Morten Olsen 60 years today

The composer, who began his career with electronic jazz-fusion, has since charted his own unique course through the perilous seas of contemporary music, while at the same time honing his skills as a producer and sought-after master of all matters concerning music notation.

In the early 1980s, while other young composers still grappled with conflicting ideologies of their art as science or as Zen Buddhism, Morten Olsen focused his attention on the present and practical, leading an electric jazz quintet and composing its entire repertoire. As co-founder in 1990 of the Athelas Sinfonietta of Copenhagen, one of Denmark's leading ensembles, he was well aware of the challenge to composers confronted by conflicting perspectives of the new. 

The first work by Morten Olsen published by Edition·S dates back to 1993–94 and since then he has written an impressive list of compositions ranging from solo pieces to orchestral works, that we are proud to present. 

One of his most recent achievement is The Heart of Darkness from 2019, a violin concerto written for Anne Søe and Athelas Sinfonietta, where Morten Olsen was composer-in-residence. He says about the work:

"The Heart of Darkness is a violin concerto, but not in the traditional three-part sense. The music evolves in one long stretch , where tiny bits of material floats, repeats, is pushed together, torn apart or laid in layers. The Violin begins with a very small motive and stays in its own world, while the ensemble grows around it."
— Morten Olsen

Another recent work from Olsen is Scream the Color Red, a meeting between musicians from different genres: The classically schooled musicians in Athelas and Morten Olsen’s jazz sextet. Prior to the premiere of the piece in 2018, Morten Olsen talked about the work and the challenges of combining the two genres in interviews with Edition·S and Athelas.

 “Hopefully it will be music that intentionally sits between a lot of different stools. It will contain so many different elements and the expression spans from the silent and introvert to the completely chaotic.”
— Morten Olsen

Explore Morten Olsen’s musical world!