“Born to play piano” New York Sun
“Iceland’s rising star of a pianist” Times
“Immense talent … you must listen to this young pianist” Piano News
“Splendid pianist” New York Times
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 2015/16 concert season includes performances of piano concertos by Scriabin, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Daníel Bjarnason, Beethoven, Þórður Magnússon (world premiere) and Liszt with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Ashkenazy), Ulster Orchestra and Tampere Philharmonia (Rafael Payare), Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Eyvind Aadland), Basel Sinfonietta (Daníel Bjarnason) and Kammerakademie Potsdam (Antonello Manacorda). In February he wil take 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.
Víkingur has premiered four piano concertos to date and worked with composers including Philip Glass, Haukur Tómasson, 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 (Bolzano), MITO SettembreMusica (Milano), Nordic Cool (Washington DC), Transart (Bolzano) and Vinterfest (Sweden). When it comes to his relationships with other musicians, Víkingur has worked with Martin Fröst, Sayaka Shoji, Kristinn Sigmundsson, 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 ‘Chopin-Bach’ (prompting Piano News Magazine: “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 solo works by Igor Stravinsky for Deutsche Grammophone’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.