Einojuhani Rautavaara (b. 1928) has often said, modifying a well-known quote: “A young composer who is not a Modernist has no heart; an old composer who is a Modernist has no head.” He has practiced what he preaches: his extensive output traces a beautiful arc from the combative experimentalism of youth to the serene wisdom of old age.
Rautavaara’s earliest works, dating from the late 1940s and early 1950s, are couched in Neo-Classicism, the then mainstream style in Finnish concert music. In the 1950s, his idiom began to acquire a sharper edge with his transition to a more Modernist style, including the adoption of twelve-tone technique. One of the first manifestations of this in his output was the orchestral work Modificata (1957). Moving on from dodecaphony and serialism, he sought a different approach in the 1960s and eventually ended up with a synthetic style that could be described as Neo-Romantic, the idiom of his late works. His percussion concerto Incantations (2008) and second cello concerto Towards the Horizon (2009) are fine examples of this period.