In Mari Samuelsen’s musical universe there are no barriers between the music of such contemporary composers as Max Richter or Arvo Pärt and that of Bach, Beethoven and Vivaldi. With her breathtaking artistry and adventurous approach to programming and presentation, Samuelsen inspires audiences worldwide. The Norwegian violinist’s emotionally charged style of playing, backed by an immaculate technique and searching intelligence, makes her broad repertoire even more captivating to listen to.
Her work includes collaborations with artists such as Jeff Mills, Dubfire and Philipp Geist, and ground-breaking explorations of contemporary art and classical music at Oslo’s Yellow Lounge events. “I’ve always felt an urge not to do what’s traditionally expected,” she notes. “My aim is to create new and innovative programmes for music lovers – regardless of genre.”
Mari Samuelsen signed an exclusive agreement with Deutsche Grammophon in January 2019. MARI, her debut DG recording, was released in June that year. As well as the Chaconne from J.S. Bach’s Partita No.2 for solo violin (“a gripping performance … in which Samuelsen exchanges the dogged intensity of traditional readings for a radiant eloquence that traces the music’s emotional peaks and troughs with a compelling sense of inevitability”, BBC Music Magazine) and “Knee Play 2” from Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, the album includes compositions by Brian Eno, Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Peter Gregson.
In 2020 Mari released two singles on the yellow label: Moonlight, a reworking of the first movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, and an arrangement of Ludovico Einaudi’s Una Mattina, both of which were accompanied by performance videos. These were followed in 2021 by Mitt hjerte alltid vanker (“My heart always wanders”), a reimagining of a Scandinavian Christmas song included on the DG album Winter Tales.
Mari Samuelsen’s latest Deutsche Grammophon album presents a bold new selection of dynamic and original music dedicated to and influenced by life and light. Lys (Norwegian for “Light”) features works by thirteen female composers, from Hildegard von Bingen to Hildur Guðnadóttir, and combines specially commissioned pieces with new arrangements of existing music. The album is set for release on 20 May 2022.
Mari works regularly with composer Max Richter, and appeared as soloist on Deutsche Grammophon’s world premiere recording of Three Worlds – Music from Woolf Works as well as performing “November” as part of the Yellow Label’s DG120 concert at Beijing’s Forbidden City in October 2018. In February 2020 she took part in the world premiere of Richter’s Voices at the Barbican in London, and she has since participated in further performances of the work in London and at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.
Other recent and forthcoming highlights include works by Matteis, Pärt and Richter as part of the hr-Sinfonieorchester’s Music Discovery Project at the Frankfurt Jahrhunderthalle (March 2022); Glass’s Violin Concerto No.1 with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London (May 2022); appearances with Belgian chamber orchestra Casco Phil in Louvain and Hasselt (June 2022) and at the Wonderfeel Festival in the Netherlands (July 2022); and works by Vivaldi, Piazzolla and Monti with the Noord Nederlands Orkest at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw (August 2022).
Born in 1984 in the town of Hamar, which lies south of the Olympic city of Lillehammer, on the shores of Norway’s largest lake, Mari Samuelsen received her first violin lessons at the age of three and continued her studies with Arve Tellefsen. From an early age she performed with her cellist brother Håkon, with whom she later made duo appearances around the world. At the age of 14 Mari enrolled at Oslo’s prestigious Barratt Due Institute of Music, and she later continued her studies for nearly a decade with Professor Zakhar Bron at the University of the Arts in Zurich.
Now in demand worldwide as concerto soloist and recitalist, Mari Samuelsen has performed at such leading venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Paris Philharmonie and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Berlin Konzerthaus, Geneva’s Victoria Hall, the Tonhalle Zurich, London’s Barbican and the Hollywood Bowl. She gave the world premiere of James Horner’s double concerto for violin, cello and orchestra in November 2014, and recorded the work as the centrepiece of Pas de Deux, released on Mercury Classics (Universal Music). Her first solo recording, Nordic Noir, was an album of the kind of hauntingly atmospheric music known from TV series such as The Killing, The Bridge and Broadchurch. Both albums were hits in the Norwegian pop charts (reaching the No.1 and No.2 spots respectively).