It is with profound sadness we write to inform you of the death of a major composer of our time, Professor Einojuhani Rautavaara. Born on October 9th, 1928, he passed away yesterday evening in Helsinki, aged 87.
Rautavaara was among the most prestigious and internationally celebrated Finnish composers. His emphasis on stylistic freedom meant his early neo-classicism evolved into the mystical, neo-romantic musical language most closely associated with him today, and the composer’s well documented fixation with angels provided inspiration for the recording that would gain him international recognition – the 7th Symphony, Angel of Light (1994). His vast catalogue of works include 8 symphonies, several concertos, vocal works and operas that have been performed in several countries. Over the years, his most popular has been Cantus Arcticus (1972), a Concerto for Birds and Orchestra, where the composer himself recorded the singing of the birds in the marshes of Liminka in Northern Finland, and juxtaposed it with a luminous and intricate orchestral score. His music has also been used in soundtracks, including films by Terrence Malick and Aki Kaurismäki.
Rautavaara was an intellectual, a mystical storyteller and a writer beyond compare. His compositions – in his own words – were the result of an ‘affinity for infinity’. He wrote that he served as merely the ‘mid-wife’ with purpose of bringing his works into life, intact. His stories of angels radiating musical energy in his dreams have become an established phenomenon in Finnish cultural history.
Ondine Records have been recording Rautavaara’s works for 30 years, since the very early days of the label. His opera ‘Thomas’ was released in 1986, since then there have been more than 40 recordings covering most of Rautavaara’s oeuvre. The partnership between Rautavaara and Ondine has been a uniquely rich and rewarding one.
“It is my belief that music is great if, at some moment, the listener catches 'a glimpse of eternity through the window of time'... This, to my mind, is the only true justification for art. All else is of secondary importance." Einojuhani Rautavaara