Madeleine Isaksson, born in Stockholm, studied piano since her early childhood at various music schools. In between 1979-1987 she studied at Royal College of Music of Stockholm with teachers as Gunnar Hallhagen and Mats Persson (piano), Eva Nordenfeldt (harpsichord), Hans Eklund, Gunnar Bucht and Sven-David Sandström (composition), Pär Lindgren (electro-acoustics), Arne Mellnäs (instrumentation) and Bo Wallner (theory/analys).
After two degrees (MFA) - in piano education and composition - she continued her composition studies abroad: for one year in Amsterdam and then in Paris where she has sinced lived and worked as composer.
Encounters with composers, their different traditions and aesthetic features - Brian Ferneyhough, Louis Andriessen, Iannis Xenakis, Morton Feldman and Emmanuel Nunes... as well as the music of Giacinto Scelsi and Helmut Lachenmann - have all contributed to Isaksson’s development as composer.
Her music is highly concentrated, characterized by a wealth of detail and considerable variation in the treatment of phrases, sonorities and well-integrated processes that 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 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, realised by overlapping increasing and decreasing metres.
"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).
Madeleine Isaksson writes for various ensembles, instrumental as vocal, and for orchestra.
Her compositions have been commissioned and performed by ensembles as KammarensembleN, Norrbotten NEO, Gageego!, ensemble recherche, Ma, l’Itinéraire, 2e2m, members of Ensemble Intercontemporain, Arditti Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Aventa, Nordic Voices, Exaudi, duo Gelland, ZPR String Trio, and orchestras as Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Gävle Symphony Orchestra, Musica Vitae ... and presented at festivals as Witten, Beijing, World Music Days (ISCM) och Nordic Music Days.
In 2005 her CD Failles appeared at the swedish label Phono Suecia. Other CD:s with her music have followed during the years.
She received the chamber music prize, Saltö Award in 2012, for Les sept vallées composed for solo recorder. In 2019 she is elected as member of the The Royal Swedish Academy of Music and the same year
awarded the Rosenberg prize by FST (Swedish Society of Composers) :
" Madeleine Isaksson's music is characterised by careful work with and interest in the unique sound worlds of acoustic instruments. She receives the prize for a long-standing, versatile and original production characterised by uncompromising and high artistic integrity."
In 2021, five commissioned pieces have been premiered: the piano solo Écrits sur l'eau, the violon solo Tjälen går ur jorden (Soil frost thawing), the organ solo Span, the septet Capsuled Time and the orchestral part Tornio (Flows).
Madeleine Isaksson's music is regularly commissioned for and performed by leading international musicians and ensembles at concerts and festivals in Europe, Asia and overseas.