Iceland

This week, Donald Macleod explores the landscapes and vistas of the world's most northerly island nation ? to discover its unique musical culture.

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01A Symphony Of Fire And Ice2013120920140818
20151214 (R3)

Donald Macleod on Icelandic classical music's roots and composer Jon Leifs.

Donald Macleod visits the frozen North to explore Icelandic classical music's ancient roots, and learn more about Iceland's greatest 20th-century composer: Jon Leifs.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known. This week, Donald Macleod explores the landscapes and vistas of the world's most northerly island nation - to discover its unique musical culture.

Donald begins his travels around Iceland with an exploration of its earliest art music - with Romantic-era songs by the lonely doctor Sigvaldi Kaldalóns, whose name means 'cold lagoon', and the composer of Iceland's national anthem: Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson, who later made his home in Edinburgh. He meets the Icelandic musicologist Árni Heimir Ingólfsson to discuss the influence of Iceland's ancient folk music on its classical tradition, and introduces the work of "Iceland's Sibelius" - the 20th-century composer, Jon Leifs.

Jón Leifs: The Throwing Game (Baldr)

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Kari Kropsu (conductor)

Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson: Allegro (Piano Trio in E minor)

Auður Hafsteinsdóttir (violin), Sigurgeir Agnarsson (cello), Nína Margrét Grímsdóttir (piano)

Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson: Ó Guð vors lands

Kór Langholtskirju, Jón Stefánsson (conductor)

Traditional: Numarimur

Steindor Andersen (vocalist)

Jón Leifs: Icelandic Dances, Op 12 and 14b (excerpts)

Orn Magnusson (piano)

Sigvaldi Kaldalóns: Ég lít í anda liðna tíð; Máninn; Gamla konan

Guðrun Tómasdóttir (soprano)

Leifs: Variationi Pastorali (on a theme of Beethoven), Op 8

Nordic Chamber Orchestra, Christian Lindberg (conductor)

First broadcast December 2012.

Donald Macleod on Icelandic classical music's roots and composer Jon Leifs.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known.

02The Geyser Erupts2013121020151215 (R3)

Donald Macleod hears the 'original' geyser in Iceland and introduces works by Jon Leifs.

Donald Macleod experiences the vast sonic eruptions of the 'original' geyser at Geysir, Iceland - and introduces works by Jón Leifs portraying his nation's unique landscape.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known. This week, Donald Macleod explores the landscapes and vistas of the world's most northerly island nation - to discover its unique musical culture.

Jón Leifs' symphonic poem "Geysir" portrays the awe-inspiring geothermal eruption of one of his nation's most famous natural wonders. Donald Macleod pays a visit to Geysir to introduce Leifs' own highly-imaginative musical explosion, before discussing the composer's dramatic, experimental organ concerto - described by one critic as "like Bach walking on the tundra" - with the musicologist Árni Heimir Ingólfsson. He ends with a series of pieces by Icelandic music's provocateur-in-chief, the wickedly mischievous Atli Heimir Sveinsson - a composer able and willing to compose in almost any style, from Baroque to avant-garde to hip hop - ending with Sveinsson's bizarre and beguiling postmodernist fantasy, "Icelandic Rap".

Jón Leifs: Geysir, Op 51

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä (conductor)

Jón Leifs: Two Songs, Op 15

Igveldur Yr Jonsdóttir (mezzo)

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Anne Manson (conductor)

Jón Leifs: Organ Concerto, Op 7

Björn Steinar Sólbergsson (organ)

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, En Shao (conductor)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Intermezzo No 1 (Dimmalimm)

Benedikte Johansen (flute), Thomas Jensen (harp)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Af hreinu hjarta

Suzanne Kessel (piano)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Icerapp

Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra, Bernharður Wilson (conductor).

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known.

03From The Ancients To Bjork2013121120140820
20151216 (R3)

Works inspired by the world's oldest parliament and a lullaby sung by Bjork.

