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Obscure Music Monday: Hannikainen's Ilta

Toivo Ilmari Hannikainen (Oct. 19, 1892 - July 25, 1955) was a Finnish composer, born in to a musical family. His father Pekka Junani Hannikainen was a composer, as was his  brother Väinö Hannikainen; his other brother Tauno Hannikainen was a conductor. Ilmari studied music at the University of Helsinki, and went on to study in Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Paris. He taught piano at the Helsinki Conservatory, and was later a professor at the Sibelius Academy. 

Many Finnish composers around this time were late Romanticists, but Hannikainen's music was more along the lines of Impressionism. He wrote opera, lieder, and film scores, but his piano miniatures are what he's best known for.  Iltatranslated as "evening", is a wonderfully calm work for solo piano. The pianist doesn't get to relax too much though, as the right hand part is a near constant line of sixteenth notes that help not only create the harmonic progression, but help set the mood. Despite the constant movement, the melodic line helps establish that tranquil feeling that emanates throughout the entire work, from the quiet lines through to the dynamic swells.

Here's a recording of this work for you to enjoy!

Izumi Tateno

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