Páll Ragnar Pálsson

Páll Ragnar Pálsson was born in Reykjavík, Iceland in 1977. For most of his youth he played the guitar in a rock band called Maus. When Maus disbanded in 2004, he found his musical identity through electronic music studies that led him to classical composition. Páll Ragnar Pálsson obtained an undergraduate degree in composition at the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2007. He continued his studies with Helena Tulve at the master’s level at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, graduating with a PhD in composition in 2014.
During his formative years, Páll Ragnar’s sense of sound was refined in countless studio hours, perceiving music rather in masses of noise than melodic-harmonic patterns, rather in a physical and instinctive than an intellectual and analytical manner. A strong personal contact with Estonia has provided Páll Ragnar Pálsson with a lifetime of inspiration. There, East-European spirituality meets Western composition techniques in an atmosphere of high creativity and heavy undercurrents of a politically tense past.
A sense of continuity through never-stopping transformations distinctive to Páll Ragnar Pálsson’s music was partly derived from his doctoral research on Icelandic heritage, guided by Estonian musicologist Urve Lippus. In his compositions, her term »linear thinking in music« has acquired new meaning and creates a parallel with East European art music.
Páll’s cello concerto ›Quake‹, written for and premiered by cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir and co-commissioned by NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and LA Phil New Music Group in Los Angeles won the International Rostrum of Composers in Budapest 2018. In recent years, Páll has collaborated on several occasions with the U.S. based label Sono Luminus. ›Atonement‹ with a selection of chamber pieces was released in 2020, while ›Concurrence‹, a collaboration with Icelandic Symphony Orchestra featuring abovementioned Quake was nominated for the Grammy Award in 2021.

Tui Hirv, musicologist