Toivo Timoteus Kuula (7 July 1883 – 18 May 1918) was a Finnish conductor and composer. He was born in the city of Vaasa (in those days Nikolainkaupunki), when Finland still was a Grand Duchy under Russian rule. He is known as a colorful and passionate portrayer of Finnish nature and people. In 1909, Kuula became Jean Sibelius's first composition student. He is best remembered for his large output of melodic choir and vocal works. His instrumental works include two Ostrobothnian Suites for orchestra, a violin sonata, a piano trio, and an unfinished Symphony. Kuula's major choral work is often considered the cantata Stabat Mater, which was completed in spring 1915 (original version, later lost) but revised, beginning 1917 and unfinished at the time of his death. He also wrote a few dozen highly artistic piano works. A Swedish critic once said that Kuula's music reaches parts of the human spirit where one is forced to deep examination of one's self. Kuula was known to be a fierce Fennoman. He died in the provincial hospital in Viipuri in 1918 after being mortally wounded 18 days earlier on Walpurgis Night by a bullet fired by a Jäger.
"Preludi" is the first of a two piece "set". You can hear my performance of the second piece, "Intermezzo" here: http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/music/13423
When I recorded that, the music for this one had not been available. You can find both pieces here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Kuula,_Toivo
This piece is 39 measures in length, and begins with 20 measures of a tonic E pedal point, and ends with another 6 measures of one. So, exactly 2/3 of the piece "sits" over an e! However there is much harmonic "movement" and emotion in this work.
While it's beautiful, playing it made me feel both sad and sort of uneasy... :-(
See what you think...