Finnur Torfi Stefansson composer of music

Curriculum vitae.

Born in Iceland 1947. Candidatus juris from University of Iceland, Diploma in Political Science from University of Manchester, BA in Composition and Theory from the Reykjavik College of Music, MA in Composition and Theory from the University of California Los Angeles, doctoral studies við Brian Ferneyhough and Roger Reynolds at the University of California San Diego. Lawyer in private practice and with the Icelandic Government before turning to composition as a main occupation. Married to Steinunn Johannesdottir with 4 grown up children. Lives in Reykjavik, Iceland. Click the links above to see his compositions. All the music is available at Iceland Music Information Centre ; itm@mic.is

New works finished in 2022 are ” Stefjamóðirin ” for soprano and orchestra , to text by Þorsteinn frá Hamri,  length  6:30 min , and ” Ýtt úr vör ” for soprano and piano , to text by Tennyson/ Þorarinn Guðnason ,  length 3:30 min.. Movements 020 for solo piano, was finished in 2021 .  Another work finished in  2020 is  Work XIII for Orchestra which is in five movements and scored for full size orchestra and two solo singers, tenor and soprano. Text is by Johann Sigurjonsson.

A new work finished on sept. 30th 2016 is ” Movements 016 for string quartet ” in 2 movements. Duration ca. 18 minutes. On 18. oct. 2016 another new work was finished ” Six Pieces for Solo Piano ” comprising six short piano works. Duration in all ca. 17 minutes. On the 20th dec. 2016 work was finished on ” Hallgerður “, a suite from the Opera Hallgerður langbrók, composed in 2013. The suite is arranged for chamber orchestra and solo soprano. Duration is 45 min. In November 2017 work was finished on ” Concerto 017 for violin and chamber orchestra”, in three short movements. Duration is c.a. 16 min.. The orchestra is: fl.ob.cl.bsn.hn.tpt.perc and strings. This work is composed for violinist Auður Hafsteinsdóttir and The Caput group. A new short work , Duosono II for Harp and Percussion finished febr. 2018. Kantata III, “Víst ert þú Jesú kóngur klár”, on text from The Psalms of Passion by Hallgrimur Petursson for 2 solo singers, SATB choir and orchestra was finished in March 2018. In Dec. 2018 work was finished on “Chambersinfonie 018” composed for The Caput ensemble by grant from Tonskaldasjodur RUV. Three movements , duration ca. 15 min.

About my music.

My purpose is to make a contribution, however small, to the great classical tradition of western music. I consider most of my works tonal in the sense that clearly audible harmony is used to organize the form. Instead of basing the harmony on a single pitch or a root, the basis of my harmony is a group of pitches, in most cases a hexachord, that is treated as a harmonic field in which the pitches are basically equal.

To keep pitches equal is not as easy as it sounds, but my solution is found in the liberal use of superposed fourths. The fourth is a most interesting interval. On the one hand it is the inversion of the fifth, a most stable interval. In itself it is slightly unstable or dissonant , having a tendency to resolve to the third. A chord of superposed fourths is to my ears neutral with regard to tonal centers. A harmonic field of a limited number of notes can be modulated in a fashion that is clearly heard in the music. Modulation becomes thus a most important tool to delineate the form.

I consider music as an abstract narrative. A story is being told in tones. In this I follow my Icelandic cultural heritage. We have many times been told that storytelling is obsolete. I disagree. Quite on the contrary I feel that it is not worth the while speaking if you dont have a story to tell.

Sound in itself is not music. One has to choose those aspects of sound to work with that posess expressive qualities and avail themselves to storytelling and poetic manipulation.

After World War II it was maintained by many composers that a new start in music was necessary in which all influence from the great European classical tradition was to be excluded. I disagree with this view. In general the quality of our music has been in decline since 1914. Whether the bottom has been reached is anybodys guess. The composer of the 21st century has a duty to stem the tide, relying on his own judgement and rejecting all superior authority. He is free to seek influence wherever he likes, but if he excludes that which has been done best in his field he does so at his own peril.


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