Music | “Kaija had an amazing work ethic,” says composer Magnus Lindberg, who has known Saariaho since his student years.

Magnus Lindberg admires his late friend’s empathy and uncompromising attitude.

Composer Magnus Lindberg met the person who died at the age of 70 on Friday Kaija Saariaho for the first time in the mid-1970s, that is, almost fifty years ago. The composers kept in touch until the last moments.

“If we didn’t talk on the phone every week, then almost every week. In addition, I met him whenever I happened to be in Paris,” says Lindberg. He had known about his friend’s illness for some time.

Lindberg says that Saariaho was a rare and important friend to whom he could open up about even difficult things. Saariaho was also happy to help young composers.

Lindberg remembers Saariaho as a sovereign empath. He was always genuinely interested in the stories and trials of his friends. Therapeutic conversations cleared the air.

“For decades we shared joys and sorrows,” says Lindberg.

As one warm memory, she mentions the evenings in Paris together with Saariaho and her husband, the composer by Jean-Baptiste Barrière with.

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“We sat long evenings at their home talking and improving the world. Those evenings left beautiful memories,” says Lindberg.

Saariaho began his training as a composer at the Sibelius Academy in the 1970s. At the time, female composers were, and still are, fewer than men in art music, and even Saariahoa was initially not accepted to study because of her gender. Professor Paavo Heininen he was an apprentice from 1976 to 1981.

There were new winds in the air.

“It was a very inspiring time,” Lindberg recalls. He and Esa-Pekka Salonen had already come to the youth department of the Sibelius Academy as high school students, but at the turn of the decade something really started to happen.

According to Lindberg, his and Saariaho’s generation wanted to break away from the myth of the lonely composer sulking in his studio through cooperation. The artists commented on each other’s work and kept doors open for colleagues advancing in their careers.

The young lads of the Sibelius Academy began to study the Central European avant-garde, and the themes of the gatherings that lasted the entire weekend in Marjaniemi were by Karlheinz Stockhausen contemporary composers like

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“Kaija and her boyfriend at the time, a visual artist Olli Lyytikäinen were fascinating characters for a reindeer-bourgeois Finno-Swedish boy like me. Together, Kaija and Olli made a lot of artistic interaction possible, for example the seminars held at their home in Marjaniemi, which were absolutely fantastic,” he says.

In 1977, the same group founded the Korvat auki association, which shook the Finnish music scene. In addition to Saariaho, Lindberg and Salonen, other future stars of the music scene took part in the activity, such as composers Jouni Kaipanen, Olli Kortekangas and Eero Hämeenniemias well as the conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste.

Saariaho impressed other composers with her recognizable voice. The originality took shape quickly.

“We boys were quite academic back then, stuck to seriality and dodecaphony and similar patterns, while Kaija always followed her own line,” says Lindberg.

As a composer Along with Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg is one of the most successful in Finland. He saw much to admire professionally in his friend.

“Kaija often said she was shy, and maybe she was, but inside she had incomprehensible self-confidence. He really didn’t compromise on the kind of music he wanted to make,” says Lindberg.

“I’ve never seen someone as persistent as Kaija, she really worked every single day from nine in the morning until the evening,” says Lindberg.

Lindberg says that despite the illness, Saariaho worked on his last piece, the trumpet concerto, which will be premiered in August HUSH:ia, with his characteristic vigor.

“Persistence and great work ethic, I remember him most strongly as a professional composer,” he says.

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