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Aulis Sallinen

File:Aulis Sallinen.jpg
Aulis Sallinen at the Academic Bookstore in Helsinki, Finland, in 2009

Aulis Sallinen (born April 9, 1935) is a Finnish contemporary classical music composer. His music has been variously described as "remorselessly harsh", a "beautifully crafted amalgam of several 20th-century styles", and "neo-romantic".[1][2] Sallinen studied at the Sibelius Academy, where his teachers included Joonas Kokkonen. He has had works commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, and has also written 6 operas, 8 symphonies, concertos for violin, cello, flute, horn and English horn as well as several chamber works. He won the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1978 for his opera Ratsumies (The Horseman).

Childhood and studies

Sallinen was born in Salmi, in an area which was conquered by the USSR when he was nine. His first instruments were violin and piano. He would play both jazz and classical music. He was known to be extremely creative, and spent much time during his teenage years improvising. After a while, he began writing his ideas down on paper, and began to do serious composition. He attended the Sibelius Academy of Music, and studied with a number of prestigious teachers.

Early adult life

After graduating, Sallinen took a position as composition teacher at the Sibelius Academy, and continued composing. One of his prominent student was the Austrian born Finnish composer Herman Rechberger. In his mid 20s, he was put on the board of directors of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He became chairman of the board of Finnish Composers ten years later. Though he was a known teacher and was on many boards of directors, his compositions were not particularly noted until he was made "Professor of Arts for Life" by the Finnish government, giving him money so he could focus more on composition.

Later life

After receiving that award, Sallinen devoted great amounts of time to his composing. He has revived standard forms and harmonies, but puts them together in very contemporary ways. He has received a number of commissions from some very renowned ensembles and has composed eight symphonies, including one using material from a proposed ballet on The Lord of the Rings and containing two mediaeval Finnish tunes from the Piae Cantiones. He has written six operas, and is well known as the composer of the title track of the Kronos Quartet's album Winter Was Hard.

Career highlights

  • 1960 - awarded diploma from the Sibelius Academy.
  • 1960-70 - administrator of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
  • 1978 - Nordic Council Music Prize for The Horseman.
  • 1981 - became the first person to be made a Professor of Arts for life by the Finnish Government, enabling him to concentrate on composing full-time.
  • 1983 - Wihuri International Sibelius Prize.
  • 2004 - first in series of recordings of complete orchestral music released on the CPO label.

Selected works


  • Symphony No. 1, Op. 24 (1971)
  • Symphony No. 2 Symphonic Dialogue, Op. 29 (for percussion and orchestra) (1972)
  • Symphony No. 3, Op. 35 (1975)
  • Symphony No. 4, Op. 49 (1979)
  • Symphony No. 5 Washington Mosaics, Op. 57 (1985–1987)
  • Symphony No. 6 From a New Zealand Diary, Op. 65 (1990)
  • Symphony No. 7 The Dreams of Gandalf, Op. 71 (1996)
  • Symphony No. 8 Autumnal Fragments, Op. 81 (2001)


  • Mauermusik, Op. 7 (1963)
  • Variations for Orchestra, Op. 8 (1963)
  • Chorali for wind orchestra, Op. 22 (1970)
  • Chamber Music I, for string orchestra, Op. 38 (1975)
  • Chamber Music II, for alto flute and string orchestra Op. 41 (1976)
  • Dies Irae, for soprano, bass, male choir and orchestra, Op. 47 (1978)
  • Shadows, Op. 52 (1982)
  • Chamber Music III The Nocturnal Dances of Don Juan Quixote, for cello and string orchestra Op. 58 (1983)
  • Sunrise Serenade, Op. 63 (1989)
  • Songs of Life and Death, for baritone, choir and orchestra, Op. 69 (1995)
  • Palace Rhapsody for wind orchestra, Op. 72 (1996)
  • Introduction and Tango Overture for piano and string orchestra, Op. 74b (1997)
  • A Solemn Overture (King Lear), Op. 75 (1997)
  • Chamber Music IV, for piano and string orchestra, Op. 79 (2000)
  • Chamber Music V Barabbas Variations, for accordion and string orchestra, Op. 80 (2000)
  • Chamber Music VI Trois invitations au voyage for string quartet and string orchestra, Op. 88 (2006)
  • Concerto for clarinet, viola and chamber orchestra, Op. 91 (2007) (also for clarinet, cello and chamber orchestra, Op. 91a)
  • Chamber Music VII Cruseliana, for soloist wind quintet and string orchestra, Op. 93 (2007)
  • Chamber Music VIII The Trees, All Their Green (Paavo Haavikko in memoriam), for cello and string orchestra, Op. 94 (2008)


