top of page

Mikael Karlsson

Mikael Karlsson lives in Harlem, NYC. He moved to New York from Sweden in 2000 and graduated Summa Cum Laude with departmental honors with a Masters Degree in classical composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music in 2005.


Mikael Karlsson’s music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art, as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall, at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden and at new music festivals across the world. His commissions for dance include works for The Norwegian Opera and Ballet ('A Swan Lake', 'Resin' - Ekman), Nederlands Dans Theater 2 ('Left Right, Left Right' - Ekman), Ailey II, the Royal Swedish Opera and Ballet ('Tyll' - Ekman), and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet ('Tuplet' - Ekman).


He has composed for the International Contemporary Ensemble, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, Black Sun Productions, Lydia Lunch, Claire Chase, Joshua Rubin, Mivos Quartet, Sirius Quartet, Abby Fischer and pop singers Lykke Li and Mariam Wallentin. He is currently developing the opera Decoration, which deals with hopelessness, meaninglessness, lies, fanatic conviction (religious and scientific) and dimensional theory with American Opera Projects in NYC. Mikael Karlsson has released over a dozen albums with chamber works and soundtracks ranging from pop and film music to sound collages, dance scores and avant-garde concert music. Due shortly is a recording of his collaboration with Swedish singer Mariam Wallentin – the song cycle The Spirit & The Cloud, performed by Wallentin, Karlsson and ACME, and a new album with chamber works named “The Eternal Carnival by the Sea”.


In 2007, Mikael Karlsson was included in Out Magazine’s Out 100 list of influential people (other people that year were Annie Lennox, Marc Jacobs, Antony Hegarty and Beth Ditto). The score to his piece Nasty Fucker was published in Butt Magazine. In 2012, NYC Public Radio’s listeners voted him as one of their 100 favorite classical composers under 40. In May 2014 he received the Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond award “for an exceptional mid-career composer” from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


'A Swan Lake', which premiered at the Norwegian Opera and Ballet April 26 in 2014, sold out its first run in a matter of days and was lauded unanimously in the press.


In 2014 Mikael Karlsson founded his own production company, Rough State Sound.


'A Swedish Midsummer Dream’, premiered in 2015 at the Royal Swedish Opera and Ballet was Mikael Karlsson’s seventh collaboration with Alexander Ekman. Followed by ‘COW’ for the Semper Oper Ballet Dresden in 2016, and ‘Play’ for the Paris Opera Ballet in 2017.

In 2019 'Escapist' premiered with Royal Swedish Ballet with a score of existing and new music by Mikael Karlsson. Royal Ballet of Flanders newest full evening 'Rasa' by Daniel Proietto for 2020, features a new composition by Mikael Karlsson.

Mikael Karlsson - inside photo.jpg

Photos by Niklas Alexandersson

bottom of page