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Kaija Saariaho

Born: 14th October 1952, Helsinki, Finland

Died: 2nd June 2023, Paris, France

Nationality: Finnish

Kaija Anneli Saariaho was a Finnish composer based in Paris, France. During the course of her career, Saariaho received commissions from the Lincoln Center for the Kronos Quartet and from IRCAM for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the BBC, the New York Philharmonic, the Salzburg Music Festival, the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, and the Finnish National Opera, among others. In a 2019 composers' poll by BBC Music Magazine, Saariaho was ranked the greatest living composer.

Saariaho studied composition in Helsinki, Freiburg, and Paris, where she lived from 1982 until her death. Her research at the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) marked a turning point in her music away from strict serialism towards spectralism. Her characteristically rich, polyphonic textures are often created by combining live music and electronics.

Further Reading: Saariaho

Recording of the Week, Choral works by the late Kaija Saariaho

The Helsinki Chamber Choir under Nils Schweckendiek perform choral music by Saariaho that explores a wide range of subjects – from atmospheric invocations of night and Roman mythology to the seasons of the year and spacefaring science fiction.

Obituary, Kaija Saariaho (1952-2023)

The Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho has died at the age of 70 in her adoptive home of Paris.

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