The Finnishing school of conducting

The Finnishing school of conducting


norman lebrecht

January 12, 2020

Susanna Mälkki, Hannu Lintu, Atso Almila and Emilia Hoving (Finland) are among the stars of a movie-length documentary on how Finland thinks it produces the best conductors.

It’s due for cinema release next month.,

In Finland.


  • Enquiring Mind says:

    The headlines and pictures are reliably entertaining so my question is “are all of the headlines from NL or does he have a ghostwriter”?

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Style points to headlines and text being written by the same person. Inconistencies point to the absence of fact checkers and proof readers.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    The rest come from either Russia, Latvia, Estonia or such. This applies not only to conductors but musicians overall, with some exceptions obviously. I am yet to be convinced by the musicianship of the Chinese.

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    Why the picture of Leif Segerstam, who doesn’t appear to be credited? (I accept that he’s a Finnish conductor! Perhaps the most ‘larger-than-life’?)

    But, yes, pretty amazing – there was an article on this very subject years ago in Gramophone: you can read it at

    I look forward to the film – will it be viewable in Britain?

  • Nick says:

    Finns are entitled to THINK whatever they want.
    “Best conductors”? Questionable.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      “Best conductors” is easily questionable. But overall in classical music, Finland definitely punches above its weight. Considering its population, Finland has a disproportionate number of world famous composers, conductors, soloists… More important, it has a healthy and vibrant music life, rich with orchestras, choral music, and domestic music making. It all starts with a good education. There is a lot to admire and learn from this great country.

      • Novagerio says:

        Petros, look at the proportions per capita, and you’ll find a long list of individual conductors in a 5,5m size country…

  • Novagerio says:

    The finns I know are quiet and serious people with a lot of integrity, and they give themselves time to think and be creative their own way.
    The ability to find and encourage individuality was the trademark of the very nestor of those conductors, Prof.Jorma Panula.

    Interesting film. Pity there were only finnish and swedish surtitles.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    The Baltic countries (on the other side of the seas) don’t do badly, combined population slightly more than Finland, a tenth of the population of France or the UK.

  • WiseGuy says:

    Its uncanny how many amazing conductors came up through Panula’s class.

  • Orin O. says:

    Hurray for S. M. Rouvali….NY Philharmonic debut was topnotch. We hope to see him soon again.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    FABULOUS picture of Segerstam!

  • Atso Almila says:

    Dear all, the film is more a story of three of our students, one Finn, one French and one Taiwanese. They were followed by director Grönroos for many years. She took a layman’s approach to us, interested to document the thoughts and studies of the students.
    The class of the Sibelius Academy of the University of Arts is very international.
    After my retirement Sakari Oramo is now the new professor.

  • Marius Coetzee says:

    Where can u buy this film ? I tried to puchase it from Vimeo but received a message that it is not for available in my country South Africa M