Nieminen, Kai


Kai Nieminen (born 17 March 1953) studied the guitar at the Conservatory of Central Finland and the Sibelius Academy and musicology at the University of Jyväskylä. He has also studied composition with Stepán Rak and Pekka Kostiainen and attended master classes with George CrumbPaavo HeininenJukka Tiensuu and Theo Lowendie. As a guitarist Kai Nieminen has given recitals and appeared as soloist with several orchestras and acted as a member of the jury of the Fernando Sor Guitar Competition.

Nieminen has composed a number of orchestral works. He is especially known for his concertos, e.g. for the flute (Palomar, 2001), clarinet (Through Shadows I Can Hear Ancient Voices, 2002), violin (‘Il viaggio del cavaliere… (inexistente)’, 2005), piano (Reflections… In the Enchanted Waves of Time, 2005), oboe (Somni de Gaudi, 2008), guitar (‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller’, 2009) as well as cello and accordion (Marcovaldo, 2012). His list of works also includes vocal music, a wealth of chamber music and works for solo instruments – especially the guitar, his own instrument. He has written five string quartets, the last of them Quartetto V per archi –Dietro delle Maschere was commissioned by the Q Quartets for a performance in Liverpool in April 2023.

Nieminen has composed three symphonies. The first, ‘
La Selva’, which was commissioned by the Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä and premiered on 13 November 2013 under the baton of Patrick GalloisSymphony No. 2 ‘Nello specchio della notte’ was premiered in 2015 at the Sääksmäki Soi Festival. The third symphony was premiered by the Joensuu Orchestra on 22 October 2020 under the baton of Eero Lehtimäki.

Nieminen does not fill his score to the brim but instead allows the instruments room to breathe. The delicate, fragile and airy texture of his orchestral works is often more in the nature of intimate chamber music allowing the various instruments to express their intrinsic characteristics and timbres. Kai Nieminen is inspired by cultural and temporal planes and linking the past with the present. He regards himself as a tone painter of fantasies from the life around him and finds his sources of inspiration often in literature, but also in the visual arts and nature. However, he has no desire to confine the listener to any programme. The aim of the extra-musical stimuli is at most to fire the listeners’ imagination and to make them savour musical visions with an open mind.

Naxos and Pilfink Records have released Kai Nieminen’s works on CD. Read more on Kai Nieminen’s home page.

40 Years of Time... (from far beyond)


for orchestra


Duration: 5

Chi vivrà vedrà


for orchestra


Duration: 15

Clarinet Concerto

Through Shadows I Can Hear Ancient Voices (2002)

for clarinet and orchestra


Duration: 28

Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra

If on a Winter's Night a Traveller... (2009)

12( perc: Reco-reco, Finger Cymbals, Vibraphone, Tam-tam, Tubular Bells

Duration: 25

Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra

Somni de Gaudí (2008)

2(II+altfl)1(=ca)2(II=cl.b)2-2200-11-hp-str Perc: Vibraphone, Marimba, Tubular Bells, Tam tam, 2 Suspended Cymbals, Sizzle Cymbal, Tambourine, Bass Drum

Duration: 26

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Reflections... In the Enchanted Waves... Of Time (2005)


Duration: 35

Dance HobGoblin / Tanssinhaltija


for bass clarinet and string orchestra


Duration: 8

Gestures of Winter

(Time Around Northern Night Skies)

for string quartet

Duration: 0

Hailing the Beauty of Light and Snow

(In Winterwoods) (1999-2000)

for chamber orchestra


Duration: 10

I Can Hear Northern Lights...

for oboe and string quartet (1999)

Duration: 16

Il castello dei destini incrociati

The Castle of Crossed Destinies (2000)

for orchestra

3(III=picc)3( Perc. 1: Bass Drum, Wood Block, Suspended Cymbal, Tambourine, Tam-tam, Gong (medium), Sizzle Cymbal Perc. 2: Tubular Bells, Vibraphone, Xylophone, Temple Blocks

