(1938 - 2013)
Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson was born on 16 July 1938 in Reykjavik, Iceland. A seminal figure in Icelandic music, he remains Iceland’s most prolific composer with an oeuvre of over 350 works ranging from children’s songs to large-scale orchestral works. Known internationally as both a composer and pianist, Sigurbjörnsson began his musical training at the Conservatory of Reykjavik, before furthering his studies, and also turning his attention to electronic music, in the USA. In 1962 he attended composition classes with Ligeti and Boulez before returning to the Conservatory of Reykjavik to teach. A pioneer of the changing face of Icelandic music, he became chairman of the music group ‘Musica Nova’ which initiated the programming of avant-garde music in Iceland. Sigurbjörnsson was also president of the Society of Icelandic Composers and founder member of the Icelandic Music Information Centre. One of the most important composers of contemporary music in Northern Europe, he was a keen supporter of both his contemporaries and pupils, many of whom are now represented in the succeeding generations of Icelandic composers.