Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) was still seeking to establish a style of his own in his early instrumental works. He studied at the Sibelius Academy in the late 1950s, first with Aarre Merikanto (reknown for his Neoclassical style) and then with Joonas Kokkonen (who was transitioning from Neoclassicism to dodecaphony). Twelve-tone music had won fairly widespread acceptance in contemporary Finnish music and Sallinen was influenced too. The Variations (1961-62) are Sallinen’s first real work for the cello (the instrument that would later be one of his favourites), its warm, deep voice corres-ponding to the often dark undercurrent of his music.
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