Song Cycle to the Poems from Kanteletar

by Luukas Hiltunen

for mixed choir

Empty sheet

Luukas Hiltunen

Song Cycle to the Poems from Kanteletar

Universal Edition


Kanteletar, a collection of Finnish folk poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot (1802–1884), published in 1840, has been a source of inspiration for numerous Finnish composers, most notably Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), but also Oskar Merikanto (1868–1924), Armas Järnefelt (1869–1958), Aksel Törnudd (1874–1923), Toivo Kuula (1883–1918), Leevi Madetoja (1887–1947), Erkki Melartin (1875–1937) and Matti Murto (b.1947). The phonetic transcriptions of the present poems by the freelancer-translator Hanna Huovari are provided for downloading via the Universal Edition website as an additional material for choristers to study the Finnish language pronunciation.

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Mr. Hiltunen explains the composing process as follows:

Inspired by the opportunity to attend to the call for the New Finnish Choral Music Concert organized by the local chamber choir, I composed in a couple of weeks in February 2021 a three-minute Tule meille tanssimahan [Come and dance with us] for mixed choir a cappella. The work was finished on the Kalevala Day, 28th February 2021. Although the work was not selected to the concert programme, ever since I started to write sketches for the work, there was an intention to expand it as a three-movement cycle.

Originally selected poems for the cycle, listed in the order those would have appeared, are as follows: Kultani kukkuu kaukana [My sweetheart is humming afar], Tule meille tanssimahan and Toivoton rakkaus [Hopeless love]. If the cycle would have been composed as such, Tule meille tanssimahan would have been the shortest, circled by the lengthy pieces. This idea, however, proved soon to be too complicated to be implemented satisfyingly enough. The present poems beside the already composed one, Miksi en laulaisi [Why would not I sing] and Hyvää iltaa lintuseni [Good evening, my birdie], formed an ideal emotionally accelerating whole for the cycle. Tule meille tanssimahan underwent registry alterations during the renewal process, mainly simplifying dividings of the voices. The poems faced minor alterations compared to the original to better accommodate the rhythms.

All the songs within the cycle are composed in accordance with the atmosphere of the poems. Miksi en laulaisi is featuring an ostinato-rhythm in quarter notes on notes B and D by sopranos above and within the melodic content. Worth to note, all the songs are featuring a confrontations between group of soloists and the entire choir, inspired by the Concerto grosso configuration fashionable in the Baroque era. Hyvää iltaa lintuseni in A major is build around the folk-song-inspired melody, having a Trio in the parallel minor key signature (F-sharp minor). The final song, Tule meille tanssimahan, is a joyful, frisky whole, setting listeners and performers to the cottage’s dimly lit lobby where all the villagers are dancing – children, maids, youngsters and elders.



chx (SATB)


Vocal and Choral Works






I. Miksi en laulaisi [Why would not I sing], II. Hyvää iltaa lintuseni [Good evening, my birdie], III. Tule meille tanssimahan [Come and Dance with us]


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