Born: Helsinki, 27 Sep. 1912
Died: Turenki, 18. Jul 2008
TAUNO MARTTINEN studied music at Viipuri (Vyborg ) during the 1920s and in Helsinki during the 1930s under such teachers as Peter Akimov, Ilmari Hannikainen and Selim Palmgren. Tauno Marttinen had his sights set on a career as a concert pianist, but the emphasis swung gradually over in favour of composition. He has dedicated his life's work to Hameenlinna Music Institute, of which he was the director from 1950 until 1975, and to his concurrent work on behalf of the musical life of his home town of Hameenlinna. It was in recognition of this work that he was granted an honorary professorship by the state in 1972.
Marttinen's unusually wide and varied musical output can be easily divided into certain stylistic periods. The earliest of these, comprising works composed prior to the Second World War, reflects the late national romantic style prevailing at that time in Finland; this style also had its influence on the composer's post-war work, but did not provide suitable ground for the development of Marttinen's own personal style. It was not until the 1950s, the time when international modernist trends began to gain a foothold in Finland, that Marttinen succeeded in developing his own personal means of expression, influenced at the outset by dodecaphonic ideas. Time spent studying with Wladimir Vogel in Switzerland provided Marttinen with the basis for his own dodecaphonic technique which he proceeded to employ during the middle fifties, initially on a very strict basis and subsequently with greater and greater freedom. At this point he turned his back on his entire early output.
This, his second, dodecaphonic period gave rise to a number of important works, some of which are still regarded in many circles as the composer's best. Marttinen continued to choose his subjects from fairly Finnish-oriented sources, chiefly the national romantic epic Kalevala which has remained near to the composer's heart throughout his entire compositional career, and also from religious-philosophical literature whose significance has grown during the composer's later life. This area of interest has shown itself in both instumental and vocal music.
In the middle sixties Marttinen began to relinquish dodecaphonic principles in favour of free-tonality. This phase was also marked by an increased interest in nature and mysticism, and indeed this period has been retrospectively christened Marttinen's period of nature-mysticism. Characteristic of this period has been the use of very colourful instrumentation which may itself be influenced by the composer's intimate acquaintance with modern Finnish art. The most central music resulting from this phase of Marttinen's musical output was in fact instrumental music.
The stylistic progress of the next decade was something of a synthesis of the previous ones and displayed an evident neo-classical bent. Its music has become clearer in its outlines, taking on a more ascetic character by comparison with earlier work
Tauno Marttinen's extensive operatic output is worthy of special mention. Not merely does it include some first-class examples of Finnish comic opera but also a number of serious musical dramas based on the works of Aleksis Kivi, Nicolai Gogol, Henry Miller, Dante, H. C. Andersen, Oscar Wilde, and the Bible.