Kuusisto, Ilkka

(*1933)

Ilkka Kuusisto (born on 26 April 1933) is a versatile figure in Finnish musical life: a composer, conductor and arts administrator. The son of composer Taneli Kuusisto, he studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki with Aarre MerikantoNils Eric Fougstedt and others. He was the publishing director of Fazer Music in 1981–84 and director of the Finnish National Opera in 1984–92. As a choral conductor, he has led many choirs, including Laulu-Miehet and the Finnish Radio Chorus.

Kuusisto’s compositions range from jazz and film music to vocal music and operas. They retain a tonal basis, and the melodic quality is enhanced by a homophonic accompanying texture. Kuusisto also displays a keen sense of humour in works such as the Moomin Opera (1974). In his five-act opera Sota valosta (The Battle for the Sun, 1980) he combines themes from the national epic, the Kalevala, and uses archaic elements borrowed from medieval and folk music. Jääkäri Ståhl (Ensign Ståhl, 1981), drawing widely on Ostrobothnian minor-key melodies, is, according to Kuusisto, a more direct ‘folk opera’. Aino Ackté is an opera about the first international star of the Finnish opera scene. Other popular stage works include Gabriel, tule takaisin! (Gabriel, come back!, 1998) and Nainen kuin jäätynyt samppanja (1999).

Ilkka Kuusisto has also written several solo songs and song cycles such as Do not stand at my grave and weep for soprano and piano is composed in 2020. Other vocal works include songs to text by various Finnish poets such as L. Onerva, Aale Tynni, Einari Vuorela, Helena Anhava and Lassi Nummi. Kuusisto’s pedagogical piano collections Ekat Jazzit (Jazz for Kiddies) and My First Latin American (Ekat latttarit) have been popular among young pianists. Kuusisto has also arranged 24 Finnish Christmas carols for voice small orchestra including the songs in Jean Sibelius’ Opus 1.

[composer nimi=’Kuusisto, Ilkka‘]