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Kaija Saariaho (1952–2023)

June 21, 2023


Kaija Saariaho
Kaija Saariaho in her studio, April 1986
Photo courtesy of Kaija Saariaho

Associates of the Naxos Music Group were saddened to learn of the recent passing of composer Kaija Saariaho, one of the leading figures in 20th- and 21st-century music. Based in Paris since 1984, the Finnish composer made a unique contribution to both the cultural life of her native country and to the wider concert repertoire, a reflection of the unique artistic vision that sustained her pioneering work.

In a 2019 BBC Music Magazine poll, professional musicians around the world adjudged Kaija Saariaho the most important composer alive, representing a natural culmination to the numerous international awards for composition that she had previously received, including a Grawemeyer Award (2003), Sonning Music Prize (2011), GRAMMY Award (2011) and Polar Music Prize (2013). She was the winner of the Nordic Council’s Music Award in 2000 and recipient of the 2021 Venice Biennale Golden Award for lifetime achievement. Other accolades included the French orders of Chevalier (1997) and Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres (2013). She became a member of the Finnish Academy in 2023.

For Ondine, one of Naxos’ affiliated labels, her passing marks the end of a significant, 30-year collaboration. The vitality of her music, however, happily continues in the label’s many recordings of her music that have enriched its catalogue. Her final orchestral album for Ondine (ODE1309-2) received a 2019 GRAMMY nomination; previous recognition for her music included a 2013 BBC Music Award for an album featuring her clarinet concerto (ODE1173-2) and a 2009 MIDEM Classical Award in Cannes for a programme featuring her cello concerto (ODE1130-2).

Alongside her outstanding and award-winning artistic creations, Kaija Saariaho will also be remembered as a warm, humble, kind and sensitive human being, who took genuine interest in others and wanted to make a positive impact on society and arts education.

SAARIAHO, K.: 70 Years
Ondine ODE1407-2

Kaija Saariaho – 70 years was released earlier this year to mark her remarkable contribution to music.

Kaija Saariaho Discography