Friday, February 04, 2005

What's up in Finland?

Alex Ross's posting on Sibelius and other matters Finnish has sö mäny umläuts in it that it lööks like än Ikea cätälögue.

Regardless, even though I'm not Drew MacManus, whose response to Alex I haven't read yet, I'm willing to take a shot at figuring out what's up in Finland, where an exceptionally high percentage of the residents attend classical music concerts.

The N. Y. Times had an article about music and music education in Finland a couple of years ago. I spent 20 minutes sifting through their archive trying to find it, without success. The rest of what I'll write here combines what I remember with what I can find on the Web about classical music in Finland.

I recall that there is high-quality music education available for all children in the Finnish schools; that a very high percentage of Finns learn to play an instrument; that many sing in choruses. There are 9 music conservatories in Finland - a country of 10 million. (Certainly the US has hundreds or thousands of departments of music at colleges and universities, but I don't think we have anything like one per million conservatories, or 300 conservatories.)

I found lots of interesting Web pages about music in Finland, among them:

Finnish Ministry of Education page on music education in Finland

Finnish Music Information Centre

Finnish Amateur Musicians' Association

Finland is also, most emphatically, not the United States. It is a much more culturally and ethnically homogenous country; it is not a country where there is reflexive suspicion of government funding for the arts or reflexive hatred of taxation for the collective good. What works there would need major cultural translation to work here.

And now off to read Drew's response to Alex.

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