He studied composition with Karl Aage Rasmussen, Mathias Spahlinger, Gabriel Valverde, and Bent Sørensen in Aarhus, Freiburg, Buenos Aires and Copenhagen from 1998 to 2006. He was the resident composer with the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra between 2004-2005 and the Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen between 2006-2007. Since 2008 he has taught composition at The Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus. Since 2018 he has held the position as professor in the Composition and Music Theatre department at Bern University of the Arts. He currently lives in Berlin.
Well known for his original and uncompromising compositions, which often exist in a grey area between the accepted artforms, he has achieved international recognition over recent years. His works have performed and broadcast all over the world and he has received commissions from, among others, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Recherche, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Darmstädter Ferienkurse, Hilversum Radio Chamber Orchestra, and The French National Orchestra.
His output ranges from instrumental music, which typically employs a whole range of performance techniques and electronic elements, to video installations such as RunTime Error (2009). Other works of particular note include Rerendered (2004), written for pianist and two assistants; On And Off And To And Fro (2008), for soprano saxophone, vibraphone, double bass, and 3 players with megaphones; and Ouvertures (2010), for Chinese guzheng soloist, sampler, and symphony orchestra.
A work that typifies his playing with, and challenging of, existing conventions is Black Box Music (2012). The piece is scored for percussion solo, amplified box, 15 instruments and video, yet the conductor is the percussionist and carries out their duties with their hands in the amplified ‘black box’. The ensemble performs not on the stage but in three locations around the audience, being conducted by a video projection of the conductor that takes up the stage.
His music is published by Edition·S.
Awards and honours
Beginning with his String Quartet (1999), he has received numerous awards over recent years. In 2017 he received the Mauricio Kagel Music Prize and the Ernst von Siemens Composers' Prize. In 2014 he was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize for his work Black Box Music and he received the SWR Orchesterpreis 2014 for his Piano Concerto. In 2013 he was awarded the honorary Carl Nielsen Prize. Back in 2010 he was the first Dane ever to win first prize at the International Rostrum of Composers in the category of composers over 30. After being a featured composer at the Ultra Schall Festival für neue Musik in 2011, Dacapo Records released portrait-CD of his compositions performed by the Norwegian ensemble asamisimasa. Selected other honours include: the Holmboe prize (2008), Présences China (2008), Kranichsteiner Musikpreis (2008), Sonning Music Foundation Talent Award (2006), Arts Foundation's 3-year working grant (2006), Bisballes Artist Prize (2005).
- Asthma - for accordion and video (22') (2017)
- if this then that and now what - for 4 actors and 18 musicians (135') (2016)
- Korpus - for three Harry Partch-instruments and 7-8 players (12') (2015)
- Piano Concerto - for piano, sampler, orchestra and video (28') (2014)
- Buenos Aires - music theatre in 5 scenes for 5 singers and 4 musicians (85') (2014)
- Mono (Autotune Study and Nachgesang) - for male voice, keyboard and electronics (7') (2014)
- Inszenierte Nacht - staging pieces by Bach, Schumann, Mozart and Ravel in collaboration with Ensemble Ascolta (55') (2013)
- Black Box Music - for conductor/percussionist, amplified black box, and fifteen players (32') (2012)
- String Quartet No.2 (2012)
- Im Rauschen - for piccolo flute (playable for non-flutist), flute and bass clarinet with intra-instrumental playback (10') (2012)
- History of my Instrument - for harp and video playback (9') (2011)
- Study for String Instrument # 3 - for cello and video (5') (2011)
- Double Up - for sampler and chamber orchestra (18') (2010)
- Ouvertures - for enhanced gu zheng, sampler and orchestra (15') (2008/2010)
- Study for String Instrument # 2 - for string (s) and whammy pedal (5'-6') (2007)
- Run Time Error - video installation / performance (2009)
- Self Simulator - "interactive installation" (2009)
- Pretty Sound (Up And Down) - for amplified piano (pianist or percussionist) (7'30) (2008)
- Beloved Brother - two movements from JS Bach's Cappriccio on the departure of his Dearly Beloved brother arranged for "backing guitar" (7') (2008)
- On And Off And To And Fro - for vibraphone, soprano saxophone, bass and 3 musicians with megaphones (15') (2008)
- SoundTAG - epidemic audio installation (space, street and web), in collaboration with Kaj Aune (2008)
- Ouvertures - for enhanced gu zheng, sampler and orchestra (8') (2008)
- Study for String Instrument # 1 (3'30-4'30) (2007)
- Nothing Integrated - for extremely amplified clarinet, percussion, cello and live video (21') (2007)
- In Her Frown - for 2 amplified sopranos (12') (2007)
- In Spite Of, And Maybe Even Derfor - for amplified flute, horn, clarinet + unreinforced contra bassoon, piano, percussion and double bass (9') (2007)
- Chambered Music - for 12 instruments and samples (11') (2007)
- Loloopop - audio / visual installation created in collaboration with Danish artist Carl Krull (2006)
- [Speech sounds] - interactive webpage on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of Norway's independence (2005)
- Within Bland - anti-kadenza for amplified guitar solo (5') (2005)
- Bland - concerto for extremely amplified guitar and orchestra (33') (2005)
- Self-reflecting Next To Beside Besides - pieces from NTBB series of combinations where the musicians play along with video recordings of himself playing along with videotapes of themselves, etc. (So far only possible for percussion solo or constellations in which included percussion and / or double bass / cello.)
