Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Anna Thorvaldsdottir


• Born 1977


In the music of Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir (in the Icelandic alphabet Anna Þorvaldsdóttir), large avant-garde structures, sometimes including electronics, are made to serve the goal of evocative representation of the natural world. Trained partly in the U.S., Thorvaldsdottir emerged in the 2010s as a rising young composer in that country, in her native Iceland, and beyond.

Thorvaldsdottir was born July 11, 1977, in the small town of Borgarnes, Iceland. She benefited from Iceland's strong music education system and then moved to the U.S., earning M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of California at San Diego. On the strength of her 2008 composition Dreaming, and her 2011 debut CD, Rhizoma, Thorvaldsdottir won the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2012. Rhizoma landed on annual ten-best lists in the U.S., including those of Time Out New York and Time Out Chicago, and Thorvaldsdottir began to attract performances by major orchestras including the Oslo Philharmonic, the Iceland Symphony (which commissioned her composition Aeriality in 2011, later recorded for Deutsche Grammophon), the BBC Scottish Symphony, the NDR Symphony in Germany, and China's Guangzhou Symphony, among others. In 2015 she became the New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer, earning a $50,000 prize and a new commission. Thorvaldsdottir has also served as composer-in-residence for the Iceland Symphony. In her compositions for small ensembles, many of which encompass electronics or modified instruments, Thorvaldsdottir has often collaborated with groups specializing in avant-garde music, including Yarn/Wire, the Either/Or Ensemble, Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, The Crossing, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and BIT 20. The New York Philharmonic performed Thorvaldsdottir's Metacosmos under conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen in 2018, and it received its European premier in 2019 with the Berlin Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert. Signed to the U.S.-based Sono Luminus label, Thorvaldsdottir released In the Light of Air in 2015 and the chamber music album AEQUA in 2018; all her albums have received strong critical praise.