Kaija Saariaho has died at age 70, her family — and publisher Wise Music Classical — have announced. A statement from her family posted to social media shares that Saariaho was diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer in 2021.
Born in Helsinki and based in Paris since the 1980s, Saariaho was an eminent contemporary composer. With respected contributions ranging from chamber music to opera, she was pioneering in their melding of live performance and electronics. Her music won recognition and awards and secured commissions from numerous leading organizations, including the New York Philharmonic, the BBC, and the Finnish National Opera. In 2022, Finland celebrated Saariaho on the occasion of her 70th birthday.
Her family’s statement notes that the summer will see the world premiere of the final work of Kaija Saariaho. Verneri Pohjola will perform a trumpet concerto called HUSH with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Susanna Mälkki.