Stamp of the Month: June 2022

Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson

The Icelandic composer Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson was born on June 28, 1847 in Seltjarnarnes, he died on February 2, 1927 in Copenhagen. June 2022 will be his 175th birthday.
Sveinbjörnsson showed musical talent from an early age. However, since his father died early and a career as a professional musician in Iceland was practically impossible at the time, he trained as a pastor. In 1868 he decided to study music, majoring in piano and harmony. He was a member of the choir of Niels Gade’s music association and took piano lessons from Carl Reinecke in Leipzig in 1872/73. From 1873 to 1919 he lived in Edinburgh as a pianist and music teacher.

Island 11.12.1979
In addition to a number of choral works, Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson’s compositional oeuvre mainly includes piano and chamber music, which reveals a clear connection to the British salon music of the time. As early as 1874 he composed the melody of the later Icelandic national anthem “Lofsöngur” to the text by the poet Matthías Jochumsson. Icelandic music is rarely found in his work, e.g. in the two “Icelandic Rhapsodies”, in which he combined melodies from Icelandic folklore into one piece of music.

The video shows the Icelandic pianist Nína Margrét Grímsdóttir (*1965) with Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson’s “Minuet & Trio” from 1873, the first musical work composed by an Icelander. The recording was made in March 2011 at the Icelandic Music Museum in Kópavogur.