Rolf Martinsson serves as professor of composition at the Malmö Academy of Music and is a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

The world premiere of “Bridge – Trumpet Concerto”, dedicated to and premiered by Håkan Hardenberger, led to the international scene and the concerto has been frequently performed since the premiere by the commissioner Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi in 1999. Bridge was followed by a row of solo concertos, dedicated to a number of soloists and written with their special skills and personality in mind. “Fairlight – Trombone Concerto”/Christian Lindberg, “Cello Concerto”/Mats Lidström, “Shimmering Blue – Flute Concerto”/Magnus Båge, “Violin Concerto”/Jan Stigmer, “Concert Fantastique – Clarinet Concerto”/Martin Fröst, “Double Bass Concerto”/Dan Styffe, “Golden Harmony – Soprano Saxophone Concerto”/Anders Paulsson and “Soundscape – Horn Concerto”/Felix Klieser.

After the premieres the concertos have been picked up by other soloists: Bridge/Ole Edvard Antonsen, Giuliano Sommerhalder and Per Ivarsson, Fairlight/Jörgen van Rijen, Concert Fantastique/Magnus Holmander and Double Bass Concerto/Edicson Ruiz and Gunars Upatnieks.

The longstanding successful collaboration with Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson has led to major international commissions and premieres and marks a vocal milestone in Martinsson’s production. The revised edition for soprano of “Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson” initiated the collaboration that was followed by “To the Shadow of Reality” for soprano, solo violin and string quartet, “Garden of Devotion” for soprano and string orchestra and “Ich denke Dein…” for soprano and orchestra, jointly commissioned by Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. The following collaboration “Into Eternity”, for soprano and large orchestra, was commissioned by Malmö Symphony Orchestra/Marc Soustrot for the inauguration of the new concert hall Malmö Live in 2015. Lisa Larsson has also been evangelist many times in Martinsson’s St. Luke Passion and she also had that role at the world premiere of the German version of St. Luke Passion, with Bach Collegium Zürich/Bernhard Hunziker.

Martinsson has been internationally recognized for his orchestration skills, and another important part of the collaboration with Lisa Larsson are his vocal arrangements. Lisa Larsson has created two unique concepts: “Traumreise”, on songs by Franz Berwald, commissioned and premiered by Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich/Lahav Shani and “Hommage an Clara”, on songs by Clara Schumann, commissioned and premiered by Malmö Symphony Orchestra/Juraj Valčuha, both pieces scored for soprano and orchestra and premiered by Lisa Larsson in Martinsson’s orchestrations. Additional orchestrations as part of the collaboration are: “Walzer- Gesänge Op. 6”/Alexander von Zemlinsky, “L’amerò sarò costante”/Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Infelice”/Felix Mendelssohn and “Two Songs”/Wilhelm Stenhammar, orchestrated for soprano and orchestra. The collaboration also includes four composer portraits – at BIS, Challenge Records and Daphne labels. The vocal repertoire has been picked up by other sopranos such as Elizabeth Llewellyn, Hanna Husáhr, Ivana Lazar, Hester Henzepeter and Kristine Nowlain. The mezzo-soprano version of Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson was written for and premiered by Anne Sofie von Otter, Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Vassily Sinaisky and Martinsson’s commission from the Cello Biënnale Amsterdam 2014 for soprano, cello and string orchestra was premiered by Lisette Bolle, Jakob Koranyi and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Bas Wiegers.

Another chapter in Rolf Martinsson’s writing is his orchestral works. “Dreams”, “Concerto for Orchestra”, “Open Mind”, “Shimmering Islands”, “Tour de force”, “Opening Sounds”, “Poem for Orchestra”, “Impression”, “Chamber Concerto No. 2” and the string orchestra pieces “A. S. in Memoriam”, “Kalliope” and “String Moments”.

Martinsson was featured composer at Stockholm International Composer Festival in 2008 and has been Composer in Residence with Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra at Concertgebouw and with Malmö Symphony Orchestra among others. His collaborations have led to performances in venues such as Carnegie Hall/New York, Musikverein and Konzerthaus/Vienna, Philharmonie and Konzerthaus/Berlin, Gewandhaus/Leipzig, Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw/Amsterdam, Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall/London, La Philharmonie/Paris, Salzburger Festspielhaus, and Suntory Hall, Opera City Hall and Metropolitan Art Space/Tokyo.

Rolf Martinsson’s music is performed by orchestras such as Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Bamberger Symphoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, NDR Elbphilharmonie/Hamburg, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Deutsche Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken-Kaiserslautern, Tonkünstler-Orchester, ORF Radio- Symphonieorchester Wien, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Avanti, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Sinfonietta Riga and all the major Nordic orchestras in collaboration with conductors such as Andris Nelsons, Manfred Honeck, Sakari Oramo, Alan Gilbert, Edward Gardner, Andrew Manze, John Storgårds, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Klaus Mäkelä, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Antonello Manacorda and soloists such as Hans Pålsson, Wissam Boustany, Peter Jablonski, Francisca Skoogh, Jacques Werup and Helen Jahren.

Martinsson studied teaching, music theory and composition 1975-1985 at the Malmö Academy of music, Lund University. His teachers among others were Brian Ferneyhough, Sven-David Sandström, Sven-Erik Bäck, Sven- Eric Johansson, Hans Eklund, Jan W. Morthenson and Sten Ingelf. In addition to being a devoted composer Martinsson is a dedicated chess player.

Rolf Martinsson has received the awards “Stora Christ Johnson-priset”, “Rosenbergpriset” and “Litteris et Artibus”. His music is represented at some 30 CDs. Several European orchestras have toured his music internationally and his works are frequently present at music festivals such as Robeco SummerNights at Concertgebouw, George Enescu Festival, Reingau Music Festival, Kissinger Sommer, International Chamber Music Festival Stavanger, Båstad Chamber Music Festival, Lyckå Chamber Music Festival among others. Future commissions include an opera, “Amy”, for the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, a “Requiem” for Växjö Domkyrka among other commissioners and “Symphony No. 1” for the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

October 26th, 2022

Rolf Martinsson is represented by Gehrmans Musikförlag

Photography by Louise Martinsson and video by Tord Martinsson

© Rolf Martinsson 2019. All rights reserved.