Atli Ingólfsson was born in Iceland (1962). He received his first music education in the native town of Njardvik, studying guitar and harmony, before moving to Reykjavík where he entered the theory and composition department of the Reykjavík College of Music. There he studied composition with Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson and Atli Heimir Sveinsson, graduating in 1984, having also taken a final exam in guitar in 1983.
After that he proceeded his composition studies in Italy with Davide Anzaghi at the Conservatorio G. Verdi (Milan) also attending a summer course with Franco Donatoni at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena in 1988. In the autumn of 1988 he moved to Paris where he started attending private lessons with Gérard Grisey. After a two year stay in Paris, where he also attended the Paris Conservatory as a guest student, he moved to Bologna, however still occasionally working as assistant to Gérard Grisey.
He came back to Paris for a summer course in music informatics at IRCAM in the summer of 1992. He was chosen by the IRCAM/Ensemble Intercontemporain reading panel to write a piece for Midipiano and ensemble. The resulting work, Envoi
, was premiered in January 1995.
Besides this one, he has received commissions from several other ensembles and institutes such as the Swedish Concert Institute, Nuove Sincronie in Milan, Musica nel '900 in Trento, Mirkk Art Forum in Tokyo, Ensemble l'Itinéraire in Paris, the Berlin Biennale, The Caput Ensemble, The Kroumata Percussion Ensemble, Reykjavík 2000, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, The Venice Biennale.
His works have been widely performed and broadcast in Europe, and particularly in the Nordic countries. Among the performers of his works, beside the aforesaid, there are the Ensemble Avanti, The Arditti Quartet, The Oslo Sinfonietta, KammarensembleN, the SISU percussion trio, James Clapperton, Håkan Hardenberger and Frode Haltli, to name a few.