updated 30 October 2023
© Maarit Kytöharju

Maija Hynninen

Finnish composer born in 1977.

Maija Hynninen completed a degree in violin at the Norwegian Academy of Music before graduating in 2011 from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where she studied with Paavo Heininen. She continued her studies in electronic music at IRCAM in the Cursus Program on Composition and Computer Music over 2012 to 2013.

She then completed a PhD in composition from the University of California in Berkeley, where she studied with Franck Bedrossian, Edmund Campion, Ken Ueno, and Carmine-Emanuele Cella. Hynninen became Cella’s assistant, and the two worked side by side on the computer-assisted orchestration program Orchidea. Hynninen is currently pursuing a PhD in electroacoustic music at the University of the Arts Helsinki.

Hynninen is interested in the ambiguity of timbre, where sources or origins of sound cannot be identified. Her exploration of this area has been sharpened through her work in computer-assisted orchestration, evident in pieces such as mask the absence (2021), in which the strings evoke voices, Mobiles (2022), in which the voice serves as a timbral model for the ensemble’s arrangement, and Trois Mondes (Three Worlds, 2011), inspired by Jean-Claude Risset’s work on infinitely rising and falling pitches, built on an auditive illusion of the octave created by the reinjection and disappearance of harmonics.

In her work, she employs new media, particularly video and the use of light. This aspect of her research was inspired by the artisanal aesthetic and do-it-yourself culture. Using 3-D printing, one of her preferred tools, she created a miniature moon for Ina Donna (2019) and illuminated loudspeakers for Freedom from Fear (2017). The electronics in her compositions lay the foundations for politically or ecologically engaged messages. Political themes are present in pieces such as Freedom from Fear and Solace (2022), while ecologically engaged messages can be found in Earthship (2015) and, once again, Solace, a work in which she ponders the possibility of sustainably producing the electricity necessary for the electrical output of her piece.

Hynninen’s pieces have been performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Divertimento Ensemble, Ensemble Mise-En, ECO Ensemble, the Helsinki Chamber Choir, the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Quince Ensemble, and Earplay. Her works have been played on the Finnish public radio station Yle and have been programmed at festivals such as Musica nova Helsinki, Tampere Biennale, Nordic Music Days, the San Francisco Tape Music Festival, the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, the International Society for Contemporary Music festival, the Acanthes academy, and the 2015 Milan Universal Exposition.

Hynninen teaches computer-assisted composition at the University of California, Berkeley, and sits on the board of the Society of Finnish Composers.

Prizes and Awards

  • Finnish Cultural Foundation Scholarship, 2022
  • George Ladd Paris Prize from Berkeley for a one-year residency in Paris, 2021
  • Nicola de Lorenzo Prize in Music Composition from Berkeley, 2019-2020
  • Eisner Prize for Highest Achievement in the Creative Arts, 2019
  • Center for the Promotion of the Arts in Finland Scholarship, 2019
  • Nicola de Lorenzo Prize in Music Composition from Berkeley, 2018-2019

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2023


Site de la compositrice, Berkeley, Finnish Music Quarterly, Konstepidemin

Liens Internet

(liens vérifiés en octobre 2023).


  • Maija HYNNINEN, winnowing ; …sicut aurora procedit ; Orlando-fragments ; Freedom from fear, dans « Dawn Breaks », 1 CD Ravello Records, 2019, RR8021.
  • Maija HYNNINEN, Trois Mondes, Susanne Kujala : orgue, dans « Organ Music of the 21st Century », 1 CD Alba Records, 2019, ABCD 440.