Sibbi Bernhardsson

  • Professor of Violin

Areas of Study


BM, Oberlin Conservatory of Music


Icelandic violinist Sibbi Bernhardsson joined the Oberlin Conservatory faculty in 2017 after performing for the previous 17 years with the Pacifica Quartet, with which he won a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance, Musical America Ensemble of the Year honors, and the Avery Fisher Career Grant.

As a member of the Pacifica Quartet, Bernhardsson appeared in more than 90 concerts worldwide each year, including engagements in Wigmore Hall (London), the Vienna Konzerthaus, Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Suntory Hall (Tokyo), Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall (New York), and other major venues. He has performed at the Edinburgh Festival, Ravinia, Music@Menlo, and the Reykjavík Arts Festival, and has collaborated with Menahem Pressler, Yo-Yo Ma, Jörg Widmann, Lynn Harrell, Leon Fleisher, the Emerson String Quartet, Johannes Moser, and members of the Guarneri and Cleveland quartets. His television appearances include The Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, and the MTV Europe Music Awards with Icelandic artist Björk. He appears on 16 recordings with the Pacifica Quartet and has recorded the violin music of Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson and the sonatas for violin and piano by Franz Schubert.

Bernhardsson serves as director of the Cooper International Violin Competition at Oberlin and as artistic director of Iceland’s Harpa International Music Academy. He gives regular concerts and master classes in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and has appeared as a soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra, CityMusic Cleveland, and other ensembles.

Bernhardsson is a 1995 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory. His teachers include Guðný Guðmundsdóttir, Almita and Roland Vamos, Mathias Tacke, and Shmuel Ashkenasi. He previously served on the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

With the Pacifica Quartet, Bernhardsson earned a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance, Musical America Ensemble of the Year, and the Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Að vornóttum/On Spring Nights: Music for Violin by Thorkell Sigurbjornsson (2018)
Sibbi Bernhardsson, violin and Anna Guðný Guðmundsdóttir, piano

Brahms Piano Quintet and Schumann String Quartet (2017) 
Pacifica Quartet, Menahem Pressler

Ornstein: Piano Quintet and String Quartet No. 2 (2015) 
Pacifica Quartet, Marc-André Hamlin

Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets (2014)
Pacifica Quartet, Anthony McGill

The Soviet Experience, Vol. IV: The Quartets of Shostakovich and His Contemporaries (2013)
Pacifica Quartet

The Soviet Experience, Vol. III: The Quartets of Shostakovich and His Contemporaries (2013)
Pacifica Quartet

The Soviet Experience, Vol. II: The Quartets of Shostakovich and His Contemporaries (2012)
Pacifica Quartet

The Soviet Experience, Vol. I: The Quartets of Shostakovich and His Contemporaries (2011)
Pacifica Quartet

Elliott Carter: String Quartets Nos. 2, 3 and 4 (2009)
Pacifica Quartet

*Elliott Carter: String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5 (2008)
Pacifica Quartet

Declarations: Music Between the Wars. Quartets by Paul Hindemith, Leoš Janáček, and Ruth Crawford Seeger (2006)
Pacifica Quartet

Mendelssohn: The Complete String Quartets (2005)
Pacifica Quartet

Dvorák: String Quartet, Op.106 and String Quintet, Op. 97 (2001)
Pacifica Quartet, Michael Tree, viola

Bjork: Homogenic (1997)
Icelandic String Octet

Music by Ysaÿe, Prokofiev, J.S. Bach, and Thorkelsdottir (1995), Skref label
Sibbi Bernhardsson, violin and James Howsmon, piano

*Winner of 2008 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance


Sibbi Bernhardsson Appointed Artistic Director of Iceland Music Festival

December 3, 2019

Oberlin violin professor Sibbi Bernhardsson has been appointed artistic director of the Harpa International Music Academy (HIMA). Found in 2013 in Reykjavik, Iceland, the 11-day festival is held in the award-winning Harpa concert hall and conference center.

The academy conducts two simultaneous programs in violin, viola, and cello—a junior division for string students ages 7 to 12 and a senior division for emerging young artists ages 13 to 22. In both divisions, students receive daily lessons, participate in chamber music rehearsals and coachings, attend and perform in master classes, have access to workshops on professional and career development, and are given performance opportunities. While most of the students come from Iceland, HIMA also draws participants from Europe, Asia, and the Americas every year.

“My goal is to help enrich the vibrant musical life and training of young musicians in my native Iceland as well as continue HIMA’s mission of connecting the country to the international musical world,” says Bernhardsson.

The 2020 festival runs from June 9-20.


This Week in Photos: Beautiful Artistry

November 19, 2020

A display of artwork by Studio Art seniors is shown to President Carmen Twillie Ambar. Her walk through Robert D. Baron ’64 Art Gallery was accented by sculptures and vibrant multimedia pieces. This visit is just one of the images featured in this week’s photo series.