Composer Einojuhani Rautavaara has died

Composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, 87, has died. Rautavaara, who was one of the most notable and internationally known Finnish composers, passed away on Wednesday night in Helsinki. 

Rautavaara’s vast repertoire of works included symphonies, operas, orchestral works, chamber music and choral works. He was especially known for Cantus Arcticus from 1972 and Angel of Light, his seventh symphony from 1994 which helped him reach international fame.

Rautavaara received international attention for the first time in the mid-1950s, when A Requiem in Our Time won the Thor Johnson Composition Contest in Cincinnati. The success was noticed by Jean Sibelius, who in 1955 was given the opportunity to choose a young Finnish composer to the Juilliard School in New York. Sibelius’ choice was Rautavaara, who spent the next two years in New York, followed by studies in Ascona, Switzerland and Cologne, Germany.  

During his career he wrote eight symphonies, nine operas, 14 concertos for different instruments and a large number of other works. His last opera Rasputin was performed in Finnish National Opera in 2003.

Rautavaara was also a professor and teacher at the Sibelius Academy, where his students included Magnus Lindberg, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kalevi Aho among many others.