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Mari Samuelsen
Mari Samuelsen


Mari Samuelsen
© Stefan Hoederath

In Mari Samuelsen’s musical universe there are no barriers between the music of such contemporary composers as Max Richter, Caroline Shaw, Philip Glass 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.

In demand worldwide as concerto soloist and recitalist, Mari Samuelsen has performed at such leading venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Paris Philharmonie and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, the Berlin Konzerthaus and Berlin Philharmonie, Geneva’s Victoria Hall, the Tonhalle Zurich, London’s Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Her popularity with and impact on new audiences are remarkable, with her YouTube video of “Summer” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons having amassed over 40 million views to date.

Samuelsen 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, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff and last year’s Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank.

Her work also 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.”

That aim is clearly reflected in Samuelsen’s Deutsche Grammophon discography. Having signed with the label in January 2019, she saw her debut DG album, MARI, released in June that year. As well as the Chaconne from J.S. Bach’s Partita No.2 for solo violin 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 Samuelsen 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 album Winter Tales.

Her next Deutsche Grammophon album presented 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 versions of existing music. The album came out to critical acclaim in May 2022 (“This vibrant collection [is] tied even closer by the deft arrangements and production and Samuelsen’s consistently superlative playing” – A Closer Listen).

Set for release digitally and on vinyl on 30 August 2024, her third DG album, LIFE, is inspired by her experience of becoming a mother. Offering a kaleidoscopic musical reflection of some of the emotional discoveries that come with parenthood, it presents music by Olivia Belli, Bryce Dessner, Ludovico Einaudi, Nils Frahm, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Mário Laginha, Hania Rani, Max Richter, Steve Reich and Franz Schubert.

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. At the age of 14, she 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.

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).


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