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Yrjö Kilpinen (1892-1959) was a Finnish composer who was active primarily during the first half of the twentieth century. Although he is relatively unknown today, during his lifetime the only Finnish composer who was more celebrated was Jean Sibelius. Kilpinen’s creative efforts were focused almost entirely on art song, while Sibelius focused on larger forms, such as symphonies and tone poems. The most recent account of Kilpinen’s output includes nearly 800 art songs in three languages (Finnish, Swedish, and German), as well as several part songs, choral pieces, and instrumental works. His extensive output in the song genre makes Kilpinen Finland’s most prolific composer of art song.
This document focuses on Kilpinen’s Kanteletar-lauluja, Opus 100, a song cycle written in 1948-50. It was his last large scale Finnish work, containing 64 songs with texts from Elias Lönnrot’s Kanteletar, a collection of Finnish folk poetry.
The document includes a detailed biography of Kilpinen focusing on the development of his career, after which Lönnrot’s Kanteletar is discussed and placed within the context of Finnish nationalism. The remainder of the document is intended to provide the tools necessary for the English-speaking singer to perform the work. It includes a discussion of musical style, suggestions for breaking the cycle into performable chunks, a description of Finnish lyric diction, and translations, both word-for-word and poetic, with pronunciation given in IPA (the International Phonetic Alphabet).
Advisor: Donna Harler-Smith