Just in: Helsinki U. shuts down Musicology Dept.

Finland’s musical dominance is under threat from cost-cutters.

Teachers at the Department of Musicology at Helsinki University have been told that their permanent positions are to be discontinued. Professor Eero Tarasti, author of 103 papapers, says the Department of Musicology has been effectively shut: ‘This means that a bond that has existed since 1640 has been shut down – – and it means a great loss to our national identity’.

Our correspondent adds:

Musicology at Helsinki University dates back to 1640 when the University of Turku was founded by the order of Queen Christina of Sweden. In 1820s the seat was changed to Helsinki by order of the Russian Tsar Alexander I.  Over 375 years, teachers in the Musicology department have included Friedrich Pacius, Robert Kajanus, Jean Sibelius, Leevi Madetoja, Erkki Salmenhaara and Kalevi Aho.

Musicology will still be taught at the Sibelius Academy, but the studies there have a different profile: at the Helsinki University the studies in Musicology are more theoretically focused while in Sibelius Academy the focus is on instrumental teaching.

Kalevi Aho has addressed a personal appeal to the prime minister: ‘Finland will never be a financial superpower. If we have something to give to the world, it’s art and culture.’

 

Helsinki_Airport_Art_Gallery_Aho_Soldan_3

 

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  • No, Helsinki University is not shutting down musicilogy dept. They fire some people, that’s all. The headline is misleading.
    Very sad news nevertheless.

      • As noted, the headline is false. The lectors who where responsible for teaching Western Art Music Theory and History have been fired, and professor Eero Tarasti – specified in Semiotics of Music and study of Western Art Music – is retiring in Fall 2016, so the study of Western Art Music definitely is in an uncertain position at our faculty now.

        However, Musicology at our University encompasses much else than mere studies of Western Art Music, and the study of Western Art Music will be continued side by side with other music styles under two other main lines in our studies – Ethnomusicology (led by professor Pirkko Moisala) and Computer Assisted Music Research (focusing f.ex. in computer-aided music analysis, studio technology, music application programming, and electronic and computer music).

        The sad news about the firings are definitely true, though, and they put the full continual of the studies of Western Art Music at risk.

        Sibelius Academy at the University of Arts Helsinki does not offer studies of Musicology as such in their programmes, although, in addition to their task at training musicians, music is studied there from different viewpoints (some studies are mainly artistic in their objectives).

  • I’m a little confused. Sibelius Academy is part of the University of the Arts, Helsinki, which as I understand it is a different institution from the University of Helsinki. Who is doing what to whom here? And if both are in Helsinki, and one wants to choose theoretical and another instrumental studies, what is lost? Is it not a streamlining?

    Just looking for clarity. Of course nobody wants any academic department closed but it is not clear here what exactly is happening.

    • Yes, Helsinki University is a separate institution from the Sibelius Academy. While Helsinki University trains academic musicologists, Sibelius Academy’s main purpose is to train musicians. Sibelius Academy is not closing down, but the Helsinki University department of Musicology is.

      In recent years there has been a shift with Sibelius Academy becoming more and more pop-oriented. Jukka-Pekka Saraste, for one, has been critical about the fact that Sibelius Academy is more and more producing mediocres in pop, jazz and classical – instead of focusing on the real talents.

      However, the Musicology department at the Helsinki University has long traditions in strictly academic and theoretic studies. Quoting Mr Lyytikäinen: during its 375 years of history the teaching has been CONTINUOUS despite of two world wars, plagues, starvations, and different wars raging the country in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the Great Depression of 1930s. – But apparently the politicians think that the situations now is so “bad” that the department can be closed down ?

      (Last year Helsinki University made profit 46 million € – so I guess they really suffer from lack of funds..?)

      • Thank you for the information and clarification. It is staggering that a country that punches above ts weight musically to the extent that Finland does is even considering such disastrous activity.

  • Sad to see such a musically vibrant country as Finland following the example of money grabbing, corporatised English universities.

  • Thanks for publishing this . Pirkko is right that this concerns the art music studies line or how it is called: General musicology dealing essentially with the co-classical music or the European erudite music. The ethnomusicology and computer assisted music research will remain (hopefully). All othe said in the article and my in facebook holds true. Except I have conducted 103 doctoral theses but published over 400 papers and so. Thanks to all for your kindest support.

  • As noted, the headline is false. The lectors who where responsible for teaching Western Art Music Theory and History have been fired, and professor Eero Tarasti – specified in Semiotics of Music and study of Western Art Music – is retiring in Fall 2016, so the study of Western Art Music definitely is in an uncertain position at our faculty now.

    However, Musicology at our University encompasses much else than mere studies of Western Art Music, and the study of Western Art Music will be continued side by side with other music styles under two other main lines in our studies – Ethnomusicology (led by professor Pirkko Moisala) and Computer Assisted Music Research (focusing f.ex. in computer-aided music analysis, studio technology, music application programming, and electronic and computer music).

    The sad news about the firings are definitely true, though, and they put the full continual of the studies of Western Art Music at risk.

    Sibelius Academy at the University of Arts Helsinki does not offer studies of Musicology as such in their programmes, although, in addition to their task at training musicians, music is studied there from different viewpoints (some studies are mainly artistic in their objectives).

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