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Fredrik Pacius (3/19/1809 - 1/08/1891)

Fredrik (Friedrich) Pacius was born on 19 March 1809 in Hamburg. He Pacius studied composition and the violin in his native Germany. He went on to join the Court Orchestra in Stockholm and finally became teacher of music at the University of Helsinki (1835–69). In Helsinki, he combined and improved the budding musical life of the city, conducted choirs and orchestras and organized hundreds of concerts on a grand scale. The title of ‘Father of Finnish Music’ bestowed on him is no exaggeration in view of his accomplishments. Not only was he a teacher and a performer, he was also a composer and a poet. The premiere production of the opera Kaarle kuninkaan metsstys (The Hunt of King Charles) in 1852 was a milestone in the history of Finnish music: it was the first grand opera written in Finland, even if the libretto by Topelius was in Swedish. A Finnish translation was provided by Jalmari Finne at the turn of the century.

Pacius was thoroughly grounded in German Romanticism, which he continued to uphold in his later works for the stage, Kypron prinsessa (Princess of Cyprus) and Loreley. Pacius also contributed to national sentiments in Finland through his settings of poems by the national poet Runeberg, including ‘Maamme’ (Our land), today Finland’s national anthem, ‘Suomen laulu’ (Finland’s song) and ‘Sotilaspoika’ (Soldier boy).

He died on 8 January 1891 in Helsinki.



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