Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

Jóhannsson, Magnús Blöndal

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Jóhannsson, Magnús Blöndal

(b Skálar, 8 Sept 1925). Icelandic composer, pianist and conductor. He studied with Franz Mixa and Victor Urbancic at the Reykjavík College of Music (1935–7, 1939–45) and with Bernard Wagenaar and Marion Bauer at the Juilliard School (1947–53). He was active as répétiteur and conductor at the Icelandic National Theatre (1956–69), and was a producer at the Icelandic State Broadcasting Service until 1974; he was also a founder member of Musica Nova in 1959. After a period in the USA (1977–87), he took up residence again in Iceland.

In the 1950s and early 60s Jóhannsson was at the forefront of the Icelandic avant garde. His Fjórar abstraksjónir (‘Four Abstractions’, 1951) for piano was the first Icelandic 12-note composition; he was also a pioneer in electronic music, composing his Elektrónísk stúdía for woodwind quintet, piano and tape in 1958. In 1971 he stopped composing for almost a decade; this extended silence was eventually broken with his Adagio (1980) for strings, celesta and percussion, which marks a significant stylistic shift in his music. Like the works which followed, it abandons his earlier experimental style for a more simple, neo-romantic lyricism.


(selective list)

Ballet: Frostrósir [Frostwork], dancers, chbr orch, tape, lighting, 1968

Orch: Punktar [Points], orch, tape, 1961; Adagio, str, cel, perc, 1980

Inst and tape: Fjórar abstraksjónir [4 Abstractions], pf, 1951; Ionization, org, 1957; Elektrónísk stúdía, ww qnt, pf, tape, 1958; 15 Minigrams, fl, ob, cl, bn, 1960; Samstirni [Constellations], tape, 1961; Sonorities III, pf, tape, 1972; Solitude, fl, 1983; Sonorities VI, vn, 1989

Songs, incid music, music for film and TV

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