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Mikko Heiniö

Mikko Kyösti Heiniö
Born May 18, 1948, Tampere

BA 1972, licentiate 1978, PhD 1984 (musicology), University of Helsinki

Freelance composer 2005–
Musicology Professor 1986–2005, University of Turku
Musicology assistant / Acting assistant professor 1977–1985, University of Helsinki

Key positions of trust
Vice chair of the Finnish Music Foundation (MES) 2013–15
Vice chair of the Finnish Composers’ Copyright Society Teosto 1999–2014
Chair of the Society of Finnish Composers 1992–2010
Vice chair for the Foundation for Creative Art Composition 1989–1997
Chair of the Sibelius Fund 1988–1992

Significant Honours
Tieto-Finlandia Award for Suomen musiikin historia I-IV (‘The history of Finnish music I–IV’) 1997 (with Fabian Dahström and Erkki Salmenhaara)
Finland Prize 2006
Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music 2004
Honorary member of the Society of Finnish Composers 2010
Honorary member of the Finnish Composers’ Copyright Society Teosto 2014

Photo: Elke Albrecht
Written by Mikko Heiniö (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Joe McVeigh

Jump from literature to music

Even though I had played and written music as a hobby since I was little, my aim was to become a writer – after all, I had managed to publish a novel that I had written when I was 17. I had been making some compositions, too, but I considered myself too old to study music.

I spent my three first years at the University of Helsinki studying Finnish Language, Comparative Literature and Finnish History. In my fourth year, in the autumn of 1970, I came up with the idea of taking on a new minor, Musicology. I marched to the top floor of Porthania to professor Erik Tawaststjerna’s office. When I arrived at the door, he exclaimed: ‘You are a composer!’

Even though Tawaststjerna spent most of his time during those years on leave of absence, he strongly supported me in the twists and turns of the following years. Musicology quickly became my major, which I was to complete in two years, my thesis included. I also applied to the Sibelius Academy and – aided by Tawaststjerna’s references – got Joonas Kokkonen, the academician, as my composition teacher.

After Sibelius Academy, I studied abroad for a couple of years before returning to the Department of Musicology at Helsinki University for the years 1977–1984. As well as writing my dissertation, I did a variety of jobs there, ranging from assistant and extra-staff teacher to acting associate professor. I considered myself a composer, but research had taken hold of me – at that time.

Erik Tawaststjerna and Mikko Heiniö in 1988. Photo: Mikko Heiniö’s personal archive.​​​
Erik Tawaststjerna and Mikko Heiniö in 1988. Photo: Mikko Heiniö’s personal archive.​​​


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