Lasse Thoresen




Composition, Music Theory and Music Technology Department



Research / Working Group



Phone: 23367117
Office: 451

Research Areas / Expertise

  • Musical Composition
  • Aural Sonology - Aural Analysis of Emergent Musical Forms: Spectromorphology, Form-building.
  • Microtonality - Modality, Just Intonation, Spectrality
  • Composition Techniques.
  • Artistic Research


Lasse Thoresen—composer

Lasse Thoresen (b. 1949) is a professor of composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music where he has taught composition, electro-acoustic music, and sonology since 1975. From 1988 to 2000 Mr. Thoresen occupied the principal chair of composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo where he is still teaching composition. He was guest professor at ESMUC, Barcelona in 2007. He is guest professor at McGill, Canada 2013- 2014.

A number of his works have achieved wide recognition both in Norway and internationally. The piano trio Bird of the heart was first performed at the Bergen International Festival in 1982 by Oslo Trio, and has subsequently been played on tours by a number of outstanding trios in numerous European and Canadian concert halls. The Symphonic concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1984) had its first performance on direct broadcast to a vast number of European countries and has later been performed several times at concerts in Norway, Sweden and Germany.

In 1985 Les trois régénérations was commissioned and premiered by Radio France in Paris. Mr. Thoresen was the festival composer at the Bergen International Music festival in 1986. Emergence (1997) was commissioned by the Oslo Philharmonic and its conductor Mariss Jansons for a concert tour to European capitals including the Musik Verein in Vienna. In 1998 Fire and Light. Cantata and Transformation had its world premiere in Warsaw, the work being commissioned by the contemporary music festival Warszawa Autumn.

In April 2000 his hour’s long As the Waves of One Sea for 230 performers was performed in Oslo Concert Hall to celebrate the new millennium.  In May 2001, his Oratorio Terraces of Light was performed in Haifa in connection with the inauguration of the Bahá’í Terraces. In 2003 he was guest composer in Kiev Musik Fest. In May 2003 his Triple Concerto Transfigurations was performed by a Norwegian trio of soloists and St. Petersburg Symphonic Academy as a greeting from the Norwegian State on the occasion of the city’s 300 years jubilee.

For three years he was composer in residence at Festival Présences, the major musical festival of Radio France, Paris (2004-2006). The sinfonietta BIT20 has taken his Løp, lokk og linjer on several tours abroad, and Nordic Voices has performed his music regularly during their tours.

Mr. Thoresen has received a number of awards: the Norwegian Society of Composers’ Work of the Year award for Stages of the Inner Dialogue for piano (1981), AbUno (1992), Carmel Eulogies (1993); the Music Critics’ Award for Qudrat, a work for synthesizer and percussion, the Lindeman award for his integral work as a composer (1987). In 1987 Illuminations for violoncello and orchestra obtained honorary mention in the Prix Italia. 

He won Spellemannprisen — the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy — for the CD The Sonic Mind, featuring a violin and a cello concerto recorded by the Oslo Philharmonic (1998). In 2001, he received Prix Jacques DURAND from Institut de France, Academie des Beaux Arts for his music. In 2002 he receives the Foundation Samii-Housseinpour Price (Belgium). In 2003 he receives the Edvard Prize for his 60 minutes’ suite for Folk Singer and Sinfonietta Løp, lokk og linjar. In 2010 he received the Nordic Music Prize, the most prestigious one in Scandinavia, for his works for vocal sextet, employ new vocal techniques and microtonality inspired by ancient Scandinavian folk music.

Influenced by Norwegian folk music, French spectral music and Harry Partch’s tonal system “Just Intonation,” as well as from his ethno-musical studies of the folk music from his own country and from Asia, Mr.Thoresen has been using microtonal principles in a number of his works since 1985. His approach to instrumentation has been influenced by a spectromorphology and the theories of Pierre Schaeffer. Stylistically his production exhibits great variety.

His pioneering work on musical analysis, combining a phenomenological approach with a structuralist approach to analytical method inspired by Pierre Schaeffer, has attracted international attention. Mr. Thoresen has published research papers on in Semiotica, Organised Sound and Journal of Music and Meaning. He has lectured extensively on his music and his method of musical analysis in Universities and Conferences in Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø, Trondheim, Stockholm, Malmoe, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Jyväskylä, London, York, Baghdad, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Gent, Hamburg, Moscow, Paris (CNSMD, Sorbonne), Landegg (Switzerland), Kiev, Montreal, Beijing, Norrkøping, Luleå, Riga, Tallin, Prague, Charlevoix(Canada), Rio de Janeiro.

2013 -2014 he teaches Aural Sonology and Microtonal Composition at McGill, Montreal. He conducts a research project on microtonality and instrumentation supported by Fondation Langlois. Moreover, he participates in the research project Den Tenkende Musiker (The Reflective Musician), conducted by Håkon Austbø.

From 2004 till 2010 he has been the artistic leader of the Concrescence Project, which aimed at the enrichment of classical singing through contact with ethnic traditions (specifically overtone singing and Scandinavian folk song). The project has involved Nordic Voices and the Latvian Radio Choir, and a number of composers.



  • Lasse Thoresen received a graduate degree in composition in 1972 from the Oslo Music Conservatory, where he studied under Finn Mortensen 
  • He studied electro acoustic music and composition under Werner Kaegi at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the Netherlands 
  • From 1978 to 1981 he conducted a post graduate research project in sonology with support from the Norwegian ‘Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities’ 

Professional experience

Lasse Thoresen has taught at the Norwegian Academy of Music since 1975, since 1988 as Professor of Composition.

Important compositions

  • The Garden (1976) 
  • Stages of the inner dialogue for piano (1980) 
  • Symphonic concerto for violin and orchestra (1984/86)
  • Illuminations: Concerto for two celli and orchestra (1986/90)
  • Helligkvad (1988‑97) for solo voice
  • Narrative for saxophone quartet (1988/95)
  • Yr for solo violin (1991)
  • Abuno (1992) for chamber ensemble with synthesizer
  • Helligkvad. Sacred Songs (1998-1996) for unaccompanied voice
  • From the Sweet Scented Streams of Eternity (1995) for four mixed choirs
  • O Mon Dieu, mon adoré (1995) for mixed choir
  • Ya Káfi, ya Sháfi (1995) for two mixed choirs (1995) for mixed Choir
  • Løp, lokk og linjar (2001-2003) for folk singer and sinfonietta
  • The Descent of Luminous Waters (2003) piano trio
  • Concerto for hardingfele, nyckelharpa, and orchestra. “To the Brother Peoples” (2004)
  • Symphonic concerto for violoncello and orchestra. Viaggio attraverso tre valli (2006-08)
  • Op. 42 (2006-2010) Four pieces for vocal sextet
  • Mythes Etoilées (2010) for chamber choir
  • Symphonic Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. Valle dell’ unità (2011)
  • SPRANG Concerto for two solo violins and String Orchestra 

Selected discography 

  • Bird of the Heart (NCD‑B 4938)
  • AbUno (ACD 4968)
  • From the Sweet-scented Streams of Eternity (PSC1130)
  • The Sonic Mind (ACD 5008)
  • To the Brother Peoples (ACD5058)
  • Løp, lokk og linjar (Chases, Cattle Calls and Charts) (ACD 5042)
  • Himmelkvad (2L-075-SABD) 
  • Mythes Etoilées (ACD5083)