From 1916 to 1944, he lived in Germany (studies in Leipzig). He married a Jewish pianist, Annie Riethof. He moved to Sweden in 1944 and returned to Iceland in 1945.
He wrote the quartet "Vita et Mors" in memory of his daughter Líf, drowned in a swimming accident.
He is the subject of the film "Tears of Stone" (1995), directed by the Icelandic director Hilmar Oddsson.