Le Confident

Ideas tête-à-tête

Heikki Suolahti

Now this is both curiosity and tragedy.

Suolahti was a promising young composer from Finland, who created a most enjoyable late-romantic symphony somewhere in the vicinity of Sibelius, yet totally original at the age of 15. With 16 he died.

Two years later his symphony was performed in Finland, where Sibelius heard it with utmost excitement. When he asked who the composer was and where one could congratulate him for such an early masterpiece, he was told that Suolahti was already two years dead. It must have been a scene of melancholy serenity, when Sibelius visited the dead musicians mother to tell her, that he had seldomly heard something as beautiful as the “Sinfonia piccola”.

After all one can read on the net, the symphony is sometimes performed in Finland, very rarely in the United States, where it was also originally published, and never everywhere else. It is momentarily one of these pieces that school and youth orchestras play to please the sense of curiosity or national pride of their audience. We can hear this rare gem in such a performance on youtube, luckily. But it deserves the great concert halls, next to Grieg, Nielsen or Sibelius.

Note: If there is a recording of this work to be found in Finland, and you should be Finish, please contact us, so that we could acquire it!!


5 comments on “Heikki Suolahti

  1. Robin Harris
    January 6, 2014

    I’m proud to say I played in an orchestra that performed “Sinfonia Piccola”. It’s a beautiful piece of work.

    • Olivier
      February 28, 2014

      That must have been an awesome experience. May I ask which orchestra?

  2. Robin Harris
    March 7, 2014

    An orchestra at Pierce College in 1979. In my ‘cello playing days. Someone I knew at the time played in the orchestra and invited me to preform with them. The first time I ever heard of this composer. Last year I got a computer and when I got refreshed how to spell the composer’s name I looked him up[ and listened to the piece. It deserves to be played more often.

  3. Brandt Becker
    August 9, 2014

    It was played by the Topeka Youth Symphony Orchestra sometime in the early 1980’s, Maestro Jack L. Harriman conducting. While it contains attractive material in places, it definitely belies the fact that it is the work of a youth. Had the composer lived a normal course of years, it most likely would have undergone some revisions. While it’s certainly a tragedy that Soulahti died so young, I don’t believe that this work is the equal of Sibelius et al. It is amazing that it is as sophisticated as it is for a mere 15-year-old boy.

    • Olivier
      September 15, 2014

      Thank you for the info!
      Yes you’re absolutely right that the music does not equal the “great names”, but it shows enthusiasm, knowledge and feeling already in a boy. The rest would have just been gathering moods and ideas from life to make some of those breathtaking statements Sibelius is known for. There are never enough of those…

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This entry was posted on June 24, 2012 by in Music and tagged , .
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