To the Strains of His Master’s Voice


Viikko 40


Date: Sep 30th, 2016
Motion: THW consider UKK’s legacy taller than his quarter of a century in power
Role: M (gov.)

Finland has been able to produce a generation of able conductors and composers of Classical music in the past quarter of a century, or so it is said and stated, at least domestically. Esa-Pekka Salonen was hired by the L.A. Philharmonic for over a decade, and this occurred probably not without merit or for no reason.

However, the reasons for this upswing or modest artistic renaissance are far more banal and pedestrian than you might think.

This is how it has evolved. Finland is a country of a myriad communities dominated by the Centre Party, which has probably no clear equivalent abroad. Its former name was the Agrarian League, so that hints at its past and present agenda, but no words can begin to exhaust how much and how it has influenced Finnish policy-making and politics during the postwar period. Let’s leave that to Jarmo Korhonen (the erstwhile party secretary, who was fired and who has spent his time since writing revelatory books about the party). The ”hayday” of the party was between 1956 and 1982, when the President’s incumbency was occupied term after term by Urho K. Kekkonen, the longest-serving and most unilateral president we have seen or will ever see. He was a Centrist, and he fostered a generation of future Centrists, some of whom have left their mark, as well, after 1982.

Now, what characterises a small rural community in Finland is an adherence to the Centre Party and a dull environment, where only the bare necessities of communal life are available. These communities recognize the value of culture. Instinctively, they choose the middle ground if the choice is between folk music and popular music. Folk music is too rudimentary and rustic for them while rock music is alien to them, so they opt for Classical music. Classical is enjoyed by the community’s few members of the elite, has clear and finite, almost mathematical rules and can be used for shoring up the image of the countryside.

Then, those who have an inherent aptitude for music, seek out the community’s music school, or, in the best case, Conservatory. When trained from the age of 6 to 18 or 8 to 16, the student will certainly gain enough musical fluency, musical literacy and musical performance potential within the Classical. As years go by, the music class becomes a guarantee against drifting into mischief. Then later, some of these musical hopefuls might apply to the Sibelius or some other academy at the time to leave home and seek out opportunity. Once through the conducting or composing class of a premier academy, which should take from 4 to 8 years to finish depending on the ”extracurriculars”, the original citizen from a Centre-Party-ruled community from the middle of nowhere would be ready to wield the baton in front of other musicians. This doesn’t require genius. It requires certain growing pains, normal ears and normal social competence. If we consider music just another language, speaking that language should not be any kind of ”miracle”.

I claim that the long presidency of famous Centre Partist UKK created the so-called classical-music miracle in Finland. If I’m right, most of the people associated with it abroad and/or domestically should have been born during UKK’s reign that lasted from 1956 to 1982. I say check if it’s true in the case of the person:

  • Esa-Pekka Salonen: check
  • Kaija Saariaho: cross
  • Karita Mattila: check
  • Jukka-Pekka Saraste: check
  • John Storgårds: check
  • Susanna Mälkki: check
  • Sakari Oramo: check
  • Anu Komsi: check
  • Pekka Kuusisto: check
  • Mikko Franck: check

It seems that I got a great many checks, 9 out of 10. I think this goes to prove that ”UKK’s legacy, taller than his quarter of a century in power?” is true.

Thank you.

Puheen kesto: 4 min 44 sek
Arvio: * * * *. Puhe on ihan hyvä, vaikka vähän lyhyt. Ansiokkainta siinä on vahva väite ja lopussa tuleva lista, joka vaikuttaisi puoltavan puheen esittämää kuin paraskin ARGUMENTTI. Huonointa on se, että aloitteen käsittelemää asiaa on ehkä vähän vaikea vastustaa, jolloin pallo on alusta lähtien hallituksen kenttäpuoliskolla jatkuvalla syötöllä. Tälle ei voi nyt mitään. Puhetta on kiva kuunnella ja se vie asiat ”jonnekin muualle” hukkaamatta fokusta, niin kuin kolmannen puolen puheen kuuluu parhaimmillaan tehdä. Siksi neljä tähteä.



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