Is this Finland’s most influential musician?

Is this Finland’s most influential musician?


norman lebrecht

January 16, 2018

This is the 80th birthday week of the composer Paavo Heininen, a man locally celebrated for two Finnish operas, six symphonies, eleven concertos.

More importantly, as professor of composition at the Sibelius Academy, he has been the teacher of Kaija Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg, Jouni Kaipainen, Jukka Tiensuu and more – the most successful generation of composers Finland has ever produced.


  • John Borstlap says:

    Congratulations to Mr Heininen….. This Kaukametsä is a beautiful work, more or less in the style of Schönberg’s floating tonalities (‘middle period’ – like ‘Vergangenes’ from the Fünf Orchesterstücke), where inner confusion is still held together by a traditional sense of narrative and lyric expression. Also there is an audible (!) logic in its motivic workings – which is a very traditional technique and timeless in its effectiveness.

    And what an achievement by the choir, with these intervals.

    I think it is a better type of music than Saariaho’s and Lindberg’s, because more sensitive, and more artistic.

  • Jean says:

    I think thanks to Paavo Heininen there does not exist Minimalism in Finnish contemporary music – not even a single composer of Minimalism.

    As for Heininen, he discovered his aesthetics in the late 1950s and has remained faithful to these ideas.

  • Robert von Bahr says:

    It is, perhaps, Paavo Heininen’s bad luck that he is countryman of Kalevi Aho, who, without doubt, isn’t only the most influential composer in Finland, but also in the world. With 17 symphonies plus 3 huge chamber symphonies, 26 Concertos (all more of less 30 minutes), enormous production of chamber and solo music, and all in a quality that most composers could only dream of, being performed in the entire world, I believe that the title in the heading must go to him. He also was a Professor of composition at the Sibelius Academy with, i.a., Sebastian Fagerlund as a pupil, Sebastian, who is now Composer-in-Residence at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
    Robert von Bahr

  • JamesM says:

    Don’t forget Aulis Sallinen: 8 symphonies and much fine music.

  • Fabius J F says:

    It is time to discover the music of Paavo Heininen.
    The scandinavian labels should strive for it