Lars Karlsson (born 24 January 1953) graduated from the Sibelius Academy in both church music, piano and composition. He studied piano under Izumi Tateno and composition under Einar Englund, Paavo Heininen and Einojuhani Rautavaara, and in West Berlin under Witold Szalonek. Karlsson has also taught at the Sibelius Academy since 1976 and has also been a music critic.
Following his own distinctive route on the Finnish contemporary music scene, Karlsson has composed in a traditional, neo-tonal vein. He has also been called a ‘romantic modernist’ – a path that has sometimes been narrow in the intellectually-oriented postserialist framework.
Karlsson began his career in the 1970s with Five Aphorisms for piano, a work that has remained steadily popular. He has composed two symphonies (1997-99, 2005), a Violin Concerto (1991/93) and a number of chamber works, including Canto drammatico (1981) for solo violin, Arioso for piano trio (1982), Suite for Helena (1994) for wind quintet, and Sonata da Camera (2017) for double bass and piano. He has also written many works for his own instrument, the organ, such as the Toccata, Variations and Fugue on the Chorale “Den blomstertid nu kommer”.
Among Karlsson’s choral works are e.g. his Tre Motetter (Three Motets) for mixed choir, Åländsk symfoni for mixed choir and Body of a Woman for male choir.
His large-scale works include the oratorio Ludus latrunculorum (The Game of Slaves), the opera Rödhamn (Redhaven), set in his native Åland and staged at the Finnish National Opera in 2002, Seven Songs to texts by Pär Lagerkvist (2010-11) and Clarinet Concerto commissioned by the Lapland Symphony Orchestra and premiered in 2016. These two works have been recorded by BIS Records in 2017, and Seven Songs was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize 2018 as a representative for the Åland Islands.