How willing composers are to share their thoughts on composing and on their music varies greatly. For some, translating musical thoughts and processes into words is quite natural, even necessary, while others prefer to leave talking about music to others.
In my experience, it is extremely fascinating for a listener (or scholar, or journalist) to be able to have a peek behind the music. Things that composers have said have often opened up quite new layers and perspectives in a particular work for me, even if the music works just fine as itself, with no explanations. And although not even the most eloquent of explanations can change a bad piece of music into a good one, sometimes the way a piece is described can have a profound impact. There have been times when a composer’s thoughts have prompted me to return to a work that I had not felt touched by or comprehended at first hearing.
In this Special Feature, FMQ launches a new series of columns where composers and other music makers – artists creating music in various ways – write about their music, their process of composing, their aesthetic, their sources of inspiration and creating music in general. The first five columns in the series On my music and beyond have been contributed by Kimmo Hakola, Sebastian Hilli, Heikki Laitinen, Minna Leinonen and Valtteri Pöyhönen.
Of course, composers have written about their music in FMQ many times before. The historic series On being a composer in Finland, published in the 1990s, consisted of texts written by twelve Finnish composers. The column by Pehr Henrik Nordgren has already been re-published on our website, and now we publish online Usko Meriläinen’s column from 1994.
At the turn of the 1990s, FMQ commissioned columns from internationally successful composers, including foreign ones. Contributions to this series were received from Joonas Kokkonen, Erik Bergman and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and also Witold Lutosławski, Vinko Globokar, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Arvo Pärt, among others. In the 2000s, music makers have aired their thoughts in FMQ in individual columns and under the heading Notes&Letters.
Composers and composing in Finland today is the subject of a 13-part documentary series produced by the Society of Finnish Composers, which we also present in this Special Feature.