The Kennedy Center

Einojuhani Rautavaara


Einojuhani Rautavaara was born October 9, 1928 in Helsinki, Finland.  Today, he is considered by the world to be the most prominent living Finnish composer, as Jean Sibelius was a century ago. 
At the age of seventeen Mr. Rautavaara began studying piano. He studied musicology at Helsinki University and composition at the Sibelius Academy.  Mr. Rautavaara became internationally known for his "A Requiem in Our Time", for the brass band repertoire, which won the Thor Johnson prize at a competition in Cincinnati in 1954.  In 1955, Sibelius himself selected the 27 year old Mr. Rautavaara as the beneficiary of a scholarship for a composer to study in the United States.  The receipt of the scholarship from Sibelius allowed him to study at Julliard and Tanglewood.  At Tanglewood he studied with Roger Sessions and Aaron Copeland.  He continued his studies in Switzerland and Germany.  Since 1988 he has made his living as a composer in Helsinki.
Mr. Rautavaara’s music evolved from diverse styles to being considered romantic or mystical. This may be a result of his seeing compositions as already existing in 'another reality' and his job being to bring a composition into the world in one piece. 
Einojuhani Rautavaara’s compositions include eight symphonies, various concerti, choral works (including for unaccompanied choir), sonatas for various instruments, and string quartets, as well as operas including Vincent (1986-1987), based on the life of Vincent Van Gogh and Rasputin (2001-2003).  One of Rautavaara’s most popular works is Cantus arcticus, concerto for birds and orchestra, in which the orchestra plays along with the sounds of birds recorded by Mr. Rautavaara.
Einojuhani Rautavaara


  • Clarinet Concerto
  • Cantus Arcticus (Concerto for Birds and Orch.)
  • Violin Concerto (1977)
  • Clarinet Concerto
  • Manhattan Trilogy