Vesa Sirén: Suomalaiset kapellimestarit. Sibeliuksesta Saloseen, Kajanuksesta Franckiin [Finnish conductors. From Sibelius to Salonen and from Kajanus to Franck]

17 February 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Suomalaiset kapellimestarit. Sibeliuksesta Saloseen, Kajanuksesta Franckiin
[Finnish conductors. From Sibelius to Salonen and from Kajanus to Franck]
Helsinki: Otava, 2010. 1,000 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-1-21203-1
€ 38, hardback

This work, by music critic Vesa Sirén – awarded the Finlandia Prize for non-fiction in 2010 – attempts to explain what makes a good orchestra conductor. Including hundreds of interviews, the book takes a chronological approach, presenting portraits of sixty conductors from the 1880s up to current students of conducting. There are also contributions from music critics, as well as even tougher assessments from musicians, contemporaries of the conductors. The high standard of Finnish music education, which has been easily accessible to young people – at least until the recent times –, provides part of the answer, as does the conducting course at the Sibelius Academy under the long-serving leadership of Jorma Panula. Sirén’s archival research has unearthed some forgotten treasures, including the lost archives of Robert Kajanus and conductor’s notes in Jean Sibelius’ own handwriting.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

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