Másson, Áskell, Icelandic composer; b. Reykjaviik, Nov. 21, 1953. He began clarinet lessons at the age of 8. After training at the Reykjavik Coll. of Music, he went to London and studied with Patrick Savill (harmony and counterpoint) and James Blades (percussion). In 1972 he became a composer and instrumentalist with the ballet of the National Theater in Reykjavik. From 1978 to 1983 he worked as a producer for the Icelandic State Radio. He was secretary-general of the Iceland League of Composers (1983–85), then president of STEF, the association of composers and copyright owners (from 1989). Masson’s output is generally marked by an intensity and brilliance of expression, complemented by a judicious infusion of lyricism.
dramatic:Eldtröllid (The Fire Troll), ballet (1974); Höfudskepnurnar (The Elements), ballet (1974); Svart-Hvitt (Black and White), ballet (1975); Klakahöllin (The Ice Palace), opera (1993); incidental music to players; music for radio and television. orch.: Galda-Loftur (The Wish; Icelandic State Radio, June 19, 1980); Clarinet Concerto (1980; Reykjavik, Jan. 31, 1981); Konzertstück for Snare Drum and Orch. (Reykjavik, Sept. 25, 1982); Októ November (Octo November for Strings (Reykjavik, Dec. 19, 1982); Viola Concerto (1983; Reykjavik, May 3, 1984); Myndhvörf (Metamorphoses) for Brass Orch. (Reykjavik, Nov. 29, 1983); Piano Concerto (1985; Reykjavik, Oct. 5, 1987); Impromptu (1986; Reykjavik, Jan. 1989); Marimba Concerto (1987; Göteborg, Oct. 1991); Trombone Concerto (1987); Hvörf for Strings (1992; Reykjavik, June 2, 1993); Sinfonia Trilogia (1992); Chamber Sym. (1997). chamber: Silja for 3 Percussionists (1970–72); Lafasafn (Melodies) for 2 Flutes and Vibraphone (1974); Vatnsdropinn (The Drop of Water) for 2 Percussionists and Tape or 3 Percussionists (1977); Bláa Ljósid (The Blue Light) for 2 Flutes and 2 Percussionists (1978); Helfró (Transcendental Visions) for 2 Percussionists and Tape or 4 Percussionists (1978); Sonata for Marimba and Tuned Percussion (1981; also as Sonata for Solo Marimba, 1985); Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Viola (1983; also as Triology for Clarinet, Violin, and Viola, 1985); Partita for Guitar and Percussion (1984); Divertimento for Clarinet, Guitar, Percussion, and Hand Drums (1986); Fantasy on a Chinese Poem for Clarinet and Hand Drum (1987); Sindur (Sparks) for Percussion Quartet (1989); Fantasia for Oboe or Clarinet and Harpsichord (1991); Wind Quintet (1991); Snow for Violin, Cello, Vibraphone or Crotales, and Piano (1992); Violin Sonata (1993); Piano Trio (1995); Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (1999). organ:Elegie (1981); Brúdarmars (Wedding March; 1984; also with optional trumpet); Sonata (1986); Meditation (1992). vocal:Syn (Vision) for Women’s Voices and Percussionist (1974–75); Snjór (Snow) for High Voice and Piano (1982; rev. 1992); Introitus for Chorus, 14 Brass Players, Timpani, and Organ (1985); Fjörg (The Gods) for Chorus and Percussionists (1989); Baen (Prayer) for High or Low Voice and Bells (1994).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire