You Feel a Changing World
“People are drawn to music or not. It’s either-or.”
Meet Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson in this joy- and thoughtful interview, where he also reveals why the piano became his fate even before he was born. Read more …
“I think the way to differentiate between the good and the great, the fine and the outstanding, is really the same in all the art forms. It’s really that question of originality and whether you see and hear the world from your own perspective as opposed to copying other people’s sensations.”
Ólafsson argues that music should not be put into categories like classical or contemporary. Music, he says, is like any other art form a playground of ideas. “We must keep that freshness. If you read a book, you bring yourself into it eventually. I often feel that Johann Sebastian Bach is the most modern composer. This idea that we have to recreate the old as it was created 200 or 300 years ago is ridiculous. It’s a crazy idea, it’s a lazy idea. It’s creatively lazy and it lacks courage.”
Ólafsson tells that he identifies notes with specific colors. And that he sees a lot of similarities between different forms of art. “Maybe I would compare paintings to music. It’s this play with architecture, structure, and fantasy, with color, space, and dimension. It’s the same subjects a painter is dealing with or an architect, a composer, or an author. It’s more or less the same subjects in all the arts.”
Víkingur Ólafsson grew up in Reykjavík and started playing the piano at an early age under the tutelage of his mother, a piano teacher. He studied at the Juilliard School in New York, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees under the supervision of Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald. He also took lessons with Ann Schein.
In 2011, Ólafsson was the soloist in the opening concert of Harpa in Reykjavik, playing Edvard Grieg’s piano concerto with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Since he has developed into one of the most recognized and award-winning artists within classical and contemporary music.
In 2016, Víkingur signed an exclusive recording contract with the renowned label Deutsche Grammophon releasing four albums featuring the music of Philip Glass, Johann Sebastian Bach, Debussy & Rameau as well as Mozart & Contemporaries. Ólafsson has collaborated with many contemporary artists among them John Adams, Philipp Glass, Daniel Bjarnason, and Icelandic singer Bjørk. He has also recorded the soundtrack of Darkest Hour, a film directed by Joe Wright, and released Bach Reworks, featuring six ‘remixed’ works by Johann Sebastian Bach from the likes of Ben Frost, Peter Gregson, Valgeir Sigurdsson as well as Ólafsson himself.
Víkingur Ólafsson was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in November 2021.
Camera: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Edited by: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling
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