Digelius Music is a record shop and internet retailer located in Viiskulma, Helsinki, Finland. It has been functioning in more or less the same place since 1971. Officially its business is "retail of music and video recordings." There are several record shops in the same or neighbouring blocks.
History of the record store
Digelius Music had its beginnings in 1971. At that time, the future CEO of the record store, Emu Lehtinen was working in another record shop in Helsinki, Tunnelin levy. Lehtinen together with record importer Pertti Lehto and co-employee Tiina Ruolanne got the idea of founding their own record store. Digelius Electronics Finland, known for its owner, inventor Erkki Kurenniemi, invested in some of the shares as well. Kurenniemi had founded Digelius Electronics Finland together with Peter Frisk, with the aim of producing electronic instruments. They were known e.g. for the Dimi synthesizer.
Digelius Music had a successful start, but then Tiina Ruolanto moved to Sweden, and Digelius Electronics Finland went bankrupt. Now Juhani "Juntsa" Aalto came to the rescue and bought have of the shares of the record store. The shop was now owned by Lehtinen, Aalto, and three minor shareholders. Aalto's shares were later inherited by his sister. Now the name Digelius only survives in the name of this record shop. The word Digelius is an amalgam of the words digital and Sibelius.
Digelius Music was originally located on a street called Laivurinrinne, at the Viiskulma corner, in the same space which is now occupied by the record store Eronen. One morning in the 1990s, Lehtinen noticed that the sports store at the corner of Laivurinrinne and Fredrikinkatu had disappeared. Having thought about this for one night, he went into a bank and took a sizable loan. Since then Digelius Music has existed at this corner, the heart of the Viiskulma corner.
Digelius Music today
It has been said that Digelius is one of the best known record stores in Finland. In the early days, all kinds of popular music was sold in the store, but since the 1980s, it has concentrated in jazz, jazz fusion, folk music and world music. It is also said that Digelius Music is an information center for jazz and world music, an in addition to this, it is occasionally a concert space and even a tourist attraction. One person writes about the store in the internet with the following words:
|“||Digelius Music is a strange place. I moved some six years ago from Oulu to Helsinki. That is, I moved to the city that is famous for Digelius Music. That is how far the fame of this record store at Viiskulma had travelled. For me it represented the wide world, specialization, a small target audience, everything that is important in a big city: the possibility of existence for things that are smaller than a small town.||”|
This writer tested the expertise of the store by asking about Azerbaidjani jazz. Soon the bearded man working in the store brought to him a pile of records to listen to. And he even seemed to enjoy this "inquiry that was goddam difficult.”
In addition to selling records, live jazz can be heard in Digelius Music on occasion. These are usually record launch events. For example, in 2014, the pianist Iiro Rantala has had such a concert at Digelius. In 2012 Digelius Music was awarded the Varjo-Yrjö ('Shadow Yrjö') award.
In the 1980s, Digelius also published records, at least those of Hasse Walli's Afro-Line.
Well known employees
The best known person working in Digelius was Ilkka "Emu" Lehtinen, who is also the CEO of the record shop. In 2011, the Finnish Jazz Musicians' Association gave him the award "Jazz Digger of the Year". This award is given to a jazz listener, who "shows genuine and lasting interest in jazz music and represents a decent and open-minded community spirit". In addition, it was said that Lehtinen has acted as an encompassing and encouraging flag bearer for jazz music and as a person who brings musicians and their audiences together. The nickname "Emu" comes from Lehtinen's hobby, birdwatching.
Another important employee in the past was Phillip Page, an ex-patriate Texan, who worked at Digelius Music from 1987 on. He concentrated in providing the store with encompassing selections in world music, while Lehtinen's turf was jazz. In the early 1990s Page began to work as manager for various Finnish folk and world music acts, such as the JPP, Maria Kalaniemi and Värttinä. Nowadays he works as the manager for Kimmo Pohjonen.
According to Emu Lehtinen,
|“||the secret behind Digelius' long history is an unfathomable love for music, a diligent study of the history of music, an uncompromising and open attitude toward the ever-enticing marginal styles outside the mainstream of music styles, whether it be of jazz, folk music, outrageous experiments or just musical experiences fantastic for other reasons. Hard work and customer service that strives for the best are also essential ingredients of our success||”|
- "Digelius Music Oy/Kauppalehti" [Digelius Music Inc/Kauppalehti]. Kauppalehti (in Finnish). Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- Oinaala, Sampsa (15 July 2014). "Levykauppias avaa levyhyllynsä" [Record shop CEO opens up his record shelf]. Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- Rannikko, Petri. "Viiskulman levykaupat" [Record shops in Viiskulma] (in Finnish). Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- Luukka, Teemu (30 January 2010). "Helsinki on levydiggarin paratiisi" [Helsinki is a paradise for record diggers]. Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma.
- Kallionpää, Katri (9 July 2011). "Emu saa pienen kukoistamaan. Ilkka "Emu" Lehtisen Digelius Music on myynyt levyjä tasan 40 vuoden ajan. Kauppa on jazzin rakastajien kohtaamispaikka" [Emu is able to make small things flourish. Digelius Music of Ilkka "Emu" Lehtinen is the meeting place for jazz lovers]. Helsingin Sanomat. Sanoma: B 1.
- Tuominen, Harri (15 July 2014). "Harri Tuomisen maailmanmusiikkiohjelma, vieraana Digelius-levykaupan vetäjä Ilkka "Emu" Lehtinen" [Harri Tuominen's World Music program, with guest appearance of Ilkka "Emu" Lehtinen, head of the Digelius Music record store]. Yle Radio 1 (in Finnish). YLE. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- Pauli T. (3 June 2012). "Digelius" (in Finnish). yelp.fi. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- "Vuoden 2012 Varjo-Yrjön saa Digelius Music" [The Shadow Yrjö for 2012 is awarded to Digelius Music] (in Finnish). YLE. 28 October 2012. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- Kuiskaaja (8 March 2014). "Flyygeli mahtui kuin mahtuikin Digeliukseen" [A grand piano somehow fit through the front door of Digelius]. Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
- "Levykauppias Emu Lehtinen valittiin vuoden jazzdiggariksi" [Record store owner Emu Lehtinen was chosen as "The Jazz Digger of the Year"]. Helsingin Sanomat. Sanoma: C 1. 3 June 2011.
- Uusitorppa, Harri (20 June 2013). "Loistavat levyt houkuttelivat Suomeen. Texasilainen levykauppias Phillip Page muutti Suomeen ja ryhtyi musiikkimanageriksi" [Fantastic records brought him to Finland. Texas record dealer Phillip Page moved to Finland and took up a career of music manager]. Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish): C 12.
- Hätinen, Jukka (19 July 2014). "Levykauppa Digelius Music täyttää 43 vuotta – Kuuntele Emu Lehtisen kesätärpit!" [Digelius Music record store turns 43 – listen to a song selection recommended by Emu Lehtinen for your summer listening]. rytmi.com (in Finnish). Rytmi. Retrieved 2014-08-21.