Víkingur Ólafsson | Biography


Víkingur Ólafsson
© Ari Magg / DG
Possessing a rare combination of passionate musicality, explosive virtuosity and intellectual curiosity, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has won all the major prizes in his native country, including four Musician of the Year prizes at the Icelandic Music Awards as well as The Icelandic Optimism Prize.
Víkingur’s 2016/17 season includes performances with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen, a tour with Orkester Norden (Lawrence Foster) and concerts with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Yan Pascal Tortelier) and MDR Sinfonieorchester (Kristjan Järvi). Since February 2016 he has taken over from Martin Fröst as Artistic Director of Vinterfest in Sweden while continuing in the same role for the award-winning Reykjavík Midsummer Music, which he founded in 2012. In recital he will make his debut at the Wiener Konzerthaus, Konzerthaus Berlin and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg as well in Leipzig and at the Istanbul Music Festival.
Víkingur has premiered five piano concertos to date and worked with composers including Philip Glass, Mark Simpson and Daníel Bjarnason. He has collaborated with leading artists from diverse fields, such as Roman Signer, Lillevan and Yann Malka, and appeared at festivals such as Busoni and Transart (Bolzano), MITO SettembreMusica (Milan) and Nordic Cool (Washington DC). When it comes to his relationships with other musicians, Víkingur has worked with Sayaka Shoji, István Várdai, Martin Fröst, Pekka Kuusisto and Björk.
Away from the concert stage, Víkingur is the driving force behind numerous innovative musical projects. Most recently the classical music television series Útúrdúr (Out-of-tune), produced for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service in 2013/14, was broadcast to unanimous critical and public acclaim.
In 2009 Víkingur founded his own record label, Dirrindí, and has released three albums to date. The first two were solo discs: Debut (showing “exceptional perception and depth of maturity,” said EPTA Journal) and Bach / Chopin (prompting Piano News to say “Immense talent … you must listen to this young pianist!”). His third album was a double CD/DVD release of Winterreise with bass Kristinn Sigmundsson, which won the Album of the Year award at the Icelandic Music Awards 2012. In 2015 Víkingur recorded three works by Igor Stravinsky for Deutsche Grammophon’s complete works edition of the composer.
Víkingur grew up in Iceland where he studied with Erla Stefánsdóttir and Peter Máté. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald.