Kilpinen, Yrjö


Yrjö Kilpinen (1892-1959) studied at the Helsinki Music Institute and later with Richard Heuberger in Vienna (1910–11) and with Paul Juon and Otto Taubmann in Berlin (1913–14). He travelled extensively in Scandinavia and central Europe, especially in Germany. As a composer Kilpinen concentrated almost exclusively on the lied – he has composed ca. 800 songs. Performances by well-known singers such as Gerhard Hüsch and Astra Desmond promoted his work abroad, and in Germany where he was seen as continuing the great German lied tradition of Schubert and Wolf, he was particularly popular.

Characteristic of Kilpinen’s output are extensive song cycles to texts by the same poet, which often reflect the poet’s stylistic changes. The settings of V.E. Törmänen’s Tunturilauluja (Songs of the Fells, 1926 and 1928) have a true melodic invention and they display Kilpinen’s stylistic features:  open 4ths, 5ths and octaves, and bare piano textures with a fondness for pedal points and ostinatos. While in Germany Kilpinen set more than 75 songs by Christian Morgenstern which show the influence of Mussorgsky. In his later work he returned to Finnish poetry, exchanging Expressionism for the archaic language of the Kanteletar (64 songs, Op. 100).

Stylistically Yrjö Kilpinen remained an isolated phenomenon. He neither adopted the new techniques of his contemporaries, nor did he continue the national Romantic tradition in his tendency towards neo-classicism.

Fennica Gehrman has published Kilpinen’s large-scale Sonata for Violin and Piano. Dated from 1935, the work was never finished. Violinist Frida Backman commissioned a completion of the work from composer Walter Wolff, which enabled the first publication of the Sonata in 2022.

Kesäyö [arr. Fougstedt]

Sommernacht / Summer Night (1921)

for medium voice and orchestra


Duration: 2

Kesäyö [arr. Hovi]

for low voice and orchestra


Duration: 2

Lakeus (The Plains)


for baritone and orchestra


Duration: 13

Lauluja Kantelettaren runoihin

Songs to Poems from the Kanteletar (1948-50/1981)

for medium voice and orchestra

2222-4231-11-hp-str 9 Aina laulan / Immer sing’ ich (I Sing Always) 3’ 5 Silloin laulan / Dann singe ich (Then I Sing) 3’ 1 Paimenlaulu / Hirtenlied (Shepherd’s Song) 3’ 29 Ei runo rahatta laula / Möchte singen (No Poem Sings without Gold) 3’ 15 Tanssi / Der Tanz (Dance) 2’ 62 Kiitos emännästä / Dank an die Hausfrau (Thanks for the Lady of the House) 2’ 51 Tuuti, tuuti tummaistani / Schlaf nur,schlaf (Hush, My Dark One) 3’ 56 Oi Ukko, ylinen herra / Allmächt’ger, hoch da droben (O Thunder God Above) 4’ 38 Ohoh kullaista kotia / Ach, du schöne Heimat (O Dearest Home) 3’ 17 Paista päiväinen Jumala / Scheine helle, o Sonne (Shine out, God of Day) 4’ 43 Kun mun kultani tulisi / Käm’ zu mir der Geliebten mein (If Only My Beloved Would Come) 4’ 48 Laulan ilman lainehilta / Ich singe wie die Vöglein singen (I Sing on theWaves on the Wind) 3’ 19 Voi jos mie tok miehen saisin / Wenn Ich (If Only I Could Get Him for My Own) (soprano) 3’ 10 Niin on meitä piikasia / Ach, so viele Mägdlein gibt es (Many Lasses Like Us You’ll Find) (soprano) 2’ 54 Pah’ on orjana eleä / O, wie bitter ein Knecht zu sein (It’s Wretched to Live a Slave) (bass) 3’ 39 Millä maksan maammon maidon / Wie entgelt’ ich meiner Mutter (How Shall I Pay for My Mother’s Milk) (transposed for tenor) 4’ 53 Kuusen juuret kuivettuvat / Laub und Gras, die trocknen alle (The Fir Tree’s Roots Grow Dry) (transposed for bass) 4’ 64 Siitä sinne tie menevi / Sollen diesen Weg nun gehen (That Way Lies the Road) (transposed for tenor) 2’

Duration: 0

Maassa marjani makaavi

My Darling Lies in the Cold Ground (1915-16)

for high voice and orchestra


Duration: 4

Tunturilauluja (arr. Borg)

Fjällsånger / Songs of the Fells From (1926-27)

for medium voice and orchestra

2222-2200-01-hp-cel-str 52/2 Tunturilähde / Fjällkällan / Die Fjeldquelle / The Mountain Brook 2’ 53/1 Hillankukka / Hjortronblomman / Die Multbeerblute / The Cloudberry Flower 2’ 53/2 Murheen kellot / Sorgeklockorna / Trauerglocken / The Bells of Sorrow 2’ 53/3 Muuttolintu / Flyttfågeln /Der Zugvogel / The Migrant 2’ 53/4 Sä menit / Du gick / Du gingst /You Went Away 2’ 54/3 Suvilaulu / Sommarsång /Sommerlied / Summer Song 3’

Duration: 0

Tunturilauluja / Fjällsånger

Fjeldlieder / Songs of the Fells From (1926-27)

for medium voice and orchestra

3(I=picc).2.2.2- 52/1 Jänkä / Fjällmyren / Das Moor / The Fen 3’ 52/3 Laululle / Till sången /An das Lied /To the Song 2’ 52/4 Tunturille / Till fjälls / Den Fjelden /Away to the Mountains 2’ 54/1 Vanha kirkko / Den gamla kyrkan / Alte Kirche / Ancient Church 3’ 54/2 Kirkkorannassa /På kyrkostranden /Am Kirchenstrande / Come, Oh Wave 2’ 54/4 Tunturilaulu / Fjällsång / Fjeldlied/ Song of the Fells 2’

Duration: 15

Tunturilauluja. Laululle [arr. Kilpinen, G major]

Till sången - An das Lied - To the Song op. 52/3

for baritone and orchestra

1112-1000-str (no violins)

Duration: 2

Tunturilauluja. Tunturilaulu [arr. Kilpinen C maj]

Fjällsång - Fjeldlied - Song of the Fells

for baritone and orchestra


Duration: 2

Tunturilauluja. Tunturille [arr.Kilpinen, F major]

Till fjälls - Den Fjelden - Away to the Mountains

for baritone and orchestra


Duration: 2

Tunturilauluja. Vanha kirkko (arr. Kilpinen)

for medium voice and orchestra


Duration: 3