• BBC Radio 4 Front Row’s Artist-in-Residence, performing live each week for 3 months
  • Created and presented his own classical music series on Icelandic TV
  • Virtual concerto performance from Iceland with Bergen Philharmonic in Norway

“He’s got the keys to brighten the darkness,” commented The Times following the release of Víkingur Ólafsson’s latest album Debussy • Rameau back in March, when many countries were in lockdown and international concerts were cancelled. Determined to continue sharing his love of music, the celebrated pianist embarked on a series of major initiatives – on radio, TV and online – from his native Iceland. Now, four months on, he has surpassed 112 million streams for his recordings, with 17 million for his latest album – making him one of 2020’s fastest streaming core-classical artists.

As one of the first classical musicians to fully embrace live performance during lockdown, Víkingur Ólafsson reached millions of listeners around the world with his BBC Radio 4 Front Row artist residency, performing live over almost three months from Reykjavik’s empty Harpa concert hall. He also hosted his own series on Icelandic TV (RÚV) over several weeks, and – with international travel prohibited – he gave an astonishing performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Bergen Philharmonic, playing the solo part in Reykjavík while the orchestra were in Norway!

Debussy • Rameau has achieved five-star reviews and critical accolades, including a Diapason d’Or, with praise for Ólafsson’s inventive programme of works by two titans of French music. It was chosen by The Sunday Times as its ‘Album of the Week’, Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine, and ‘Recording of the Month’ in BBC Music magazine who simply commented, “He’s done it again.”

The album has also enjoyed exceptional chart success, with Top 40 status in the German, Icelandic and Swiss pop charts, and No.1 classical chart positions in the UK, Germany, France and Belgium, plus No.2 in the US traditional classical chart.

Ólafsson’s latest video for Rameau’s La Cupis is a follow-up to the hugely successful video for his transcription of Les Boréades: The Arts and the Hours, which has been viewed almost half a million times on YouTube and clocked up 3.5 million streams.

“I’m grateful that my album has found its way to so many,” says Víkingur Ólafsson. “In the time of quarantine, music has the power to take us to beautiful, distant places. I wish everyone health, contentment and happy listening in the times that lie ahead.”

[The Debussy/Rameau album is reviewed on this site]