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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

The many hats of a researcher

When humanities scholars receive their PhDs, they face attack from surprising many quarters. Veterans in the field, or others who are just ready for a break, seize their moment and nominate them for all kinds of organisations and offices. One of my first jobs as a freshly-minted PhD was that of Chair of the Finnish Musicological Society, which took quite a bit out of me, as I had just become a father and I also needed to prepare my classes, often into the small hours. I must have been involved in almost a dozen organisations, since if I went to a meeting, I was bound to end up on the board. Only much later have I learnt to avoid these duties in order to leave time for my research – and even for time off, including exercise, which is so necessary but in my youth was often neglected.

Dr Veijo Murtomäki, Olavinlinna castle 2010.


International activity has been even more arduous, yet at the same time so crucial and rewarding that it has mostly provided a refreshing change from my daily grind. Conferences on Sibelius have been held at least once every five years, first in Finland in 1990, 1995, and 2000, then in Denton, Texas in 2005 and Oxford in 2010, in between there were also conferences in Meiningen in 1993 and Paris in 1994 and 2007. Conferences involve warm meetings with old and new colleagues and new culinary, cultural, and geographical experiences – even some shocks. I have been involved in almost all of them as one of the organisers and editor of the conference proceedings, which has given me more practice in many skills useful for a researcher.

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