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Eero Tarasti

Eero Aarne Pekka Tarasti
Born September 27, 1948, Helsinki.

Master of Arts, 1973, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1976, and Doctor of Philosophy (Musicology), University of Helsinki

Professor of Musicology, 1984–2016, University of Helsinki
Professor of Musicology, 1983–84, University of Jyväskylä
Professor of Arts Education, 1979–83, University of Jyväskylä

Vice-president, 1994–2004, President, 2004–2014 and Honorary President, 2014-, IASS/AIS:n (International Association for Semiotic Studies)
Founder and President, ISI at Imatra (International Institute for Semiotic Studies), 1988–2013
Chairperson, Finnish Semiotic Society, 1979-
Founder and Editor-in-chief, Synteesi arts research periodical, 1982-

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Awards and special achievements
J.V. Snellman Prize, University of Helsinki, 1997
Honorary Doctorates in four universities abroad (Bloomington, Indiana; Tallinn, Estonia; Sofia, Hungary and Aix-Marseille, France)
Honorary member, Victoria College, University of Toronto

Written by Eero Tarasti and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

A Structuralist in Paris

As a schoolboy I had studied German in 1966 in the Vienna Summer University and piano during a second summer in 1971. Then I chanced on a slim volume called Myten om Asdival (Engl. Myth and Meaning) by Claude Lévi-Strauss. He became my greatest idol.

I left for Paris in 1972 with my Master’s dissertation On the Possibility of Applying Structuralism to Musicology, tucked under my arm. I went to the Collège de France with the intention of meeting Lévi-Strauss. And he agreed to see me within the week. I was able to convey greetings from the Finnish anthropologist, Lévi-Strauss’ friend, Elli-Kaija Köngäs-Maranda. I’ll never forget our meeting.

Eero Tarasti in Paris, 1979.​
Eero Tarasti in Paris, 1979.​

I determined to study in Paris, playing piano in the mornings and went for lessons at the École Normale de Musique and then with the legendary Jacques Février at his home in Blvd Malesherbes. In the afternoons I would meet French structuralists, including Roland Barthes, A.J. Greimas and Tzvetan Todorov. I also attended Michel Foucault’s teaching. I felt that Paris was my city, a place where I could fulfil myself. In the intervening forty years, my wife, Eila Tarasti, pianist and musicologist, has been with me on every trip.

Eila and Eero Tarasti in Paris, 1979.​
Eila and Eero Tarasti in Paris, 1979.​


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