Paavo Berglund as conductor of the HPO


Like Kajanus, Paavo Berglund (1929–2012) began his musical career as a violinist. The two also shared the fact that they were both left-handed, which placed them at a disadvantage in their careers. Berglund studied the violin at the Sibelius Academy and was appointed to the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1949. In the 1950s he began conducting as well. He founded the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra in 1952 and began to conduct it alongside his career as a violinist.

Paavo Berglund began as conductor of the HPO in 1975. Meanwhile, he was also Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – a position he had held since 1972.

Berglund was an exacting conductor and refused to stand for anything but the best in his orchestra. He might sometimes express his disapproval in a concert, too, if the playing was not up to par. Some have described him as a slightly erratic conductor in concerts. In rehearsal, he was uncompromising, and he could be stern with a player who came to rehearsals unprepared.

In 1978, Paavo Berglund wanted to reduce his work load by sharing the Chief Conductorship of the HPO. In addition to conducting his Bournemouth orchestra and the HPO, he would then have time to guest conduct orchestras in the USA, for example. The HPO was accordingly conducted both by him and by Ulf Söderblom.

In the latter half of the 1970s, Berglund became irritated by matters of administration. He was satisfied with the players, but the Music Committee consisting of members chosen on political grounds, and his administrative obligations were reasons why he did not renew his contract in 1979. In 1984, he embarked on a recording of the complete Sibelius symphonies with the HPO.

Source: Vesa Sirén – Suomalaiset kapellimestarit