Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Johannes Linnankoski 150

Featured on the poster: the memorial statue of Johannes Linnankoski (Kalervo Kallio, 1944, Porvoo City Park). Lars Hanson (Olof) and Greta Almroth (Annikki, the Forest Nymph) in the film The Song of the Scarlet Flower (1919, D: Mauritz Stiller).

The Linnankoski 150 Medals were given on 27 October 2019 to the Linnankoski family (Jouni Linnankoski, Juhani Linnankoski and Ilkka Linnankoski), to the author Pajtim Statovci (alumnus of the Linnankoski School) and to Marjo Miettinen (top executive in the technology industry, trendsetter in sustainable production).

metoo#olavi . Johannes Linnankoski – romantikko ja tulisielu (a play)
D+SC: Tuovi Putkonen. M compositions and arrangements: Marko Putkonen. AD: Anne Ratia. Cost: Soila Tikkanen. Makeup: Sanna Saarnio. Stagecraft: Joonatan Hietanen. Poster and handbill: Valtteri Flinck.
    C: Keijo Liski (Patrus, a freelance actor / Wihtori Peltonen / Johannes Linnankoski)
Sirja Pohjanheimo-Vikla (Elviira, an artist / Tuomenkukka [Bird Cherry Blossom] / Ester)
Mirja Oksanen (Marjukka, chairperson of the drama team and director / Cain)
Minna Valtasalo (Heta, clothing seller / Olavi / distiller)
Soila Tikkanen (Riitta, youth worker / the mistress of Anttila / Metsänneito [Forest Nymph])
Eija Forsell (Pirkko, a policewoman / the mistress of Heikkilä / Lucifer)
Satu Mahkonen (Lilian, a librarian / dancer / Mother / Tumma tyttö [Dark Maid])
Mia Lehtola (Tiina, real estate agent / singer / Werner Söderström / nurse)
Ilkka Kinosmaa (Reiska the janitor / Father)
– "Mitä nuo tähdet merkitsee" (lyr. Johannes Linnankoski: Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta) comp. Marko Putkonen
– "Vähäväkisten huokaus" (lyr. Johannes Linnankoski) comp. Marko Putkonen
– "Arvon mekin ansaitsemme" (lyr. Jaakko Juteini, comp. trad.)
– "Lukutanssi" comp. Marko Putkonen
– "Suksimiesten laulu" (lyr. Suonio) comp. Karl Collan
– "Vuorelaisen laulu – melodraama" (lyr. Johannes Linnankoski: Ikuinen taistelu) comp. Marko Putkonen
– "Tukkipojan laulu" (lyr. Johannes Linnankoski: Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta) comp. Marko Putkonen
– "Mäeltä leviää silmäin eteen... " (lyr. Tuovi Putkonen) comp. Marko Putkonen
    Porvoon Teatteri, Vänrikinkatu 4, Porvoo. 2 hours with intermission.
    Visited: premiere 27 Nov 2019.

Linnankoski 150 Celebration.
Linnankosken lukion auditorio, Porvoo, 27 Oct 2019.
– Opening speech: Erkki Toivanen, chairman of the Linnankoski Society.
– Drama performance: Kulkijan pysähdys [A Wanderer's Stopover]. Linnankosken lukion draamaryhmä / Linnankoski School Drama Team. D+SC+AD: Leila Kiviluoma. Based on The Song of the Scarlet Flower by Johannes Linnankoski. M comp+arr: Anu Tikka-Blomqvist. C: Rasmus Kalliomaa (Olavi), Kaarina Olin (Annikki), Sara Järvinen (Gaselli), Emmi Kohonen (Kyllikki of Moisio), Emmi Kohonen (Mother), Erin Kupari (Dark Maid), Mila Hentunen (Miss Echo), Mila Hentunen (Matilda). Dancers: Sara Järvinen, Pihla Pajuniemi. Vocals: Leevi Salonen. Violin: Sonja Nissi. Piano: Emilia Rekonen. Lights: Niila Hulsi. S: Joonatan Hietanen. 30 min
– "Nuoruus" (excerpt from a poem by Johannes Linnankoski) recited by Helena Linttinen.
– "Toinen", lyr+comp. gymnasist Emmi Kohonen. Voc: Emmi Kohonen, violin: Sonja Nissi, piano: Anu Tikka-Blomqvist. Winner of a Linnankoski anniversary year award.
– Keth Strömdahl and Erkki Toivanen: the anniversary year in Askola and Porvoo.
– Music performance: artist Juho Pitkänen, a Linnankosken lukio alumnus.
– Announcing the recipients of the Linnankoski medals (Erkki Toivanen, Marja-Leena Talvitie) to:
    * The Linnankoski family (Jouni Linnankoski, Juhani Linnankoski and Ilkka Linnankoski),
    * the author Pajtim Statovci (alumnus of the Linnankoski School) and
    * Marjo Miettinen (top executive in the technology industry, trendsetter in sustainable production).
– Choir performance: Porvoon Mieslaulajat, director cantus Pekka Itkonen
    * "Kansiin kestäviin" (Linnankoski 150 song, lyr.+comp. Linnankosken lukio alumnus Satu Seikku)
    * "Suomis sång" (lyr. Emil von Quanten, comp. Fredrik Pacius)
    * "Finlandia" (lyr. V. A. Koskenniemi, comp. Jean Sibelius)

Helmi Setälä: Johannes Linnankoski. Ääriviivoja. (a book)
Helmi Setälä aka Helmi Krohn.
36 p. Ylioppilaiden Keskusteluseuran julkaisuja n:o 8.
Otava: Helsinki, 1911

Johannes Linnankoski (1869–1913) was a major Finnish cultural figure in the great wave of Finland's national awakening that started in the 1870s and led to the declaration of independence in 1917. During Linnankoski's lifetime Finland was an autonomous duchy in the Russian Empire. Johannes was a prolific writer, also a publisher of popular book series together with his wife Ester Linnankoski, a talented translator and editor. Their work can be compared in some ways with Leo Tolstoy's achievements in bringing culture and education to the people.

