Finnish composer: I am here, my husband in France

Finnish composer: I am here, my husband in France


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2020

Kaija Saariaho went to Helsinki for an orchestral premiere, only to be trapped there by Covid-19. Her husband, the French composer Jean-Baptiste Barrière, is in Paris.

Kaija tells YLE: ‘My family is now divided into Finland and France, and I will be longer separated from my husband than ever before.’

How are your days going?
I compose, at least I try, and sometimes the familiar flow comes on.

What do you do when you don’t spend time with music?
I go for a walk, I clean, I cook. I am in touch with family and friends.

Kaija, selfie



  • Paul says:

    it sounds like now she will truly know “L’Amour de loin”

  • My best wishes to you, Kaija, and that you can unite with your family in nearerst future! I recall our meeting in the late 90s in Tokyo when we both worked at Kunitachi, and I had the honour and pleasure to introduce your terrific “Laterna Magica” to Montreal audiences in 2013.
    Please stay well and risk nothing! We all want to hear and perform more, much more of your music!

  • My wife and I were on an two month long 18 city tour in the USA which began on February 15th. The last nine cities were cancelled on March 15th. We have had four flights back to Germany (where we live) cancelled. A return date is not in sight. We are living in a vacation rental that isn’t terribly comfortable, and our lives are very disrupted, but at least Abbie and I are together and not separated.