Osmo Vänskä

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Osmo Vänskä
Osmo Vanska in Commons Park 2017-09-19.jpg
Vänskä conducting a concert in Minneapolis in 2017
Background information
Birth nameOsmo Antero Vänskä
Born (1953-02-28) 28 February 1953 (age 69)
Sääminki, Finland
Occupation(s)Conductor, clarinetist, composer
Years active1971–present

Osmo Antero Vänskä (born 28 February 1953) is a Finnish conductor, clarinetist, and composer.[1]


Vänskä started his musical career as an orchestral clarinetist with the Turku Philharmonic (1971–76).[2] He then became the principal clarinet of the Helsinki Philharmonic from 1977 to 1982. During this time, he started to study conducting with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy, where his classmates included Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. In 1982, he won the International Besançon Competition for Young Conductors.

Vänskä became principal guest conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in 1985, and chief conductor in 1988. He concluded his tenure with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in 2008 and is now the orchestra's Conductor Laureate. His complete set of Sibelius symphonies with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, also on the BIS label, has garnered widespread acclaim. He has recorded extensively with the Lahti orchestra for the BIS label, including music by Kalevi Aho, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Bernhard Crusell, Uuno Klami, Tauno Marttinen, Robert Kajanus, Sofia Gubaidulina, Joonas Kokkonen, Jan Sandström, Jean Sibelius, and Fredrik Pacius.

Vänskä was chief conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra from 1993 to 1996. In 1996, he was appointed chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBCSSO), and served in that capacity until 2002. With the BBCSSO, he made recordings of the complete Carl Nielsen symphonies for the BIS label.[3] In June 2014, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra announced the return of Vänskä to the orchestra as its next principal guest conductor, effective with the 2014–2015 season.[4][5]

In 2003, Vänskä became the music director of the Minnesota Orchestra. He and the orchestra have received critical praise, and he is regarded as having enhanced the quality of the orchestra.[6] In 2004, Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra began a five-year project to record the complete Beethoven symphonies on the BIS label.[7] In 2005, Vänskä signed a contract extension with the Minnesota Orchestra through at least 2011. In September 2009, the orchestra announced the extension of Vänskä's contract through the 2014–2015 season.[8] He announced his resignation on 1 October 2013, one year after management locked out the musicians in a longstanding labor dispute.[9] In January 2014 Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra won a Grammy for best orchestral performance for the album of Sibelius' Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4.[10] He was re-appointed music director of the Minnesota Orchestra in April 2014 with a two-year contract,[11] which was extended in May 2015 to last until August 2019.[12] In July 2017, the orchestra announced a further extension of Vänskä's contract through the 2021–2022 season.[13] In December 2018, the orchestra announced that Vänskä is to conclude his music directorship of the Minnesota Orchestra at the close of the 2021-2022 season.[14][15] Vänskä is subsequently scheduled to take the title of conductor laureate with the Minnesota Orchestra.[16]

In May 2008, an orchestral piece composed by Vänskä titled The Bridge was premiered by the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, led by William Schrickel, assistant-principal bassist of the Minnesota Orchestra, with Vänskä in attendance.[17]

In April 2019, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra announces the appointment of Vänskä as its next music director, effective January 2020, with an initial contract of 3 years.[18] Vänskä stood down as music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of 2022.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Vänskä has been married twice. He and his first wife Pirkko, a freelance drama critic, have three grown children, one of whom, Olli, plays violin in the Finnish folk metal band Turisas. The couple separated in 2009.[20] In April 2015, Vänskä married Erin Keefe, concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra.[21] The couple reside in Minneapolis.[15] In private life, one of his hobbies is riding motorcycles.[22]


  1. ^ Tarpila, Laila (28 February 2019). "Levytysten kautta uran luonut kapellimestari Osmo Vänskä amerikkalaistui – Musiikin syntymäpäiväkalenteri" (in Finnish). Yle. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  2. ^ David Patrick Stearns, "Making His Mark: Osmo Vänskä". andante.com (overall site now defunct), February 2004.
  3. ^ Andrew Clements (2005-04-15). "'For my next trick...'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-01-28.
  4. ^ "Osmo Vänskä aðalgestastjórnandi næstu þrjú starfsár" (Press release). Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Sinfóníuhljómsveitar Íslands). 16 June 2014. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  5. ^ Andrew Mellor (2014-07-10). "Principal Guest positions for Vänskä and Stenz". Gramophone. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  6. ^ Jay Nordlinger (15 February 2007). "A Glorious Dawn, in Sound & Spirit". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
  7. ^ James R. Oestreich (17 December 2006). "A Most Audacious Dare Reverberates". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
  8. ^ "Music Director Osmo Vänskä Extends Contract With Minnesota Orchestra" (Press release). Minnesota Orchestra. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  9. ^ Kerr, Euan, Conductor Vanska resigns from Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Public Radio (October 1, 2013)
  10. ^ Jon Bream (24 January 2014). "Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä score a Grammy". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  11. ^ Kerr, Euan. "Vanska has deal to return as Minnesota Orchestra director". MPRnews.org. MPR News. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  12. ^ "Minnesota Orchestra extends contract with Music Director Osmo Vänskä and announces new agreement with musicians" (Press release). Minnesota Orchestra. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  13. ^ "Music Director Osmo Vänskä extends contract with Minnesota Orchestra" (Press release). Minnesota Orchestra. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  14. ^ "Osmo Vänskä Announces Plans to Conclude his Tenure as Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Following 2021-22 Season" (Press release). Minnesota Orchestra. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 2020-05-27.
  15. ^ a b Euan Kerr (2018-12-05). "Minnesota Orchestra's Osmo Vanska to step down in 2022". MPR News. Retrieved 2019-05-04.
  16. ^ David Allen (2022-06-10). "A Conductor's Tumultuous, Invaluable Tenure Ends in Minnesota". The New York Times. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  17. ^ Combs, Marianne (16 May 2008). "Osmo Vanska composes a musical 'bridge'". MPR News. Minneapolis. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  18. ^ "Osmo Vänskä Announced As Music Director of Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra" (Press release). Harrison Parrott. 30 April 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  19. ^ Rob Hubbard (2022-06-03). "'I have done my part'". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  20. ^ Graydon Royce (20 March 2009). "Vanska, wife to end 35-year marriage". Star-Tribune. Minneapolis.
  21. ^ Jon Bream (January 2, 2015). ""Osmo Vänskä announces engagement"". (Minneapolis) StarTribune. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  22. ^ Alex Ross (14 February 2005). "Osmosis". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2006-12-08.


External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by Chief Conductor, Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (artistic advisor)
Preceded by
Petri Sakari
Chief Conductor, Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Petri Sakari
Preceded by Chief Conductor, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Preceded by Music Director, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra
Succeeded by
Jaap van Zweden (designate, effective 2024)