Robert Kajanus

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Robert Kajanus (Helsinki, 2 December 1856 – Helsinki, 6 July 1933) was a Finnish conductor and composer of Swedish descent.


Robert Kajanus was the most prominent Finnish composer before Jean Sibelius. His music drew on the folk legends of the Finnish people. He studied music theory with Richard Faltin and violin with Gustaf Niemann in Helsinki, with Hans Richter, Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn in Leipzig, and Johan Svendsen in Paris.

He worked in Dresden in the years immediately after his graduation, and returned to Helsinki in 1882. He founded the first permanent orchestra in Finland: the Helsinki Philharmonic Society (later to become the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Finland's national orchestra). He brought the orchestra to a very high performance standard very quickly, so that they were able to give quite credible performances of the standard late classical/mid-romantic repertory. Kajanus led the Helsinki Philharmonic for 50 years, and among the milestones of that history was the first performance in Finland of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in 1888.

Kajanus was appointed director of music at the University of Helsinki in 1897 and remained in the post for the next 29 years, a period in which he had a major impact on music education in his native country. He was also the founder of the Nordic Music Festival in 1919. He received many decorations, including the French L├ęgion d'honneur.

Kajanus was the father of the harpists Lilly Kajanus-Blenner...
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