Composer Kalevi Aho.
Kalevi Aho photographer Maarit-Kytöharju-Fimic

Kalevi Aho is a composer of large-scale orchestral, chamber and vocal works. His production to date includes 4 operas, 15 symphonies, and 17 concertos amongst other works. He has also done several arrangements and orchestrations of other composer’s works.

Composer Aho’s teaching positions include music theory at University of Helsinki (1974-88) and a professorship of composing at the Sibelius Academy (1988 -93). He became the composer- in-residence for the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in 1992. Since 1994 Aho has worked as a freelance composer with a state scholarship.

Kalevi Aho is also a prolific writer and columnist and an active culture critic and polemicist. His literary production covers over 550 essays, studies, columns and other works. His most important works include studies on individual composers such as Einojuhani Rautavaara and Uuno Klami, general studies of Finnish classical music and culture critique.

Kalevi Aho is also exceptionally active contributor to the Finnish cultural life. He has served on many committees and boards and is now a chairman of the Finnish Symphony Orchestras and a board member of the Finnish Cultural Fund.

Composer Aho’s achievements have been awarded with e.g. Pro Finlandia (1999) and Henrik Steffens (1990) prizes and Stiftung Kulturfonds (1998) grant.

Contemporary Composer, Progress and Values. Relatio artis –seminar 26.5.2011

In his speech Contemporary Composer, Progress and Values Kalevi Aho contemplated on the concept of progress in the contemporary music, the meaning and significance of composing and the tasks of composers in today’s world

Many of the contemporary composers are cultural pessimists. For example Rainer Riehn asks if the composing in today’s world makes any sense at all. It seems that everything has been explored and even the concept of newness is greatly inflated. At the same time contemporary music has nearly lost the social meaning it had in the beginning of the 20th century.

What can be considered progressive contemporary music then? Aho criticized the idea that progress should only manifest itself as a denial of previous means of composing. Technical evolution does not automatically result in advancement in humane field. Belief in progress does not mean that we have already progressed. Rigid commitment to the timeliness can only lead to a state of being always behind, always late. Time itself demands nothing. Progress is timeless.

Kalevi Aho believes that in a blatantly technical and materialistic world the need for humane art is increasingly important. But how to expulse the composer from his ivory tower and make him win the audience on his side? According to Aho what the contemporary music lacks and listeners mostly seem to desire is sacredness (not the religious kind), sense of history and tradition and social relevance.

Katariina Lipsanen

Relatio Artis page
Kalevi Aho
Reija Hirvikoski
Juhani Pallasmaa
Catarina Ryöppy
Jussi Tiainen
Timo Valjakka