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Fennica Gehrman: composer Einojuhani Rautavaara

Latest publications, news and events

Music by Rautavaara on stage

On 25 April, the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe is to premiere Davide Bombana’s choreography Der Prozess, to the music of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s orchestral Angel of Dusk, Angel of Light and Angels and Visitations.

Angel of Light has also been chosen as the music for the full-length ballet choreographed by Hans Henning Paar. The first of the 12 performances will be on 23 January 2016.

Einojuhani Rautavaara: I min älsklings trädgård / In My Lover’s Garden

for female choir (SSAA)
A suite of three choral songs to texts by Edith Södergran, English translation by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi (Swe/Eng)
1. In the Great Wide Woodlands (I de stora skogarna)
2. In between Grey Stones (Mellan gråa stenar)
3. Lucky Cat (Lyckokatt)
55011-222-3, € 10,40 Buy now

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Neljä laulua Aleksis Kiven runoihin

Four Songs to Poems by Aleksis Kivi
Rautavaara’s songs from the opera Aleksis Kivi in arrangements for male choir. Texts in Finnish.
1. Ikävyys, 2. Olven kunnia, 3. Laulu oravasta, 4. Sydämeni laulu
55011-158-5, € 9,80 Buy now

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Con spirito di Kuhmo

for violin and cello
Rautavaara wrote this short work in 1999 for Seppo Kimanen's birthday. It was premiered by Yoshiko Arai, violin and Martti Rousi, cello, in Helsinki on 7 February 1999.
55009-945-6, € 12,90 Buy now

Audio samples

 Violin Concerto (II Energico)
BIS CD 1315 Lahti Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vänskä, sol. Jaakko Kuusisto
(BIS Records CD-1315)

 Symphony No. 1 (I Andante)
National Orchestra of Belgium, cond. Mikko Franck
(Ondine Records CD-1064-5)

 Symphony 7 Angel of Light (I Tranquillo)
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam
(Ondine Records CD- 869-2)

 Cantus arcticus, Concerto for Birds and Orchestra (I The Bog)
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam
(Ondine Records CD-1041-2)

 All-Night Vigil (Vigilia) (Final Blessing)
Finnish Radio Chamber Choir, cond. Timo Nuoranne
(Ondine Records CD-910-2)

Einojuhani Rautavaara

Einojuhani Rautavaara (born 9 October 1928) is internationally one of the best known and most frequently performed Finnish composers. He is by nature a romantic, even a mystic, as is often apparent from the titles of his works: for example Angels and Visitations for orchestra or his double-bass concerto Angel of Dusk. Despite Rautavaara’s label of “mysticism” he is a complex and contradictory figure whose works cannot be categorized in stylistic terms. 

At the age of seventeen Rautavaara began studying the piano and later went on to study musicology at Helsinki University and composition at the Sibelius Academy. From 1951-53 he was a pupil of Aarre Merikanto receiving his diploma in composition in 1957. In 1955 the Koussewitzky Foundation awarded Jean Sibelius a scholarship in honour of his 90th birthday to enable a young Finnish composer of his choice to study in the United States. Sibelius selected Rautavaara who spent two years studying with Vincent Persichetti at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and also took part in the summer courses at Tanglewood given by Roger Sessions and Aaron Copland. In 1957 Rautavaara continued his studies with Wladimir Vogel in Ascona, Switzerland and a year later with Rudolf Petzold in Cologne. Rautavaara has taught and lectured at the Sibelius Academy as the professor of composition. Since 1988 he has made his living as a composer in Helsinki. 

Rautavaara’s earliest works revealed close ties to tradition but also his desire to renew it. They were followed by an extreme constructivist and avant-garde phase (as in the serially organized fourth symphony “Arabescata”, 1962) after which Rautavaara turned to hyper-romanticism and finally mysticism. Since the early 1980s Rautavaara has adopted a sort of post-modern musical language in which modern and traditional elements of varying degrees of constructivism or freedom are combined with one another. 

Rautavaara has composed eight symphonies, the most frequently performed of them being the Angel of Light, his seventh symphony. Symphony No. 8 “The Journey” was premiered in April 2000 by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch. Other important groups of works include concertos for different solo instruments, among them the three piano concertos, the popular Violin Concerto (1977), the Harp Concerto (2000) and the Clarinet Concerto (2001-02). Rautavaara has also written a large body of chamber music as well as choral and vocal works including All-Night Vigil for a cappella chorus. One of Rautavaara’s most popular works is Cantus arcticus, concerto for birds and orchestra, in which the straightforward orchestral part is juxtaposed with the sounds of birds recorded by the composer himself. Rautavaara’s latest orchestral works include Tapestry of LifeIncantations (Concerto for Percussion Solo and Orchestra) and Towards the Horizon (Concerto No. 2 for Cello and Orchestra). 

Apart form his symphonies the central pillars of Rautavaara's extensive oeuvre are his operas. With Vincent (1985-87) and The House of the Sun (1990) Rautavaara has scored a notable international success. Aleksis Kivi was premiered at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 1997 and it has been performed in Cosenza, Italy and Minneapolis, U.S.A since then. The latest stage work is Rasputin (2001-2003), an opera about the life of mystic and healer Grigory Rasputin.

2011 © Fennica Gehrman, PO Box 158, FI-00121 Helsinki, Finland, info@fennicagehrman.fi

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