KALEVI AHO (b 1949 )
Kalevi Aho, one of Finland’s foremost contemporary composers, was born in Forssa in southern Finland on 9th March 1949. He commenced violin studies in his home town at the age of ten, and his first compositions also date from this time. When he went to university (1968) Aho studied the violin and composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki; his composition teacher was Einojuhani Rautavaara.
After graduating as a composer (1971) Aho continued his studies in Berlin (1971-72) as a pupil of Boris Blacher at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst. From 1974 until 1988 he was a lecturer in musicology at Helsinki University, and from 1988 until 1993 he was a professor of composition at the Sibelius Academy. Since the autumn of 1993 he has worked in Helsinki as a freelance composer, and in 1994 he was awarded a fifteen-year grant from the Finnish state.
The central focus of Aho’s work consists of large-scale orchestral, chamber and vocal works: his output includes four operas (Avain [The Key; 1977-78], Hyönteiselämää [Insect Life; 1985-87], Salaisuuksien kirja [The Book of Secrets; 1998] and Ennen kuin me kaikki olemme hukkuneet [Before we are all Drowned; 1995/1999]), thirteen symphonies (1969-2003), three chamber symphonies for string orchestra, twelve concertos (for violin, cello, flute, tuba, bassoon, contrabassoon, double bass, clarinet, viola, two for piano and a double concerto for two cellos and orchestra), other orchestral and vocal music and a large amount of music for chamber ensembles and solo instruments. He has also made a number of arrangements and orchestrations of works by other composers. The most important of these is the completion of Uuno Klami’s unfinished ballet Pyörteitä (Whirls): Aho has orchestrated the ballet’s first act and composed the missing third act, with the concert title of Symphonic Dances. Since 1992 Aho has been composer-in-residence of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra.
Aho has also gained a reputation as an assiduous writer on music and columnist. All in all, his literary output currently runs to more than 500 essays, presentations, columns and other writings.
Kalevi Aho has occupied a number of important positions in Finnish cultural life and has been received many international and Finnish prizes for his production.