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Paavo Berglund

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Paavo Allan Engelbert Berglund (April 14, 1929) is a Finnish conductor.

Born in Helsinki, Berglund studied the violin as a child, and played an instrument made by his grandfather. By age 15, he had decided on music as his career, and by 18 was playing in restaurants. He joined the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (Finnish RSO) in 1949, unique among the instrumentalists in being accommodated for seating to account for the fact that he is left-handed.

Berglund’s conducting career began in 1949, when he founded his own chamber orchestra. In 1952, Berglund co-founded the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra (partly inspired by the Boyd Neel Orchestra). In 1956, he was appointed Associate Conductor of the Finnish RSO, and served as chief conductor of the Finnish RSO from 1962 to 1972. Berglund became music director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in 1975 and held the post for 4 seasons. Berglund attained notoriety as a conducting “dictator” due to his ruthless rehearsals and dedication to musical perfection. In the UK, Berglund led Sibelius centenary concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1965, and became their principal conductor in 1972, concluding his tenure in Bournemouth in 1979. Berglund is also a member of the Russian National Orchestra’s conductor collegium.

Berglund is particularly associated with the music of Sibelius, and has recorded the complete Sibelius symphonies three times. During the mid 1950s, Sibelius heard Berglund conduct some of the symphonies and the Suite Rakastava, and told Berglund how much he had enjoyed the performances.

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