Donald Macleod visits the site of the world's oldest parliament - and explores the remarkable, genre-crossing voice of the world's most celebrated Icelandic musician: Bjork.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known. This week, Donald Macleod explores the landscapes and vistas of the world's most northerly island nation - to discover its unique musical culture.

The fleeting flute dreams of Atli Heimir Sveinsson's "21 Sounding Minutes" thread together today's story of Iceland's past both ancient and modern. At Thingvellir, historic site of the world's oldest continuous democratic parliament, Donald Macleod introduces a cantata by Jon Leifs that looks back at his hardy Scandinavian forebears, before bringing us into the 20th century with a charming piano concerto by Iceland's leading female composer Jorunn Vidar. He ends by exploring the remarkable, genre-crossing career - and voice - of unquestionably Iceland's most famous musical export: Bjork.

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of the Night (21 Sounding Minutes)

Manuela Wiesler (flute)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of Flowers; Sounds of Heaven (21 Sounding Minutes)

Jón Leifs: Iceland Cantata, Op 13

Hallgrumskirkja Motet Choir and Schola Cantorum

Iceland SO, Hermann Bäumer (conductor)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of Men; Sounds of Women (21 Sounding Minutes)

Jórunn Viðar: Allegro (Slatta - Piano Concerto)

Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdottir (piano)

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Petter Sundquist (conductor)

Jon Leifs: Viking's Answer, Op 54

Iceland SO, Hermann Baumer (conductor)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of Rain (21 Sounding Minutes)

Atli Heimir Sveinsson: Sounds of Sound (21 Sounding Minutes)

Jorunn Vidar: Vokuro

Bjork (vocals).

Donald Macleod visits the site of the world's oldest parliament ? and explores the remarkable, genre-crossing voice of the world's most celebrated Icelandic musician: Björk.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known.

The fleeting flute dreams of Atli Heimir Sveinsson's "21 Sounding Minutes" thread together today's story of Iceland's past both ancient and modern. At Thingvellir, historic site of the world's oldest continuous democratic parliament, Donald Macleod introduces a cantata by Jón Leifs that looks back at his hardy Scandinavian forebears, before bringing us into the 20th century with a charming piano concerto by Iceland's leading female composer Jórunn Viðar. He ends by exploring the remarkable, genre-crossing career - and voice - of unquestionably Iceland's most famous musical export: Björk.

04Sagas And Requiems2013121220140821
20151217 (R3)

Exploring the influence of Iceland's sagas on its music and the contemporary music scene.

Donald Macleod explores the influence of Iceland's sagas on its music, before exploring the contemporary music scene with Valgeir Sigurðsson, a leading producer and composer.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known. This week, Donald Macleod explores the landscapes and vistas of the world's most northerly island nation - to discover its unique musical culture.

Having survived the traumas of the Second World War, the life of Iceland's leading composer, Jon Leifs was to fall apart in 1947 after his daughter Líf drowned in the sea. Donald Macleod explores the legacy of this tragedy on his music with the musicologist Arni Heimir Ingolfsson before meeting one of Icelandic contemporary music's most important figures: the record producer and composer Valgeir Sigurdsson, whose music seems to transcend genre classifications such 'popular', 'classical', 'ambient' and 'electronica'.

Björk: Eg Veit Ei Hvad Skal Segja (Gling-Glo)

Bjork (vocals); Trio Gudmundar Ingolfssonar

(After "Ricochet" by Larry Coleman, Joe Darion, and Norman Gimbel)

Bjork: Kata Rokkar (Gling-Glo)

Jon Leifs: Thormodr Kolbrunarskald (Saga Symphony)

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä (conductor)

Jon Leifs: Requiem and Eternity (String Quartet No 2 "Vita et Mors")

The Yggdrasil Quartet

Thorkell Sigurbjornsson - Flute Concerto ("Columbine")

Manuela Wiesler (flute)

Southern Jutland Symphony Orchestra, Tamas Veto (conductor)

Valgeir Sigurdsson: Grylukvaedi (Draumalandid)

(studio composition)

First broadcast December 2012.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known.

