Leevi Madetoja
Humanist of the day

Leevi Madetoja

Leevi Madetoja rose from humble beginnings to become one of the grand old men of Finnish music. He was among the first significant Finnish composers to draw his most important inspiration from France. Madetoja’s opera The Ostrobothnians has even been acclaimed the best Finnish opera of all time. He was also the leading symphonist of his time.

Leevi Madetoja

Leevi Antti Madetoja
Born February 17, 1887, Oulu. Died October 6, 1947, Helsinki

Bachelor of arts 1910, Master of Arts 1914, Imperial Alexander University
Graduated from the Helsinki Music Institute 1910, further studies in Paris, Vienna and Berlin 1910–12

Music teacher 1926–39, University of Helsinki
State composer’s pension 1919
Music critic 1916–32, Helsingin Sanomat
Teacher of the theory and history of music 1916–39, Helsinki Music Institute, Helsinki Conservatory, Sibelius Academy
Orchestra conductor 1941–16, Viipurin Musiikinystäväin orkesteri (‘Orchestra of the Vyborg friends of music’)
Assistant conductor 1912–14, Helsinki Philharmonic Society

Board member of the Finnish composers’ Copyright Society 1928–47, chairman 1937–47
Secretary of the national expert committee for composing 1918–28, member 1928–47, chairman 1936–47
Founding member of the Society of Finnish Composers 1917, board member 1917–47, chairman 1933–36
Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music


Honorary member of the Society of Finnish Composers 1947
Honorary award of the Finnish Cultural Foundation 1947
Title of Professor 1937
Kalevalan reimuvuosi bursary 1936

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by Matthew Billington

A stamp from 1987, 100 years from the birth of Leevi Madetoja.

Leevi Madetoja was born in humble circumstances in Oulu 1887. His father was a ship’s first mate who died in the USA without ever seeing his son; his mother was a saleswoman. When it was noticed that the…

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