Þráinn Hjálmarsson, composer

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Þráinn Hjálmarsson, composer


    Hjalmarsson’s music has been described as “introvert, a bit ambient, beautifully made, [and ] delicate.”, in addition of being “Fascinating and enchanting!”.

    Hjalmarsson is known for his detailed and finely woven sound world, where the act of listening plays a vital role. Here, the perception of sound is ever transforming, revealing an otherwise obfuscated narrative, unfolding in time.

Contact: thrainn.hja [at] gmail.com


Hjalmarsson’s music has been performed by performers, orchestras and ensembles worldwide on various occasion by groups such as Basel Sinfonietta (CH), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SCT), Uusinta ensemble (FI), Athelas sinfonietta (DK), Icelandic Symphony Orchestra (IS), Tinna Þorsteinsdóttir, Klang Ensemble (NL), Ensemble Adapter (D/IS) and Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra to name a few.
And in relation to festivals such as Cycle 2015 – Music and art festival, Nordlichter Biennal, CULTURESCAPES 2015 – Island, Tectonics Music Festival Glasgow and Reykjavík, Dark Music Days and at Peripherryberry concert series among others.

Composer Thrainn Hjalmarsson (b. 1987) studied composition at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and at the Royal Concervatory in Den Haag from 2009-2011 and is a current member of the composer’s collective S.L.Á.T.U.R and curator of the contemporary music concert series, Hljóðön (e. Phonemes) at Hafnarborg,

Other projects include development of the musical instrument Thranophone in close collaboration with the visual artist Halldór Úlfarsson and composer Ingi Garðar Erlendsson, and collaboration on the video work, RELIEF (2015) with the visual artist Sigurður Guðjonsson.

Selected works

Relief [2015] - video work

Still from the video

Video work made in collaboration with visual artist Sigurður Guðjónsson
Information: 1 channel HD video, stereo sound, 14 minutes

    "Mass that reshapes itself into a group of individuals, but only for a few moments. For a few moments we can sense the causal relationship between player and sound, for a moment we are looking at a picture of individuals performing in harmony, but quickly the mass takes over the image again. Now it is not only vision but the other senses as well that are being affected. The sculpting, the demarcation between ground and subject takes the form of sound and image carving out a space for the next event to take place."

    Jóhannes Dagsson, philosopher.

Relief 2015 is part of a dialogue between visual artist Sigurður Guðjónsson and composer Þráinn Hjálmarsson.

Screenings: 13th of August - 11th of October 2015 - Part of the exhibition NEW RELEASES curated by Nadmi Samman. At Gerðarsafn Museum, Kópavogur in relation to the Music and Art Festival Cycle 2015.
Funded by: Artist Salary, Government of Iceland.

Performer: The Icelandic Flute Ensemble
Director: Sigurður Guðjónsson
Composition: Þráinn Hjálmarsson
Filmography: Sigurður Guðjónsson and Arnar Bergmann
Editing and Mixing: Sigurður Guðjónson and Þráinn Hjálmarsson

As heard across a room [2014] - Orchestral work

3 minute excerpt from a performance by Basel Sinfonietta in Tonhalle, Zürich, 3rd of October 2015.

"[...] the composer manages to create the impression of noises and their echo, distant sounds, maybe not just from a the other side of the room, but like coming from another room, almost visualizing acoustics — most unusual! Gradually, one hears breathy, distant melody fragments, sounds like from Aeolian harps, maybe allusions to a distant Ranz des Vaches (Kuhreihen), glissandos, sound waves building up, like a hilly landscape in the distance — never loud, rather like the breathing of a fairy, associated with breathy whistling tones: fascinating and enchanting!"

- Rolf Kyburz, Bachtrack in October 2015
English version available here.

Duration: 11'
Instrumentation: - 3 percussion, timpani-
Program Notes: As heard across a room In the work, the orchestra seeks to reproduce how an imagined sound event would appear as it would be heard across an imagined room.
The room resonance of this imagined space becomes interwoven to the original event, what remains is a silhouette of the original sounding even

Score: See the full score online


  • Premiered 4th of October 2014 by BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov, City Hall, Glasgow, Scotland.
  • 2nd of October 2015 by Basel Sinfonietta, conducted by Daniel Bjarnason, Stadtcasino, Basel, Switzerland.
  • -3rd of October 2015 by Basel Sinfonietta, conducted by Daniel Bjarnason, Tonhalle, Zürich, Switzerland.


Study for 2 resonant spaces [2014] - video work

Duration: 5' looped video / installation
Other: Made in collaboration with Halldór Úlfarsson, visual artist

Click on the screenshot from the video above to watch the trailer - To gain access to the whole work for perusal use, please contact via e-mail.

Influence of buildings on musical tone [2013] - Chamber music

Duration: 9'
Instrumentation: vln., vla., vlc., db., perc., perc.,
About: Acoustics of buildings is one of the most influential part on music history, the dialogue between the performer and the acoustics is crucial in the development of musical forms, from that dialogue ideas on orchestra sizes and uses (and making) of instruments has been developed.

  • Premiered 18th of April 2013 - Premiered by Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, in Eldborg Hall in Harpa, Tectonics festival 2013.

Other:Recorded by the National radio broadcast
Awards: Nominated for the ROSTRUM award in the category of composers younger than 30 years of age.

y = f(x) [2012] - Animated notation/Chamber music

Duration: 10'
Instrumentation: 2 bass flutes
About: The piece is concerned with the "musical characters" of instruments within a traditional form of duet, but where the relationship between each performer is defined visually in "animated notation" that was made parallel to the composition process.
Other: Animated notation visible to audience
Performances: Premiered by Martial Nardaeu and Þráinn Hjálmarsson at Sláturtíð 2012 Music Festival, in Reykjavík Art Museum - Hafnarhús.

Video with a recording from the premiere - Hafnarhús at Sláturtíð 2012 Music Festival, October 2012 Study for 2 resonant spaces

Thranophone sound example [2014]

About: An audio excerpt from a performance given by Ingi Garðar Erlendsson in Mengi 15th of November 2014.

Performing on Thranophone #2 with Tuba as a resonance cavity

Further on Thranophones

Sculpture #2 [2011] - Animated notation/Chamber music

Duration: 7'
Instrumentation: 2 groups of 4 performers
Setup: The video score is projected and visible for both the audience and the performers in concert.
Performances: Premiered 18th of April 2010 by DEN HAAG ALL STARS ENSEMBLE performed at Studio Loos, Den Haag, Holland

  • 29th of September 2010, Fengjastrútur performed at Útgerðin, Reykjavík, Iceland

  • 3rd of August 2011, SKARK string ensemble, Salurinn, Kópavogur, Iceland. Opening concert of the festival "Tónlistarhátíð Unga Fólksins"

Score and a recording of a performance by Fengjastrútur ensemble in 2010.