Selim Palmgren

~ Person


Selim Gustaf Adolf Palmgren (16 February 1878, Pori – 13 December 1951, Helsinki), dubbed "The Finnish Chopin", was a Finnish composer, pianist, and conductor. Palmgren was born in Pori, Finland, February 16, 1878. He studied at the Conservatory in Helsinki from 1895 to 1899, then continued his piano studies in Berlin with Ansorge, Berger and Busoni. He conducted choral and orchestral societies in his own country and made several very successful concert tours as a pianist in the principal cities of Finland and Scandinavia, appearing also as a visiting conductor. In 1921, he went to the United States, where he taught composition at the Eastman School of Music, later returning to Finland.

He wrote music in larger forms such as Piano Concertos, a Sonata in D minor, symphonic works, and operas. It was in his shorter piano pieces, and his songs, however – as an inimitable miniaturist – that he achieved his best. He knew how to present a mood or a picture with the minimum of means and the maximum of effect. His "May Night" is a little masterpiece of impressionism, his "Guilty Conscience" (in "Finnish Rhythms") an amazing study in musical psychology. The "Bird-Song" and "Refrain de Berceau," (Cradle Song) played everywhere by Benno Moiseiwitsch with such marked success, accomplish wonders in concentrated characterization. His songs breathe the melancholy of the North, but also its austere beauty and grandeur.

His piece Night in May, No.4 from Toukokuu, Op.27, Was on the ABRSM Grade 7 Piano 2015-2016 syllabus.

An incomplete works list (elaborated by Joel Valkila):

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1991 Songs for male choir (Amici Cantus feat. conductor: Hannu Norjanen) Selim Palmgren 1
1992 Piano Concertos 1 & 4 / Pictures From Finland Selim Palmgren; Eero Heinonen, Juhani Lagerspetz, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Jacques Mercier 1
2000 Piano Music Selim Palmgren; Risto Lauriala 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1994 Finnish Orchestral Classics Jean Sibelius, Armas Järnefelt, Erkki Melartin, Selim Palmgren, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Heikki Aaltoila, Heino Kaski, Leevi Madetoja, Uuno Klami 2

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