Bellagio Library/

The Italian Songbook

by Thorvaldur Gylfason

(Photo: Lárus Ýmir Óskarsson)

Image is the book cover for The Italian Songbook.Thorvaldur Gylfason participated in the Bellagio residency program in 2019. During this residency he worked on The Italian Songbook. He is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Iceland. He has authored 24 books, 300 academic articles, plus some 100 songs for mixed choir, voice, piano, and other instruments.

A few words with Thorvaldur

“Work on The Italian Songbook was underway before my arrival at Bellagio and progressed significantly while I was there, alongside a manuscript on Iceland and its constitution, which is still in progress.

“As it turned out, I wrote a bit less and composed more than I had planned, inspired by the incomparable beauty of the environment at Bellagio. Conversations with colleagues shaped my writing on Iceland’s constitutional affairs perhaps more than they affected my music, but, in my case, the two go hand in hand.”


The Italian Songbook (Il canzoniere italiano) is a collection of 24 songs composed by Thorvaldur Gylfason, set to poems by poet-philosopher Kristján Hreinsson that have been translated into Italian by Olga Clausen. 18 of the songs are taken from earlier cycles by Gylfason and Hreinsson and are now in Italian for the first time. Six of the songs are new. The cycle has been performed in concert in both Iceland and Northern Italy.

Explore More

To find out more about Thorvaldur’s work, read his article on inequality, democracy, and growth, or listen to a composition from The Italian Songbook, entitled “Il mio passerotto canta” (“My Sparrow Sings”).

Or you can simply follow him on Twitter.