Jean Sibelius was a Finnish violinist and composer. Widely regarded as Finland's greatest composer, Sibelius' music is credited with having kindled nationalism in Finland during the country's struggle for independence from Russia. His work has inspired other important composers like Douglas Lilburn. The International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, which is held every five years, is named after him.
Alexi Laiho was a Finnish guitarist, vocalist, and composer. He was the founding member of the melodic death metal band Children of Bodom where he performed as the lead vocalist and lead guitarist. He also played the guitar for other popular bands like Sinergy, Kylähullut, and The Local Band. A celebrated guitarist, Laiho is credited with reintroducing flamboyance and melody to metal music.
Tarja Turunen is a Finnish singer-songwriter and an exponent of heavy metal. She is credited with co-founding the popular symphonic metal band Nightwish, where she peformed as the lead vocalist. The band's symphonic metal style, which was referred to as opera metal, inspired several other bands and performers.
Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, based in Paris, France, had a profound shift in her artistic-direction from strict serialism towards spectralism after hearing spectral-music and conducting research at IRCAM. She has received several commissions from IRCAM including for the BBC; and also from Lincoln Center. She was named the greatest living composer in a 2019 composers' poll by BBC Music Magazine.
Esa-Pekka Salonen is a Finnish composer and conductor. He is best known for his service as the artistic advisor and principal conductor of London's Philharmonia Orchestra. He is also associated with the San Francisco Symphony, where he serves as the music director. Esa-Pekka Salonen is one of the most renowned conductors and composers of his genaration.
One of the most prominent composers from Finland, Einojuhani Rautavaara was the son of an opera singer and thus no stranger to music as a child. In his career of over 7 decades, he created numerous masterpieces, including the operas Aleksis Kivi and Vincent. His works include choral, chamber, and electronic music, too.
Finnish-French singer-composer Olivia Merilahti, a student of classical music gradually shifted her artistic direction towards rock music and then jazz and electronic music. She formed the Finnish-French indie pop band The Dø with multi-instrumentalist Dan Levy. First studio album of the band titled A Mouthful topped the French charts becoming the first English-sung pop French record to achieve such feat.
Osmo Vänskä is a Finnish clarinetist, composer, and conductor. He has worked for the Minnesota Orchestra and Iceland Symphony Orchestra, serving as the music director and chief conductor respectively. Osmo Vänskä was also associated with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, where he was the chief conductor.
The daughter of Finnish general Alexander Järnefelt, Aino Sibelius was also the wife of composer Jean Sibelius. She was quite fond of gardening and home-schooled her children. Married to her husband for 65 years, she lived mostly at Ainola, or “Aino’s Place,” their home near Lake Tuusula.
Once the principal clarinettist at Stockholm’s Royal Court Orchestra, Bernhard Crusell was part of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He had been both a soloist and a chamber musician. He was also well-versed in several languages and translated Italian, German, and French operas into Swedish.
German-Finnish composer- conductor Fredrik Pacius, reputed as "Father of Finnish music" is best-known for composing music of Maamme, the de facto national anthem of Finland, with lyrics written by Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Melody of the piece was used for national anthem of Estonia, Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm; as also for the Livonian ethnic anthem Min izāmō, min sindimō.
Finnish composer-lyricist Eino Kettunen is best-remembered for the song Ievan Polkka that he wrote to a traditional Finnish polka-tune. Counted among the most-famous Finnish songs, Ievan Polkka resurfaced following a cappella-performance by Loituma. The song’s Loituma version gained immense-popularity when leekspin.com posted an endless flash animation-loop showing Orihime Inoue, from anime series Bleach, spinning a leek while singing the song.
Finnish conductor-composer-teacher Robert Kajanus, recipient of French Légion d'honneur, founded Finland’s first permanent orchestra the Helsinki Orchestral Society (now Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra) and brought it to a high performance standard serving as its chief-conductor for around five-decades. He composed popular pieces like Aino, served as director of music at University of Helsinki, and became first president of Finnish Musicians' Union.
Best known for his folk song-inspired piano pieces, Finnish pianist Selim Palmgren spearheaded the nationalist movement in Finland. He had also been a music critic and a music teacher, and participated in concert tours not just in Finland but across Scandinavia. He also produced the opera Daniel Hjort.
Joonas Kokkonen is counted among the most internationally renowned Finnish composers of 20th-century. His rich oeuvre includes the famous opera The Last Temptations, which received more-than 500 performances worldwide and is regarded as one of the most-important Finnish operas. Kokkonen held significant positions including at Finnish Academy and endeavoured in improving music education and status of classical and Finnish music.
Finnish composer Armas Järnefelt is remembered for his small orchestra works. He also introduced Finland to Richard Wagner’s works. He was associated with the Helsinki Opera, the Finnish National Opera, and Stockholm’s Royal Opera, and is primarily known for his masterpieces such as Berceuse and Praeludium.