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Ilmari Hannikainen (Composer, Arranger)

Born: October 19, 1892 - Jyväskylä, Finland
Died: July 25, 1955 - Kuhmoinen, Finland


The Finnish composer and pianist, Toivo Ilmari Hannikainen, was the son of Pekka Juhani Hannikainen and the brother of Väinö Hannikainen, both of whom were composers. After studying at the University of Helsinki from 1911 to 1914, he became a pupil of Franz Schreker at the Musikakademie in Vienna, and continued his studies with Alexander Siloti in Saint Petersburg from 1915 to 1917, and with Alfred Cortot in Paris in 1919.

Returning to Finland, Ilmari Hannikainen taught piano at the Helsinki Conservatory and later gained a Professorship at the Sibelius Academy.

Ilmari Hannikainen drowned during a sailing trip in Kuhmoinen in 1955. Some musical colleagues, like Aarre Merikanto, considered his death a suicide.


As a composer, Ilmari Hannikainen steered Finnish classical music from late Romanticism towards Impressionism. His piano works also owe a fair amount to such great Romantic predecessors as Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt and Sergei Rachmaninov. His career as a pianist and a respected teacher prevented his output from becoming as extensive as that of Palmgren.

Most of his piano works are miniatures that Ilmari Hannikainen incorporate features of salon music, National Romanticism and Impressionism. He was slightly later in taking up Impressionism than Palmgren, applying it for instance in Feux follets (1914), Ensilumi (First Snow, 1915) and Suihkulähteellä (At the Fountain, 1916). His most obviously Impressionist piano piece declares its allegiance in its very title, Debussyn varjokuva (Silhouette of Debussy, 1921). His more extensive piano works include an early Piano Sonata probably completed in the early 1910s, two Piano Concertos on which he began to work while on a study trip to St Petersburg in 1916-1917, and the most important set of variations in the Finnish piano repertoire, Variations fantasques (1916-1924).

In addition to piano music, Ilmari Hannikainen wrote chamber music including the Piano Quartet (1913) and the String Quartet (1919), solo songs and the ‘folk opera’ or Singspiel Talkootanssit (The Village Dance, 1930), which was very popular in its day. He also composed Lieder and film scores (notably, Sången om den eldröda blomman, Sweden, 1934).

Source: Finnish Music Information Centre (Author: Kimmo Korhonen, 2003); Wikipedia Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (January 2008)

Ilmari Hannikainen: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Finnish Music Information Centre
Ilmari Hannikainen Biography (Naxos)

Ilmari Hannikainen (Wikipedia) [English]
Ilmari Hannikainen (Wikipedia) [Finish]



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Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 14:53