Sodan Soutumies

by Atso Almila

A symphonic poem for baritone and orchestra

The Oarsman of the War

Empty sheet

Atso Almila

Sodan Soutumies

Music Finland


The text tells about an imaginary "soldat" Antti, a rider, commanded to be an oarsman on board Starkotter, a hemmema-class coastal sailship of the Swedish Navy in 1790 and thus to join the second, defining Battle of Svensksund.

During the battle he sees the Russian archipelago frigate Svjatoi Nikolaj sink and wonders why the 24-year old British Captain Marshall didn't lower his flag which resulted to the death of hundreds of men.

Antti himself doesn't survive and ponders later as a ghost the senseless war between Gustaf the Third and Catherine the Great.

In the work there are some citations of a Victory Menuet composed by Gustaf himself on the coastal cliffs and also from a march by Carl Michael Bellman, "Gustafs Skål".

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To the writing of the text I got valuable help from professor and war historian Jussi T. Lappalainen who has written a book called The King's Last Card about these war time days and also the ship types used in the battle. (Kuninkaan viimeinen kortti, Viipurinlahden ja Ruotsinsalmen meritaistelut 1790 – Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, Hämeenlinna 2011)

Besides Jussi T. Lappalainen my gratitude goes to Matti Jylhä-Vuorio and Vellamo, the Finnish Sea Museum for the knowledge and help to create the atmosphere of this work.

The Kymi Sinfonietta's excellent musicians were in my mind when composing the first version of Sodan Soutumies. I want to thank warmly the whole ensemble. The enlargement with some new dramatic passages to the music I made to the Kuopio orchestra taking in consideration the bigger size of the ensemble which is also very dear to me.

- Atso Almila



2222 4230 01, str, baryt solo [pic, ehn, bcl, cbsn]


Works for Orchestra or Large Ensemble


Atso Almila


Ville Rusanen, baritone, Kuopio and Mikkeli City Orchestras, Atso Almila, cond, November 16, 2023, Kuopio

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