BY Juha Torvinen
I recently went through Nocturnal: reflections after John Dowland for solo guitar composed by Benjamin Britten in 1963. It is a set of variations based on a song, Come, heavy sleep, by John Dowland dating from 1597.
The Nocturnal is a bit like a detective story in which the mystery is not solved until the last page. For contrary to the more common convention, Dowland’s theme is not heard until the very end. Hearing it by way of a conclusion both explains what has gone before (the variations, that is) and delightfully demonstrates that even a modern work is always part of a historical continuum.
Is there not always something essentially similar about anniversaries, when it is customary to look back and reminisce? In other words, to stop and momentarily make the past part of the present?
This issue rounds off the 25th year of the Finnish Music Quarterly, and we have deliberately adopted a similar strategy. While pausing to muse for a while on our history, we are nevertheless using the anniversary as a window affording a broader perspective of the past quarter-century in the history of Finnish music. Our aim is to make the recent history of Finnish music part of the present – without, of course, overlooking current issues and the prospect for the future.
Glancing back is quite permissible, but we must also travel on. Our motto is therefore: full steam ahead to our 50th anniversary!
Translation: Susan Sinisalo