Born in Stockholm 1957. He studied composition and instrumentation with Hans Eklund and Arne Mellnäs at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm from 1979-1982, as well as jazz and arranging for
Forssell plays woodwinds, primarily clarinet and baritone sax, and works as a musician in various genres, not least as a theatre musician; he has written music for among others the Swedish National Theatre Centre and the regional theatres in Göteborg and Uppsala. He has also written a number of operas, such as the acclaimed Riket är ditt (“Thine is the Kingdom”, 1991), which was his definitive breakthrough as a composer and resulted in Svenska Dagbladet’s Opera Prize and the German Wolf Ebermann Prize. In 1988, he was the first modern composer to be commissioned to write a musical drama for the Drottningholm Court Theatre and its baroque orchestra, and during the summer of 1999, the opera Trädgården (“The Garden”) had a successful première. The opera is based on Magnus Florin’s novel about the Swedish “flower king” Carl von Linné, and was later chosen by Financial Times as one of the world’s six best opera productions that year.
1996-1998 Jonas Forssell was the artistic director of the Northern Opera of Sweden in Umeå, and 2002-2005 he held the same position at “The Other Opera” in Copenhagen, a chamber opera company dedicated only to contemporary works. 2005-2011 he was a full-time “composer in residence” at the Malmö Opera, writing three full length opera works for the house. The first of these “The Pauper Princess” had its première in February-07 and the second “Death and the Maiden” based on a play by Ariel Dorfman, and with the author as librettist, had its world première in September-08. The final and third project “Secrets”, an opera based on the life of Emanuel Swedenborg, the Swedish 18th century scientist and Christian mystic, was premièred the 12th of March 2011.
In 2001 a concerto for basset clarinet by Forssell, “In the Beginning”, was premièred with Swedish clarinettist Staffan Mårtensson (recorded on Phono Suecia PSCD 168).
19-22 April 2012 Forssell was weekend composer with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and since September 2010 Forssell works as PhD research student at the University College of Opera in Stockholm on a dissertation (scheduled Oct 2015) called “The transfigurations of the text”.
Artist-in-residence July 2015