Thursday, January 26, 2012

PAAVO BERGLUND, April 14 1929 - January 25 2012

Sad news today that the Finnish conductor Paavo Berglund has died at the age of 82. I heard him many times and will long remember his strange, elf-like figure presiding over intense and alert Tchaikovsky and especially revelatory accounts of Sibelius symphonies.

Below is his official biography. And [UPDATE] an obituary from The Telegraph here.

Paavo Berglund has over a long time been associated with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in his native Finland. He has been Principal Conductor of the Stockholm Philharmonic (1987 - 1991) and of the Royal Orchestra in Copenhagen (1993 - 1996). 
In England where he was Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 1972 - 1979 he works closely with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and toured Europe with the BBC Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra. 
He conducted many of Europeans most renowned orchestras including Berlin Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre National de France. He closely works with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe; with the latter he performed all symphonies of Sibelius at the Helsinki Festival. 
In North America he worked with the Minnesota, Baltimore and St. Louis Orchestras, Boston Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra Washington and Cleveland Orchestra. 
Paavo Berglund repeatedly recorded the complete Sibelius symphonies: for EMI with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and a third time with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for Finlandia/Warner Bros. With the Royal Danish Orchestra he recorded all symphonies of Nielsen for BMG/RCA Victor Red Seal and, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and the Overture “1812” for BMG/Classic FM. 
Among the many honours his recordings received is a "Grammy" award nomination for his EMI world premiere recording of Sibelius' Kullervo symphony; the recording of the Nielsen symphonies was awarded the "Diapason d'Or". His distinguished discography also includes works of Shostakovich, Smetana and Dvorák. 

UPDATE: The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's PR has sent through this tribute from the players:

“Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is sad to hear of the loss of its Conductor Emeritus Paavo Berglund, its Principal Conductor from 1972-1979.  Berglund’s performances and recordings of Sibelius with the BSO are legendary and his death was announced as the Orchestra played Sibelius Symphony No.5   with Kirill Karabits, who himself worked with Paavo in Budapest. The music parts used by the Orchestra are the ones used by Paavo himself, and the Orchestra dedicated its concert last night in Cheltenham, and its concert tonight at Portsmouth Guildhall (27 January 2012), to his memory.
"Roger Preston, Co Principal Cello, who worked with Paavo on many occasions, said ‘Anyone who played with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in Kerimäki Church, Finland, as part of the BSO’s 1981 tour will tell that it was a truly unforgettable experience.  On this tour we played all the Sibelius Symphonies, with Paavo on spectacular form. Many of Paavo’s comments, criticisms and demands are as fresh in my mind as though it were only yesterday. He remains, for me, one of the best, if not the best conductor that I have ever played for, and I am so grateful to have caught the latter days of Paavo’s extraordinarily fruitful relationship with the BSO.’”