Mälkki trained as a cellist as a pupil of Hannu Kiiski, and later studied conducting with Jorma Panula, as well as Eri Klas and Leif Segerstam, at the Sibelius Academy. She also studied at London's Royal Academy of Music. She participated in a Sibelius Academy Conductor's Workshop at Carnegie Hall in 1998, under the supervision of Panula and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
In 1994, Mälkki won the 1st prize in the Turku National Cello Competition. From 1995 to 1998, she was principal cellist in the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. She left her Gothenburg position to devote herself to conducting. From 2002–2005, she was the music director of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. Her debut with the Ensemble InterContemporain (EIC) was in August 2004, in a program of Harrison Birtwistle at the Lucerne Festival. She became the EIC's Music Director in 2006, the first woman to hold the post, and served as the EIC's music director until 2013. She continues to maintain a residence in Paris. In May 2013, she was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra, with an initial contract of 3 years, effective July 2013. In September 2014, Mälkki was named the next Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, effective autumn 2016, the first woman to be named to this post.
Mälkki is known as a specialist in contemporary music. Her work in contemporary music includes several world premieres and opera productions, such as conducting the Finnish premiere of Thomas Adès' Powder Her Face in 1999, which led to Adès inviting Mälkki to be his assistant for further performances of this opera in the UK, at the Almeida Theatre, where, as she noted, "I ended up conducting some of the performances". She conducted the world premiere of Luca Francesconi's opera "Quartett" at La Scala in Milan in 2011, becoming the first woman ever to conduct an opera production in the history of the house.
Outside of Europe, Mälkki made her New Zealand conducting debut in November 2006 with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Her North American conducting debut was in February 2007 with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Her conducting debut at the BBC Proms was in July 2007, leading the London Sinfonietta. She first guest-conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2010. In April 2016, the orchestra announced her appointment as its next principal guest conductor, effective with the 2017-2018 season, with an initial contract of 3 years. She is the first female conductor to be named to the principal guest conductorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Mälkki has recorded two works of Stuart MacRae for the NMC label, Two Scenes from the Death of Count Ugolino and Motus. With the EIC, she has conducted recordings of music by Bruno Mantovani, Luca Francesconi, Philippe Manoury, Michael Jarrell, Pierre Jodlowski, and Yann Robin, all for the Kairos label.
- Charlotte Higgins (2001-03-22). "In a class of her own". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Andrew Clark, "Idealist with a determined streak." Financial Times, 1 March 2005.
- Allan Kozinn (1998-02-27). "Critic's Notebook: Gestures, Nods and Eyebrows to Inspire Conductors". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Allan Kozinn (2005-06-11). "Arts, Briefly": "On the Conductorial Front". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- "Matthias Pintscher est nommé Directeur musical de l'Ensemble intercontemporain" / "Matthias Pintscher appointed Music Director of the Ensemble intercontemporain" (Press Release). Ensemble InterContemporain, 22 June 2012.
- Guy Dammann (2005-02-06). "Interview: Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki". Financial Times. Retrieved 2016-01-02.
- "Susanna Mälkki Appointed Principal Guest Conductor of Orquestra Gulbenkian" (Press release). Gulbenkian Música. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-30.
- "Susanna Mälkki appointed Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra" (Press release). Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. 1 Sep 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
- Andrew Clements (2001-03-27). "BCMG/Malkki (CBSO Centre, Birmingham)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Alfred Hickling (2002-02-01). "Gribbin premiere (All Saints Church, Newcastle)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Rian Evans (2005-03-08). "BCMG/Malkki (CBSO Centre, Birmingham)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Dart, William (8 November 2006). "Instinctive desire to bring out beauty". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- Garth Wilshere, Review of NZSO, conductor Susanna Mälkki, violin soloist Vadim Repin, Michael Fowler Centre. Capital Times, 8 November 2006.
- Sarah Bryan Miller, "Orchestra sails through a nautical theme". St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4 February 2007.
- Andrew Clements (2007-08-02). "London Sinfonietta/Malkki (review of Prom 25, 2007)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Ivan Hewett (2007-08-01). "BBC Proms review: Epic density and scope". Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-08-04.
- "The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association Appoints Susanna Mälkki As Principal Guest Conductor" (Press release). Los Angeles Philharmonic. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
- Andrew Clements (2006-08-31). "MacRae: Violin Concerto; Two Scenes From the Death of Count Ugolino; Motus, etc, Tetzlaff/ BBCSSO/ Volkov/ Lixenberg/ Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/ Malkki". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Susanna Mälkki.|
- Susanna Mälkki's official website
- Official HarrisonParrott agency biography
- Ensemble InterContemporain French-language biography
- Bilingual interview in French and English on Odb-opera.com
- Henna Salmela, Susanna Mälkki: interpreting Puumala (interview about the composer Veli-Matti Puumala)
- Stuart MacRae, "Violin Concerto". NMC catalog listing, NMC D115.
- David Sawer, Tiroirs et al., NMC catalog listing, NMC D116.
- CocoRosie meets Koninklijk Concertgebouw Orkest with Susanna Mälkki as conductor, 29 April 2008
- Brian Bell, WGBH Radio's Boston Symphony Orchestra producer interviews Susanna Mälkki, February 2011
Ole Kristian Ruud
|Music Director, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
|Chief Conductor, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra