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Finnish and Karelian Music
Now you can listen to Finnish Radio Program Archives from University of Victoria! CFUV (1.5 hours each)
- Listen - includes interview with Mayme Sevander, survivor of Stalin's purges in Karelia.
The importance of music in Finnish culture is evident
right from the first words of the Kalevala, the key literary works, with its roots in Karelia. It played a central role in giving the independence seeking Finns a strong identity in the 19th - 20th Century. Sibelius, the famous Finnish composer used Kalevala themes extensively in his compositions as did most folk composers.
"I am driven by my longing,
and my understanding urges
That I should commence my singing,
And begin my recitation.
I will sing the people's legends,
And the ballads of the nation.
To my mouth the words are flowing,
And the words are gently falling."
The original musical instrument of the Finnish tribes
was the Kantele, which was replaced by the violin and later the
accordion. The full-sized chromatic button accordion is the instrument of
choice for "Real Finnish" music. The writer's grandfather Vihtori Saarnio was
(Vyborg) representative for Kouvolan Harmonikka (harmonikka=accordion) before
the Russian invasion and occupation of Karelia's capital city, Viipuri. The city and 10% of Finland is still under Russian occupation.
As a result of the long history
and culture of the accordion in Finland it is not surprising that you can hear
some of the best accordion playing in that country. Suomen Harmonikkainstituutti
The Tango has been a favorite Finnish music
and dance for most of this Century, and every year a Tango
Queen and King are chosen in competition, and Finland has a National
Tango called Satumaa.
This phenomenon is unique in the Scandinavian countries,
possibly due to the Finns' love of romantic music. Finnish music often concerns the beauty of their country or the lost mythical land of Karelia. The performing arts are an important part of Finnish culture and children are encouraged to get involved early.
There was a revival of tango music in the 1950's and 60's, and when rock music came along, Finland became more or less divided between Tango (and Humppa, a kind of two-step) in the north and rock in the south. This line went from roughly Vaasa to Kouvola. There are hundreds of music and song festivals throughout
Finland in the summer that attract musicians and visitors from all over the world. No matter what type of music is your interest, you will find a
concert somewhere in Finland, especially in the summer. One of the purposes of this web page is so that you can listen to Finnish music.