Finland Music

By | December 17, 2021

The oldest form of Finnish folk music known to us consists of recitatives and improvisations, with a very narrow melody, typical of the regions of Ingria and northern Karelia. The second stage of evolution is represented by the melodies on which the verses of the Kalevalian type (ottonarî trocaici) are sung, melodies that rarely occur beyond the fifth and fourth; with various rhythms, among which the five-time one is remarkable ∥ ♩♩ ∣ ♩♩ ∣ ♩♩ ∣û∣û∥ which, according to Ilmari Krohn’s opinion, does not represent an anomaly, but a regular alteration of the ordinary measure, to the advantage of musical expression, without any tendency to a restless or agitated musicality. Krohn classifies the Finnish song according to the melodic character of the phrases – usually of four bars each – that constitute them, tonic, on the dominant or subdominant, from which they are closed. He also distinguishes the sphere of the melody, and in each song he quotes the name of the person who transcribed it in musical notation at the top, and at the bottom the province or parish from which it originates.

These are always characteristic melodies for their sweet sadness and primitive simplicity. For Finland 2014, please check

In a collection of melodies by A. Launis (Lappische Iuoigos-Melodien, Helsinki 1908) there are examples of rhythms where the trend in five times acquires a different character, depending on whether it derives from an increase in the simple or double binary measure, or from an elision of the double ternary measure (six quarters, or six eighths) (see the collection of Suomen kansan Sävelmiä, Melodie del popolo finno, Helsinki 1910).

A special group of songs is formed by the “spiritual” melodies, now simple variants of liturgical songs, now independent creations: often noble in form and highly inspired. On the relationship between sacred and profane songs, see the memory of Ilmari Krohn, Über die Art und Entstehung der geistlichen Volksmelodien in Finnland Helsinki 1899, and the Valittuja Psalmeja (Selected Psalms, Helsinki 1903) of the same.

Among the ancient instruments, used in Finland, we remember: the sarvi (made with a beak’s horn); the Paimengrim (species of birch bark trumpet); the lavikko (of wood and of ox horn); the pajupilli (a kind of flute made of willow bark); the harppu (sort of citara); the jouhikantele (a kind of primitive violin with horsehair strings and bow); the luikko (woodwind instrument and birch rind).

Music as an art began to be cultivated in Turku in the last decades of the 1700s: the “Aurora” Society, founded in 1770, gave its first concert in 1773. In 1790, the Turku Music Society was added and the first performances took place. choral. The famous clarinetist Henrik Crusell (1775-1838) opens the series of Finnish composers, followed by the true founder of national music, the Hamburger Fredrik Pacius (1809-1891), who set Vårt land to music(Our Country) by Runeberg, which became the Finnish national anthem, wrote various operas and gave new life to concerts in Helsinki, the capital of Finland after the fire of Turku (1827). Pacius had great influence on the development of music in his adopted homeland. The first national composers should be approached, among others, K. Collan, KG Wasenius, Ph. Von Schantz, K. Greve, G. Linsén, not all free from Germanic influences (Mendelssohn, Spohr).

Richard Faltin (1835-1918), successor of Pacius at the University of Helsinki, at the head of an excellent choral society, had the merit of introducing you to the major works of classical musical literature, and himself wrote numerous cantatas, of keen interest. But we owe to Martin Wegelius (1846-1906), a good composer of choral, symphonic and vocal works, the foundation of the music school of Helsinki, where he called to teach renowned artists, such as Busoni, Halvorsen, Carl Pohlig. In turn, the composer Robert Kajanus (1856), a pupil of the Danish Svendsen, founded and directed an important choral and orchestral society, especially facilitating the diffusion of national music. Among the masters most famous today for their value and their ethnic character, it is enough to remember J. Sibelius (v.), Composer admired everywhere, in which the modern Finnish school culminates, Armas Järnefelt (1869), Oskar Merikanto (1868-1926), author of operas and lyrics; Emil Genetz (1852-1929), Erkki Melartin (1875), Ilmari Krohn (1867) and Selim Palmgren (1878). In Finland, as indeed in Sweden and Norway, choral singing is highly cultivated, so much so that in every city there are important choral societies.

Finland Music 2