Jorma Panula as conductor of the HPO


When Tauno Hannikainen retired from the HPO in 1963, the orchestra did not rush to choose his successor. In particular, it wanted to weigh up the respective merits of experience – Jussi Jalas – and young potential – Jorma Panula.

Jorma Panula began in office in August 1965. He rehearsed the orchestra a lot, while nevertheless pointing out that not even intense rehearsing could make up for “years of daydreaming”. Among other things, he recorded the orchestra and played the tape back to make the musicians notice their mistakes. His very different style of conducting and rehearsing was not to all to the musicians’ taste; those of the old generation, in particular, likened him to Schnéevoigt and Järnefelt. On the other hand, Panula reduced the number of concerts to ensure sufficient time to rehearse, and this met with the players’ approval.

Panula boldly updated the repertoire. The orchestra gave ‘special series’ and introduced Helsinki audiences to the works of such composers as Arnold Schönberg. There were also numerous Finnish premieres during his term as conductor (1965–1972), of works by such composers as Salmenhaara, Heininen, Sallinen, Bergman, Donner, Aho, Rautavaara and Meriläinen.

Sources: Vesa Sirén – Suomalaiset kapellimestarit &  Einari Marvia & Matti Vainio – Helsingin kaupunginorkesteri 1882-1982