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Active to the end, composer Jouni Kaipainen dies at 58

Kaipainen was one of the guiding lights of a generation of young composers who shook up Finnish music in the 1970s. He was at work on his Fifth Symphony when he died just before his 59th birthday.

Säveltäjä Jouni Kaipainen vuonna 1997.
Jouni Kaipainen in 1997 Image: Yle

One of Finland's leading contemporary composers, Jouni Kaipainen, died early Monday in Tampere after a long battle with cancer. He would have turned 59 on Tuesday.

Kaipainen remained active this year, working most recently on his Fifth Symphony, commissioned by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The FRSO's chief conductor Hannu Lintu, recorded many of Kaipainen's works.

Last summer he completed a bassoon concerto for the Avanti! Summer Sounds festival in Porvoo.

Dramatic and stirring

Kaipainen's stirring, dramatic style has been described as a mixture of modernism, expressionism and classicism.

Besides his four symphonies – some of which have been recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and his close friend Esa-Pekka Salonen – Kaipainen also composed many concertos for various instruments as well as chamber and vocal music and a score for a children's play.

Kaipainen, who was awarded the Finnish Critics' Association's prize in 1982, was granted several five-year state artist's grants.

"Ears Open" in the '70s

Kaipainen studied at the Sibelius Academy from 1975 to 1982 under Aulis Sallinen and Paavo Heininen. While still a student, he co-founded the ground-breaking Korvat auki ("Ears Open") young composers' association with Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kaija Saariaho and Magnus Lindberg in 1977. He later taught at the Tampere Music Academy.

Kaipainen also served as artistic director of the Helsinki Biennale and Avanti! Summer Sounds, which was co-founded by Salonen.

The composer's parents were award-winning author Anu Kaipainen and Osmo Kaipainen, a physician and MP who briefly served as Minister of Health and Social Services.

Listen to Kaipainen's Fourth Symphony, "Commedia" op. 93, performed in 2010 by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hannu Lintu.

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