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Aulis Sallinen

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Aulis Sallinen (born April 9, 1935) is a Finnish contemporary classical music composer. He writes in a modern, though tonal and not experimental music style. He studied at the Sibelius Academy, where his teachers included Joonas Kokkonen. He has written 6 operas, 8 symphonies, a Violin Concerto and any number of chamber works. He won the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1978 for his opera Ratsumies (The Horseman).

His first instruments were violin and piano. He would play both jazz and classical music. He was known to be extremely creative, and spent much time during his teenage years improvising. After a while, he began writing his ideas down on paper, and began to do serious composition. He attended the Sibelius Academy of Music, and studied with a number of prestigious teachers.


After graduating, Sallinen took a position as composition teacher at the Sibelius Academy, and continued composing. In his mid 20’s, he was put on the board of directors of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He became chairman of the board of Finnish Composers ten years after. Year 1981 he was nominated Professor of Arts for Life by the Finnish government so he could focus more on composition.


After receiving that award, Sallinen devoted great amounts of time to his composing. He has revived standard forms and harmonies, but puts them together in very contemporary ways.

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