Works Discography

Rolf Wallin (1957-)

Rolf Wallin was Stavanger Symphony Orchestra's composer-in-residence in the spring season of 2022, following numerous successful projects through several decades. This album is a result of that collaboration.


Rolf Wallin is one of Scandinavia’s leading contemporary composers, widely performed and commissioned internationally. His musical background spans from jazz, avantgarde rock and early music to traditional classical training. This versatility is reflected in an exceptionally many-faceted list of compositions. As a composer Wallin freely combines computer-generated systems and mathematical formulae with intuitive approaches. His work list includes both instrumental and electroacoustic works, music for concert halls and for theatre, dance and film; and his continuous crossing of borders between genres and styles has resulted in a number of fruitful cross-fertilizations.


An idea that has proven especially fruitful for Wallin is the use of so-called “fractal” mathematical algorithms to generate a musical raw material, which he refines further by means of a continuous interaction between systematic calculations and his own musical intuition. Stonewave, one of his most popular and frequently performed pieces, is made purely from fractal mathematics, but far from being abstract, the music comes across as very physical and organic. As an example, it played an important part in the music for the opening ceremony of the 1994 Winter Olympics, broadcast to millions of sport fans across the globe.


Other examples of fractal works are Boyl (1995), commissioned by Ensemble Intercontemporain and the oboe quartet Ning (1991). And, last but not least: on this album, in the violin concerto Whirld, the very same numbers churning out muscular pulses in Stonewave provide the source for an almost romantic expressionism.


Wallin just as often throws all the calculations overboard and composes totally freely and intuitively, like in his orchestral work Act (2004), commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra, and later released on Ondine with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. 


Also the trumpet concerto Fisher King, commissioned and premiered by Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Håkan Hardenberger, and Manyworlds (2010), are made in this intuitive way. Both are on another Ondine album, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.


Speaking of intuition, Wallin has covered all shades from traditional music notation to full on improvisation. In the latter end of the spectrum are two works featuring Wallin himself on stage: (1994), where he appeared in a Star Trek-like controller suit with which he controlled the cutting edge hardware and software of the time, and Scratch, going to the absolutely opposite end of the high tech/low tech scale: a red balloon, soap water and a knife.


The image of the lonely composer in an ivory tower does not fit Rolf Wallin. In addition to his many orchestral and chamber works, Wallin has worked closely with prominent jazz, rock, improvising and folk musicians, bridging the gap between very different musical languages. He has also collaborated with visual artists, writers, theatre directors and, above all, several outstanding contemporary dance groups and choreographers. His Urban Bestiary (2008), composed for the Norwegian National Ballet, was the first work performed in the new Opera House in Oslo when it opened in April 2008.


Many of Wallin's works connect directly with the world around him, most notably in works such as Strange News (2007), which tells the story of the rehabilitation of child soldiers, Concerning King (2006), modelled around Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1967 Vietnam war speech, and Large Bird Mask (2019), posing important ethical and philosophical questions around the accelerating extinction of birds. His opera Elysium, commissioned by the Norwegian Opera and premiered in 2016, was the result of a close collaboration with British playwright Mark Ravenhill. It is set in a future peopled by transhumans and brings together topics such as human rights, revolution, salvation and our hopes and fears of artificial intelligence and the possible extinction of humankind – or, like some transhumanists believe, the possibility for humankind's collective consciousness to melt together with the Universe...


More information:
Official website
Chester Novello

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Act (2003)
Das war schön! (2006)
Fisher King for Trumpet and Orchestra
Five Seasons (2022), for sheng and orchestra
Manyworlds with video by Boya Bøckmann in 2D and 3D
Spirit (2017), for electric bass guitar and orchestra
Stride (2023)
Tides (1998)
Whirld (2018), for violin and orchestra


Rolf Wallin

Five Seasons




Wu Wei, sheng

Eldbjørg Hemsing, violin

Ida Nielsen, electric double bass

Stavanger Symphony Orchestra

Andris Poga

ODE 1429-2


Released 03/2024

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Rolf Wallin
Fisher King for Trumpet and Orchestra

Håkan Hardenberger, trumpet
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
John Storgårds, conductor
ODE 1267-2D
CD + blu-ray

Released 05/2015

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Rolf Wallin
Act · Das war schön! · Tides

Martin Grubinger, percussion
Kroumata Percussion Ensemble
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Jaap van Zweden, conductor
John Axelrod, conductor
Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor
ODE 1118-2

Released 10/2007

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