Finland experiences classical-music renaissance

Posted on: September 11, 2012

In Friday’s (9/7) Wall Street Journal, J.S. Marcus writes, “Finland can lay claim to being the musical superpower of the Nordic countries. The most important orchestras in Sweden and Norway now have Finnish conductors. Jean Sibelius, Finland’s national composer, has a renewed pan-Scandinavian appeal, and contemporary Finnish composers are some of the most sought-after in the world. But until last year, Helsinki, the center of Finnish musical life, lacked an acoustically viable concert hall. That all changed in late August 2011, when the city inaugurated the new Helsinki Music Center, home to both the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Nordic countries’ oldest permanent orchestra, and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, known for premiering new works by Finnish composers. … The new Music Center is just the shiny tip of a large iceberg. … A central fact of Finnish musical life is audience openness to new and difficult works of music by contemporary composers. The best known is Magnus Lindberg, 54, a recent composer-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic. His works are marked by innovation, like his 1980s piece, ‘Kraft,’ which converts junkyard refuse into musical instruments. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, who is himself a composer, attributes Finnish musical sophistication to the country’s much-lauded educational system, which fosters musical talent but has also helped create a new generation of eager audiences.”

Posted September 11, 2012