Mahler – Symphony Number 3 – Birgitte Finnilä, Contralto with The Boston Symphony – Seiji Ozawa, Conductor – August 28, 1977 –
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Seiji Ozawa leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with Birgitte Finnilae, contralto on this final concert from the 1977 Berkshire Festival season with a performance of Mahler’s Symphony Number 3 – it was recorded on August 28, 1977.
Born in 1935 in Shenyang, China, to Japanese parents, Seiji Ozawa started piano lessons at an early age. After graduating from Seijo Junior High School in Tokyo, he studied conducting under the late Hideo Saito at Toho School of Music, graduating with first prizes in composition and conducting. In 1959 he won first prize at the International Competition of Orchestra Conductors held in Besançon, France, and was invited to Tanglewood by Charles Münch, then Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a judge at the competition. In 1960 Ozawa won the Tanglewood Music Center’s highest honor, the Koussevitzky Prize for outstanding student conductor.
In 1973 he became the 13th Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ozawa held his post as Music Director for 29 years, an incredibly long period in the history of American orchestras. Over those years the orchestra’s reputation rose considerably, not only within the United States but internationally, making it one of the top orchestras in the world.
The Swedish contralto, Birgit Finnilä, inherited her musical gifts from her parents, and after taking lessons with Ingalill Linden in Göteborg, she under took a further period of study at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Roy Henderson.
Since her very successful debut in Göteborg in 1963, Birgit Finnilä has sung with many European and American orchestras under such eminent conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Herbert von Karajan, Lorin Maazel and Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and has given recitals in New York, Chicago (first American tour in 1968), London, Vienna and Paris, as well as in Soviet Union and Australia.
Birgit Finnilä has made her career principally on the concert platform, but her stage appearances included roles in Benjamin Britten’s The rape of Lucretia, Gluck’s Orfeo (her operatic was in that role in 1967 in Göteborg), George Frideric Handel’s Flavio, W.A. Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
If she has concentrated on concert and recital work Birgit Finnilä’s range in these fields in vast, covering the oratorios of J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel, the Requiems of Dvořák, W.A. Mozart and Verdi, major choral works such as L.v. Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, solo parts in the orchestral works of Gustav Mahler, with whose music she feels a particular affinity, and a wide repertoire of songs by composers as diverse as L.v. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Sibelius, B. Britten and G. Mahler.
Now sit back and enjoy – a couple caveats: some transmitter noise shows up, but isn’t a distraction. The tape machine at KPFK (the station broadcasting this concert) was running a bit odd, so there is occasional wow present. But again, it shouldn’t
be a distraction (except for the final chord).
Otherwise . . .