Magnus Lindberg

From Wind Repertory Project
Magnus Lindberg


Magnus Lindberg (b. 27 June 1958, Helsinki, Finland) studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki under Einojuhani Rautavaara and Paavo Heininen. He attended summer courses in Siena (with Franco Donatoni) and Darmstadt (with Brian Ferneyhough). After graduating from the Sibelius Academy in 1981 he travelled widely in Europe, attending private studies with Vinko Globokar and Gérard Grisey in Paris, and observing Japanese drumming and punk rock in Berlin.

While at 16 Lindberg wrote a large orchestral work called Donor, this was considered impossible to perform, and several subsequent works were considered juvenalia. 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 Hämeeniemi, Kaipainen, Saariaho and 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, and even a danger of losing his own personal style. However, with his symphonic work Aura (1994), he tied together a new, eclectic style, though nonetheless still Lindberg.

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.

Among the many prizes his music has won are the Prix Italia (1986), the UNESCO Rostrum (1986), the Nordic Music Prize (1988) for Kraft, and the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for large-scale composition (1992).

Works for Winds


  • Magnus Lindberg, Wikipedia Accessed 18 September 2017
  • Peltz, Charles. "Gran Duo." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 6, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 830-835. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2007.