Latest publications, news and events
Kalevi Aho's music is performed more than ever during the spring. Especially March was a busy month.
The Viola Concerto received 8 performances between 12.3. and 22.3 on a tour by the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Hameln, Brilon, Bad Salzuflen, Bad Oyenhausen, Detmold, Paderborn, Minden and Herford. The soloist is Nils Mönkemeyer, and the conductor Clemens Schuldt.
On 17 March Aho's Gejia (Chinese Images for Orchestra) ws premierd in Beijing by the NCPA orchestra conducted by Yi Zhang.
On 21-23.3. there were 4 performances of Aho's orchestral work Minea in Brazil. The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Osmo Vänskä.
On 17.-19.3. the Camerata Nordica performed Contrapunctus XIV (J.S.Bach/completed by Kalevi Aho) in three concerts in Gamleby, Kalmar and Orskarshamn, Sweden.
On 26 March the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland performed Kalevi Aho's 14th symphony "Rituals" in its concert at the Helsinki Music Centre. There were further 2 performances in Rovaniemi.
Kalevi Aho is composing a new chamber opera, called Frida and Diego. Composed as a commission from the Sibelius Academy for its opera students, it has tentatively been scheduled for the autumn 2014 season at the Helsinki Music Centre. It is Aho’s fifth opera, and is about the life of Frida Kahlo. The libretto, in Spanish, is by Mariza Núñez.
Solo V, for bassoon
ISMN 979-0-55011-021-2, € 14,60 (incl. VAT 10%) Buy now
Solo VII, for trumpet
ISMN 979-0-55009-692-9, € 12,80 (incl. VAT 24%) Buy now
In memoriam Pehr Henrik Nordgren, for violin solo
ISMN 979-0-55011-060-1, € 11,30 (incl. VAT 24%) Buy now
Clarinet Concerto (I Tempestoso)
Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vänskä, sol. Martin Fröst
(BIS Records SACD-1463)
Flute Concerto (III Epilogue)
Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vänskä, sol. Sharon Bezaly
(BIS Records CD-1499)
Symphony No. 4 (III Lento)
Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vänskä
(BIS Records CD-1066)
Symphony No. 7 (III The Butterflies)
Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vänskä
(BIS Records CD-936)
Symphony No. 9 for trombone and orchestra (I Presto)
Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vänskä, sol. Christian Lindberg
(BIS Records CD-706)
Symphony No. 14 (Rituals) (Incantation III, Mantra of the Ending)
Chamber Orchestra of Lapland, cond. John Storgårds, sol. Herman Rechberger
(BIS Records CD-1686)
Symphony No. 12 (Luosto)
Chamber Orchestra of Lapland, Lahti SO.cond. John Storgårds
(BIS Records SACD-1676)
Symphonic Dances (I Prelude)
Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vänskä
(BIS Records CD-1336)
Kalevi Aho, one of Finland’s leading composers of today, was born in Forssa in southern Finland on 9th March 1949. He studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki under Einojuhani Rautavaara and in West Berlin in Boris Blacher’s composition class. In the years 1974-1988 he was a lecturer in musicology at Helsinki University; from 1988 until 1993 he was professor of composition at the Sibelius Academy and since the autumn of 1993 he has been a freelance composer.
In the works which marked his breakthrough (the First Symphony, 1969, and Third String Quartet, 1971) Aho continues in the tradition of Shostakovich; even in these pieces, however, he arrived at a very original formal/dramatic decision. Thus, in the four-movement First Symphony, we are gradually drawn ever further away from the “existing reality” of the beginning, ultimately reaching the third movement’s strange, pseudo-baroque style, and finally, in the last movement, we can meet the problems of the “true reality” head on. The structural starting-point for the single-movement Second Symphony (1970/95) is a triple fugue. In the four-movement Third Symphony (1971-73) the dramatic tension is different; it is a conflict between an individual (a solo violin) and the sound blocks of the orchestra; there is a similar conflict in the pessimistic Cello Concerto (1983-84). The culmination of Aho’s first period (approx. 1969-74) is the three-movement Fourth Symphony (1972-73) with videly varied emotional contrasts.
The Fifth Symphony (1975-76) marks a turning point in Aho’s output. From a structural point of view this massive work is extremely complicated; in this multi-layered symphony, instead of polyphony between various individual instrumental voices, we hear a polyphony of different, independent musical strands. The virtuoso and colourful Sixth Symphony (1979-80) concludes a sequential line of development in Aho’s symphonic work; after this, the composer concentrated for a while on concertos and operas.