Having survived the traumas of the Second World War, the life of Iceland's leading composer, Jón Leifs was to fall apart in 1947 after his daughter Líf drowned in the sea. Donald Macleod explores the legacy of this tragedy on his music with the musicologist Árni Heimir Ingólfsson before meeting one of Icelandic contemporary music's most important figures: the record producer and composer Valgeir Sigurðsson, whose music seems to transcend genre classifications such 'popular', 'classical', 'ambient' and 'electronica'.

05Old Poetry, New Sounds2013121320151218 (R3)

Donald Macleod on works by two key musicians: Haflidi Halgrimsson and Daniel Bjarnason.

Donald Macleod explores works by two key contemporary figures, Haflidi Halgrimsson and Daniel Bjarnason - ending with an extraordinary musical depiction of a volcanic eruption by Jon Leifs.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known. This week, Donald Macleod explores the landscapes and vistas of the world's most northerly island nation - to discover its unique musical culture.

Donald Macleod ends his visit to Iceland with two utterly different works by Jon Leifs - his quiet, valedictory Fine II for strings and vibraphone, and the colossal orchestral poem "Hekla" - possibly the loudest piece of classical music ever written. He also introduces works by two key contemporary Icelandic voices: Haflidi Halgrimsson and Daníel Bjarnason, and talks to the latter about how his music bridges the worlds of rock, classical and electronic music.

Jón Leifs: Fine II, Op 56

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Petri Sakari (conductor)

Jón Leifs: Ymir (Edda: Part 1. The Creation of the World)

Gunnar Gudbjornsson (tenor), Bjarni Thor Kristinsson (bass-baritone)

Schola Cantorum

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Hermann Bäumer (conductor)

Haflidi Hallgrimsson: Metamorphoses for Piano Trio, Op 16

Fidelio Trio

Daniel Bjarnason: Bow to String I: "Sorrow Conquers Happiness"

Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir (multitracked cello)

Jon Leifs: Hekla, Op 52

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, En Shao (conductor)

First broadcast December 2012.

05 LASTOld Poetry, New Sounds2013121320140822

Donald Macleod explores works by two key contemporary figures, Haflidi Halgrimsson and Daniel Bjarnason - ending with an extraordinary musical depiction of a volcanic eruption by Jon Leifs.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known. This week, Donald Macleod explores the landscapes and vistas of the world's most northerly island nation - to discover its unique musical culture.

Donald Macleod ends his visit to Iceland with two utterly different works by Jon Leifs - his quiet, valedictory Fine II for strings and vibraphone, and the colossal orchestral poem "Hekla" - possibly the loudest piece of classical music ever written. He also introduces works by two key contemporary Icelandic voices: Haflidi Halgrimsson and Daníel Bjarnason, and talks to the latter about how his music bridges the worlds of rock, classical and electronic music.

Donald Macleod on works by two key musicians: Haflidi Halgrimsson and Daniel Bjarnason.

Donald Macleod explores works by two key contemporary figures, Hafliði Halgrimsson and Daniel Bjarnason - ending with an extraordinary musical depiction of a volcanic eruption by Jón Leifs.

For more than a millennium, Iceland's composers have drawn upon the sounds of its unique geology: sounds created in a glacial, geothermal landscape like nowhere else on earth. Searing water explodes from fissures; the earth steams spongily underfoot; vast, electric-blue hunks of solid ice crack and collide as they bob down otherwise silent fjords. Yet Iceland's classical music tradition remains barely known.

Donald Macleod ends his visit to Iceland with two utterly different works by Jón Leifs ? his quiet, valedictory Fine II for strings and vibraphone, and the colossal orchestral poem "Hekla" ? possibly the loudest piece of classical music ever written. He also introduces works by two key contemporary Icelandic voices: Hafliði Halgrimsson and Daníel Bjarnason, and talks to the latter about how his music bridges the worlds of rock, classical and electronic music.