Kaija Saariaho

Kaija Saariaho, born in Helsinki in 1952, was one of the most distinguished personalities of contemporary music. Along with Magnus Lindberg and Esa-Pekka Salonen (who is also a very successful conductor), she belongs to a group of Finnish composers who have gained international recognition since the 1990s. As many other composers of her generation, Kaija Saariaho was profoundly influenced by her work at the Paris Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music, “IRCAM”, especially in combination with the musical approaches of the French spectralists around Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail. Here, new approaches towards the exploration of the phenomenon of sound and the design of the most subtle processes of change were opened up, with computerised analysis and live electronics serving as important resources. Accordingly, a combination of live electronics and traditionally generated sounds have played an important role in Saariaho’s works from the outset. From early on, she uses her approach on pieces for traditional instruments too, so that there is a balance between purely acoustic and electronic-acoustic, mixed instrumentation in her work. Her compositions are distinguished by a unique colourfulness and sound imagination, where the area between sound and noise can obtain an astonishing depth and vivacity, and an interval may contain an undreamt-of abundance of shades. Her extensive oeuvre chiefly consists of orchestral works and chamber music with a greater orchestration as well as musical theatre. She won the Polar Music Prize, the Prix Italia and the Nordic Council Music Prize, among others. Karija Saariaho died in the summer of 2023. Her last work, the trumpet concerto "Hush", premiered in Helsinki shortly after her death.

As of: January 2024

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