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Kaija Saariaho

Pirkko Moisala

Publication Year: 2009

This book is the first comprehensive study of the music and career of contemporary composer Kaija Saariaho. Born in Finland in 1952, Saariaho received her early musical training at the Sibelius Academy, where her close circle included composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. She has since become internationally known and recognized for her operas L'amour de loin and Adriana Mater and other works that involve electronic music. Her influences include the spectral analysis of timbre, especially string sounds, micropolyphonic techniques, the visual and literary arts, and sounds in the natural world. Pirkko Moisala approaches the unique characteristics of Saariaho's music through composition sketches, scores, critical reviews, and interviews with the composer and her trusted musicians.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Women Composers

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

By exploring the contexts of Saariaho’s studies and work, her approaches to music and composition process, and her works, this book aims to identify the fundamental ingredients of her music—its central elements and aesthetics—as well as to provide insights into how it has come to be such as it is and how...

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1. Biography

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pp. 1-25

As a child, Kaija Laakkonen spent much time alone, partly due to her poor health. She remembers being an overly sensitive child who was fascinated by all kinds of sounds. Her earliest childhood memories are of being ill and looking out at other children playing outside. “I loved the quietness of the house...

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2. Developments

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pp. 26-51

The third period could be called the sound laboratory. During this time, Saariaho worked extensively with computers, analyzing different kinds of sounds and becoming familiar with the possibilities computers offered to her compositions. Her emphasis was more on intellectual studies and computerized music...

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3. Work

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pp. 52-72

Saariaho’s process of composing, as well as her musical production, reflect her personal way of perceiving the world. Different senses intermingle; she senses visual, tactile, and even bodily sensations musically with sounds. Music may also give rise to visual and bodily experiences. She regards this as one of her...

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4. Sounds

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pp. 73-92

If loosely categorized, Saariaho’s works move within those streams of contemporary music that make music “for the ears,” focus on sound quality, employ both electronic and acoustic means of expanding music, and renew musical conventions without opposing them. These streams of contemporary music reflect the...

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5. Dramas

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pp. 93-107

Writing an opera was a natural result of Saariaho’s musical creativity, which draws from multisensory sensations. The visual dimension of her musical imagination and her tendency to become musically inspired by literary texts provided fruitful ground for the creation of staged art. Some of her earlier works have...


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pp. 109-119

Selected Works

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pp. 120

Selected Listening

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pp. 121-122

For Further Reading

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pp. 123


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pp. 125-130

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252091933
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252032776

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Women Composers