The Kennedy Center


About the Work

Magnus Lindberg Composer: Magnus Lindberg
© Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Among the leading figures in the flourishing classical musical culture that Finland has nurtured for itself in recent decades is Magnus Lindberg, now internationally recognized as one of the preeminent composers of his generation. Lindberg was born in Helsinki in 1958, began to study piano and music theory as a youngster, and entered the Sibelius Academy in 1977 as a composition student of Einojuhani Rautavaara and Paavo Heininen, two of Finland's finest composers and pedagogues. Lindberg's teachers encouraged him to expand his professional training beyond his Finnish homeland, so, while fulfilling the curriculum at the Sibelius Academy during the next four years, he also worked at the Stockholm Electronic Music Studio, attended Franco Donatoni's composition courses in Siena, and studied with Helmut Lachenmann and Brian Ferneyhough in Darmstadt and with Vinko Globokar and Gérard Grisey in Paris. During his undergraduate years, Lindberg founded, with Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jouni Kaipainen and other of Finland's most gifted young musicians, the "Open Ears Society" to study and perform contemporary music. Lindberg established his reputation soon after graduating from the Sibelius Academy in 1981, and he has since devoted himself largely to composition through the support of many prestigious commissions and government subsidies, though he has also appeared as conductor, pianist and percussionist with contemporary music groups, consulted on new music with the Helsinki Biennale, Meltdown Festival in London and Helsinki Festival, and taught summer courses in Finland, France, Germany, Sweden and Spain. Magnus Lindberg has been the featured composer at the Ars Musica Festival in Brussels and the Musica Festival in Strasbourg, and has received the Wihuri Sibelius Prize, Prix Italia, Nordic Music Prize, UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers Prize and other distinguished awards. On September 16, 2009, Lindberg began his two-year tenure as the New York Philharmonic's Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence with the premiere of Expo at Alan Gilbert's inaugural concert as the orchestra's Music Director. In addition to another premiere and performances of several of his works, Lindberg also serves as an advisor for the Philharmonic's new-music series.

Lindberg's works, most for conventional orchestral and chamber ensembles (occasionally augmented by tape or electronics), embrace a wide variety of references – from the canonical music of Bach, Purcell and Sibelius to such iconoclastic modernists as Varèse, Stockhausen, Boulez, Xenakis and Babbitt, as well as minimalism, free jazz, progressive rock and ethnic music of East Asia – within a distinctive personal idiom. "Characteristic of Lindberg's music," wrote Ilkka Orama, a faculty member of the Sibelius Academy, "is a sense of continuity and direction, an ultimate goal, that controls a work's development from beginning to end according to a carefully designed plan."

Parada, composed for "Related Rocks: The World of Magnus Lindberg," a festival of his music held in England and Belgium early in 2002, was premiered publicly in Basingstoke, fifty miles west of London, on February 6, 2002 by the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, to whom the score is dedicated; they had recorded the work for Sony Classical the previous November. Lindberg said that Parada is “a kind of fusion between a slow movement and some scherzo material. If you want a model for this ambiguity between slow and fast movement, it's rather like the first movement of the Sibelius Fifth Symphony... I was looking for a continuous expression, assuring that before one event stops, something else starts, a kind of twined, rope-like structure." Salonen, a gifted composer as well as an internationally celebrated conductor, likened Parada to a river that "expands and contracts, continually changes perspective, can be warm or cold, fast or slow, smooth or bumpy, but it is always there, flowing along. And the listener bobs along like a cork, sometimes weightless, sometimes knocked around, thrown into rocks. It is a weighty slow movement, with lots of fast things happening on the surface and distant hints of Sibelius."

Parada opens with a curtain of luminous string sound from which arise active but at first fragmented gestures in the brass and winds. These two musical forces ("slow movement" and "scherzo") contend, with the wind figures becoming more aggressive as the luminous curtain of sound persists, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes pushed into an almost dream-like background. The "scherzo" eventually becomes dominant and is worked out at some length (including one passage resembling a ghostly waltz), driving the music to a mountainous climax in the process. The intensity gradually subsides as the "slow movement" again asserts itself, though its glacial chords are relinquished by the strings to the brass and winds as Parada moves toward its close.