Kilpinen, Yrjo (1892-1959) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Kilpinen, Yrjo (1892-1959)

Historical Note: Finnish composer. Studied at the Helsinki Music Institute with Furuhjelm (1908�?�¢??9, 1911�?�¢??12, 1916�?�¢??17), with Heuberger in Vienna (1910�?�¢??11) and in Berlin with Juon and Taubmann (1913�?�¢??14). He travelled extensively in Scandinavia and central Europe, especially Germany. He became an honorary professor in 1942 and was elected to the Finnish Academy in 1948. In the same year he founded the Society of Friends of the Solo Song (after his death the Yrj�??�?�¶ Kilpinen Society). He also founded the Savonlinna Days of Music, from which the Savonlinna Festival was to develop. As a composer Kilpinen concentrated almost exclusively on the lied. His works were first recognized in 1918 by the critic Evert Katila, and other reviews further advanced his career. He quickly gained many admirers, but also was accused of composing too prosaically and too quickly. Performances by well-known singers such as Gerhard H�??�?�¼sch and Astra Desmond promoted his work abroad, and in Nazi Germany of the 1930s, 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. Even in the early 1920s, in settings of Larin-Ky�??�?�¶sti, Huugo Jalkanen, L. Onerva and V.A. Koskenniemi, Kilpinen attached himself to the lied tradition. The period he spent with Swedish poets (c1922�?�¢??6), however, marked a stylistic paring-down, and alongside intellectual and humorous matter, there is philosophical reflection. The settings of V.E. T�??�?�¶rm�??�?�¤nen's Tunturilauluja (�?�¢??Songs of the Fells�?�¢??, 1926 and 1928) have a true melodic invention and show to their best advantage Kilpinen's stylistic features �?�¢?? open 4ths, 5ths and octaves, and bare piano textures, with a fondness for pedal points and ostinatos. While in Germany he set more than 75 songs by Morgenstern, and they show the influence of Musorgsky. In his later work he returned to Finnish poetry, exchanging Expressionism for the archaic language of the Kanteletar (64 songs, op.100).
Sources: Erkki Salmenhaara. "Kilpinen, Yrj�??�?�¶." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 19 Dec. 2011 <>.

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