Jorma Panula

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Jorma Panula
Jorma Panula in 2009
Born (1930-08-10) 10 August 1930 (age 84)
Kauhajoki, Finland
Other names Jorma Juhani Panula
Occupation conductor, composer

Jorma Panula (born 10 August 1930 in Kauhajoki) is a Finnish conductor, composer, and teacher of conducting.

Panula was the artistic director and chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra from 1963 to 1965, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra from 1965 to 1972 and the Aarhus Symphony from 1973 to 1976. He has also conducted his own opera Jaakko Ilkka at the Finnish National Opera.

Jorma Panula has served as Professor of Conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki from 1973 to 1994 and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.[1]

Panula has had great influence on the world of conducting through teaching. His has been called the "hidden hand" behind the extraordinary succession of fine conductors that came out of Finland. His students include Esa-Pekka Salonen (now in Los Angeles), Mikko Franck (now in Belgium and at the Finnish National Opera), Sakari Oramo (who succeeded Simon Rattle in Birmingham, England), Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Osmo Vänskä (currently in Minnesota). Also his students are Ari Rasilainen, John Storgårds, Hannu Lintu, Eeva Ollikainen, Susanna Mälkki, Tuomas Ollila (Hannikainen), Pietari Inkinen, Olari Elts, Stefan Solyom, Rolf Gupta, Jani Telaranta, Maria Badstue, Tuomas Rousi, Jan Söderblom, Kari Tikka, Atso Almila, Markus Lehtinen, Jukka Iisakkila, Juha Nikkola, Petri Sakari, Dmitri Slobodeniouk, Tibor Bogányi, Sasha Mäkilä, Esa Heikkilä.[2]

Panula studied church music and conducting at the Sibelius Academy. His teachers have been: Leo Funtek, Dean Dixon, Albert Wolff and Franco Ferrara. Apart from conducting, he has composed a wide variety of music. His operas Jaakko Ilkka and the River Opera established a genre entitled "performance opera" for its fusion of music, visual art and the art of daily life. Panula's other compositions include musicals, church music, a violin concerto, jazz capriccio and numerous pieces of vocal music.

He now teaches conducting courses all over the world including Paris, London, Amsterdam, Moscow, New York, Tanglewood, Aspen, Ottawa and Sydney. He has limited his podium appearances greatly during the past ten years.

Conductor and pedagogue Jorma Panula is listed in the BBC Music Magazine league-table of the "60 most powerful people in music", featured in the November issue year 2000. Panula was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in 1997.

In March 2014, Panula provoked an outcry by declaring on Finnish television that women lacked the ability to succeed as conductors. 'It's purely a biological question,' he said. His former student Esa-Pekka Salonen replied by Twitter: ‘Conducting is about skill, not biology. There is no reason why women cannot do it equally well or better.’[3]


Preceded by
Ole Edgren
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Paavo Rautio
Preceded by
Tauno Hannikainen
Music Director, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Paavo Berglund
Preceded by
Per Dreier
Principal Conductor, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Ole Schmidt