  • Violin Concerto, Op. 18 (1968)
  • Cello Concerto, Op. 44 (1977)
  • Flute Concerto Harlequin, Op. 70 (1995)
  • Horn Concerto Campane ed Arie, Op. 82 (2002)
  • Chamber Concerto for violin, piano and string orchestra, Op. 87 (2005)
  • English Horn Concerto, Op. 97 (2010–11)

Chamber music

  • String Quartet No. 1, Op. 14 (1958)
  • String Quartet No. 2 Canzona, Op. 4 (1960)
  • Quattro per quattro, Op. 12 (1965)
  • String Quartet No. 3 Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik's Funeral March, Op. 19 (1969)
  • Four Etudes for violin & piano, Op.21 (1970)
  • String Quartet No. 4 Quiet Songs, Op. 25 (1971)
  • Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 26 (1971)
  • Metamorphora, for cello & piano, Op. 34 (1974)
  • String Quartet No. 5 Pieces of Mosaic, Op. 54 (1983)
  • From a Swan Song, for cello & piano, Op. 67 (1991)
  • Barabbus Dialogues,for vocalists, narrator & chamber ensemble, Op. 84 (2003)
  • Piano Quintet ...des morceaux oublies, Op. 85 (2004)
  • Cello Sonata, Op. 86 (2004)
  • Windy Winter in Provence for Tenor, Piano, Violin & Guitar, Op. 89 (2006)
  • Mistral Music for Solo Flute, Op. 90 (2005) (also for flute & string quartet, Op. 90a)
  • Piano Quintet No. 2 Three Kullervo Elegies, Op. 92 (2006)
  • Preludes and Fugues for Solo Accordion, Op. 95 (2009)
  • Piano Trio Les Visions Fugitives, Op. 96 (2010)
  • "Die Virtuose Tafelmusik von Don Juanquijote" for Accordion & Cello, Op. 98 (2011)
  • "...memories, memories..." for Children's Choir, Piano & Strings, Op. 99 (2011)
  • Five Portraits of Women for Soprano, Horn & Chamber Orchestra, Op. 100 (2012)
  • Three Adagios for Organ, Op. 101 (2013)
  • Baumgesang mit Epilog for Cello & Piano, Op. 102 (2013)
  • String Quartet No. 6, Op. 103 (2014)


Vocal and choral

  • Songs from the Sea, Op. 33 for unaccompanied children's choir, based on Finnish folk songs and a poem by the composer's two sons
  • Song Around a Song, Op. 50 (1980) - Four folk songs in Italian, Japanese, Finnish and English for unaccompanied children's choir
  • The Iron Age: Suite, Op. 55, arranged from music for Finnish TV series based on the Kalevala
  • The Beaufort Scale, Op. 56 (1984), humoresque for choir unaccompanied, based on the wind velocity scale


External links


  1. ^ Donal Henahan, "Music: Finnish Opera Offers Sallinen's 'Red Line.'" The New York Times. April 29, 1983.
  2. ^ Jeremy Parsons, The Musical Times. Vol. 121, No. 1653 (Nov., 1980), pp. 693-695.

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