Aho’s first opera, Avain (The Key, 1978, with a libretto by Juha Mannerkorpi) tells of the paranoid alienation of an inhabitant of a big modern city in the estranging social climate of today. In 1982 and 1984 The Key was also performed by the Hamburg State Opera. In the years 1985-87 Aho wrote his sharply satirical second opera Hyönteiselämää (Insect Life), which combines elements both of comedy and of tragedy (the libretto, by the composer himself, is based on a play of the same name by Josef and Karel Capek) and contains numerous stylistic parodies as well as pointed social criticism. The work was premiered with great success by the Finnish National Opera on 27 September 1996. Drawing on material from the Insect Life, Aho composed his Seventh Symphony in 1988: a six-movement, cheerful work, the “Insect Symphony” has been described as a post-modern, tragicomic anti-symphony. Two years later Aho composed Pergamon for four narrators, four orchestral groups and organ; the text, which is in four languages, is based on Peter Weiss’s novel Die Ästhetik des Widerstands. In the intense Chamber Symphony No. 2 for strings (1991-92) we hear, in a sense, the music of the composer’s inner voices.
In 1992 the Lahti Symphony Orchestra appointed Aho as its composer in residence, and he has written all of his more recent orchestral works for these musicians. The bright, single-movement Symphony No. 8 (1993) for organ and orchestra is Aho’s most expansive instrumental work; this musically wide-ranging piece is one of the fundamental cornerstones of Aho’s entire output. The lighter Symphony No. 9 (1993-94) is also a concertante symphony: in this work, which contains many different time strata, the solo instrument is the trombone. The large-scale, dramatic Tenth Symphony (1996) is like a tribute to the great Romantic tradition of symphonic music, and is quite different from the Eleventh Symphony for six percussionists and orchestra (1997-98), which is dominated by strong, hypnotic rhythms and by subtle tonal colours.
The song cycle Kiinalaisia lauluja (Chinese Songs, 1997) for soprano and orchestra is a setting of ancient Chinese love poetry. Soloistic virtuosity is a hallmark of Aho’s large-scale, symphonic concertos for Violin (1981), Cello (1983-84) and Piano (1989), of his three chamber symphonies (in the last of these the solo instrument is the alto saxophone) and of many chamber pieces (e.g. the Oboe Quintet, Bassoon Quintet, Oboe Sonata, Quintet for Alto Saxophone, Bassoon, Viola, Cello and Double Bass, Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet, Epilogue for trombone and organ, Seven Inventions and Postlude for oboe and cello and Quintet for Flute, Violin, Two Violas and Cello).
Aho’s other operas include the one-act Salaisuuksien kirja (The Book of Secrets, 1998) to a libretto by Paavo Rintala and the two-act Ennen kuin me kaikki olemme hukkuneet (Before We All Have Drowned, 1995/1999), the libretto of which is based on a radio play by Juha Mannerkorpi. Latest symphonies are the large-scale Symphony No. 12, “Luosto” (2002-03), designed for outdoor purposes, Symphony No. 13 subtitled “Symphonic Characterizations” (2003), Symphony No. 14 “Rituals” for darabuka, djembe, gongs and chamber orchestra (2007) and Symphony No. 15 (2009-10) commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic and Lahti Symphony.
During recent years Kalevi Aho has been commissioned to write several concertos, and his aim has been to compose a concerto for every orchestral instrument – a project that is nearly completed. He has written two Piano Concertos, a Violin Concerto, concertos for viola, cello, double bass, clarinet and bassoon as well as a Double Concerto for two cellos commissioned by the BBC and premiered in Manchester in 2004. Among Aho’s most popular concertos is the sensual Flute Concerto written for Sharon Bezaly in 2002. He has also composed concertos for such exotic solo instruments as the tuba and contrabassoon. Kalevi Aho’s most recent concertos include a Trumpet Concerto, a Percussion Concerto and a Trombone Concerto – all to be premiered in spring 2012.
The Symphonic Dances (Hommage à Uuno Klami) was composed in 2001 as the third act of Uuno Klami’s ballet Pyörteitä (Whirls) and the recording by BIS has scored great international success. Among Kalevi Aho’s numerous arrangements are Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death for bass and orchestra and the first act of Klami’s ballet Whirls. In 1995 Aho composed the lost second violin parts of all six string quartets by the first Finnish composer of importance, Erik Tulindberg (1761-1814), and in 1997 he completed Sibelius’s complete Karelia score in preparation both for performance and for recording (BIS-CD-915). Foremost among Aho’s many writings are the treatises Finnish Music and the Kalevala and Einojuhani Rautavaara as a Symphonist, the collection of essays The Tasks of an Artist in a Post-Modern Society, Art and Reality as well as the books Music of Finland (in collaboration with E. Salmenhaara, P. Jalkanen and K. Virtamo) and Uuno Klami – Life and Works (in collaboration with Marjo Valkonen, 2000).