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Bergman's style ranged widely, from Romanticism in his early works (many of which he later prohibited from being performed) to modernism and primitivism, among other genres. He won the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1994 for his opera "Det sjungande trädet".
Bergman studied at the Sibelius academy in Helsinki and afterwards with Heinz Tiessen in Berlin and with Wladimir Vogel in Ascona. Since 1963 he has taught composition at the Sibelius academy, besides working until 1978 as a choir conductor. Bergman was considered as a pioneer of the modern music in Finland. Because of his training he was considered as a representative of the avant-garde; he developed for example the twelve-tone techniques of Arnold Schönberg learned from Vladimir Vogel. He composed song cycles, cantatas, a violin concerto, pieces for piano and for organ, a guitar suite, a chamber concert for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, percussion and piano and further chamber works. His “Requiem for a dead poet” (1970) and “Colori ed improvvisazioni” for orchestras (1973) gave him international recognition.