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Artistic work

Rolf Martinsson is one of Sweden's internationally leading composers. He serves as professor of composition at the Malmö Academy of Music and is a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

The successful collaboration with Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson, now exceeding 100 performances, has led to major commissions such as Ich denke Dein... (2014) for soprano and orchestra, co-commissioned by Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Helsinki PO and Netherlands PO, Gothenburg SO and Philharmonia Orchestra. Iceland SO, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Melbourne SO, Royal Stockholm PO, Malmö SO and Helsingborg SO have also been part of this collaboration. Garden of Devotion (2014) for soprano and string orchestra was commissioned by Musica Vitae together with the Netherlands CO, Scottish CO, Stuttgart CO, Staatskapelle Weimar, Lapland CO, Norrköping SO, Helsingborg SO, Västerås Sinfonietta, Uppsala CO and Swedish CO. The collaboration also includes Into Eternity (2015) for soprano and orchestra, premiered at the inauguration of the new concert hall in Malmö, Malmö Live, in August the same year, live broadcast on Swedish Radio P2 and recorded for Swedish Television. Martinsson has also written To the Shadow of Reality (2013) for soprano and string quartet. The collaboration started with the elaboration of the high version of Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson (2009) for soprano and orchestra, a piece that now also has a version for soprano and piano. Lisa Larsson has premiered all these works, which are dedicated to her and she has now also Martinsson's St. Luke's Passion on her repertoire.

In 2008 Martinsson was featured composer at Stockholm International Composer Festival with some 20 performances by Royal Stockholm PO/Sakari Oramo, Norrköping SO and Gävle SO, Håkan Hardenberger and Christian Lindberg among others. Martinsson was Composer in Residence (CiR) with Malmö SO 2002-2006 and with Netherlands PO and CO 2014-2015 with eight performances in Concertgebouw, a collaboration that has been extended with performances and a commission, a tour and a CD-recording with Lisa Larsson as soloist. He is also CiR with Helsingborg SO 2014-2017 including tours, pedagogical projects and a commission. He has also been CiR with Musica Vitae and with Dalasinfoniettan at Martin Fröst's Vinterfest.

Rolf Martinsson's collaborations have led to performances in venues such as Carnegie Hall, New York, Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Vienna, Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, Berlin, Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall, London, Salzburger Festspielhaus and Suntory Hall, Opera City Hall and Metropolitan Art Space, Tokyo.

Martinsson's music is performed by orchestras such as Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit SO, Boston SO, BBC SO, City of Birmingham SO, NDR Sinfonieorchester, Bamberger Symphoniker, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Vienna Radio Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchester, Academy of St Martin in the Fields and all the major Nordic orchestras in collaboration with conductors such as Alan Gilbert, Andris Nelsons, Sakari Oramo, Neeme Järvi, Manfred Honeck, Edward Gardner, Vassily Sinaisky, Vasily Petrenko, John Storgårds, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Rumon Gamba, Andrew Manze, Stefan Solyom and soloists such as Lisa Larsson, Anne Sofie von Otter, Martin Fröst, Ole Edvard Antonsen, Håkan Hardenberger, Hans Pålsson, Roland Pöntinen, Anders Paulsson, Christian Lindberg, Mats Lidström and Edicson Ruiz.

The collaboration with Håkan Hardenberger resulting in Airy Flight for trumpet and strings and the most successful trumpet concerto Bridge (1998) quickly led to the big international scenes and the concerto has been performed some sixty times since the premiere. A. S. in Memoriam (1999) for string orchestra is also frequently performed with more than 100 performances as is the orchestral work and concert opener Open Mind (2005).

Martin Fröst premiered both the clarinet concerto Concert Fantastique (2010) and Suite Fantastique (2011) for clarinet and piano and the collaboration proceeds with several new projects, among them the Genesis/Roots performance, including a new arrangement of Schumann songs.

The soprano saxophone concerto Golden Harmony (2012), a work influenced by the jazz idiom, was premiered by Anders Paulsson, and the Double Bass Concerto (2011) was premiered by Dan Styffe and has in recent years been adapted by many bassists and programmed by, among others, Edicson Ruiz with many orchestras in Europe, South America and Asia, among them the Youth Orchestra of Caracas.

Rolf Martinsson's music is well represented by labels like BIS and Daphne Records, and several European orchestras have toured internationally with his music, of which might be mentioned the Royal Stockholm PO, Gothenburg SO, Malmö SO, Norrköping SO, Helsingborg SO, Helsinki PO, Netherlands CO and Amsterdam Sinfonietta.

Future commissions include a concert opener for Helsingborg SO and an opera, Amy, for the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, to be premiered in autumn 2020.

Martinsson has been Composer in Residence with many orchestras, member of various juries, received various prizes and more: 

2016 The large Christ Johnson Prize

2014-2017 Composer in Residence with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Sweden

2014-2015 Composer in Residence with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra in Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

2013 Composer in Residence at Lyckå International Chamber Music Festival

2012-2013 Featured Composer with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

2012-2013 Featured Composer with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra

2012 Composer in Residence at Martin Fröst's Vinterfest in Mora, Sweden

2011 Member of the jury of the Gothenburg Piano Festival

2010 Member of the jury of Solistpriset 2010

2008 Featured composer at the Stockholm International Composer Festival with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra at the Stockholm Concert Hall

2008 Member of the artistic board of Connect Festival in Malmö (present)

2007-2010 Associate Composer with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra

2006 Rosenberg Prize

2005 Swedish Publishers Organisation Prize for "The most important art music work of the year 2005"

2002-2010 Artistic adviser for contemporary music in Malmö Symphony Orchestra

2002-2006 Composer in Residence with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra

2002-2004 Member of the board of Borderline, a festival for contemporary music in Malmö

2000-2001 Composer in Residence in Musica Vitae

1997 Malmö Culture Scholarship

1997 Kristianstad Community Culture Scholarship


Teacher's exchange 

I have been exchange professor at some international educations with the responsibility to invite my exchange colleagues to my Academy. My visits include: 

Royal College of Music, London, UK 

Royal Academy of Music, London, UK 

Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (2 exchanges)

Iceland Music Academy, Reykjavik, Iceland

UKÄ subject classification

  • Music

Free keywords

  • Composition
  • Music Theory


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