Madeleine working

Madeleine Isaksson, born 1956 in Stockholm, studied piano since early childhood at various music schools. From 1979 to 1987 she studied at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm with teachers such as Gunnar Hallhagen and Mats Persson (piano), Eva Nordenfeldt (harpsichord), Hans Eklund, Gunnar Bucht and Sven-David Sandström (composition), Pär Lindgren (electroacoustics), Arne Mellnäs (instrumentation) and Bo Wallner (theory/analysis). After two postgraduate degrees - in piano pedagogy and composition - she continued her composition studies abroad: for a year in Amsterdam and then in Paris, where she has been living as a composer ever since.
Meetings with composers, their different traditions and aesthetic characteristics - Brian Ferneyhough, Louis Andriessen, Iannis Xenakis, Morton Feldman and Emmanuel Nunes, as well as music by Giacinto Scelsi and Helmut Lachenmann - all contributed to Isaksson's early development as a composer.

The music of Madeleine 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.

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, Norrbotten Chamber Orchestra ... and presented at festivals as Witten, Beijing, World Music Days (ISCM), Nordic Music Days, Royaumont, the International piano festival La Roque d’Anthéron ...

During 2016-2017 she was Composer in Residence at Gävle Symphony Orchestra with two compositions: Bridges and Ljusrymd.

In 2021-23, several commissioned pieces have been premiered, four solos: Écrits sur l'eau for piano, Tjälen går ur jorden for violin, Span for organ and Fält for cello, the ensemble pieces Capsuled Time and Infiltrations, an orchestral part Flows, and recently Vindande for oboe quartet. 

In 2005 her portrait disc Failles appeared at the swedish label Phono Suecia. Other discs with her music have followed during the years. A new portrait disc of her chamber music, performed by the ensemble Gageego! will be released on Footprints Records in spring 2024. 

In 2012 she received the chamber music prize, Saltö Award for the recorder solo Les sept vallées.
In 2019 she is elected as member of the The Royal Swedish Academy of Music and the same year awarded the Rosenberg prize by the Swedish Society of Composers : 

" Madeleine Isaksson's music is characterised by careful work with and interest in the unique sound world of acoustic instruments. She receives the prize for a long-standing, versatile and original production characterised by uncompromising and high artistic integrity."