Ilmari Krohn
Humanist of the day

Ilmari Krohn

During a long life, Ilmari Krohn not only found time to compose music, he also conducted research and taught. His breadth of knowledge in the field of music, together with an aptitude for languages, made him the ideal person to become Finland’s first professor of musicology and develop this new discipline. His family background provided him with a penchant for religious music, an aesthetic realm he was to return to throughout his life. The pinnacle of Krohn's long and distinguished career was to have produced the first oratorio in Finnish and to be the first in the world to set the Psalms in their entirety to music.

Ilmari Krohn

Ilmari Henrik Reinhold Krohn
Born November 8, 1867, Helsinki. Died April 25, 1960, Helsinki.

Master of Arts 1894, Licentiate in Philosophy 1899 (aesthetics) and Doctor of Philosophy 1900, Imperial Alexander University.

Organist 1894-1905, Tampere church of Alexander
Docent 1900-1918 (History and theory of music), Imperial Alexander University
Organist 1911-44, Finnish Parish of Sörnäinen
Professor of Musicology 1918-35, University of Helsinki
Teacher (e.g. Church Music Institute of Helsinki, Tampere Finnish Girls' School, Finnish Coeducational School of Tampere, Helsinki Music Institute)

Commander's Medal of the White Rose of Finland 1937
Honorary Doctor of Theology, Helsinki 1955
Honorary member of the Sibelius Academy 1957.

Founder, president (1916-36) and honorary member (1953) of the Finnish Society of Musicology
Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music (Stockholm 1926).

Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura
Written by Tero Juutilainen
Translated by Kaisla Kajava and Johanna Spoof
Revised by John Calton

It was no coincidence that Ilmari Krohn found himself in the world of academia. His father, Julius Krohn, was one of the most notable folk poetry researchers of his time, as well as a connoisseur of culture. The Krohn family originated from Germany, but Julius admired J.V. Snellman's works and strove to Fennicise his family. To this end, his children, including Ilmari, were schooled in Finnish. However, in addition to Finnish, Ilmari also studied German and French, as well as Swedish, his mother’s first language. Speaking several languages proved especially beneficial for Krohn's later studies and career.

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Ilmari Krohn was the first Professor of Musicology in Finland. At that time it was a supernumerary professorship, but it acted as a stepping-stone for the burgeoning attention the discipline was being given. It was still largely untried in the academic world in Finland at the turn of the 20th century, even though the University organised plenty of musical activities. In Germany and the United Kingdom, it was already a recognised field of its own, which explains why Krohn travelled frequently to the Continent.

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