Ivar Antonsen (born April 16, 1946 at Fauske, Norway) is a Norwegian jazz musician (piano), and known from his debut at the Oslo jazz scene together with Jan Garbarek and Palle Mikkelborg in 1967.
Antonsen started early playing the accordion and organ, inspired by jazz musician Art van Damme. 16 year old he came in touch with bassist Bjørn Alterhaug, and they started their first jazz band together in Mo i Rana. He moved to Oslo and studied piano at Norges Musikkhøgskole (1967), where he came in contact with the major jazz profiles, Jan Garbarek and Palle Mikkelborg. He studied modern composition under Finn Mortensen, and reached for compositional models like Johann Sebastian Bach and Igor Stravinskij.
He started his own Ivar Antonsen Trio including Espen Rud (drums) and alternately Terje Venaas, Sture Janson and Bjørn Alterhaug, in late 1960's. His strong contribution to guitarist Thorgeir Stubø's album Flight, (1986), recorded in 1985, can be cited as a good example of Antonsen's sophisticated style. Here you can enjoy the hard swingin interaction with Thorgeir Stubø, Alex Riel (drums), Krister Andersson (tenor saxophone) and Jesper Lundgaard (double bass).
Antonsen was principal of the «Tromsø Musikkskole» (1975-1977), and later, «Buskerud Musikkonservatorium». Then he relocated to San Diego in USA (1985), where he was a music educator and later professor in Music at California State University (1995-2004). Since 2004 he has been Associate Professor at Norges Musikkhøgskole. With residence in San Diego, California for more than 20 years, Antonsen had many interesting collaboration, including with Ravi Shankar's tabla player Abhiman Kaushal, drummer Duncan Moore, bassist Bob Magnusson and pianist Andy LaVerne on the album Dream Come True (2000).
Antonsen also composes music, and his compositions often consist of strong rhythmic patterns, often harmonically sophisticated and melodically complex, yet logical. His works include modern jazz, classical, and contemporary music. He is highly respected among both European and American musicians and has played with, such as Jon Christensen, Palle Danielsson, John Surman, Arild Andersen, Ben Webster, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Art Farmer, Sebastién Dubé, Finn Sletten, Trond Sverre Hansen, Tore Johansen, Roger Johansen and Karin Krog. He established his own quartet in 2004 Espen Rud, Knut Riisnæs and Terje Gewelt, documented as a radio concert on NRK P2 «Jazzklubben» in 2006), and a new quartet with Hallgeir Pedersen (2005).
Antonsen is considered one of Norways foremost jazz pianists, and plays in a modern neo-bop style. His playing has a strong identity and is characterized by a sensitive estimate, great imagination, complex harmony/rhythm and technical surplus.