Pianist Matti Raekallio, born in 1954 in Helsinki, has established himself as a prominent concert pianist with a huge repertoire. His concerts and recordings, notably the three-CD set of the complete Prokofiev Piano Sonatas, for the “Ondine” label, have been widely praised. He is also a deeply committed teacher, and many of his students have won world-class competitions.
After studies in Finland, in England with Maria Diamond Curcio, in Austria at the Vienna Academy of Music with Dieter Weber and in Russia at the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Conservatory, Mr. Raekallio made his American debut in 1981 at the Carnegie (Weill) Recital Hall. 1983 saw him back in the United States on tour as soloist with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and he spent 1984–85 as visiting artist professor at Western Michigan University. Since then, he has made regular tours of the U.S.A., including performances with several American symphony orchestras and solo recitals.
In his recitals he often concentrates on monographic programs with works of a single composer. He has performed, for example, the complete Transcendental, Paganini and Concert Etudes by Liszt in a two-recital set. A central part of Mr. Raekallio’s solo repertoire is the cycle of the complete 32 Beethoven Sonatas, which he has presented eight times altogether, including a U.S. performance at the first Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in 1991. There he performed the full cycle in a sold-out, eight-concerts-in-eight-days marathon, broadcast live in the U.S. by National Public Radio. His Tokyo debut in 1999 consisted of all 10 Scriabin Sonatas in one concert, a feat Mr. Raekallio repeated later that year in Berlin. In addition to his extensive solo repertoire, Raekallio has given performances of 62 piano concertos. These include all of Beethoven, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, as well as rarities like the concerti by Busoni, Szymanowski and Lutoslawski. He has recorded many of these works.
In 1994, Mr. Raekallio became full professor at the Swedish Royal College of Music (Kungliga Musikhögskolan) in Stockholm. Currently he is a tenured full professor at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Mr. Raekallio’s class there includes several top prize winners, among them the First Prize laureates in Leeds, AXA Dublin, London, Vienna (Beethoven), New York (Artists International), and Budapest (Liszt-Bartók). He has been a juror in several international competitions, including Shanghai, Vienna (Beethoven), Tokyo (PTNA), the Selection Committee of the “Gilmore Artist” as well as the American Pianists’ Association Awards in U.S.A, and the “Arthur Rubinstein in Memoriam” International Competition in Poland. Mr. Raekallio has given master classes in his home country as well as in Germany, Austria, Israel, and in the United States.
Mr. Raekallio’s Doctoral Examination at the Sibelius Academy included the publication of a 300-page treatise on fingering strategies of 19th and 20th century pianists. He has done further research on that subject together with three British professors of cognitive psychology. The team’s articles on piano fingering have been published in several peer-reviewed scientific journals. Mr. Raekallio also writes articles for Finnish music magazines and makes programs for the Finnish National Public Radio, YLE 1.
In 1994, Mr. Raekallio became the first musician to have received the Five-Year Artist Grant of the Finnish state three times. In 1998–2000 he was a Member of the Research Committee on Culture and Society of the Finnish Academy of Sciences.