Palmgren, Selim


Palmgren, Selim

Der Fluss, Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 33

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Selim Palmgren – Der Fluss (piano concerto)

(b . Pori, Finland, 16 February 1878 – d. Helsinki, Finland, 13 December 1951)

Salim Gustaf Adolf Palmgren was a composer, pianist, and conductor born in Pori, Finland. In 1895, 17-year-old Palmgren enrolled in the Helsinki Music Institute. During his time at the Institute, he attended a concert by Italian pianist and composer, Ferruccio Busoni (1866–1924). Busoni was world-renowned for his skill as a musician and left a lasting and life-changing imprint on Palmgren, who later shared that after experiencing Busoni’s performance, “The only thing that I, just a greenhorn beginner, grasped was that supreme, phenomenal piano playing such as that was something I would never even come close to achieving. Yet, that evening was to be decisive to my development into a musician. I decided to become a pianist and – possibly – a composer, too.” From a young age, it was clear that Palmgren was extremely dedicated to music and it was his dedication that set him apart from others in his class.

In 1899, Palmgren was invited to study in Berlin under Busoni. While it is unclear when or what his first composition was, he started to compose more frequently during his time in Berlin. A common theme throughout all his work was the stylistic choice of impressionism; that is, to capture a feeling of a particular moment. With impressionism, the clarity of structure and theme is subordinate to harmonic effects, characteristically using the whole-tone scale. His mentor Busoni was also known for writing in that musical style. Palmgren composed over 300 songs for piano, Some of his most famous pieces are Spring, op. 27, 24 Preludes, op. 17, and Three-scene Nocturne, op. 72. Palmgren also composed the six-act opera, Daniel Hjort, which he completed in 1909 and then revised in 1938. This opera told the story of a Scandinavian scribe during the reign of Swedish King Charles IX. Many of Palmgren’s compositions included Scandinavian elements. These pieces, along with Der Fluss, helped cement Palmgren in history as a great Finish composer. In 1923, he moved to Rochester, NY to teach composition at the Eastman School of Music for four years before moving back to Finland to teach at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki until his death in 1851, at age 73. …


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