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Magnus Lindberg (born 27 June 1958, Helsinkimarker) is a Finnish composer and pianist. He is currently the composer-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic.


Lindberg studied at the Sibelius Academymarker in Helsinki under Einojuhani Rautavaara and Paavo Heininen, beginning with piano. He attended summer courses in Sienamarker (with Franco Donatoni) and Darmstadtmarker (with Brian Ferneyhough). After graduating in 1981, he travelled widely in Europe, attending private studies with Vinko Globokar and Gérard Grisey in Parismarker, and observing Japanese drumming and punk rock in Berlin.

Compositions and style

Lindberg's juvenalia compositions include the large orchestral work Donor, composed at age 16. Quintetto dell’Estate (1979) is generally held to be Lindberg's first opus. His first piece performed by a professional orchestra was Sculpture II in 1982, the second part of a trilogy whose first and third sections were long unwritten. His first great success came with "Action-Situation-Signification" (1982), the first work in which he explored musique concrète. This piece was written for and premiered by the new-music ensemble Toimii ("It Works" in the Finnish language), which Lindberg founded during the summer of 1980. Also around the same period, Lindberg founded an informal grouping known as the Ears Open Society including Lindberg and his contemporaries Eero Hämeeniemi, Jouni Kaipainen, Kaija Saariaho and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Lindberg is a trained pianist and has performed several of his works as part of Toimii.

Kraft (1983-85), another piece written for Toimii, was Lindberg's largest work to date, with harmonies of over 70 notes and a meter-high score. It uses not only traditional instrumentation, but percussion on scrap metal and spoken word. Lindberg found this large work difficult to follow, and with the exception of 1986's Ur, which he called "Kraft in chamber form", he entered an extensive creative hiatus which was to last for over two years. During this time he was not only rethinking his style, but also recovering from a tropical disease contracted during travels in Indonesia.

Kraft made use of a chaconne-type structure where the progression of the piece is based on a repeated chain of chords. It was this idea that served as the basis for Lindberg's next style. He returned with an orchestral trilogy consisting of Kinetics (1988), Marea (1989-90) and Joy (1990). Though Lindberg became less interested in electronic manipulation of sound, he still explored the possibilities of compositional software, and Engine displays complex counterpoint generated by computer. Since Joy, Lindberg has shown a gradual refining of his style, orchestrations and harmonies. This showed itself first in the work for chamber ensemble, Corrente (1992) (and its subsequent orchestral version, Corrente II from the same year), and Duo Concertante (1992). In these works, Lindberg showed influences ranging from Pierre Boulez and Tristan Murail to Igor Stravinsky and Minimalism. His symphonic work Aura (1994) reflects a newer, more eclectic style.

Since then, Lindberg has built upon these developments, further refining his style, which by now was leaning towards a type of new tonality hinted at in works such as Joy and Aura. This development has culminated in one of his most popular scores to date, his Clarinet Concerto (2002), where his use of a folk-like melody and rich orchestration has led to an increased interest in his work.

Awards and honors

He has received a number of composition prizes, including the Prix Italia (1986), the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers (1986), the Nordic Music Prize (1988) for Kraft, and the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for large-scale composition (1992).

Lindberg became the new composer-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic with the 2009-2010 season, at the invitation of the incoming music director Alan Gilbert. The September 2009 opening night gala of the Philharmonic, which was Gilbert's debut as music director, featured a well-received new work by Lindberg, EXPO.


  • Musik för två pianon (Music for Two Pianos) (1976)
  • Arabesques for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn (1978)
  • Quintetto dell' estate for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1979)
  • Linea d'ombra (1981)
  • " Tartuffe, je crois..." for piano quintet (1981)
  • Action-Situation-Signification (1982)
  • Tendenza for 21 players (1982)
  • Ablauf (1983)
  • Ground for harpsichord (1983)
  • Kraft (1983-85)
  • Metal Work (1984)
  • Stroke for cello (1984)
  • UR (1986)
  • Twine for solo piano (1988)
  • Kinetics (1988-89)
  • Marea (1989-90)
  • Joy (1989-90)
  • Moto (1990)
  • Steamboat Bill Jr. (1990)
  • Jeux d'anches for solo accordion (1990)
  • Clarinet Quintet (1992)
  • Duo Concertante for solo clarinet and cello (1992)
  • Corrente for chamber orchestra (1992)
  • Corrente II for symphony orchestra (1992)
  • Decorrente (1992)
  • Kiri (1993)
  • Songs from North and South" for chorus a cappella (1993)
  • Coyote Blues for large chamber ensemble (1993)
  • Away for solo clarinet (1994)
  • Aura (in memoriam Witold Lutosławski) for orchestra (1994)
  • Concerto for piano and orchestra (1994)
  • Zungenstimmen (1994)
  • Arena for orchestra (1995)
  • Arena II for orchestra (1996)
  • Engine (1996)
  • Related Rocks (1997)
  • Feria (1997)
  • Cantigas (1997-1999)
  • Campana In Aria for horn and orchestra (1998)
  • Concerto for cello and orchestra (1999)
  • Parada
  • Fresco
  • Corrente - China Version (2000)
  • Jubilees for piano (2000)
  • Partia for cello solo (2001)
  • Etude I for piano (2001)
  • Dos Coyotes (2002)
  • Bubo bubo (2002)
  • Bright Cecilia: Variations on a Theme by Purcell for orchestra (2002)
  • Chorale for orchestra (2002)
  • Clarinet Concerto for clarinet and orchestra (2002)
  • Jubilees for chamber ensemble (2002)
  • Counter Phrases for chamber ensemble (2002-2003)
  • Concerto for orchestra (2003)
  • Mano a mano for guitar (2004)
  • Tribute for orchestra (2004)
  • Etude II for piano (2004)
  • Ottoni for brass ensemble (2005)
  • Sculpture for orchestra (2005)
  • Concerto for violin and orchestra (2006)
  • Konzertstück for cello and piano (2006)
  • Seht die Sonne for orchestra (2007)
  • Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (2008)
  • Graffiti for chorus and orchestra (2008-2009)
  • EXPO for orchestra (2009)


  1. Tommasini, Anthony. "Gilbert Debuts as Philharmonic’s Director." New York Times. September 17, 2009.


  • Stenius, Caterina. 2006. Chaconne: En bok om Magnus Lindberg och den nya musiken. Med verkförteckning av Risto Nieminen. Helsinki: Söderströms. ISBN 951-52-2356-3

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