Photo:Mats Bäcker
Photo:Mats Bäcker

Rolf Martinsson

Rolf Martinsson is one of Sweden's internationally leading composers, hailed for his masterly orchestral writing. He serves as professor of composition at the Malmö Academy of Music and is a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

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It was the collaboration with trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger in the most successful trumpet concerto Bridge (1998) that led to the big international scenes. The concerto has been performed some 70 times around the world 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).

The successful co-operation with Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson is now exceeding 100 performances. It started with the high version of Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson (2009) and was followed by major commissions such as Ich denke Dein... (2014) for soprano and orchestra, jointly commissioned by Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Helsinki PO, Netherlands PO, Gothenburg SO and Philharmonia Orchestra, and Garden of Devotion (2014) for soprano and string orchestra, a co-commission including Netherlands CO, Scottish CO, Stuttgart CO, Lapland CO, and Swedish CO. Their collaboration also includes Into Eternity (2015) for soprano and orchestra, premiered at the inauguration of the new concert hall in Malmö, Malmö Live.

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.

In 2008 Martinsson was featured composer at Stockholm International Composer Festival with some 20 performances by The Royal Stockholm PO/ Sakari Oramo among others. He was Composer in Residence (CiR) with Malmö SO 2002-2006, with Netherlands PO and CO 2014-2015 with eight performances in Concertgebouw, and with Helsingborg SO 2014-2017. He has also been CiR with Musica Vitae and with Dalasinfoniettan at Martin Fröst’s Vinterfest festival.

Rolf Martinsson’s collaborations have led to performances in venues such as Carnegie Hall New York, Musikverein Vienna, Berliner Philharmonie, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Royal Festival Hall London, Wigmore Hall London, Salzburger Festspielhaus, Suntory Hall Tokyo etc.
Orchestras includes Boston SO, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit SO, Melbourne SO, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC SO, City of Birmingham SO, NDR Sinfonieorchester, Bamberger Symphoniker, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Vienna Radio Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchester, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Netherlands SO and all the major Nordic orchestras.
Among the conductors performing Rolf Martinsson’s music you will find Andris Nelsons, Alan Gilbert, Sakari Oramo, John Storgårds, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Neeme Järvi, Manfred Honeck, Vassily Sinaisky, Vasily Petrenko and Stefan Solyom.

Rolf Martinsson received the major Swedish composition award “The big Christ Johnson Prize” in 2016, his music is well represented by labels like BIS, and several European orchestras have toured internationally with his music. Future commissions include a semi- staged work for Malmö SO and soprano Lisa Larsson, and an opera, Amy, for the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm.

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Selected works:

  • A. S. in Memoriam
  • Bridge - Trumpet Concerto No. 1 
  • Concert Fantastique - Clarinet Concerto No. 1
  • Ich denke Dein...
  • Open Mind
  • Orchestral Songs on Peoms by Emily Dickinson