Paavo Allan Engelbert Berglund OBE (Helsinki, 14 April 1929 – Helsinki, 25 January 2012) was a Finnish conductor and violinist.
Born in Helsinki, Berglund studied the violin as a child, and played an instrument made by his grandfather. By age 15, he had decided on music as his career, and by 18 was playing in restaurants. During the Second World War, Berglund worked at the iron factories in Billnäs. Children were moved out of Helsinki during heavy stages of the war. His professional career as a violinist began in 1946, playing the whole summer at the Officers Mess (Upseerikasino) in Helsinki. He already had played in dance orchestras in 1945. Formal study took place in Helsinki at the Sibelius Academy, in Vienna and in Salzburg. He was a violinist in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (http://www.yle.fi/rso) from 1949–1958 in the 1st violin section, unique among the instrumentalists in being accommodated for seating to account for the fact that he was left-handed.
In a radio interview made of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE (http://www.yle.fi) in 2002, Berglund explains how he heard the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on their tour in Helsinki with Wilhelm Furtwängler and was very impressed. Shortly after that he left for Vienna to study. He had many friends both in the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestras, and could attend rehearsal and recording sessions. One particular recording session he remembers is when he was present one evening when Furtwängler recorded Schumann's Manfred Overture and Smetana's Moldau at the Musikverein in Vienna. Another conductor that he was very impressed with was Hans Knappertsbusch.
Berglund's conducting career began in 1949, when he founded his own chamber orchestra. In 1953, Berglund co-founded the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra (partly inspired by the Boyd Neel Orchestra). In 1955, he was appointed Associate Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and served as chief conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1962 to 1971. Berglund became music director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (http://www.hel.fi/hki/HKO/en/Etusivu) in 1975 and held the post for 4 seasons. He was also conductor of the mixed voice choir of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki, The Academic Choral Society (Akateeminen Laulu, AL. http://www.akateeminenlaulu.fi) from 1959-1961.
Berglund attained notoriety as a strict orchestral disciplinarian due to his ruthless rehearsals and dedication to musical perfection. As a conductor Berglund often went beyond the printed score in the music of Jean Sibelius and others to improve on what he believed were weaknesses, especially in orchestration, color and balance. Most orchestras he conducted responded well to his no-nonsense approach. He was tireless in studying, preparing and rehearsing. He almost always came to the orchestra with his own materials he had corrected and bowed by his own hand. He would then mark highly detailed instructions on the sheet music of each individual musician.
Berglund would certainly not always agree with composers, he felt comfortable in elaborating any nuances he considered important but which the composers had not highlighted. He believed in details: “I think we have already had our fill of mushy recordings", Berglund noted in an interview by FMQ (Finnish Music Quarterly) in 1999.
In the UK, Berglund led Sibelius Centenary Concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1965, and became their principal conductor in 1972, concluding his tenure in Bournemouth in 1979. Berglund led the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with distinction between 1972 and 1979, significantly raising its performing standards, as can be heard from the many recordings made by it for EMI during this period. He also served as principal guest conductor of the Scottish National Orchestra, from 1981 to 1985. Berglund resigned from both the Helsinki and Bournemouth orchestras in 1979. More noticed in his native Finland was the fact that he had seemed to give up his dictatorial ways. In 1996, he was quoted as saying, "The rise in the standard of Finnish orchestras has been quite incredible...young musicians play so much better than their predecessors did." He said that his aim all along was simply to make Finnish orchestras among the best in the world.
Guest engagements saw Berglund conducting all the major North American and European orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the St Petersburg and Moscow Philharmonics, the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestras. Berglund was also a member of the Russian National Orchestra's conductor collegium.
Berglund made his New York debut in 1978 with the American Symphony Orchestra at the Carnegie Hall, in a concert of Shostakovich and Sibelius. From the 1990s he become a regular guest conductor in the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Berglund made over 100 recordings. In an interview for the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (http://www.hs.fi) in 2009, Berglund said when asked about his recordings, that the Smetana recording with the Dresden Staatskapelle is probably the best, since this was the best of the orchestras that he made recordings with.
Berglund did opera a few times. To mention the most important opera projects are Beethoven's Fidelio with Finnish National Opera in Helsinki in 2000 (with Karita Mattila, Matti Salminen, Jaakko Ryhänen) and Nielsen's Maskerade in Copenhagen.
Paavo Berglund told in a radio interview for the conductor Atso Almila, made on occasion for the 75th anniversary in 2002 of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, that he had the closest relation and friendship of contemporary Finnish composers to Joonas Kokkonen (1921-1996). The collaboration was very strong. He championed his music as much as possible and also helped him during the difficult times in life. He commissioned many of Kokkonen's works.
Berglund was also the first conductor in the early years, alongside with Jukka-Pekka Saraste, for the Finnish Chamber Orchestra (http://www.finnchamber.fi) founded in 1990. The orchestra does not serve as a primary job for anyone, but rather as an instrument to gather top musicians to work together in an exquisite ensemble where art and quality come before routine. The orchestra consists of concertmasters and principals from leading Finnish orchestras such as the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Finnish National Opera, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Avanti! and Lahti Symphony Orchestra.
Berglund also conducted the Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra on a few occasions (http://orso.siba.fi/en/studies/symphony_orchestra).Continue reading at Wikipedia... Wikipedia content provided under the terms of the Creative Commons BY-SA license
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