Hjálmar´s music is varied, ranging from simple songs to complicated orchestral scores. In his repertoire choral music is prominent as well as music for smaller chamber groups and solo pieces. For the theatre he has composed music to many large-scale productions, as well as several independent music-dramatic works including opera, musicals and dance productions. In addition, he has composed music for the films as well as participating in scriptwriting.
Hjálmar was born in Ísafjördur in the northwest of Iceland. He continued his music studies at Brandeis University in Boston and finished his mastersdegree from Cornell University in 1980. His final thesis being based on his studies of the music of Jón Leifs. From 1988 to 1992 he was the chairman of the Society of Icelandic Composers and from 1991 to 1998 he seved as the president of the politically influential Federation of Icelandic Artists. He is now rector of the recently established Iceland Academy of the Arts.