On person

Since the 1970's Jukka Tiensuu (born in Helsinki, 1948) has been a leading exponent of new music in Finland. He pursued musical studies at the Sibelius Academy, the Juilliard School, the Freiburg Hoch­schule für Musik, Paris IRCAM, and other musical institutions. Not only a prolific composer over the widest range of musical media, Tiensuu is an eminent harpsichordist, a conductor, and pianist as well.

Jukka Tiensuu's concert appearances have taken him to the North America, to Asia, and to most countries of Europe, and he has often performed free improvisations with many of the international names in the field. He has led courses in several countries on Baroque music and the music of our time.

Just as Tiensuu's repertoire as performer is exceptionally broad, extending from the late Renaissance to the contemporary, his compositional output extends from works for folk instruments to choral and orchestral compositions, and from pieces for accordion ensemble or clarinet orchestra to electronic and computer music. Digital technology is indeed an integral component of his work, and he has built a custom studio for himself as an idiosyncratic response to his extensive institutional experience at such centers as IRCAM, MIT, and UCSD.

Jukka Tiensuu's influence on the contemporary Finnish music scene is virtually beyond compare. - FMQ 1/2007

Jukka Tiensuu is a universal musician. He embraces the concept of the timelessness of art and of music as an essential component of a universal cosmology; on the other hand, he shows a consciousness of the means and channels through which the innermost depths of music can be probed. - Harri Suilamo (Musicfinland) 1995

As a composer, Jukka Tiensuu has long been leaping from peak to peak in a trail of enchantingly radiant, masterly-crafted works. Despite being a leading contemporary Finnish composer, he does not wish to be associated too directly with his music and has for years refused to provide programme notes or in general to comment on his role as a com­poser. Instead, he lets the music speak for itself and leaves the joy of discovery to the listener. The names of his works provide telling indicators to the worlds which they inhabit and are as a rule deliberately ambiguous.

When Jukka Tiensuu first began making a name for himself as a composer in the 1970s, he soon became one of the spearheads of the Modernist vanguard. His works have, among other things, explored micro-inter­vals, aleatory, open or changing forms, serialism, elec­tronics, computer-aided composition and the potential of instrumental theatre. From the 1980s onwards many of his compositions acquired a new material clarity, a lack of constraint and a musicianly approach, but he still has a partiality for experiment - as Picasso might say, not searching but finding.

Tiensuu has heeded his musical vocation over a broad front and in addition to composing has distinguished himself as a harpsichordist, pianist, conductor, teacher, essayist and arts administrator. Being a man of many talents, he has thus been a major influence on the Finnish contemporary music scene. His pathbreaking work was particularly significant in the 1970s, when he was fighting the prevailing conservative values and thus paving the way for the rise of contemporary Finnish music the following decade. - Kimmo Korhonen (Musicfinland)

We know Jukka Tiensuu is a composer who has no desire either to speak or to write about his music. We know that the important thing is, in his opinion, not the creator of a work of art but the work itself. We also know that he keeps a close watch on the world of music, explores cultures both familiar and alien, listens, performs, and has a curious fascination for the unknown. Is he the best-kept secret in Finnish music, and one who could, with a mere modicum of marketing, be one of the most sought-after contemporary composers?

He travels all roads, acknowledges no taboos, is interested in and eruditely aware of what others have done. If any of our Finnish composers is a loner, a filter indifferent to trends and isms through whom the music of all eras flows in an unbroken stream, then that composer is Jukka Tiensuu. His idea of avant-garde is not to go further than others but to head in a different direction. - Risto Nieminen, FMQ 3/2007