Unto Mononen

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Unto Mononen
Unto Mononen 1959.jpg
Unto Mononen (1959)
Background information
Birth name Uuno Mononen
Born (1930-10-23)October 23, 1930
Muolaa, Finland
Died June 28, 1968(1968-06-28) (aged 37)
Somero, Finland
Genres Finnish tango
Years active 1950-1968

Unto Mononen (October 23, 1930, Muolaa – June 28, 1968, Somero) was a Finnish songwriter and musician. He is best known for his numerous tango compositions including the famous Finnish tango song, "Satumaa". His first name was originally Uuno.

Biography[edit]

Mononen is often said to come from Somero, but was actually from Muolaa and did not come to Somero until the Second World War was over and Muolaa was conquered by the Soviet Union. Mononen studied church music in the University of Turku. He quit these studies since he felt he did not learn anything important. As a composer he was self-taught. Mononen began his musical career by singing with local dance groups while he was under 20. After a failed operation to his adenoids damaged his voice, Mononen started to compose.

In 1950, Mononen first successfully sold his songs to a record company. The first song recorded was "Pieni laulu" ("A small song"), a waltz sung by Pentti Halme. In 1955 Henry Theel recorded the famous "Satumaa" to some success, but the song's status wasn't cemented until seven years later, in 1962, when Reijo Taipale recorded it.

Playing guitar with his own band in 1959

Other famous tangos by Mononen include "Tähdet meren yllä" ("Stars above the Sea"), "Lapin Tango ("The Tango of Lappland"), "Erottamattomat" ("Inseparables"), "Kangastus" ("The Mirage"), "Kaipuuni Tango" ("The Tango of my Longing"), "Kohtalon Tango" ("The Tango of Destiny") and "Yön Hiljaisuudessa" ("In the Silence of Night"). Of these, the last two became better known when another famous musician from Somero, singer Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki, recorded them. Singer Esko Rahkonen also worked with the composer in the 1960s.

One of the most well known figures in Finnish popular culture, provocative entertainer M. A. Numminen had played drums in Mononen's band. Later Numminen asked Mononen to compose a humorous tango to his lyrics. Mononen answered that for Numminen, he would write a tango even to the words of a phone book. From this collaboration, the song "Naiseni kanssa eduskuntatalon puistossa" ("With my Woman at the Park of the Parliament House") was born.

During his later years, Mononen suffered from alcoholism and eventually shot himself with a pistol on June 28, 1968. He was 37 years old.