Olli Linjama

Olli Linjama in Martin's Church (Martinkirkko), Turku, Finland (Photo: Aino Tenkanen)

Olli Linjama was born in Jyväskylä, Finland, in 1947. After studies at the Sibelius Academy music university, he worked as lecturer of organ improvisation at the Kuopio conservatorium in 1975-1983, and at the Kuopio Branch of Sibelius Academy in 1983-1995. Subsequently he has been active as a church musician both in Finland (Lohja, Vehmaa) and Sweden (Västerås), currently working as organist for the lutheran parish in the town of Viitasaari in Central Finland.

In the years 1999 through 2003, Linjama focused on working on an extended series of real-time explorations of his own compositional style, using an electric piano and a computer to document the process. The huge, 90-hour corpus of recorded improvisations that grew out of this project has been studied at the University of Turku. Linjama’s improvisation concerts, both on the organ and the piano, have been sporadically recorded but not heretofore published. His written compositions encompass solo songs, choral works, and works for mixed instrumental ensembles, as well as choral arrangements and preludes for liturgical use.

In his own words, Linjama originally chose improvisation as his principal musical orientation in order to understand “the world that is behind the notes”. In response to the question concerning the personal significance that improvisation has to him, the organist replies: “It is composition at the keyboard. I would like to be a creative composer who makes a good work, and at the same time a good performer for the work.”

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