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Music at World’s End

The fascinating story of three exiled musicians from Nazi Germany (Robert Abraham, Heinz Edelstein, and Victor Urbancic) who made an immense contribution to Icelandic musical life in the 1940s and beyond, as performers, teachers, and scholars. Hið íslenska bókmenntafélag (in Icelandic), 2024; forthcoming, SUNY Press, January 2025. 


The Songbook of Rev. Ólafur Jónsson

The Icelandic pastor and poet Ólafur Jónsson (d. 1627) authored a remarkable collection of songs and poetry that were widely sung in Iceland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This is the first comprehensive edition of all 50 songs, with full texts, essays, and critical commentary. 


Jón Leifs and the Musical Invention of Iceland

A biography of one of Iceland’s most remarkable twentieth-century composers.

A brilliant, panoramic biography ... a thoroughly absorbing study of a formidable and sometimes troubling figure who possessed one of the more original musical voices of the twentieth century. A major twentieth-century figure at last receives his due.”

Notable Book of the Year 2019, Alex Ross,


“A carefully contextualised examination of his works and efforts to professionalise Icelandic music-making. Ingólfsson extols Leifs’s achievements, yet at the same time shows how vital it is not to overlook the troubled personality that so often disturbed others, and worked against himself.”

**** Steph Power, BBC Music Magazine, February 2020.

“An absorbing and significant work … Leifs’s musical career is placed in illuminating and fascinating context … By intertwining the narrative of Leifs’s personal turmoil and joys, political maneuverings, professional struggles, and creative triumphs, Ingólfsson allows the full view of Leifs as artist, composer, and man to become discernable. That complete and detailed picture is what makes this biography compelling.”

Dan White, Music References Services Quarterly, 2020. 


Tónlist liðinna alda

Iceland’s music history from 1100 to 1800 told through music manuscripts held in libraries in Iceland, Europe, and the United States. Around 60 manuscripts are discussed, along with the music they contain and the people who wrote them. 

“A fantastic book with much information about Icelandic music history. An incredible achievement ... this book admirably clarifies the historical connection between music-making in Iceland and the rest of Europe.”  ***** Jónas Sen, Fréttablaðið, 2019.


Saga tónlistarinnar

A comprehensive history of Western music from the Middle Ages to the present day; the first such book to be written in the Icelandic language.

“Ingólfsson shares an immense amount of information, demonstrating the contexts of music history and drawing lively portraits of its masters. The style is light, yet carefully crafted and informative, and leads the reader through this work that glows with passion and genuine affection for the subject. Outstandingly well done.”

Árni Matthíasson, Morgunblaðið, 2017.

Nominated for the Icelandic Book Award, 2016.


Jón Leifs - Líf í tónum

A detailed study of the composer Jón Leifs in Icelandic. For a version of this book in English, see Jón Leifs and the Musical Invention of Iceland, above.

“Ingólfsson can be very pleased with his work, which must count as one of the year’s most important publications, and will remain for a long time the key work on the life of this remarkable but flawed man.” ***** Páll Baldvin Baldvinsson, Fréttablaðið, 2009.

Nominated for the Icelandic Book Award, 2009.

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