Sten Hostfalt

Sten Hostfalt

Musicians | Instrument: Guitar | Location: New York City

Sten Hostfalt is a leading innovative guitarist and composer working on the New York music scene of today. He performs with some of the most original and unique voices in modern music and has been called 'highly exceptional' by legendary American music icon Jimmy Giuffre and 'virtuosic' by musical innovator Joe Maneri.

—Jon Damian, Fresh Music

Updated: November 24, 2023

Born: December 14, 1962

Manifested in a four-decade innovative commitment to music, via exploration of the parameter of pitch, and self-invented instrumental techniques, contributing to the expansion of the vocabulary of the guitar, and to music of our time. Sten Höstfält (Hearst-felt) is a leading innovative guitarist and composer working on the New York music scene of today. He performs with some of the most original, unique voices in modern music, and has been called highly exceptional by legendary icon of American Music Jimmy Giuffre, and virtuosic by musical innovator Joe Maneri (Jon Damian, Fresh Music, 2015). His music has been labeled genuinely innovative, predicted as groundbreaking in the future (Jazz Review, 2005), and among the most riveting explorations of the microtonal world ever recorded (Signal to Noise, 2005).

This year, Hostfalt celebrates two decades of performances/recordings of original microtonal music since the 2002 recording of 29 Pieces for The Microtonal Guitar Live at Knitting Factory New York, an album critically regarded a seminal work for microtonal music in the improvised idiom. Documented by a re-release of 29 Pieces, along with 'Transformations' featuring compositions commissioned for a 2014 solo concert at the XXXV Encontre Internacional Compositors, at Pilar i Joan Miro' Palma de Mallorca. As well as a 2018 duo recording with Italian avant-garde trumpet player Johnny Lapio, and the compilation Microtonal Works Vol.1. All released on Sonus Rex.

Sten Höstfält was introduced on the New York jazz scene through early 1990's Berklee College of Music facilitated apprenticeships in orchestras led by Herb Pomeroy and Phil Wilson. Via Performances and collaborations with mentors Jimmy Giuffre and Paul Bley, the latter of whom initiated Hostfalt's debut recording as a leader. And concerts with masters of Jazz Gary Burton, Peter Erskine, Clare Fischer, Rob McConnell, and Bobby Shew. As well as, as one of the 'brilliant soloists' (David R. Adler, All Music Guide, 1995) in 'one of the better continuing experiments in New York', (Peter Watrous, NY Times, 1995), the first edition of Guillermo Klein's ensemble. In which he appeared with Mark Turner, Chris Cheek, Seamus Blake, Melvin Butler, Aaron Goldberg and Jeff Ballard weekly at the since influential Jazz Club, Smalls, during the inception of the venue, and on Klein's 'frenzied, passionate, interesting and finely executed' (Marcela Breton, Jazz Times 1997) album for Candid records 'El Minotauro'.

Initially self-taught as a musician and composer, Luleå-born, Swedish-American Hostfalt's early musical experiences combined non-formal and formal formats through activity on the 1980's Scandinavian Progressive/New Wave scene, in parallel with classical guitar studies. Hearing finger-style nine-string blues guitar legend Big Joe Williams solo live, and participating in a workshop with Jazz piano master Horace Parlan. As well as work as a street musician in Copenhagen and Paris was followed by a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, and membership in the institutions legendary 'Recording Band' led by Herb Pomeroy.

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'The total immersion of a miniverse of finely etched detail taken to glorious extremes, 29 Pieces for The Microtonal Guitar is among the most riveting explorations of the microtonal world ever recorded. It's fine focus and beauty of detail puts the cycle in a class with John Cage's exquisite 'Sonatas and Preludes for Prepared Piano' - Larry Cosentino, SIGNAL TO NOISE MAGAZINE Genuinely Innovative-May Be Considered Groundbreaking Don Williamson JAZZ REVIEW Inimitable PM NYC / PAPER MAGAZINE Impressive, Intense TIME OUT NY Sten Hostfalt Takes The More Rigid Confines Of The Guitar and Transforms it, Showing Just How Far an Instrument Can Be Bent and Altered to Meet a More Experimental and Adventurous Need - Taking You On A Journey To A Place Where Anything is Possible John Kelman ALL ABOUT JAZZ Another Angle On Exploring Tone Colors That You Will Not Want To Miss Grego Applegate Edwards CADENCE MAGAZINE Highly Logical in A Completely Different Way JAZZ NOW Virtuosic For Sure Joe Maneri Highly Exceptional Jimmy Giuffre

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New York City

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Sten Hostfalt (b. Lulea, Sweden 1962) is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, guitar virtuoso, bassist, producer, independent record label proprietor, and music educator with three decades of documented innovative contribution to the international music scene, alongside leading names in jazz and contemporary improvised music. 

A former instructor at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, and since 2009, and an invited lecturer at New World School of The Arts, at the University of Florida, Miami FL, Mr. Hostfalt has served as an instructor in Classical and Jazz Guitar, Bass, Piano, and Electronic Music at Columbia University's Teachers College, and via the Office of Continuing Education at Queensborough Community College, City University of New York CUNY*. Disclaimer: Sten Hostfalt's NYC Guitar Studio is not affiliated with Queensborough Community College or The City University of New York.

He holds a Master's Degree in Music Education from Columbia University's Teacher's College, with a NY State K-12 teaching certificate via CUNY at Brooklyn College, a Master of Music Degree in jazz Composition, and a Graduate Diploma in Jazz Performance from New England Conservatory, as an honors emissary, as well as a Bachelor of Music Degree in Professional Music from Berklee College of Music with honors and as an Outstanding Musicianship Recipient.

With numerous students active as professional musicians and educators in their own right. Since 2006, Sten Hostfalt has conducted his own New York City creative music of all ages, multi-genre music instruction studio, also known as one of few facilities anywhere offering systematic studies of the application and interpretation of microtonal music.

As a natural development of an innovative contribution to the New York City music scene during the past three decades (since 1994) alongside leading jazz musicians of our time. Academically formalized via education studies at Columbia University, and CUNY and through an internship at Fordham University at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Mr. Hostfalt currently implements instrumental music programs for the NYC Department of Education at P.S.189K and P.S./I.S. 295Q, where he teaches general music, including theory/composition, ensemble, piano, guitar, percussion, and wind instruments.

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Paul Bley
Eric Dolphy
Jimmy Giuffre
Joe Maneri