Madeleine Isaksson, born in Stockholm, studied piano since early childhood at different music schools. In between 1979-1987 she studied at Royal College of Music of Stockholm with teachers as Gunnar Hallhagen and Mats Persson in piano, Eva Nordenfeldt in harpsichord, Gunnar Bucht and Sven-David Sandström (composition), Pär Lindgren (electro-acoustics), Arne Mellnäs (instrumentation) and Bo Wallner (theory/analys).
After two Diploma (MFA) - in piano education and composition - she continued her studies abroad: in Amsterdam for one year’s studies with the composer Louis Andriessen, and further in Paris where she since lives and works as composer.
Meetings with composers, their different traditions and aesthetic features - Brian Ferneyhough in Stockholm and at the composition courses at Royaumont in France, Iannis Xenakis, Morton Feldman and Emmanuel Nunes - have all contributed to Isaksson’s development as a composer. The exposure to the music of Giacinto Scelsi and Helmut Lachenmann in Darmstadt 1986 came also to play an important role.
Her music is highly concentrated, characterized by a wealth of detail and considerable variation in the treatment of phrases, sonorities and well-integrated processes which are held together by an almost physical movement in fluctuating meters. Her basic frameworks can be described as forms of space: those of interval, register, and time where the material is developed through different time levels and contrasting terms such as light/dark, weightless/heavy. Returning melodic cells are made smaller and larger, together forming a sort of patterned web where constantly new aspects keeps the tension going in almost weightless states. The music is often related to a perceptible, sometimes hidden, elastic pulse, realized through increasing and decreasing, overlapping meters.
Madeleine Isaksson writes for various ensembles, instrumental as vocal, and for orchestra.
Her compositions have been commissioned, and performed by ensembles as KammarensembleN, Gageego, ensemble recherche, Ma, l’Itinéraire, 2e2m, Arditti Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Aventa, Nordic Voices, Exaudi, duo Gelland, ZPR String Trio, and orchestras as Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Gävle Symphony Orchestra… including several times at ISCM-festivals, last 2017 in Vancouver with the septet Isär (Apart), and at Nordic Music Days, as in London 2017 with the vocal pieces Ciels and Várije.
In 2005 her CD Failles appeared at the swedish label Phono Suecia. and other CD:s with her music have followed during the years. She received the Järnåker Award 2012 for Les sept vallées composed for solo recorder.
During 2016-2017 she was Composer in Residence at Gävle Symphony Orchestra with two new works: Bridges for brass and percussion, and Ljusrymd for orchestra.
Elected as foreign member of the The Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 2019.
The same year she is awarded the Rosenberg prize 2018 by FST (Swedish Society of Composers) " ... for a long-standing, versatile and original production characterized by uncompromising and high artistic integrity".
"There is something going on, something that has matured and that expresses itself in a musical form. The quote is telling, and is applicable not only to the individual works, but also to Madeleine Isaksson's whole attitude towards creation as an organic development from spaces and shifts." Extract from Voices weave and converge ... © Andreas Engström (translation: George Kentros).
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