10 August 2020
By Ellie Palmer
The Icelandic pianist made the most of the recent Covid-19 lockdown by releasing a new album and presenting his own Icelandic TV show
Víkingur Ólafsson's influence in the piano industry is growing by the day. It has been an exceptionally exciting and successful few months for the young pianist.
His latest album release Debussy • Rameau, which was released back in March, recently surpassed 17 million streams – a huge achievement for any artist. This makes him one of 2020's fastest streaming core-classical artists.
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic halted the careers of many of our favourite pianists – planned tours and festival appearances have been cancelled for most – Víkingur took it as a unique opportunity to try something new.
Alongside releasing a new album, he became BBC Radio 4 Front Row’s Artist-in-Residence (performing live each week for 3 months from the empty Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik), he created and presented his own classical music series on Icelandic TV (RÚV), and he hosted a virtual concerto performance from Iceland with the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway.
His album has 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.
Watch the Icelandic pianist perform Rameau: Les Boréades: The Arts and the Hours – one of the centrepieces of his new album
“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.”
Rumour has it, Víkingur will be the cover star for issue 116 of Pianist, out on 18 September.
Who knows? Perhaps he will be.