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Jean Sibelius & Veijo Murtomäki

Johan Christian Julius “Jean” Sibelius

Born December 8, 1865 Hämeenlinna. Died September 20, 1957, Järvenpää

The most internationally renowned and performed Finnish composer

Studies in law at the Imperial Alexander University 1885
Studies at the Helsinki Music Institute (today Sibelius Academy) and further studies abroad.
Honorary PhD 1914, honorary professor 1916, Imperial Alexander University

Key works:
Seven symphonies, a violin concerto and the orchestral works Finlandia, the Karelia Suite, The Swan of Tuonela (part of the Lemminkäinen Suite) and Valse triste. Vocal, choir and piano music, theatre music and chamber music. His last great works were Symphony No. 7 (1924), the theatre piece The Tempest (1926) and the symphonic poem Tapiola (1926)

A list of the works of Jean Sibelius

Veijo Tapio Murtomäki
Born July 26, 1954, Pyhäjärvi

Bachelor of Arts 1977 (musicology), University of Jyväskylä
Diploma in music theory 1980, Sibelius Academy
PhD 1991 (musicology), University of Helsinki
Doctoral dissertation: Symphonic Unity: the Development of Formal thinking in the Symphonies of Sibelius

Professor of music history 1991–, Sibelius Academy
Associate professor of music history 1989–91, Sibelius Academy
Lecturer of music theory 1983–89, Sibelius Academy
Research associate (extraordinary) in musicology 1982–83, University of Helsinki

Research themes: Sibelius as the subject of musical analysis and as a patriot and supporter of collaboration with Germany 1918–44

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland

Photo: Helsingin yliopistomuseo
Written by Veijo Murtomäki and Olli Siitonen (Kaija Hartikainen and Tiia Niemelä, ed.)

Translated by Matthew Billington

My most memorable moment at the University of Helsinki

Surely nothing in academia can beat the defence of one’s own thesis, after all that is the rite of passage for becoming a fully-fledged member of the academic community. The date of my defence fell on Sibelius's birthday, 8 December 1990.

I remember baking cinnamon buns the night before, since I expected my opponent to have plenty of questions, as mine must have been the first dissertation on Sibelius at the University of Helsinki since that of Erik Tawaststjerna. At the same time, we were busy working on the tailcoat I had received courtesy of my wife's grandfather, made of insanely thick material guaranteed to make you sweat and requiring many alterations so that it would stay on. Very early on, during my introductory lecture, the makeshift alterations failed, and I was forced to hold on to my trousers with one hand to keep from revealing my underwear. Fortunately, the actual defence was performed sitting down, so I avoided an amusing embarrassment. And I was pleased to see the cinnamon buns were popular during a break in the proceedings.

Dr Veijo Murtomäki giving a lecture, January 2015. This time his trousers stayed on.


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