Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen was born in 1969. He is trained in both cello and composition, educated at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark. As a composer he studied with Karl Aage Rasmussen, Bent Sørensen and Olav Anton Thommesen at the academy. In addition, he received lessons from Henryk Gorecki and Poul Ruders.
Agerfeldt Olesen is very interested in the affinity between music and the human mind and he does not believe in giving up the traditional musical foundation of tonality and counterpoint whilst at the same time being very careful in his choice of musical material. Composers like Witold Lutoslawski and Alban Berg, who, even in applying twelvetone-techniques have “tonality lurking around the corner” as Agerfeldt Olesen puts it, have had a profound influence on him.
Agerfeldt Olesen's music is often described as an original fusion of humour and seriousness. His background as a cellist can be heard in his works through a very concrete sense of instrumental technique and an ever-present awareness of the fact that his music is to be played by musicians which manifests in a sense of phrasing and articulation that applies to more than just his handling of the cello.
His major works include the opera The Picture of Dorian Gray (2013), for which he received the Musical Drama Prize of the Danish State’s Art Foundation as well as the Carl Prize, and orchestral and ensemble works like Der Wind Bläset Wo er Will (2011) and Die Himmlischen Heerscharen (1998).