16-01-1951 - current
Klas Torstensson has lived and worked his entire adult life in the Netherlands, but his music crosses borders – in every sense. Though abstract, it sometimes sets aside a clear role for natural impressions from his native Sweden (including the North Pole area). In his decisively modernistic (often purposely “noisy”) ...
Biography Klas Torstensson
Klas Torstensson has lived and worked his entire adult life in the Netherlands, but his music crosses borders – in every sense. Though abstract, it sometimes sets aside a clear role for natural impressions from his native Sweden (including the North Pole area). In his decisively modernistic (often purposely “noisy”) early works, he followed in the footsteps of Edgar Varèse and Iannis Xenakis, but starting with The Expedition, he has enriched his idiom with sounds, colours and even melodic types from the symphonic tradition, which he contrasts with each other in a dramatically and sometimes even shockingly original way.
1951 - 1972
Klas Torstensson is born in Nässjö, Sweden, on January 16. He studies the clarinet, music theory and composition with Per Johannes Hartmann at the Ingesunds music academy in Arvika, and later, musicology at the University of Gothenburg.
Torstensson takes up residence in the Netherlands and studies electronic and computer music at the Institute for Sonology in Utrecht.
He works for a lengthy period with the Asko Ensemble and is, among other things, part of its “Workplace”, a collaborative relationship between musicians and composers.
'Barstend ijs' [Cracking Ice], for 24 singers, six percussionists and multimedia, is premiered at the Holland Festival.
1990 - 1991
The orchestral piece 'Stick on Stick' is premiered. “As if a new Varèse has arisen,” Aad van der Ven later writes about the CD recording. The following year, the piece is awarded the Matthijs Vermeulen Prize.
The opera 'The Expedition' (1994-1998), about a hot-air balloon flight to the North Pole, a piece on which Torstensson has worked for years, receives no more than a concert performance at the Holland Festival. However, it is exceptionally well received: “Torstensson’s The Expedition is one of the few operas from Dutch soil that makes a lasting impression and achieves international standing”, Luister writes. And De Groene Amsterdammer calls it: “The hit of the Holland Festival ... It is a grandiose heroic epic in which, with the greatest ease, Torstensson joins the tragic lyricism of Puccini, dissonants colliding with each other, the achievements of electronic music, snatches of Broadway musical, and the primal force of Xenakis”. Enthusiastically received performances follow in Germany, Sweden and Norway. He is featured composer at the festival Stockholm New Music 1999 (together with Mauricio Kagel and György Kurtág). Torstensson receives the Stora Christ Johnson Priset for his entire oeuvre from Sweden’s Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien.
2000 - 2003
Torstensson composes 'Lantern Lectures', Volumes I-IV, a cycle for large ensemble jointly commissioned by Le Nouvel Ensemble Modern (Montréal), the Asko Ensemble (Amsterdam), KammarensembleN (Stockholm), Klangforum Wien and Oslo Sinfonietta. 'Lantern Lectures' is performed more than 25 times by ensembles in Europe and elsewhere.
Charlotte Riedijk and the Osiris Trio premiere 'In großer Sehnsucht', a song cycle on texts by five “tragic” women: Camille Claudel, Frida Kahlo, Cristina di Svezia, Rosa Luxemburg and Louise Michel. “With In grosser Sehnsucht, Torstensson takes another step in his development, which since the dazzling opera The Expedition, shows increasingly expressive colours. In each of the songs, Torstensson paints a fine portrait of sorrowful women,” Erik Voermans writes in Het Parool.
'Self-portrait with percussion', the last piece on the five-part 'Lantern Lectures' cycle, is premiered during the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik by Peppie Wiersma and the Asko Ensemble.
'In großer Sehnsucht' (2004), is performed as a music theatre production during the Rotterdam Opera Days. On October 6, 'Fastlandet', part 1 of the four-part 'A Cycle of the North', is premiered during a Saturday Matinee concert by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jaap van Zweden.
2008 - 2009
'Polarhavet', the second part of 'A Cycle of the North', is premiered on August 27 during the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm. The Norwegian premiere - as part of “Stavanger Culturele Hoofdstad van Europa” - follows in December. On November 6, 2009 Torstensson receives the Swedish Music Publishers Award for 'Polarhavet'.
2010 - 2011
The 'Violin Concerto' is premiered by Jennifer Koh and the Nieuw Ensemble conducted by Ed Spanjaard. The Belgian premiere follows in Antwerp (Ars Musica) in 2011. A chamber music version of the piece - 'Pocket Size Violin Concerto' - is written for the Swedish quartet Peärls Before the Swïnes Experience. Torstensson is awarded the prestigious Järnåkersstipendium 2011 for In grosser Sehnsucht (2004).
Klas Torstensson is composer in residence at Het Brabants Orkest. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Stockholm has - together with Het Brabants Orkest - commissioned the third work of 'A Cycle of the North'. 'Himmelen' will be premiered on April 15 in Eindhoven. Klas Torstensson is composer in residence with the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ.During the festival soundsofmusic in Groningen in October Torstensson is one of the main guests.
Discography Klas Torstensson
Licks & Brains
|Type and year||CD, 1989|
|Label||Composers Voice, CVCD 13|
|solist||Leo van Oostrom|
|muzikant||Nederlands Saxofoon Kwartet|
Stick on Stick, Urban Solo, Urban Songs
|Type and year||CD, 1994|
|Label||Composers Voice, CV 32|
|Type and year||2CD, 2001|
|Label||Composers Voice, CV 100|
|muzikant||Radio Filharmonisch Orkest|
In grosser Sehnsucht
|Type and year||CD, 2007|
Orkest de Volharding - Orkest De Volharding 1972-1992
|Type and year||CD, 1992|
|Label||NM Classics, 92021|
|componist||Amilcar Vasques Dias|
|componist||Cees van Zeeland|
|componist||Willem van Manen|
Cees van Zeeland - Pianoduo Cees van Zeeland and Gerard Bouwhuis
|Type and year||CD, 1999|
|Label||NM Classics, 92074|
|componist||Huba de Graaff|
In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.