Herman Rechberger (b.1947) is an exceptional figure in Finnish music. He was born in Austria and studied graphic art and classical guitar in his native town Linz, in Zurich and Brussels before moving to Finland in 1970 and studying composition, guitar, the recorder, oboe and electronic music at the Sibelius Academy. Since then he made a name for himself both as a composer and as a performing artist. This potted biography is in itself already proof of a man whose talents lie in many fields and whose mind is open in many directions. In his versatility Rechberger could almost be called a contemporary Renaissance man. It is not, therefore, surprising that Renaissance music and, indeed, culture in general have been a major source of inspiration for him. He is, however, equally at home in every era, and often combines elements of different periods in his works. He also enjoys the company of players of all ages and has composed a number of works for performance by children and youngsters. Rechberger is an indefatigable musical explorer and charter of new territory - indefatigable also in that this list of oeuvres already runs to over 200 titles. As a composer he is more of an adventurer throwing himself into the carnival spirit than a philosopher seeking the seclusion of his ivory tower. Yet his colourful works, defying any generic classification, often have a meditative or conceptual art dimension that raises their semantic content above the purely audible level. In his works Rechberger has applied the most varied of new musical devices, apart from serial techniques proper and other strictly constructive methods, though even they can be found to a minor extent in some of his orchestral works. Aleatoric and performing liberties are characteristic of his works and my appear in a variety of guises, such as mobile technique (in which the musicians execute their own parts more or less independent of their fellow players), improvisation, the use of graphic notation (called the pictographic concept by the composer) or an open form. The freedom of choice may also extend to the instruments, as in Voyage (1982), scored for soloists on folk or other instruments. Rechberger does not usually build his compositions on conventional dynamic development, relying more on the contrasting effects of timbres, textures and even styles. In his exploitation of timbre, he has made a broad study of existing sound-producing techniques, supplementing them with ones of his own devising. The potential of electronic music also holds an appeal for him, resulting in works for tape alone or tape and live performance combined. Crossing over from one genre of music and the arts to another is also typical of Rechberger. Instead of calling his works by such well-worn names as "sonata" or "symphony", he prefers to create his own, less inhibited genres. In this he often has been stimulated by some extra-musical phenomenon, such as the Renaissance artist Hieronymus Bosch, who provided the initial impulse for his orchestral works Himojen puutarha (The Garden of Delights, 1976-77) La tentation de Saint Antoine (The Temptation of St. Anthony, 1994) and La nave dei pazzi (The Ship of Fools, 1996). Rechberger has often woven theatrical elements into his music. A good example - is the radiophonic work Pekka Mikkosen nousu (The Rise of Mr. Jonathan Smith, 1978) awarded a special prize in 1978 at the Prix Italia competition. Pekka Mikkonen is a fantastic story of an artist who accidentally becomes a modern composer. The genre par excellance in the marriage of text and music is, of course, opera, represented in Rechberger's output by Die Nonnen (The Nuns, 1987-85), performed on early instruments, the opera Laurentius (1991) telling of the live of the 3rd century martyr St. Lawrence and drawing on styles ranging from archaic music of the Christians to almost rock-like beat of the Roman rulers. His most recent stage work is ...nunc& semper... (Now and forever, 1997-98) is part of a Trilogy composed by three composers (Rechberger, Olli Kortekangas and Kalevi Aho), commissioned by the Savonlinna Opera Festival for a first performance in the year 2000. The St. Lawrence Mass of 1989-90 was composed in honour of the same Saint. Rechberger has also written operas for children and youngsters: Zin Kibaru, after an african legend, The "Night of the Wishes" after a libretto by Michael Ende, "Black Sabbath" after a libretto by Ilpo Tiihonen and "Das Operschiff" (The Operaboat) after a libretto be Elke Heidenreich. In the 1990s a new element has entered the music of Rechberger: minimalism. This trait is revealed at its purest in Avanti! for chamber orchestra (1991-92), but in places its also woven into the texture of La nave dei pazzi for orchestra and the guitar concerto Golpe de coracón (Heartbeat concerto, 1992). Since the Rechberger has composed two more guitar concertos, Concerto nordico (1993) and Concierto floral (Flower Concerto, 1993). In the recent years Rechberger has found a new source of inspiration. He has studied (and still does!) and explored the sonoric possibilities of ethnic percussion instruments, mainly the Arabian darabuka, the req and the bendir but also the Indian tabla and various frame drums. He has made a large research on Oriental rhythm (The Rhythm in Arabian Music 1999). Rechberger has shown a great affection for Arabian classical music and other Oriental music, which is reflected in his works Assahra' (The Sahara, 1996) for accordion trio, Albahr (The Sea, 1997) for cello, tape and darabuka, Incantations (1996) for two drummers, the cello concerto Kahraba (Yellow Amber, 1996), Giza (1998) for two violins & string orchestra, and Karadeniz (Black Sea, 1997) for accordion trio. In spring 2003 and in spring 2004 visited Benin in West Africa (alltogether five months), studying percussion instruments and rhythm analysis. He worked together with several local musician and played in the group "Africa Biya" led by Alfa Kaza as well as in the group Gong Jazz. This resulted in the compositions "Voix des Ancêtres" on a poem by the composer himself, and Mono, an extensive solo for the djembe drum. The influence of early music may be manifest in many ways in Rechberger's music. He has, for example, scored works for early instruments, borrowed or imitated early music, or applied its compositional methods in a modern environment. He has also produced several realisations of ancient works, such as the oldest opera to preserved in full, Jacopo Peri's Euridice. Of all the styles in history, the Renaissance has been the one closest to Rechberger's heart, but he has also dipped into the music of the Middle Ages (in e.g. his opera Die Nonnen), examined the programme music of the Baroque (the Almost Four Seasons string quartet) and viewed the classicism of Mozart through the eye of a modern era (KV 622 IIbis for clarinet and tape). One of Rechberger's opuses drawing on features of the Renaissance is the orchestral Himojen puutarha (The Garden of Delights) cultivating melodies which, while sounding very genuinely Renaissance, are actually of his own composition, raising their heads against a modern web of sound ans glissandos. Venezia (Venice, 1985) for large orchestra takes in a tape of street sounds, people talking and other background noise, a small vocal group and a band of "street players". The second and third of the five movements are played simultaneously, while in the last, the various musics are all piled up to create a colourful carnival mood. Renaissance melodies also appear alongside other materials in the orchestral works La Tentation de St. Antoine and La nave dei pazzi. The most thorough study of the music and era of the Renaissance is made in Rechberger's radiophonic work Magnus Cordius (1985). This is a pseudo-documentary of a fictive 16th century character, a Finnish lute player, composer and misunderstood genius called Magnus Cordius who travels the length and breath of Europe. Cordius's compositions, which are well ahead of their time, are naturally by Rechberger himself and blend with the genuine Renaissance melodies. In telling of this fictive 16th century figure Rechberger says something very pertinent about the present day.