Filmwise the highlight of the anniversary has been the new digital edition of Mauritz Stiller's The Song of the Scarlet Flower (1919) complete with the original score by Armas Järnefelt. In Helsinki there was an Epiphany Film Concert The Song of the Scarlet Flower on 6 January, and the sonorized DCP was launched to an international cinephilic audience at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna on 25 June.

Special attention to Linnankoski has been paid in his hometowns Askola and Porvoo. The Linnankoski legacy is alive in many ways. Uusimaa, the newspaper in which he was the first editor-in-chief, still appears daily. The secondary school he founded, a coed school, now exists as a gymnasium carrying his name, Linnankosken lukio.

Of Linnankoski's novels, poems, plays and short stories the novel The Song of the Scarlet Flower (1905), Finland's first international best-selling novel, is still in print, besides Finland for instance in France and Russia where new editions keep appearing. The latest edition in Russia is from the year 2018 at Vostochnaya Kniga. In France where there have been over 50 editions, the latest publisher being Carroussel in 1999 with a new translation by Raymond Torfs.


I have been moved by the Linnankoski celebrations in Porvoo this autumn. The two drama performances have been written and directed by women and feature predominantly women, in metoo#olavi even in the role of Olavi.

I liked the drama performance Kulkijan pysähdys [A Wanderer's Stopover] directed by Leila Kiviluoma and performed by the Linnankoski School drama team: a series of 30 minutes of vignettes from The Song of the Scarlet Flower. Linnankoski's original dialogues are still effective, and the age of the young performers is right. This is never the case in the five film adaptations and the dozens of professional theatre dramatizations. The sense of the forest was conveyed by a sound – the call of the boreal owl (helmipöllö). Eloquent. The very simplicity was engaging. The presence of the performers and the vivid dialogue by Linnankoski told all that was neeed. In this interpretation, it was a moral tale, fresh and faithful to the author.

Today I saw the premiere of the irreverent play metoo#olavi by Tuovi Putkonen at the Porvoo Theatre. It features several new attractive songs composed by Marko Putkonen. The production is an explosion of ideas covering the life and work of Johannes and Ester Linnankoski with associations brimming to this day and age as the title announces. The production is too rich and overwhelming to discuss in full, so I'll cut to the chase.

The Me Too question: is Olavi in The Song of the Scarlet Flower an abuser and a harasser? The woman's position was weak in 1905. Writers in Finland, in Nordic countries and elsewhere discussed it powerfully: Ibsen in The Doll's House, Tolstoy in Resurrection and Minna Canth in Anna-Liisa. They wanted change. I find Johannes Linnankoski belonging to this great wave also in his practical work of equal education possibilities for all. The Song of the Scarlet Flower is a tale of Olavi's growth into manhood which means accepting Kyllikki as an equal partner. Growth is a never ending process.

What was the reception of Linnankoski in his own time? There are many reviews that document this and also one book, the only Linnankoski monograph written by a woman – by Helmi Setälä (1871–1967), known since 1913 as Helmi Krohn. She was the sister of the writer Aino Kallas (born Aino Krohn). Her Linnankoski book is just an essay, but it is dense and rewarding.

Helmi Krohn covers Linnankoski's moral quest lucidly. She sees beauty in Olavi's Bildungsroman. Olavi is a force of nature. With every season he discovers a new girl who evokes in him a new feeling. His life is one single beautiful dream. He wants nobody harm, he betrays no one on purpose. Some of the girls are like aspects of a single experience which is love. His restless blood Olavi has inherited from his father. From his mother he has inherited his depth of character, his fidelity, his self-control and his unselfishness. These tendencies clash until the latter wins.

The mother's blessing is awakened by Kyllikki. With Kyllikki Olavi does not expect to share happiness but suffering and toil. Kyllikki is tough but absolute. When Olavi accuses Kyllikki of having had a lover, Kyllikki calmly turns the accusation back on him. Krohn compares Olavi with Selma Lagerlöf's Gösta Berling. Krohn has reservations about the final chapter and the two most audacious ones, "Two People" and "Bottoms Up". But she sums up that this is a "miraculous book, full of the secret enchantment that nature exudes in the spring", a song of the flower that can blossom in the heart of everyone.

The Porvoo interpretations give Linnankoski a twist and a shake. He is not a dead monument. By questioning Linnankoski they prove that he is still alive.


The spirit lives on also in new, original authors who seek different paths. The Linnankoski 150 medal was given to an alumnus of the Linnankoski School, Pajtim Statovci. On the day of the premiere of metoo#olavi we learned that Pajtim Statovci had received the prestigious Finlandia Prize for the best novel of the year. He is also a finalist of The National Booker Award in the US, and his work has recently been covered in The New York Times, The Guardian and The New Yorker.

No comments: