Aulis Sallinen turns 80

Aulis Sallinen turns 80
On April 9 2015 the Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen celebrated his 80th birthday. To mark the occasion a number of soloists, chamber musicians and orchestras are set to present the Novello composer’s defining works in several concerts this season. Celebrations of Sallinen’s landmark birthday are not confined to looking back at his career, but also focus on more recent compositions from a composer who is still a very active practitioner of his art.

The festivities kicked off in March when the Lahti Symphony Orchestra performed Sallinen’s Symphony No 3. In May at the Helsinki Music Centre Songs of Life and Death (Elämän ja Kuoleman Lauluja) will be performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hanna Lintu with Johanna Rusanen-Kartano and Ville Rusanen as the soloists.

At the Naantali Music Festival, from 2-11 June, Sallinen’s music is strongly featured. Performances include the premiere of Canti per vallis gratiae by the Turku Conservatorium Girls’ Choir, and performances of chamber music. The English Chamber Orchestra will also give two concerts conducted by Ralf Gothóni, including The Barabbas Dialogues.

Later this summer, on July 26, Kalevi Kiviniemi will give a recital including the world premiere of Variazioni per organo. Juhani Lagerspetz, piano and Kari Vuola, organ will perform Sallien’s duo Canti per vallis gratiae at this year’s Naantali Music Festival in Finland. Both the Turku Conservatorium Girls Choir and the English Chamber Orchestra will perform works including Chamber Music V (Barabbas Variations), Chamber Music III (The Nocturnal Dances of Don Juanquixote), Op 58 and Baumgesang mit Epilog, also at the Naantali Festival. On May 22 the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra will perform Sallinen’s Songs of Life and Death (Elämän ja Kuoleman Lauluja).

See here for a full concert listing.

Sallinen takes you on a journey so wondrous you are sorry when it ends

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

Discover Aulis Sallinen’s music via our Music Sales playlist.

About Aulis Sallinen...

Sallinen was born on the northern shore of Lake Ladoga, a violin player and a student of the Sibelius Academy (were he later became a member of the teaching staff). He is a member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy and Honorary Doctor of the Universities of Helsinki and Turku. The Finnish Government made him Professor of Arts for life in 1981 - the first appointment of its kind, thus making it possible for him to devote all of his time to composing. Sallinen has composed eight symphonies, five distinguished operas (which continue to be performed across Europe) and a wide selection of chamber and solo instrumental music. Sallinen’s musical style has evolved over his career, stimulated by energetic 20th century thought on the nature of music and tonality. Although now many align Sallinen’s musical style with Sibelius, Shostakoviich and Neilsen, his early career was influenced by serialism and the Darmstadt school.

The fifties were no doubt a trying time for the musical public. I too wrote knotty music then. But the period was necessary for us composers. You learn a lot from dodecaphony and it has left its mark. Dodecaphony was the antidote to a flabby way of writing. You had to build up a structure that was thought out to the smallest detail. At the same time as the collapse of serialism has been greeted with relief from the concert-going public, it has also opened the door to the old dangers.’

Sallinen’s now more tonal musical style confidently exudes clarity and plays on the dramatic contrasts in the orchestration. Regarding Sallinen’s second opera, The King Goes forth to France, The Observer wrote: ‘he uses apparently common-place tonal materials as the basis for a highly plastic and original orchestral counterpoint…never overburdened and nearly always apt and strongly profiled.’ Also captured by Sallinen’s unique musical language displayed in Kullervo, Hanspeter Renggli of Der Bund remarked that ‘his music has endurance and lives from strong contrasts. Dominant, bass-heavy string sounds stand opposed to wildly expressive wind passages; soft string movements to hard rhythmic sections.’

Since 2001, Aulis Sallinen has concentrated on writing works featuring solo instruments, ranging in size from the Cello Sonata (2005) to the Horn Concerto (2002). His latest works have been a "Chamber Music" series for a variety of soloists with string orchestra. Sallinen's instrumental works are widely performed The German record label CPO has released a series of seven all-Sallinen CDs, featuring all of his major orchestral works. During his long career Sallinen has also been appointed to leading roles within the Finnish Classical Music community serving as Chairman of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (1971-3), Chairman of TEOSTO (Finnish copyright society) from 1970-84 and as member on the board of the Finnish National Opera.

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