Jaakko Linjama in Profile
by Kimmo Korhonen :: 2000
Jaakko Linjama (Äänekoski, May 16, 1909 - Jyväskylä, May 2, 1983) emerged as a composer at a fairly advanced age. He was a primary school teacher, and he did not begin to study composition with Aarre Merikanto until fairly late in life. His studies with Eino Roiha were also important, since Linjama himself stated that this was what opened his ears to modern music. Jaakko Linjama’s son Jouko Linjama (b. 1934) and grandson Jyrki Linjama (b. 1962) are also composers.
Jaakko Linjama’s breakthrough work was Olympiahymni (Olympic hymn, 1952) for choir and orchestra. It won the composition competition organized for the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. Works for choir and orchestra subsequently formed the major part of his output. He also wrote some instrumental pieces, solo songs and choral pieces. He also edited collections of sacred tunes.
Along the lines of Schönberg, Berg and Orff
Jaakko Linjama’s music is usually tonally oriented, but he also makes use of more modern resources. His style has been described as ‘moderate Modernism’. In an autobiographical essay in Suomen säveltäjiä II (Finnish composers), Linjama names Schönberg’s oratorio Die Jakobsleiter and certain (unspecified) works by Alban Berg and Carl Orff as his major influences: “Their ingenuous idiom felt close to me; this was the idiom I had sought all my life yet had never achieved it.” At the same time, he says that “the resources of dodecaphony and electronic music have profoundly affected how I write music.”
Translation © Jaakko Mäntyjärvi