Lectures & Literary past

Jón Leifs and the Musical Invention of Iceland BOOK TALK WITH ÁRNI HEIMIR INGÓLFSSON


TUE—December 3—6:30 PM, free

Leading musicologist Arni Heimir Ingólfsson discusses his new book about the career of Iceland’s iconic early 20th-century composer Jón Leifs, and his work to fashion an idiosyncratic, uncompromising national sound.

Jón Leifs (1899–1968) was the first Icelander to devote himself fully to composition at a time when a local music scene was only beginning to take form. He was a fervent nationalist in his art, fashioning an idiosyncratic and uncompromising ‘Icelandic’ sound from traditions of vernacular music with the aim to legitimize Iceland as an independent, culturally empowered nation.

In this account of the composer’s dramatic career, Árni Heimir Ingólfsson explores Leif’s career as well as his major works and their cultural context, and the ways they were often inspired by the Icelandic landscape, with auditory depictions of volcanos, geysers, and waterfalls, enhanced by expansive percussion. Largely neglected in his own lifetime, Leifs’s music has been rediscovered in recent years and hailed as a singular and deeply original contribution to twentieth-century music.




Tonight’s event will include musical performances by Dísella Lárusdóttir, the Icelandic soprano currently performing in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as by Ingólfsson himself; New York-based composer Evan Fein (Juilliard) will hold a Q&A with the author. 

Following the discussion, copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

About the Author

Árni Heimir Ingólfsson is Artistic Advisor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Visiting Professor at the Iceland Academy of the Arts.

He is the author of Jón Leifs—Líf í tónum, which was nominated for the Icelandic Book Award.

About the Author