Music: Pianist Víkingur Ólafsson On Mozart – ‘The First Romantic Artist’


“Mozart really belonged to the 19th century”, says Icelandic star-pianist Víkingur Ólafsson about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart “He belonged to a new area, where the artist was a free thinker. Image, if he had lived a little longer and would have had a dialogue with Ludwig van Beethoven.”

Ólafsson has no doubt that Mozart was a so-called Wunderkind. “He did have a divine gift.” But to Ólafsson another aspect of Mozart’s music is even more fascinating. According to Ólafsson Mozart wrote his best works after the age of 25, when his life was in deep crisis and the Vienna aristocracy had turned its back on him.

“The greater the music became, the less popularity he had.” To Ólafsson Mozart’s legacy must be seen in the light of the tragedy. 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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