Duration: 20

Il viaggio del cavaliere... (inesistente)

Concerto per violino ed orchestra (2005)

2(I+picc,II+altfl)2( Perc: Wood Block, Snare Drum, Suspended Cymbal, Crotales, Bass Drum, Tam-Tam, Vibraphone, Glockenspiel

Duration: 30

In Mirrors of Time... Through Colours of Autumn


for orchestra


Duration: 14

In Woodlands of the Birds


for orchestra


Duration: 17

Invisible Cities


for orchestra


Duration: 21

La Serenissima (Per la memoria per una Storia...)

Concerto per viola sola, arpa e 12 archi (2006)

for viola, harp and 12 strings


Duration: 20


Concerto per violoncello, fisarmonica e piccola orchestra (2012)

for violoncello, accordeon and orchestra


Duration: 30

Palomar (nel giardino fantastico)

Concerto per flauto e orchestra (2001)

for flute and orchestra


Duration: 22

Sinfonia No. 2

Nello Specchio della Notte (2015)

for orchestra

2(II=afl).0.2(II=cl.b).2- Percussione: Crotales, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Bass drum

Duration: 20

Spellbound by Winter's Night

Talven yön lumoama (2008)

for 12 strings


Duration: 22

Time Around Autumn


for 12 winds and 2 percussions


Duration: 12

Time Around Lights, Shadows and Spaces

Helene Schjerfbeck in Memoriam (1999)

for chamber orchestra


Duration: 12

Time Around Spring

In Memoriam Timo K. Mukka (1997)

for orchestra


Duration: 20

To Touch Upon Other Times

Concerto for Horn, Harp and Strings (2010)

hn, hp, str

Duration: 23

Vicoli in ombra

Hämyisät kujat / Alleys in Twilight (1995)

for orchestra


Duration: 10

Winter Afternoons


for nine players

1(+altfl)1(, violoncello

Duration: 10

Winter Fragments

for string quartet

Duration: 0

Palomar (Flute Concerto) (I Crepuscolo)
sol. Patrick Gallois

Through Shadows I Can Hear Ancient Voices (Clarinet Concerto) (III Don’t Seek and Don’t Believe)
sol. Mikko Raasakka

Vicoli in ombra
Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä, cond. Patrick Gallois
(*Naxos 8.572061)

Unen maasta (for mixed choir)
1. Uni
2. Keiju
3. Auringon lasku
Cantus Novus Wien

Concert of chamber works on 9 August 2016
The Tale of Astolpho on the Moon
Julvers (Notturno II)
Poems of Stopped Time and Silence
Pan & Waves of Sorrow
The Smile of the Flamboyant Wings
Uccelli della notte
Erkki Palola, violin, Tuomas Mali, piano

VIDEOS (YouTube):

String quartet no. 4 “Sogni del Mare” (“Meren unia”, 2020)
Meri-Lapin jousikvartetti

Reflecting Landscapes
In der Winterzeit

Trio La Rue

Near the Edge of Light
Q Quartets

A Walk to the mysterious Woods (Guitar Sonata)
Patrik Kleemola, guitar

Acquarelli della notte
Fragmentos de la vida del mar
Kai Nieminen, guitar

Night Preludes
Olli Hirvanen, guitar

Night Shadows, for two guitars
Olli Hirvanen, Kai Nieminen

Images of Fear
John Mills, guitar

From Shadows… of Songs of.. the Winds
Flavio Nati, guitar

Hymnos IV (Waterscapes)
Gocho Prakov, clarinet

Hymnos VIII 
J0hanna Kärkkäinen, flute

The Smile of the Flamboyant Wings
Eriko Takahashi, piano

Eriko Takahashi, piano

*with permission of Naxos. To download the album, visit To purchase the CD, visit

Lyrical, lingering music (Kimmo Korhonen)