Lasse Thoresen (b. 1949) is a professor of composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music where he has taught composition, electro-acoustic music, and sonology since 1975. He received a graduate degree in composition in 1972 from the Oslo Music Conservatory, where he studied under Finn Mortensen, after which he studied electro acoustic music and composition under Werner Kaegi at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the Netherlands. From 1978 to 1981 he conducted a post graduate research project in sonology with support from the Norwegian ‘Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities’.  From 1988 to 2000 Mr. Thoresen occupied the principal chair of composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo where he is still teaching composition. He was a guest professor at ESMUC, Barcelona in 2007.

A number of his works have achieved wide recognition both in Norway and internationally. The piano trio Bird of the heart was first performed at the Bergen International Festival in 1982 by Oslo Trio, and has subsequently been played on tours by a number of outstanding trios in numerous European and Canadian concert halls. The Symphonic concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1984) had its first performance on direct broadcast to a vast number of European countries and has later been performed several times at concerts in Norway, Sweden and Germany. In 1985 Les trois régénérations was commissioned and premiered by Radio France in Paris. Mr. Thoresen was the festival composer at the Bergen International Music festival in 1986. Emergence (1997) was commissioned by the Oslo Philharmonic and its conductor Mariss Jansons for a concert tour to European capitals including the Musik Verein in Vienna. In 1998 Fire and Light.  Cantata and Transformation had its world premiere in Warsaw, the work being commissioned by the contemporary music festival Warszawa Autumn. In April 2000 his hour’s long “As the Waves of One Sea” for 230 performers was performed in Oslo Concert Hall to celebrate the new millennium.  In May 2001, his Oratorio Terraces of Light was performed in Haifa in connection with the inauguration of the Bahá’í Terraces. In 2003 he was guest composer in Kiev Musik Fest. In May 2003 his Triple Concerto Transfigurations was performed by a Norwegian trio of soloists and St. Petersburg Symphonic Academy as a greeting from the Norwegian State on the occasion of the city’s 300 years jubilee.  For three years he was composer in residence at Festival Présences, the major musical festival of Radio France, Paris (2004-2006). The sinfonietta BIT20 has taken his Løp, lokk og linjer on several tours abroad, and Nordic Voices has performed his music regularly during their tours.

Mr. Thoresen has received a number of awards: the Norwegian Society of Composers’ Work of the Year award for Stages of the Inner Dialogue for piano (1981), AbUno (1992), Carmel Eulogies (1993); the Music Critics’ Award for Qudrat, a work for synthesizer and percussion, the Lindeman award for his integral work as a composer (1987). In 1987 Illuminations for violoncello and orchestra obtained honorary mention in the Prix Italia.  He won Spellemannsprisen — the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy — for the CD The Sonic Mind, featuring a violin and a cello concerto recorded by the Oslo Philharmonic (1998). In 2001, he received Prix Jacques DURAND from Institut de France, Academie des Beaux Arts for his music.  In 2002 he receives the Foundation Samii-Housseinpour Price (Belgium). In 2003 he receives the Edvard Prize for his 60 minutes’ suite for Folk Singer and Sinfonietta Løp, lokk og linjar. In 2010 he received the Nordic Music Prize, the most prestigious one in Scandinavia, for his works for vocal sextet (op.42) that employ new vocal techniques and microtonality inspired by ancient Scandinavian folk music.

Influenced by Norwegian folk music, French spectral music and Harry Partch’s tonal system “Just Intonation,” as well as from his ethno-musical studies of the folk music from his own country and from Asia Mr.Thoresen has been using microtonal principles in a number of his works since 1985. His approach to instrumentation and texture has been influenced by spectromorphology.  Stylistically his production exhibits great variety.

His pioneering work on musical analysis, combining a phenomenological approach with a structuralist approach to analytical method inspired by the spectromorphology of Pierre Schaeffer, has attracted international attention.  Mr. Thoresen has published scientific papers on in Organised Sound and Journal of Music and Meaning. He has lectured extensively on his music and his method of musical analysis in Universities and Conferences  in Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø, Trondheim, Stockholm, Malmoe, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Jyväskylä, London, York, Baghdad, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Gent, Hamburg, Moscow, Paris, Landegg (Switzerland), Leuven (Belgium), Kiev, Montreal, Beijing, Norrkøping, Riga, Tallin, Prague. He was guest professor at ESMUC (Barcelona) autumn 2007, was engaged as a guest lecturer and researcher at McGill (Montreal) 2013-2015.

Selected list of compositions:
The Garden <1976>. Stages of the Inner Dialogue. For piano <1980>. Symphonic Concerto for Violin and Orchestra <1984/86>. Illuminations: Concerto for two celli and orchestra<1986/90>. Helligkvad <1988-1997>for solo voice. Narrative for saxophone quartet <1988/95>. Yr for solo violin <1991>. AbUno<1992> for chamber ensemble with synthesizer. From the Sweet Scented Streams of Eternity etc <1995> for mixed choirs.  Pyr Aionion <1996> for String Quartet. Løp, lokk og linjar<2001-2003> for folk singer and sinfonietta. The Descent of Luminous Waters<2003> piano trio. Concerto for hardingfele, nyckelharpa, and orchestra. “To the Brother Peoples”<2004>. Ut Omnes Unum Sint <2006> for baroque orchestra, choir and soloists. Symphonic concerto for violoncello and orchestra. Journey through Three Valleys. <2006-2008>. Op. 42 <2006-2010> Four Pieces for Vocal Sextet. Mythes Etoilés <2010> for 24 part chamber choir. Symphonic Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. “La Valle del Unitá” <20011-2013>. Sprang. Concerto for 2 violins and String Orchestra <2012>.  Sea of Names (flute and piano) <2012>.

Selected discography:
Bird of the Heart (NCD-B 4938).  AbUno (ACD 4968). AbUno. ACD 4868. From the Sweet-scented Streams of Eternity (PSC1130). The Sonic Mind (ACD 5008). Saxofon Concentus. Second Tale. PSC 1200. Løp, lokk og linjar (Chases, Cattle Calls and Charts) ACD 5042. To the Brother Peoples (ACD5058). Himmelkvad (2L-075-SABD). Mythes Etoilés (ACD5083).

  Sound of Norway? Reflections on Lasse Thoresen’s Yr  

Les Paysages Sonores de Lasse Thoresen


Thoresen: Musikkens universelle språk — PDF

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Photo: Lisbeth Risnes, Music Information Centre Norway
Lasse Thoresen