iceland

Information about musical traces in Iceland is limited. It is the only European country without an opera house; in a country with only 360 thousand inhabitants, its musical life cannot be as world-shaking as is its marvellous scenery, but it can boast about interesting folklore, including rimur and polyphonic tvisöngur [bicinia] with roots in the early Middle Ages. Today, the pop singer Björk is the best known Icelandic musician.

ITEMNUMBER

REGION OR CITY, CITY OR SECTOR

special

SHORTINFO

is1.1001

Reykjavík

H Arpa

is1.1002

Reykjavík

former Q

is1.1003

Reykjavík

N

is1.1004

Reykjavík

A library

is1.1006

Reykjavík

F Leifs

is1.1007

Reykjavík

E Leifs

is1.1008

Reykjavík

P various composers

is1.1011

Kópavogur

H

is1.1031

Akureyri

H

is1.1041

Siglufjörður

A folkore

is1.1061

Ísafjörður

J harmonicas

is1.1001

H Arpa

Austurbakki 2,Reykjavík

Arpa

The modern concert hall was built in 2011 after the design by Henning Larsen architects. It is the platform of the Iceland SO, founded in 1950. The main hall has 1800 seats; although a curtain, proscenium and stage machinery are lacking, sometimes operas are performed here. (photo I. Sobljak)

is1.1001

is1.1002

former Q

Ingolfstræti,Reykjavík

Gamle Bio

Between 1980 and 2011, operas had been performed in this cinema and/or theatre by the company Íslenska Óperan.

is1.1003

N

Skipholt 33,Reykjavík

Tónlistarskolinn i Reykjavík

The first College of Music was established in 1930, the present College of Music in 1980 as a branch of the University of Arts.

is1.1004

A library

Arngrímsgata 3,Reykjavík

Landsbókasafn

The National and University Library is since 1994 housed in this building, called þjóðarbókhlaðan. The Music department is on the 4th floor and contains many manuscripts, recordings and audiovisual media about Icelandic music.

is1.1004

is1.1006

F Leifs

Freyjugata 3,Reykjavík

Last house of Iceland’s greatest composer, Jón Leifs (1899-1968). He was born as Jón þorleifsson at Solheimer Farm in the North of the country, studied in Reykjavík and Leipzig and lived partly in Germany until the 1950s. He became the leading figure in Iceland’s musical life as teacher, conductor and organiser. His oeuvre is nationalistic but sometimes too ambitious for his homeland; the great dramatic works ─ Baldr, Edda trilogy ─ are penetrating and of striking originality but were never performed during his lifetime.

is1.1006

is1.1007

E Leifs

Vesturhlid,Reykjavík

Fossvagsgarður cemetery

Grave of Jón Leifs, nr k-25-71. (Photo Varp.)

is1.1007

is1.1008

P various composers

Suðurgata,Reykjavík

Holavallagarður cemetery

Graves of three 19th century musicians: the brothers Jónas and Helgi Helgason were the founders of a choral and a brass band tradition, and Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson (1847-1927), the first professional composer and the creator of the national anthem Ó, guð vors lands.

is1.1008a
is1.1008b
is1.1008c

is1.1011

H

Hamraborg 6,Kópavogur

Salurinn

Concert hall for chamber music. Formerly there was a ‘music museum’ in this town, but its content moved to the National Library in 2017.

is1.1031

H

Strandgata 12,Akureyri

Meuningerhúsið Hof

This ‘culture centre of the North’ has been equipped with a good concert hall.

is1.1041

A folkore

Norðurgata 1,Siglufjörður

'Madame House'

House and monument of pastor Bjarni þorsteinsson (1861-1938), ardent collector of folk music and composer of 60 solo and choir songs. In the house is a collection of audio and video recordings of Icelandic folklore; a yearly folklore festival with performances, lectures and workshops was established in 2000 (five days in July).

is1.1041a
is1.1041b

is1.1061

J harmonicas

Hafnarstræti 5,Ísafjörður

Hversdugsafn

A complex of buildings in a traditional fishing village became a museum. One of the buildings houses a collection of 220 harmonicas from the whole world. 

is1.1061