The Italian Songbook

Fourteen songs by Thorvaldur Gylfason set to poems by Kristján Hreinsson in an Italian translation by Olga Clausen

Ítalska söngvabókin (Il canzoniere italiano) is a collection of fourteen songs by Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason set to poems by poet-philosopher Kristján Hreinsson in an Italian translation by Olga Clausen, Iceland´s General Consul in Milan. Most of the songs are taken from earlier cycles by Gylfason and Hreinsson Philosophy of the Heart, Soaring Birds, and Sixteen Songs for Soprano and Tenor and are now heard in Italian for the first time. Thórir Baldursson arranged some of the songs. Berta Dröfn Ómarsdóttir soprano and Sigurður Helgi Oddsson piano were to perform the cycle in Hannesarholt in Reykjavík 22 March 2020 at 4 pm but the concert had to be postponed until further notice because of the Covid-19 crisis. The concert is part of ongoing preparations for performances of The Italian Songbook in Italy after the crisis has passed. The poet and composer will briefly introduce each number. See the original poetry in Icelandic here and the Italian translations here. Tickets available here.
Thorvaldur Gylfason is the composer of about 100 songs, including Seventeen Sonnets on the Philosophy of the Heart, Songs of Soaring Birds, Seven Psalms, and Sixteen Songs for Soprano and Tenor, all set to poetry by Kristján Hreinsson, as well as Five Seasons set to poems by Snorri Hjartarson. The Sonnets performed in Harpa 2012 and 2013, the Bird Songs in Salurinn in Kópavogur and Berg in Dalvík 2014 and aired on state television (RÚV) 2020, the Psalms in Langholtskirkja 2014 as well as in Guðríðarkirkja 2015 and Five Seasons in Hannesarholt 2017. 
Kristján HreinssonKristján Hreinsson is a poet, composer, singer, and philosopher. His works include about 60 published books, mostly poetry, in addition to several novels and plays as well as music discs where he performs his own music and lyrics. Berta Dröfn Ómarsdóttir soprano completed her master´s degree in singing cum laude from the Conservatorio Monteverdi in Bolzano in Italy following her graduation from the Reykjavík Academy of Singing and Vocal Arts. She has had a colorful singing career and performed in various venues, including a Gala-concert in Carnegie Hall in New York; a palace in Montepulciano in the Toscana region of Italy; a medieval castle in a small mountain hamlet near the Italian Alps as well as in opera productions with the Bolzano Symphony Orchestra. She performs regularly in Italy along with singing and choral conducting in Iceland. Sigurður Helgi Oddsson graduated with a diploma in piano performance from the Music School in Akureyri 2004 and went on to earn a BM degree summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston 2011 where he studied jazz piano, conducting, and film composition. He works as a pianist and teacher at the Reykjavík Academy of Singing and Vocal Arts.
Olga Clausen, General Consul of Iceland in Milan, has lived in Italy for many years and loves poetry. This is her first set of published poetry translations.


Un capitolo (Einn kafli)*

Stai con me (Vertu hjá mér)**

Il mio passerotto canta (Sólskríkjan mín syngur)*

La musica del cuore (Tónlist hjartans)**

Un angelo ti proteggerà (Fagur engill fylgir þér)**

La volontà del vento (Vilji vindsins)**

Sorriso (Bros)**

Il sonetto dell‘amore (Unaðsreitasonnettan)***

L‘umiltà (Lágstemmdar línur)**

La ricompensa della vita (Laun lífsins)****

Barlume di speranza (Vonarglæta)**

Alla finestra di notte (Við glugga um nótt)**

Canto per te (Ég syng fyrir þig)*

La colomba della pace (Friðardúfan)***


* From Songs of Soaring Birds.

** From Sixteen Songs for Soprano and Tenor.

*** From Seventeen Sonnets on the Philosophy of the Heart.

**** From Footsteps in the Course of Time.


Vertu hjá mér vinur

því vært nú sofa fjöllin

á meðan stormur stynur

og stækkar vetrarhöllin.


Við skynjum kaldan klaka

og kyrrð er vötnin frjósa,

um stund við viljum vaka

í veröld norðurljósa.


Við eigum ósk sem hylur

ísköld klakabrynja

þegar þungur bylur

þarf sinn harm að skynja.


Er vetrarhöllin hrynur

þá hlýnar okkur báðum,

já, vertu hjá mér vinur

því vorið kemur bráðum.



Stai con me amico

che dorme la montagna

la bufera si scatena

l‘inverno c‘accompanga.


Gelido è il ghiaccio

le acque in malora

vorrei un tuo abbraccio

e guardare la aurora.


Abbiam‘ un desiderio

che copre l‘armatura

il vento refrigerio

dentro queste mura.


Quando il ghiaccio crolla

l‘aria si fa estiva

si, stai con me amico

la primaverarriva.


Til baka

In Icelandic

In Italian