Väinö Raitio

Biography

Born: April 15, 1891   Died: September 10, 1945   Country: Finland   Period: 20th Century
Väinö Raitio is considered a pioneering composer of Finnish Modernism in the early 20th century, though he remained obscure in Finland until the 1990s. He studied composition at the Helsinki Music Institute (later re-named Sibelius Academy) in 1911–1915 under Erkki Melartin and Erik Furuhjelm. His music did not gain in popularity with Finnish audiences used to the traditional classical repertoire and already grappling with the then new Read more works of Sibelius and others.

Väinö Raitio's music falls into three style periods. Predictably, the earliest works are well-crafted and conservative, and perhaps show a Russian influence. Works from this period include the Violin Sonata Op. 2 (1914), Piano Concerto Op. 6 (1914), String Quartet Op. 10 (1917) and Symphony Op. 13 (1918–1919)

The middle period of the 1920s is graced with luminous orchestration and a harmonic language stemming from Scriabin. The music, at turns dark, mysterious or violent, also contains many sudden flashes of imagination. This music is very different from the Finnish Nationalist style, particularly the excellent works of Sibelius, which had established itself internationally. These Raitio works include The Swans Op. 15 (1919), Nocturne Op. 17 (1920), Piano Quintet Op. 16 (1919–1921), Fantasia estatica Op. 21 (1921), Antigone Op. 23 (1921–22), Moonlight on Jupiter Op. 24 (1922–23), Fantasia poetica Op. 25 (1923), Pyramid Op. 27 (1924–25), and The Avenue Op. 29 (1926).

The late period is devoted to operas (as yet unrecorded,) and short orchestral works commissioned for the newly founded Finnish Radio Orchestra. The composer, plagued with ill health, died in 1945, soon after the end of the war in Europe and his music remained virtually unknown until discovered in the 1990s with the establishment of the Väinö Raitio Society. - From Väinö Raitio website, [freely translated from Finnish.] Read less