Sveinn Lúðvík Björnsson


Selected recordings from recent works and interviews.

The clarinet concerto by Sveinn Lúðvík Björnsson was commissioned by and written for Einar Jóhannesson who premiered it on November 6th 2014 with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Rumon Gamba in Harpa’s Eldborg concert hall. The concerto was nominated for the Icelandic Music Prize last year in two categories: the best composition and the best performance.

Composer Atli Heimir Sveinsson has said the following about the music of Sveinn Lúðvík Björnsson: “There may not be a huge number of notes, but every one of them is in the right place in time and space. He has created a unique place for himself by writing short and concise works, and you could call him the lyrical poet among Icelandic composers.

In his clarinet concerto, Björnsson breaks new ground by writing a work on a much larger scale. The concerto consists of three different sections, which are however played in a continuous flow. In the composer’s own words, the clarinet is either engaged in an amiable and intimate conversation with the orchestra or wrestling with it. He says the work is characterized by intense struggle and contrasts. 

 The listener often senses an underlying danger rather than feeling it directly; rational thinking gives way to more emotional perception. In the opening section of the concerto, the solo line is beautiful and expressive, not yet ready to strike out on its own, though full of longing to do so - still resting in its own world. As is its counterpart, the orchestra, which is also restrained or inhibited in some way, unable to go anywhere either. 

In the middle section, the clarinet makes a desperate attempt to break out of this situation in a frenetic cadenza. In the third section, the storm has passed, and there has been a final reconciliation between the two antagonistic forces in the music."


Highlights of an ongoing career in music and composing.

Born in Reykjavík 1962, Sveinn Lúðvík studied classical guitar, piano and singing at TSDK and the Reykjavík College of Music and then for two years, at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. After returning to Iceland he studied composition at the Reykjavík College of Music for another four years, and attended summer courses in composition in Kazimierz Dolny with Witold Lutoslawksy, among others. Since 1994, after teaching theory and the guitar for a few years, he has devoted himself exclusively to composing.


"...With my feet on the ground I daydream the beauty behind the reality I know."

Sveinn Lúðvík Björnsson, Composer

Icelandic composer producing classical music.