Helvi Leiviskä (1902–1982) is a Finnish composer whose music has been gaining increasing interest during the last years: her pieces have been performed at various concerts and new recordings are being planned.
Leiviskä studied composition at the Helsinki Music Institute under Erkki Melartin and continued her studies in Vienna and later in Finland with Leevi Madetoja and Leo Funtek. She also worked as a music teacher, writer, and librarian at the Sibelius Academy.
Her music was related to deep philosophical and religious themes, existential searching, and spiritual growth. According to Leiviskä, these values and her musical aspirations could not be separated. Her Late Romantic musical expression evolved during her composing career. The style could also be described as moderate modernism influenced by late Romanticism, Symbolism, Expressionism, Existentialism and Neo-Classicism.
Helvi Leiviskä output consists of close to 50 works. She wrote orchestral pieces, chamber and piano music as well as songs and choral works. The three symphonies composed in 1947, 1954 ja 1971 and the Sinfonia Brevis are considered her weightiest works. She regarded the popular Sinfonia Brevis from 1962 as her 4th symphony and revised it a decade later. The first symphony received its premiere in 1948 but many other works had to wait for their premieres since the world was not wide open for female composers at the time. Other key works include the Piano Concerto. The reviews of the concerto in 1935 wrote that the piece was captivatingly fascinating right from its opening bars.
The most impressive chamber music pieces are the Piano Quartet in A Major Op. 1 (1926), the Piano Trio (1925) and the Violin Sonata G Minor Op. 21 (1945). The Quartet features religious and ecstatic imagery such as may be found in French, German or Russian neo-Romantic styles. The Trio is a powerful, youthful work of direct expression and profound sonority. The extensive Violin Sonata, lasting about 25 minutes, is a challenging and virtuosic piece. All three works are available as new editions.