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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

Organist and Professor

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. In his later years, he also learned hungarian. Speaking several languages proved especially beneficial for Krohn's later studies and career.

Rather than following in his father's footsteps and pursuing a career in literature, Ilmari Krohn became interested in music, particularly the piano. As a small boy, he had already taken piano lessons with his aunt Henriette Nyberg, and continued to hone his skills throughout his life. Henriette Nyberg, on the other hand, had learned to play the instrument at the University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig, Germany, one of the first Finns to do so.

After enrolling for university in 1885, Krohn continued to practise music under the guidance of Richard Faltin. Additionally, Ilmari studied history, aesthetics, Spanish language and literature, and Latin. There was no professorship in musicology at the time and therefore no actual programme of studies, even though the university boasted both choirs and orchestras.

Considering Ilmari Krohn's background, it is hardly surprising that he went to study at the University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig already as a student, in order to improve his piano playing skills and learn composing. During his studies he also met his future wife Emilie von Dittman, whom he married in 1893. The following year, Krohn graduated from the University of Helsinki with a master’s degree.

The Krohn family was growing rapidly, so there was a pressing need for Ilmari to find permanent employment. This meant that the family had to relocate to Tampere, where Ilmari had gained employment as the cantor for the Alexander Church. In addition to working as a cantor, he also worked as a teacher in Helsinki. Krohn moved back to Helsinki in 1904, where he would recieve the news of the death of his first wife in 1905. The next year, Ilmari met his second wife, Hilja Haahti. With his first wife, Krohn had eight children, many of whom went on to have successful careers of their own. Krohn continued working on various projects and handbooks, not to mention teaching. He started a new job as the cantor for the South Helsinki (Sörnäinen) Finnish Parish in 1911. He was finally granted a professorship in 1918.

llmari Krohn died at the age of 92, having enjoyed an unusually long and full life. He had become a revered composer, teacher and international figure in his own lifetime, garnering numerous accolades and memberships in scholarly communities.


Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallaisuuden Seura​
Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallaisuuden Seura​


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