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Founder of legendary Love Records found dead in harbour

One of the most prolific and influential figures in Finnish music, Henrik Otto Donner, has died at the age of 73.

Henrik Otto Donner.
Henrik Otto Donner kuvattuna 1980-luvun alussa. Image: Pentti Palmu / Yle

The composer, producer, conductor and trumpeter Henrik Otto Donner was found dead on Thursday. His body was beside his boat in Alholmen harbour in the west-coast town of Jakobstad (Pietarsaari). The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

Born into one of the nation’s leading cultural families in 1939, Donner began his career at the age of 18 as a trumpeter in Ossi Aalto’s jazz band. He began studying at the Sibelius Academy that same year.

Donner went on to become a conductor at Yle’s theatrical department in the ‘60s and head of its entertainment division in the early ‘70s. From 1969 to 1976 he led one of Finland’s oldest choirs, the Akademiska sångförening. In the mid-to-late ‘70s Donner was head of the state composers’ commission.

He is best known for co-founding the record label Love Records in 1966 along with Christian Schwindt and Atte Blom. It produced LPs by many of Finland’s leading rock, folk, jazz and political artists, particularly in the 1970s.

Until his death, Donner remained a music teacher and composed regularly for groups such as the UMO Jazz Orchestra.

He was a cousin of author, filmmaker and politician Jörn Donner.

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