Born in Hamburg 200 years ago, Fredrik Pacius studied with Ludwig Spohr in Kassel, before serving as a violinist in the orchestra of the Royal Opera in Stockholm. When he arrived in Helsinki in 1835 it was in order to take up the post of music lecturer at the city's university. By the time of his death, almost six decades in the service of the musical life of his new country had earned him the epithet ‘the father of Finnish music’. He composed the first Finnish opera – Kung Karls jakt – and other works for the stage include The Princess of Cyprus and Loreley, both of which are available on BIS. But what he is mainly remembered for today is Vårt land ('Our Land'), the national anthem of Finland, which he composed and conducted the first performance of in 1848. The choir at this occasion was Akademiska Sångföreningen (The Academic Male Voice Choir of Helsinki) which Pacius himself had founded in 1838. Some 160 years later the same choir performs the song here, together with other repertoire written or arranged for it by Pacius. The programme is made up of songs in Swedish (including some of the emblematic patriotic songs of the evolving nation, as well as works in a lighter vein), Finnish (mainly arrangements of folk-songs) and German – settings by Pacius of poems in his native language by writers such as Friedrich Rückert. Following the choirs traditions some of the songs are here performed by a more intimate ensemble, i.e. quartet or octet.
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