsdottir". Retrieved 2022-08-17.
  41. ^ "An Ocean Of Sound: Anna Þorvaldsdóttir Evokes The Vastness Of Nature". The Reykjavik Grapevine. 2019-06-20. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  42. ^ "10 Imagination-Grabbing, Trailblazing Artists of 2014 | Q2 Music". WQXR. Retrieved 2022-08-17.
  43. ^ Tommasini, Anthony; Barone, Joshua; Fonseca-Wollheim, Corinna da; Allen, David; Walls, Seth Colter; Woolfe, Zachary (2018-12-13). "The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2018". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  44. ^ Kozinn, Allan (2018-12-18). "'Aequa' by the International Contemporary Ensemble, 'He(a)r' by Nordic Affect and 'Collider' by Daníel Bjarnason Reviews". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  45. ^ Huizenga, Tom (2018-12-18). "NPR Music's Best Classical Albums Of 2018". NPR. Retrieved 2022-08-15.

External links[edit]