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Waldorf College associate professor publishes first book

Waldorf College
FOREST CITY, IOWA – Dr. Kristín Jónína Taylor, Waldorf College associate professor of music, has dedicated over five years of her life to researching Icelandic composer and musician Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson and his influence on the nation’s music. Dr. Taylor’s journey to publishing The Complete Solo Piano Works of Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson, a collection of piano compositions created over 42 years, did not follow a conventional process.
“If I had gone the conventional route, this book may have literally taken decades to publish,” Dr. Taylor said. Yet she had received feedback from Sigurbjörnsson fans who voiced a great need to get his music released in a easy-to-read format. In response, she founded her own publishing company, Homo ludens Publishing. “With many large publishing companies, abstract pieces like this are not considered high priority. This means more waiting,” she said. “I’m answering a calling, and that is a great motivator for me.”
Homo ludens, Latin for “the play of man,” is an apt title for the new publishing company. “It reflects Thorkell’s personality and music perfectly,” Dr. Taylor said. Sigurbjörnsson believed the playful aspect of man to be as important as any work by igniting creativity and social structure. “It’s also a reminder to me, and everybody, to have some ‘play’ in their day,” Dr. Taylor added. “Musicians and athletes are the only people who play for their work and we need to remember to keep it fun.”
Sigurbjörnsson, who passed away in January of 2013, gave audiences a glimpse of many genres and instrumental techniques unified in one piece. “He encompasses all styles of music. He even used an electric guitar in one of his operas,” said Dr. Taylor. “His pieces were always very well crafted, even if they sounded chaotic. That takes study and thought behind it.” Many of Sigurbjörnsson’s compositions were handwritten and difficult to read, so Dr. Taylor had to interpret them into a player-friendly format. “I believe Thorkell’s music is not performed by more musicians because it wasn’t in a readable format,” she said.
Dr. Taylor’s new publishing experience will enhance her academic career. “I have learned so much that I will be able to pass onto my students,” she said. “I never thought of myself as a business person, but here I am dealing with marketing, legal matters, and business strategies.”
“I cannot put into words the excitement I felt when the book was finished,” she said. “Reality sank in when I was physically holding it in my hands. All I could say was ‘It’s a book!’” Dr. Taylor plans to continue her series with a book on Icelandic flute, which will display some of Sigurbjörnsson’s best work.
The Complete Solo Piano Works of Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson is available online.
About Waldorf College
Located in Forest City, Iowa, Waldorf is a four-year, residential, liberal arts college that has been educating students for over a century. Waldorf delivers engaging experiences through innovative classroom instruction and offers bachelor degree programs in business, communications, psychology, education, fire science administration, criminal justice administration and more. Courses are offered at the Forest City, Iowa, campus and online.
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