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Kristi Bjarnason

1955 - 2020

Kristi grew up in a Seattle family of professional musicians. When her parents, Dorothy and Leon, introduced her to the cello there was no stopping her.  She followed in the footsteps of her teachers:  Eva Heinitz, Gabor Rejto, and Pierre Fournier.

Kristi first concertized in Seattle in her early teens. As her career progressed, she concertized in Los Angeles, Geneva, London, Paris, and finally in New York. She received many enthusiastic reviews. Along the way, she prevented a Stradivarius from being decapitated and played a memorable concert in a pasture to an audience of Swiss farmers.

Kristi chose to take early retirement in order to pursue her twin passions, philosophy and musicology. She returned to Seattle and began to give private classes focusing on Plato’s philosophy. She could easily discuss Plato’s work for extended periods of time without notes.

Encouraged by her successful classes, she launched an ambitious personal quest, establishing the common links between and among the works Plato, Mozart, and Freemasonry created in their common search for absolute truth.  She eventually built a library of 10,000 books printed in all her languages—French, Spanish, Italian, German, Ancient Greek, and even basic hieroglyphics,  Sadly, her research remains unfinished.

In addition to all her demanding work, Kristi still found personal time to socialize.  When she was concertizing, her list of acquaintances extended from   O.J. Simpson to Jacque Chirac—when he was mayor of Paris—to Luciano Pavarotti and a host of other celebrities.  When Kristi retired, she could finally indulge her wide range of personal interests. They extended from Hobbits, dolls and trolls to decorated Christmas trees and the NASA space program to Charlemagne, Louis XVI and John-Paul II.  If that weren’t enough, Kristi, like her Icelandic grandfather, wrote poetry.  Her poems were largely about nature and spiritual subjects. Everyone needed to increase their speed to keep up with Kristi’s energy and enthusiasm!

Kristi’s most poignant memories were of the early morning walks she and Dorothy took through Woodland Park Zoo just across the street from their house. All the animals knew both mother and daughter and eagerly awaited their arrival.  On one walk they unexpectedly came across Kiki the gorilla who had, to his keeper’s disbelief, escaped from his exhibit.  The highlight of every walk was Kristi’s chance to bond with Salat the Komodo dragon.  Kristi and Salat eagerly rubbed forearms across the glass window of Salat’s exhibit. Kristi’s love for animals, especially reptiles, knew no bounds.

During the last third of her life, medical problems—especially mold poisoning—that had dogged her from childhood worsened. Without the skilled treatment of her medical team, Kristi could not have survived. Kristi was especially grateful to John C. Burgoyne, M.D., Raymond Singer, Ph. D., and David Buscher, M.D. for their devoted care that gave her a high quality of life for the last twenty years. Eventually, however, the cumulative burden of her illnesses led to repeated hospitalizations that could not restore her health. During her last hospitalization at Overlake Hopital, Kristi was thankful for the exceptional care she received from the 4th floor South and Critical Care Units, especially Lori Walund, M.D., even while they were forced to deal with the Covid-19 virus.

Kristi never did things by halves.  She was always totally committed to everything she thought, said and did. She was, at her core, kind and compassionate.  She thought constantly of others’ welfare and helped many people. She loved passionately and unconditionally. She will be missed.

Kristi is survived by her fiancé Louis Janson, her Canadian cousins and her close friends.

Remembrances to the Woodland Park Zoo.

If you have photos or recordings to share, please call 206-536-4030.


So sorry to hear of Kristi's passing. I took music lessons from her and her mother, Dorothy and my daughter took lessons from her father, Leon. Dorothy always kept me informed of Kristi's many interests and concerts in Europe. A wonderful family. So sad they are all gone.
Loretta Sutherland

I have many fond memories of Kristi and her mother Dorothy. I took music lessons for many years as a teenager in their home. Even when I couldn't play due to a broken arm. I would still go for my lessons because Kristi would teach about me about philosophy and the history of music. She was a great person and teacher and will be deeply missed.
Leslie Thompson

As family friends of the Bjarnasons, I met Kristi as a young child. She immediately followed in the footsteps of her musical parents and I remember several occasions of playing duets until her musical technique and pedagogy surpassed me. We used to joke about "survival" during the junior high years. I'm sure the last I had seen her was before leaving for college, and at that point, I had heard about her studies with Pierre Fournier and launching her performance career abroad.

Although I had never had the opportunity to be reacquainted as an adult, Kristi left in indelible memory and I very much admired her steadfast dedication to the cello.
Paul W. Petersky

Kristi was a marvel. I studied with her mother Dorothy for several years and remained friends with the family until Dorothy's death. I remember being astonished by her playing at many concerts in Seattle, and later a couple of mind-blowing conversations about the intersections between music, philosophy, metaphysics and Freemasonry. (Kristi did most of the talking!) The whole family were such lovely people.
Bruce Bodden (principal flutist, Spokane Symphony)

I shared life, music love and her profession with Kristi in the years we lived together in our Geneva house. She was the love of my life. I love you

- Jose Miguel Benavente


We were saddened to learn of Kristi’s passing. Our family grew up in Vancouver, and we all remember when her parents, Uncle Leon and Aunt Dorothy, would bring young Kristi for a visit. After coffee and a lively intellectual discussion, Kristi would crown the evening by bringing out her cello. It was such a pleasure listening to Kristi play for us right there in our living room. The last time we saw Kristi was decades later when she was back in Seattle and struggling with health issues. It was such a comfort to learn that, in the last years of her life, Kristi found security and happiness.
from Kristi’s Canadian Cousins: Karen, Sigrid and Stefan

I'm Kristi's cousin, Wendy Sweazey (at the time we were children together). I am saddened to hear of her early death. I'd like to know what the date of death was. Thank you for any information you can share.

- Ariele M. Huff

I am so sad to learn of Kristi's passing. I met her when I took lessons from her father in their home. Kristi was so bright and inquisitive and I loved listening to her practice. She made the cello sing so beautifully that it almost brought me to tears. The entire family was kind and brilliant in so many ways.

- Anna Hibbard Woods

I was very sad to hear that Kristi had left us prematuredly.
I knew Kristi when she was in Geneva, Switzerland. She was a dear friend who loved life and I remember her warm voice, her smile and her laughter. She had a heart of gold. Completely immersed in the absolute love of her violoncello which she played to perfection, she made it sing music with passion. She poured all her heart and soul into her playing. She was an inspiration ! Everyone here who knew her loved her dearly.

Christiane Lougheed Sahiti

Many years ago my brother and I had the privilege to see her in concert at George Fox College, she was amazing and so was the Stradivarious cello that she played. The sound filled the auditorium without amplification. Kristi was our cousin on our Dad's side of the family. Surprised and saddened to see that she had passed away. Sincerely, Christopher T. Dickey


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