Home » Artists » Johann Sebastian Bach

Vikingur Olafsson: Bio

"Iceland's rising star of a pianist" (Sunday Times)

"born to play piano" (New York Sun) 

"perfect continuity of thought" (Giornale della musica).

Possessing a rare combination of passionate musicality, explosive virtuosity and intellectual curiosity, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has been heralded "Iceland's Glenn Gould" by the New York Times (Anthony Tommasini, August 2017). Before lighting up the international scene in 2016, Víkingur won all the major prizes in his native country, including the Order of the Falcon, four Musician of the Year prizes at the Icelandic Music Awards, and the Icelandic Optimism Prize.

In 2016 Víkingur signed as an exclusive recording artist to Deutsche Grammophon, with his debut album of Philip Glass's Etudes in January 2017 a global critical and public success: "breathtakingly brilliant pianist" (Gramophone). Prior to this he founded his own record label, Dirrindí, releasing three albums. Víkingur's anticipated next recording for Deutsche Grammophon – featuring the piano works of Bach – will be released in 2018.

A true artist of the 21st century, Víkingur is lauded for his ability to approach music from a fresh and original angle, whether through interpretation – ("Like Gould, Ólafsson possesses that rare gift of illuminating a familiar work in unexpected ways, revealing hidden depths and drawing out its best qualities"- Gramophone); original programming ("few musicians match Ólafsson for creative flair – BBC Music Magazine) or curating: Víkingur is currently Artistic Director of three festivals: Vinterfest in Sweden; the award winning Reykjavík Midsummer Music (of which he is also the founder); and the Icelandic Weekend at Liepaja Great Amber Hall in Latvia.

At home in new music, Víkingur has premiered five piano concertos to date and worked with composers including Philip Glass, Mark Simpson and Daníel Bjarnason. In 2016-17, Víkingur premiered Haukur Tómasson's new piano concerto with NDR Elbphilhamonie Orchester and Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Víkingur's 2017/18 season includes performances with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Pablo Heras-Casado), Konzerthausorchester Berlin (Michael Sanderling), NHK Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Ashkenazy), the Ulster Orchestra (Rafael Payare) and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (Kristjan Järvi). He tours with Daníel Bjarnason and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as well as the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, while in recital he makes his debut at Rheingau Musik Festival, MITO SettembreMusica in Milan, Kölner Philharmonie and the International Piano Series in London. He also opens the new season of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and returns to Konzerthaus in Vienna.

Away from the concert stage, Víkingur is the driving force behind numerous innovative musical projects. He convinced the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service to commission the classical music television series, Útúrdúr (Out-of-tune), which he presented and which was broadcast to unanimous critical and public acclaim.

Víkingur grew up in Iceland where he studied with Erla Stefánsdóttir and Peter Máté. He studied further with Ann Schein and holds Bachelor and Master degrees from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald.

1 J.S. Bach: Prelude & Fughetta in G Major, BWV 902 - 1. Prelude  
2 Chorale Prelude BWV 734  
3 Prelude & Fugue in E Minor - Prelude  
4 Fugue  
5 Organ Sonata No. 4, BWV 528 - 2. Andante  
6 Prelude & Fugue in D Major, BWV 850 - 1. Prelude  
7 Fugue  
8 Chorale Prelude BWV 659  
9 Prelude & Fugue in C Minor, BWV 847 - 1. Prelude  
10 Fugue  
11 Widerstehe doch der Sunde, BWV 54  
12 Aria variata in A Minor, BWV 989 - Aria  
13 Variation I. Largo  
14 Variation II  
15 Variation III  
16 Variation IV. Allegro  
17 Variation V. Un poco allegro  
18 Variation VI. Andante  
19 Variation VII. Un poco allegro  
20 Variation VIII. Allegro  
21 Variation IX  
22 Variation X  
23 Aria da capo  
24 Invention No. 12 in A Major, BWV 783  
25 Sinfonia No. 12 in A Major, BWV 798  
26 Suite from the Partita No.3 in E Major for Solo Violin, BWV 1006 - 2. Gavotte  
27 Prelude In E Minor, BWV 855  
28 Sinfonia No. 15 in B Minor, BWV 801  
29 Invention No. 15 in B Minor, BWV 786  
30 Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974 - 1. Andante  
31 Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974 - 2. Adagio  
32 Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974 - 3. Presto  
33 Chorale Prelude BWV 639  
34 Fantasia & Fugue in A Minor, BWV 904 - 1. Fantasia  
35 Fugue  

Following his critically acclaimed recording of piano works by Philip Glass, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson will release his second concept album, Bach, on Deutsche Grammophon on September 7, 2018 (CD released 9/14). The album is available for pre-order everywheretoday.

Renowned for his innovative musical projects, Ólafsson offers listeners a very personal vision of Bach's intricate keyboard music on his new recording – artfully weaving Bach's original works together with transcriptions by Busoni, Kempff, Ziloti, Rachmaninov and Ólafsson himself. Ólafsson will also perform some of the repertoire from the album live at venues including London's LSO St Luke's, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (Denmark), Hamburg's Laeiszhalle, and the Berlin Philharmonie during the 2018-19 season.