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Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho dies in Paris of glioblastoma of the brain.

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (Helsinki, 1952-Paris, 2023) died Friday morning at her home in Paris, her family said in a statement on Facebook. Saariaho was 70 years old at the time of her death. According to the family, Saariaho suffered from a glioblastoma-type brain tumour, which was quickly recognised as fatal and not curable. However, Saariaho’s cognitive abilities were not affected by the tumours that grew until the terminal stage of the disease, the family says. Saariaho kept knowledge of the disease private. She wanted to stay positive and focus on her work.

Saariaho was Finland’s most internationally renowned composer and one of the most successful composers in the world today. In 2021, for example, the year her last opera, Innocence, was premiered, The New York Times voted her “best composer of the year”. Last year, his seventieth birthday was celebrated in Finland throughout the year, with various concerts and performances throughout the country. Saariaho’s catalogue includes more than 100 works for orchestra, stage and chamber music, among them the operas Kaukainen rakkaus [known for its French title, L’Amour de Loin], Adriana Mater, Emilie, Only The Sound Remains, Innocence and the oratorio La Passion de Simone. The composer has received numerous awards, including a Grammy in 2011 for her recording of L’Amour de Loin with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, and in 2021 she received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale. In March this year, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö awarded Saariaho the title of Academician of the Arts, which is granted on the recommendation of the Finnish Arts Council to an artist of outstanding merit.

© Photograph by Priska Ketterer downloaded from the composer’s website.