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Lasse Thoresen


Composition, Music Theory and Music Technology Department

Research Areas and 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, electroacoustic 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 a guest professor at ESMUC, Barcelona, in 2007. He is a guest professor at McGill, Canada, from 2013 to 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 several outstanding trios in numerous European and Canadian concert halls. The "Symphonic concerto for Violin and Orchestra" (1984) had its first performance on the direct broadcast to many European countries. It was later 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-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 a guest composer at Kyiv Musik Fest. In May 2003, his Triple Concerto Transfigurations were performed by a Norwegian trio of soloists and St. Petersburg Symphonic Academy as a greeting from the Norwegian State on the city's 300 years jubilee.

For three years, he was a composer in residence at "Festival Présences", the major music 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 many 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 synthesiser 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 received the Foundation Samii-Housseinpour Price (Belgium). In 2003 he received the Edvard Prize for his 60 minutes suite for Folk Singer and Sinfonietta "Løp, lokk og linjer". In 2010 he received the Nordic Music Prize, the most prestigious one in Scandinavia, for his works for vocal sextet, employing new vocal techniques and microtonality inspired by ancient Scandinavian folk music.

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

His pioneering work on musical analysis, combining a phenomenological approach with a structuralist approach to the analytical method inspired by Pierre Schaeffer, has attracted international attention. Mr Thoresen has published research papers on "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), Kyiv, 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 to 2010, he was the artistic leader of the Concrescence Project, which aimed the enrichment of classical singing through contact with ethnic traditions (specifically overtone singing and Scandinavian folk song). The project has involved Nordic Voices, Latvian Radio Choir, and several composers.



  • Lasse Thoresen received a graduate degree in composition in 1972 from the Oslo Music Conservatory, where he studied under Finn Mortensen.
  • He studied electroacoustic music and composition under Werner Kaegi at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
  • From 1978 to 1981, he conducted a postgraduate 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 from 1975, 1988 as a Professor of Composition.

Important compositions

  • The Garden (1976)
  • Stages of the inner dialogue for piano (1980)
  • Symphonic concerto for violin and orchestra (1984–1986)
  • Illuminations: Concerto for two celli and orchestra (1986–1990)
  • Helligkvad (1988–1997) for solo voice
  • Narrative for saxophone quartet (1988–1995)
  • Yr for solo violin (1991)
  • Abuno (1992) for chamber ensemble with synthesiser
  • 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 linjer (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 (2006–2008)
  • 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 linjer (Chases, Cattle Calls and Charts) (ACD 5042)
  • Himmelkvad (2L-075-SABD)
  • Mythes Etoilées (ACD5083)


  • Svarteboka Marianne Baudouin Lie ,  Unni Løvlid ,  Lene Grenager ,  Lasse Thoresen ,  Jon Øivind Bylund Ness ,  Sven Lyder Kahrs 2021
  • 100% Thoresen Marianne Baudouin Lie ,  Espen Aalberg ,  Sarah Warner Vik ,  Eli Blåsmo ,  Eira Foss ,  Lars Hilde ,  Lasse Thoresen 2019
  • L'analyse perceptive des formes émergentes : une approche gestaltiste de l'analyse mu Lasse Thoresen 2016
  • Emergent Musical Forms. Aural Explorations Lasse Thoresen 2015
  • The Concrescence Project (2008-2010): ideas, processes, experiences, musical works Lasse Thoresen 2014
  • Exosemantic Analysis of Music-As-Heard Lasse Thoresen 2012
  • Form-Building Patterns and Metaphorical Meaning Lasse Thoresen ,  Andreas Hedman 2010
  • Form-building gestalts and metaphorical meaning Lasse Thoresen ,  Hedman Andreas 2010
  • Sound-objects, Values and Characters in Ake Parmerud's Les objets obscurs, 3rd Section Lasse Thoresen ,  Andreas Hedman 2009
  • Sound-objects, Values, and Characters in Åke Parmerud's Les Objets Obscurs Lasse Thoresen ,  Andreas Hedman 2009
View all publications in Cristin

Projects Lasse Thoresen participates in