• Recitals

8. Feb, 2022

The Italian Songbook

Set to poems by Kristján Hreinsson in an Italian translation by Olga Clausen

The Italian Songbook (Il canzoniere italianois a collection of twenty-four songs by Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason set to poems by poet-philosopher Kristján Hreinsson in an Italian translation by Olga Clausen, Iceland´s General Consul in Milan. Eighteen of the songs are taken from earlier cycles by Gylfason and Hreinsson – Philosophy of the HeartSoaring Birds, and Sixteen Songs for Soprano and Tenor – and are now heard in Italian for the first time. Six of the songs are new. Thórir Baldursson arranged eight of the songs. Part of the work was completed during the composer´s residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy in November/December 2019.

Berta Dröfn Ómarsdóttir soprano and Sigurður Helgi Oddsson piano performed the cycle in Hannesarholt in Reykjavík in two rounds 14 May and 15 May 2020 at 2 pm. They went on to perform the cycle at three concerts by Lago di Garda in Northern Italy during the last week of May 2022:  in Bardolino 25 May, Desenzano 27 May, and Riva del Garda 28 May. A brief documentary film about the concerts is ready for television with English as well as Italian subtitles.

Original poetry in Icelandic
Italian translations


  1. Un capitolo (Einn kafli)*
  2. Stai con me (Vertu hjá mér)**
  3. Il mio passerotto canta (Sólskríkjan mín syngur)*
  4. La musica del cuore (Tónlist hjartans)**
  5. Un angelo ti proteggera (Fagur engill fylgir þér)**
  6. La volontà del vento (Vilji vindsins)**
  7. Sorriso (Bros)**
  8. Il sonetto dell‘amore (Unaðsreitasonnettan)***
  9. L‘umiltà (Lágstemmdar línur)**
  10. La ricompensa della vita (Laun lífsins)****
  11. Barlume di speranza (Vonarglæta)**
  12. Alla finestra di notte (Við glugga um nótt)**
  13. Preghiere silenziose (Hljóðar bænir)****
  14. La tua nuova immagine (Ný mynd af þér)****
  15. Finche’ viva la poesia (Þegar ljóðið lifir)**
  16. L’arpa del cuore (Harpa hjartans)****
  17. Il fiore della vita (Lífsblóm)**
  18. Il sonetto di Sören Kierkegaard (Kirkjugarðssonnettan)***
  19. Il sonetto di Leibniz (Leibnizsonnettan)***
  20. Il ricordo degli uccelli (Fuglar minninga)*
  21. La canzone del cuore (Hjartalag)****
  22. La danza delle farfalle (Dans fiðrildanna)****
  23. Canto per te (Ég syng fyrir þig)*
  24. La colomba della pace (Friðardúfan)***


* From Songs of Soaring Birds.
** From Sixteen Songs for Soprano and Tenor.
*** From Seventeen Sonnets on the Philosophy of the Heart.
**** From Summer Journey.

In Italian


Thorvaldur Gylfason


The composer of about 140 songs, including Seventeen Sonnets on the Philosophy of the Heart, Songs of Soaring Birds, Seven Psalms, and Sixteen Songs for Soprano and Tenor, all set to poetry by Kristján Hreinsson, as well as Five Seasons set to poems by Snorri Hjartarson. The Sonnets performed in Harpa 2012 and 2013, the Bird Songs in Salurinn in Kópavogur and Berg in Dalvík 2014 and aired on state television (RÚV) 2020, the Psalms in Langholtskirkja 2014 as well as in Guðríðarkirkja 2015 and Five Seasons in Hannesarholt 2017 and aired state television (RÚV) 2021.

Kristján Hreinsson


Kristján is a poet, composer, singer, and philosopher. His works include about 60 published books, mostly poetry, in addition to several novels and plays as well as music discs where he performs his own music and lyrics.

Berta Dröfn Ómarsdóttir


Berta completed her master´s degree in singing cum laude from the Conservatorio Monteverdi in Bolzano in Italy following her graduation from the Reykjavík Academy of Singing and Vocal Arts. She has had a colorful singing career and performed in various venues, including a Gala-concert in Carnegie Hall in New York; a palace in Montepulciano in the Toscana region of Italy; a medieval castle in a small mountain hamlet near the Italian Alps as well as in opera productions with the Bolzano Symphony Orchestra. She performs regularly in Italy along with singing and choral conducting in Iceland.

Sigurður Helgi Oddsson


Sigurður graduated with a diploma in piano performance from the Music School in Akureyri 2004 and went on to earn a BM degree summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston 2011 where he studied jazz piano, conducting, and film composition. He works as a pianist and teacher at the Reykjavík Academy of Singing and Vocal Arts.

Olga Clausen


Olga is the General Consul of Iceland in Milan, has lived in Italy for many years and loves poetry. This is her first set of published poetry translations.