Helsinki (Finland), 1952

Kaija Saariaho studied composition under Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy and later at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg with Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber, receiving her diploma there in 1983. In 1982, she had attended courses in computer music at Ircam in Paris, where she lives since. From that time, computer has been an important element of her composing technique. She achieved international reputation with such works as Verblendungen (1982-84) or Nymphéa (1987) for string quartet and electronics, a commission from the Lincoln Center for the Kronos Quartet. Saariaho has also taken part in a number of multimedia productions such as the full-length ballet Maa (1991) and a pan-European collaborative project to produce a CD-ROM Prisma about her life and work. In 1999 Saariaho completed a major work for chorus and orchestra, Oltra mar, which was premiered by the New York Philharmonic and Kurt Masur on November 11th 1999, as part of their millennium series of commissions. These last three projects point to Kaija Saariaho’s next major work: her first opera, L’amour de loin, a co-commission from the Salzburg Festival and Théâtre du Châtelet that was premiered on August 15th 2000 at the Salzburg Festival. The libretto was written by the French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf and the opera directed by Peter Sellars, with Kent Nagano conducting the Orchestra of SWR Baden-Baden.