Thorsteinn was born in Keflavik, Iceland, and was raised in the small town of Isafjordur (northern Iceland) until he was eleven years old. He began taking violin lessons at age seven, and by the time he was eight he started teaching himself the piano. Throughout his training on the violin he became more and more familiar with the piano and began composing his own melodies at around age ten. Shortly after that, he moved to the United States with his family and spent most of his time living in northern California. By the time he was in high school he had written dozens of songs on the piano and also played violin in the high school orchestra.
Thorsteinn as a young boy (left), his father Michael (middle) and his brother Jesse (right) in Isafjordur, Iceland.
After graduating high school in Chico, California, Thorsteinn studied English, creative writing, and linguistics at California State University, Chico. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English and went on to pursue a career in teaching. Throughout his career as an English teacher, he realized it wasn't his only passion and eventually decided to pursue music full-time. In 2008, Thorsteinn began recording and performing many of the piano pieces he had written over the years. As a soloist, he now performs his music at several venues in Chico, California, and he now teaches piano lessons full-time.
Thorsteinn's influences include many of the modern pianists you can hear today: Ludovico Einaudi, George Winston, Yanni, Jon Schmidt, David Nevue, Yiruma, Yann Tiersen, among others, as well as many classical influences (Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Ludwig van Beethoven, J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Peter Illych Tchaikovsky, etc.). He primarily writes music for solo piano, although he has occasionally written pieces for violin, cello, and vocals.
Click to listen: "Search at Jan Mayen's Coast" by Thorsteinn Gunter (a song used in the 2012 indie film "Fly").
Thorsteinn's exposure to classical music at a young age also influenced his compositions, and much of his work reflects the styles of popular classical composers (Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, to name a few). His style also emulates those of modern popular film composers. While John Williams is by far his favorite film composer, he also admires the work of Hans Zimmer, James Horner, Vangelis, and others.
Thorsteinn has composed over 90 individual piano pieces, including a few that have several variations. He is currently recording many of these pieces to use in future albums as well as a companion to his novel, The Lost Enemy. Thorsteinn now performs his original piano pieces in Chico, California. His music has also been used in several films and video projects ("Fly", 2012, "Life Can't Reset", 2015, "Terminal Glitch", 2015, and a tribute video for the Butte Humane Society, 2016).
For more information about Thorsteinn's live performances, click here.