- Next To Beside Besides # 1-13 (+ ...) - amplified solo pieces, which can also be played simultaneously or in rates in all combinations of (cello,) bass (2 different pieces), saxophone, accordion ( 2 pieces), percussion (3 pieces), piccolo flute, violin, piano, guitar (2 pieces) and camera ... (3'30) (2003 / '05)
- Amid - for flute, clarinet, piano, guitar, percussion, violin and cello (with amplification) (9') (2004)
- Beside Besides ( Next To Beside Besides # 0) - fragment for cello solo (with optional amplification) (4'30) (2003)
- Besides for amplified piano, violin and flute, and "soft" string trio (18') (2003)
- Drownwords for amplified soprano and amplified guitar (10') (2003)
- Rerendered for pianist and two assistants (amplified piano) (optional participating conductor & optional live video) (10') (2003, rev. '04)
- Among (Unattended Ones) for 2 percussionists with adjustable gain (12') (2002)
- Split Point for snare drum, sandpaper and S (one musician) (12') (2002)
- Spin-Off for soprano saxophone, optional trumpet, accordion and double bass (3') (2002)
- Praesens for 14 musicians (16') (2001)
- Electro Miniature (the band) (2'30) (2001)
- In-side-out hand-in ... for guitar solo (10') (2001)
- De Profundis for soprano saxophone (which also serves percussion) (12') (2000)
- Impromptu - for English horn, bass clarinet, bassoon and baryton saxophone (2000)
- String Quartet (10') (1999)
- Punctus Contra Punctum for organ (1999)
- Polaroid - a saxophone collage of short film Polaroid (for tape) (1999)
- Sinfonietta Variations for sinfonietta and saxophone (1999)
- Aurora Ritual for Orchestra (1999)
- Study for Percussion and Saxophone (1999)
- 4 Petit Aces for solo cello (1998)
- Suite for Ensemble (1998)
- Simon Steen-Andersen: Pretty Sound - Solo and chamber works. Performed by Asamisimasa. Dacapo Records, 2011. Cat.No. 8.226523. Includes: On And Off And To And Fro (2008), Rerendered (2003), Pretty Sound (Up and Down) (2009), Study for String Instrument #2 (2009)
- Praesens/Presents. Danish Contemporary Music for 14 Musicians. SNYK. Copenhagen, Denmark (2003).
- getString (compilation). Performed by the Silesian String Quartet. Dacapo Records, 2010. Cat No. 8.226530. Includes: String Quartet (1999)
- Reciprocity (compilation). Performed by Nico Couck. ChampdAction/Recordings, 2013. Includes: 'in-side-out-side-in...' (2001)
- "Simon Steen-Andersen erhielt den Mauricio Kagel Musikpreis 2017". kunststiftung-nrw.de (in German). Düsseldorf. 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- Künzig, Bernd (2017). "Visible Sounds: The Music of Simon Steen-Andersen". evs-musikstiftung.ch. München. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- "Léonie Sonning Talentprismodtager 2006 Simon Steen-Andersen". sonningmusik.dk (in Danish). Hellerup. 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017.