Publicerad: 2022-10-24

Víkingur Ólafsson inspireras av Rolf Schock att följa sin passion och dela sina värderingar

Víkingur Ólafsson mottar 2022 års Rolf Schockpris i de musikaliska konsterna. På grund av pågående världsturné kan den isländske pianisten inte själv medverka vid prisutdelningen, men han representeras av sin fru Halla Oddný Magnúsdóttir, även hon konsertpianist. 

Övriga Rolf Schockpristagare är filosofen David Kaplan, matematikern Jonathan Pila och arkitekten Rem Koolhaas. Rolf Schockprisen delas ut vartannat år och spänner över så olika områden som vetenskap, visuell konst och musik. De fyra pristagarna får dela på två miljoner kronor.


Víkingur Ólafssons pristagartal

Your Excellence, Honoured Laureates, Academy members, ladies and gentlemen.

It is my very enjoyable duty to stand before you today and receive this prize on behalf of my husband, Víkingur, who could not be here now. It is a prize he receives with immense gratitude, and I have been given the task of conveying this by reading out a few words from Víkingur - (so the first person singular pronoun "I" in the following speech will refer to Víkingur Ólafsson - this is an excercise in indexicals and demonstratives which I feel is oddly fitting in the presence of the distinguished logician David Kaplan.

Being awarded the Rolf Schock prize is a particular honour and delight - for many reasons. There is the story of the prize's enigmatic founder, a true renaissance man and a rebel of sorts, who appears to have possessed an intellectual freedom of wondrous proportions - and there is this rare and inspiring opportunity of being recognised not just in a sequence of great musicians whom I admire very much, but also alongside great minds from the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics and architecture.

Of course, as someone whose work days are mostly spent at the piano, my understanding of these fields is bound to be somewhat superficial, but my reverence for them is deep. There are connections - in the way all human inquiry and creativity is intricately connected. As the father of two young boys, for example, I can't help but feel that we - experts in logic, number theory, architecture and music - share the burden, as it were, of dealing with things that come rather easily to children - the basic human utterances, the natural numbers we count with, the building of houses from blocks, the making of music, which comes to us even more naturally than language itself, let alone numbers. The simple things in life - that contain within them the most infinite complexities and unfathomable mysteries. Apart from the prize itself, I am grateful for this inspiration and opportunity for wonder - to escape my one's own area of expertise to marvel at that of my distinguished fellow laureates.

The particular beauty of the Rolf Schock prize is bringing us together, allowing for unexpected reverberations, if not complete understanding. We all come from afar in some respect. In my case, the point of origin is a volcanic island where the tectonic plates of Europe and America meet. This junction is a good place in many ways, and Iceland is a nation of polymaths in the vein of Rolf Schock. My father is both an architect and a composer, and early on instilled in me a structural interest in music. In fact, he's a poet as well, so I also learned early on as well that poetry tends to be the key to a structure’s longevity – and even the stablest of structures tend to be worthless without a little poetry infused in them. In my own work in music, I often feel that we make too great a distinction between the analytical and the creative - one always informs the other. Even the freest musical expression is bound in its own kind of logic, its own kind of structure. The time you steal in a moment of rapturous tempo rubato must be given back at some point, lest the intricate coherence of the work is lost, the structure collapses, and with it the emotional and aesthetic impact. And yet analysis is useless without imagination - the provocative force of fantasy.

In receiving the Rolf Schock prize for music, it is also exhilarating to join the succession of wonderful musicians who got it before me. It is a curious coincidence that I have spent the past year reveling in the music of the 2020 Rolf Schock music prize winner, György Kurtág – another man whose ideas appear to work at the intersection of poetry, music and some primordial, proto-logical gesture, – a free yet instantly recognisable and potent form of expression and expansion of our sensory and intellectual worlds. It makes me very happy that even if I can't be here today, Kurtág's music will be for your delight.

Finally, thinking about the legacy of Rolf Schock is an opportunity to contemplate the legacy we all leave, and the legacy we are endowed with, by deliberate means or indeed by accident. In this context I would like to share a little story. After my paternal grandfather died suddenly in 1980, four years before I was born, a small inheritance meant that my parents had a little bit of money for the first time in their lives. At the time, they were living in West-Berlin in a small student flat, both of them music students, my mother already pregnant with my older sister. They made a decision which was both romantic and daring – some would say outrageously irresponsible. They took out a small loan in addition to the inheritance, and then spent all the money on a Steinway grand piano – a wonderful instrument, fresh from the factory in Hamburg. As I grow older, my mind often wanders to this decision which I cannot help to admire – spending this small fortune on a grand piano rather than something sensible, like a down payment for a flat for this growing family of slender means.

It is not a decision many would make – and that is perhaps just as well. By the time I was born in 1984, the family had moved back home to Reykjavík and for the first seven years of my life we lived in a very small basement flat where I shared a room with my older sister, and soon my younger sister as well. But in the small living room of our humble home, the shiny, large grand piano stood in all its glory, its black reflection paradoxically augmenting the space, its harmonious sound opening doors into distant worlds. Through their unusual setting of priorities, my mother and father imparted to me a message which has shaped my life since: That music really is one of life’s necessities. And without knowing it, of course, my parents had invested in what became my passion and my future. And that is not even mentioning the life lessons I learned from sharing a room with two sisters for a large part of my childhood.

When I was given the news that I had been chosen to receive the music award of the Rolf Schock Prize of 2022 – I was yet again reminded of this story, now as I related it to the values of Rolf Schock himself and the decisions that he made, that have allowed us all to come together here today. A man who led an intellectually interesting but economically modest life, and rather than indulging in his wealth, surprised everyone after his death by the great posthumous gift that makes this Prize possible. It is quite literally a larger than life thing to do - like buying a Steinway instead of a flat to live in, both romantic and daring – and perhaps above all else a testament to true authenticity and a generosity of spirit. As a recipient of this prize, I feel inspired by this authenticity, and obliged to serve my passions and values in ways that I hope will carry these ripples of generosity further still.

Thank you.


Läs mer om Rolf Schockprisen.

Läs mer om Kungl. Musikaliska Akademiens priser, medaljer och stipendier.

Rolf Schockprisen

Rolf Schock såg skönheten i såväl logik och filosofi, som matematik, konst och musik.

2022 års Rolf Schockpris i de musikaliska konsterna tilldelas den isländske pianisten Víkingur Ólafsson.

för sitt banbrytande och framgångsrika arbete med att utveckla och stärka den klassiska musiken. Ólafsson är en av vår tids mest kreativa och innovativa musiker. Med varje musikstycke skapar han en ny värld, som förmedlar såväl djup som briljans och som lämnar ett unikt avtryck hos lyssnaren.”

Víkingur Ólafsson, född den 14 februari 1984, är en isländsk pianist. Han studerade vid the Juilliard School i New York under Jerome Lowenthal och Robert MacDonald, och tog även lektioner för Ann Schein.

Ólafsson har tilldelats många prestigefulla priser för sina inspelningar, såsom BBC Music Magazines Recording of the Year, och har flera stora samarbeten med tonsättare som Philip Glass och Daníel Bjarnason bakom sig. Han har framträtt som solist med världens främsta orkestrar, såsom Los Angeles Philharmonics och Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester, och varit artist-in-residens vid bland andra Konzerthaus Berlin.

Ólafsson arbetar också framgångsrikt med att sprida klassisk musik till en vidare publik, bland annat genom samarbeten med isländska artisten Björk och som värd i isländsk television och BBC Radio 3.

Víkingur Ólafsson Länk till annan webbplats, öppnas i nytt fönster.