Edda II: The Lives of the Gods will be premiered by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra on Friday and will be the Orchestra’s contribution to the 2018 celebration of the 100th anniversary of home rule in Iceland. The Icelandic flag will beam on Harpa’s facade when Jón Leif’s magnificent composition will sound in Eldborg.
Jón Leifs was one of Iceland’s most prominent 20th-century composers. He spent much of his composing career writing a gigantic work based on the Poetic Edda and designed to span three evenings, in a sort of rejoinder to Wagner’s Ring cycle. The Edda oratorio is a massive work, but Jón never heard it performed. The first part of the work, Edda I: The Creation of the World, was premiered in 2006, and its release on compact disc drew worldwide attention and outstanding reviews. This programme features the premiere of the second part. Edda II: The Lives of the Gods tells the story of Óðinn and his sons and of goddesses, witches, and the Valkyries in a dramatic and colourful fashion.
It is a watershed event in Icelandic musical culture that this work, composed by Jón over a fifteen-year period (1951–1966) and, at the time, the most ambitious project ever undertaken by an Icelandic composer, should finally be heard.