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Erkki Melartin (Composer, Arranger)

Born: February 7, 1875 - Käikisälmi, Finland
Died: February 14, 1937 - Pukinmäki, Finland


The Finnish composer and teacher, Erkki (Gustat) Melartin, was a pupil of Wegelius at the Helsinki Music Institute and of Robert Fuchs in Vienna.

Erkki Melartin taught theory at the Helsinki Music Institute from (1898; 1901-1907); succeeded Wegelius as director in 1911, and remained at this post until 1936. He conducted the first performance of Gustav Mahler's music in Scandinavia, a movement of the Resurrection symphony in 1909.


Erkki Melartin was the most versatile of the Finnish Late Romantics. Although the main part of his works leans to the Romantic tradition, he also expanded his musical style towards Impressionism and even Expressionism.

Melartin's output can be divided into two main realms: stylistically reformed and artistically ambitious serious music and lighter, salon music-like utility music. Especially for the general public Melartin has become known through his brief and lighter-style pieces. He created many charming, melodically original and skilfully designed pieces: children's music, solo songs, piano pieces and incidental music.

Because of the large number of piano and vocal music Melartin is usually considered as a lyricist, but himself he regarded the symphony as the focus of his output. He wrote six symphonies (1902–1924), which show among other things his receptiveness; the fifth is a Sinfonia brevis ending in a fugue and chorale, while the sixth, harmonically more advanced than the other five, advances stepwise from a C minor first movement with evocations of G. Mahler's seventh symphony - to an E-flat major finale. The fourth symphony uses a vocalise like that of Carl Nielsen's Sinfonia Espansiva. Melartin composed his symphonies about simultaneously with Sibelius, but managed to keep free from the impacts of Sibelius. Actually, his symphonic style is more compared with Sibelius' antithesis G. Mahler.

In chamber music, Melartin's major works are the four String Quartets, of which the second is the best known. Stylistically his string quartets follow clearly the ideals of Central European Romanticism. His musical output also includes an opera, Aino, a violin concerto and many piano pieces. The most avantgarde of his compositions is the piano piece Fantasia apocaliptica (1920-1922?), considered by his contemporary critics as 'atonal' but in fact a blend of Impressionistic and Expressionistic features. His compositions are marked by a lyrical strain, with thematic materials often drawn from Finnish folk songs.


Aino, opera (1907; Helsinki, December 10, 1909)
Sininen belmi (The Blue Pearl), ballet (1930)
incidental music

8 symphonies (1902; 1904; 1906-1907; 1912; Sinfonia brevis, 1916; 1924-25; 2 unfinished)
3 symphonic poems
3 lyric suites
Violin Concerto
Serenade for Strings
Karjalaisia kuvia (Karelian Pictures)

4 string quartets
Quartet for 2 Trumpets, Trombone, and Horn
Quartet for 4 Horns; Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon
2 violin sonatas
Sonata for Flute and Harp
piano pieces
violin works

about 300 songs

Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Wikipedia Website; Finnish Music Information Centre Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2007)

Bach-Melartin: Erkki Melartin | PT - Works | PT - Recordings

Links to other Sites

Erkki Melartin (Wikipedia)
Melartin Society

Finnish Music Information Centre partial Worklist and Links



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Last update: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 23:34