updated 2 November 2010
© Saara Vuorjoki, Fimic

Veli-Matti Puumala

Finnish composer born 18 July 1965.

Veli-Matti Puumala studied composition with Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy, graduating with a Master’s degree in 1993. He subsequently attended courses with Franco Donatoni, both at the Chigiana Music Academy in Sienna in 1989 and in 1990 at the Darmstadt Summer Courses. He also participated in masterclasses with Klaus Huber, Gérard Grisey, and Magnus Lindberg.

His works have been widely performed at festivals in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe, including ISCM World Music Days in Zurich, Nuove Sincronie in Milan, Gaudeamus, Ars Musica, Musica Strasbourg, and Lerchenborg in Denmark.

Notable works include the Chain trilogy for orchestra, comprising Chant Chains (1994-1995), Chains of Camenæ (1995-1996), and Chainsprings (1995-1997); the concertos Taon for contrabass (1998-2000) and Seeds of Time for piano (winner of the Teosto Prize in 2005); and chamber works such as Soira for ensemble with accordion (1996), Umstrichen vom Schreienden for six cellos (1997-1998), and Capriccio for string sextet (2002). His String Quartet from 1994 represented a major shift in his stylistic and technical approach to composing.

Veli-Matti Puumala was awarded the Italia Prize for his radiophonic work Rajamailla (Borderscapes) in September 2001. His opera Anna Liisa was premiered in August 2008 at the Helsinki Festival, and Mure, commissioned by Ensemble Intercontemporain, was premiered in October 2008 at Donaueschingen.

Veli-Matti Puumala’s music is characterised by its rich and transparent colours which embrace a certain complexity in terms of an abundance of details. His style, clearly post-serial, tends toward the organisation of material into a dynamic and complex framework, behind which other structures unfold, conceived to vary the shade, for affect or to serve as contrasting material. As such, Puumala remains faithful to the modernist notion of constructing music according to a clearly-defined syntax.

Veli-Matti Puumala has lectured on music theory at the Sibelius Academy since 1989. He has taught composition since 1997, and held a five-year tenure as professor from 2005 to 2010 at the same institution.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2010


  • Éditions Fennica Gehrman ;
  • Finnish Music Information Centre (Fimic).
  • Solo (excluding voice)
    • Sonatine for solo piano (1986-1987), 15 mn, Inédit
    • stage Kaarre for clarinet and dancer (1988-1989), 12 mn, Inédit
    • Hailin' Drams for guitar (1991-1992), 15 mn, Inédit
    • Pulses for vibraphone and marimba (1992), 7 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • elec stage Kaarre II for clarinet, dancer and live electronics (1992-1993), 10 mn, Inédit
    • Epitaph for solo cello (1994-1995), 9 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Epitaph for solo viola (1994-1995), 9 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Fuga interrotta for solo piano (1997), 2 mn 30 s, Inédit
    • Hommages Fugitifs for solo piano (2000-2001), 12 mn 30 s, Fennica Gehrman [program note]
    • Lullaby for solo piano (1994-2005), 3 mn, Inédit
  • Chamber music
  • Instrumental ensemble music
    • Scroscio for set (1989), 6 mn, Fennica Gehrman [program note]
    • Verso for small set (1990-1991), 5 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Verso for small sets, second version (1991), 5 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Ghirlande for ensemble (1992), 12 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Line to Clash for orchestra (1991-1993), 10 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Tutta via for large group (1992-1993), 5 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Lullaby for string orchestra (1994), Inédit
    • Chant Chains original version for eleven musicians (1994-1995), 20 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Chains of Camenæ for chamber orchestra (1995-1996, 2007), 19 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • elec Chainsprings for orchestra (1995-1997), 24 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Chant Chains version with percussion, for eleven musicians (1996-1998), 20 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Mure for large group (2008), 12 mn, Fennica Gehrman
  • Concert music
    • Soira for accordion and ensemble (1996), 20 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Taon concerto for double bass and chamber orchestra (1998-2000), 33 mn, Fennica Gehrman [program note]
    • Grave, funebre for solo horn and two bass clarinets, two trombones and two cellos (1999-2001), 14 mn, Fennica Gehrman [program note]
    • elec Grave, funebre II for solo horn and string orchestra (1999-2002), 14 mn, Inédit
    • Seeds of Time concerto for piano and orchestra (2004), 40 mn, Fennica Gehrman [program note]
    • Apostrophe for solo violin, string trio and percussion (2005), Inédit
    • Memorial Fragment for obligato violin and string orchestra (2008), 15 mn, Fennica Gehrman
  • Vocal music and instrument(s)
    • Songs for soprano and piano (1993)
    • Korkeat illat Prologi ja kolme laulua (Prologue and three songs), for soprano and piano (1999-2000), 15 mn, Fennica Gehrman
    • Rajamailla for male voice, seven singers and ensemble (2001), 36 mn 38 s, Fennica Gehrman
    • Unikuu for soprano and piano (1998-2005)
    • Ved Arbeidslampen En Elegi for dyp mansstemme og piano , for male voice and piano (2006), Fennica Gehrman
    • stage Anna Liisa opera in three acts with prologue (2001-2008), 2 h 25 mn, Fennica Gehrman
  • A cappella vocal music
    • Never Again for a cappella choir (1990), 10 mn, Fennica Gehrman


  • Veli-Matti PUUMALA, String Quartet, dans « Voices, Stringing », Meta4, 1 cd Jasemusiikki, 2008, n° JASECD0048.
  • Veli-Matti PUUMALA, Apostrophe, dans « Zagros » (avec également des œuvres d’Anton Webern, Harri Vuori, Perttu Haapanen, Harri Ahmas et Aija Puurtinen), ensemble Zagros, 1 cd Alba, 2008, n° 239.
  • Veli-Matti PUUMALA, Hallin’ Drams, dans « 4I qaa », Jyrki Myllarinen : guitare, avec des œuvres de JyrkiLinjama, Hannu Pohjanmoro et Juho Kangas, 1 cd Alba, 2003, n° 174.
  • Veli-Matti PUUMALA, Tutta via, dans « Society Of Finnish Composers 50th Anniversary Vol 2 », Avanti Chamber Orchestra, direction : Leif Segerstam, avec des œuvres d’Olli Kortekangas, Jukka Koskinen, Tapio Tuomela, Hannu Pohjannoro et Olli Koskelin, 1 cd Ondine, 1996, n° ODE866.

Liens Internet