Ivar Antonsen was born in Fauske, North-Norway. He moved to Oslo in 1967 and made his jazz debut there with Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek. The following years Antonsen freelanced in different jazz groups, eventually forming his own trio.
Antonsen graduated, with a Master of Arts degree, from Norges Musikkhogskole (Norwegian State Academy of Music) in 1981 (composition and piano). At the same academy he taught graduate students in harmony, counterpoint, twentieth century music, and jazz improvisation during and after his graduate study.
Throughout the late sixties, seventies, and early eighties he performed extensively at jazz festivals, concert tours, TV/Radio concerts and studio recordings with American and European jazz greats. In 1985 Antonsen moved to San Diego, California, where he currently performs and teaches. He served, since 1995 until 2004, as an adjunct professor in music at California State University, San Marcos, where he taught subjects like Computers and Music, Jazz Piano, and Critical Listening.
Among the American jazz legends, Antonsen performed with Ben Webster, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Art Farmer, Charles Tolliver, Ted Curson, and Joe Morello.
Among European jazz greats, Antonsen performed or recorded with Karin Krog, Thorgeir Stubo, Bjorn Alterhaug, Jon Christensen, Alex Riel, Palle Danielsson, Knut Riisnaes, John Surman, and Arild Andersen.
Locally, Antonsen has performed or recorded with Gunnar Biggs, Steve Feierabend, Hollis Gentry, Brian Lynch, Bob Magnusson, Duncan Moore, Dave Pike, Peter Sprague, Bertram Turetzsky, and Carlos Vasques, to name a few.
Lately, Antonsen has collaborated with Abhiman Kaushal, a tabla master from India and professor of tabla at UCLA.
Antonsen is published as a classical composer by Norsk Musikkforlag A/S (Norwegian Music Publishers Ltd). His compositions have been commissioned for performance at music festivals, concerts, and on radio and records. Antonsens works have been performed in Denmark, Russia, Sweden, Norway, and in the U.S., and some of his compositions were premiered at California Center for the Arts, Escondido, and Mandeville Recital Hall, University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
Antonsen’s CD, Double Circle (1999 Gemini Records), was highly praised in reviews internationally. It was awarded First Place on “Geocities/Hollywood Jazz Library”, a Japanese internet-site. Also recently released is his CD, Dream Come True (Gemini Records), piano duets with Andy LaVerne from New York City. The album received great reviews internationally and the two pianists appeared in concert at Palomar College and Smith Recital Hall, San Diego State University (SDSU) shortly after its release.
Antonsen’s administrative experience includes: Director of Tromso School of Music, Tromso, Norway (1975-1977), Administrative Director of Music, County of Nordland, Norway (1977-1979), and Director of Buskerud Conservatory of Music, a graduate college of music in Drammen, Norway (1981-1985). In the year 2000 Antonsen wrote the curriculum for a new project called San Diego Arts and Music Academy (SDAMA), primarely a school of music for students within the ages of Kindergarten through 8th grade. Antonsen has supervised the program until present time.