'It is my belief that music is great if, at some moment, the listener catches "a glimpse of eternity through the window of time" ... this, to my mind, is the only true justification for all art. All else is of secondary importance.' - Einojuhani Rautavaara
The Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara was born on 9 October 1928 in Helsinki, where he studied with Aarre Merikanto at the Sibelius Academy. His Requiem for Our Time (a brass band piece from 1953) won the Thor Johnson Contest, and he took up a scholarship to study in the USA at New York's Juilliard School with Vincent Persichetti, also taking lessons at Tanglewood with Aaron Copland and Roger Sessions.
Although generally described as a mystic - he believed that his music had a will of its own, existing already in another dimension, and that his task as mediator was merely to bring it to this world - his music has gone through various phases, including Nordic neo-Classical, serialist, neo-Romantic and even a synthesis of these styles.
His output was large and varied, encompassing eight symphonies, choral music, instrumental sonatas, string quartets, operas and concertos. Some of his music, including the popular Cantus Arcticus of 1972 (which uses aleatoric and modal elements along with recorded birdsong), includes recorded sound effects. Much of his music has been recorded.
For most of his working life he taught at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and was professor of composition there from 1976 until 1990.
Einojuhani Rautavaara died on 27 July 2016, aged eighty-seven, from complications following hip surgery.
CD Spotlight. A Vision of Ambivalence and Incoherence - Music by Kalevi Aho, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... it makes huge demands on the listener ...'
CD Spotlight. A Sense and Taste for the Infinite - Choral music by Rautavaara, Wennäkoski and Livorski impresses Gerald Fenech. 'For those who love contemporary choral singing, this disc should prove a real revelation ...'
Classical music news. Towards the Light - Helsinki Chamber Choir's new CD will be released on 1 March 2019
CD Spotlight. Unconscious Dimension - Music by Rautavaara, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... the singers' phrasing, harmonic direction and melodic sense all indicate how much this music is in their blood.'
Ensemble. Silvery Tones - Maria Nockin was at the opening concert of Phoenix Chorale's 2012-13 season
Ensemble. Born to Excel - Recent concerts in London, heard by Bill Newman
Ensemble. Sing ye to the Lord - Roderic Dunnett was at the 2009 Hereford Three Choirs Festival
CD Spotlight. A class act - Finnish music for strings, reviewed by Greg Barns. 'Finland's prodigious musical talent is once again on display ...'
Record box. Firm conviction - Basil Ramsey listens to the music of Einojuhani Rautavaara
Record Box - Manners of clothing - At ease with the sacred, with Basil Ramsey