Palmgren, Selim, eminent Finnish composer and teacher; b. Björneborg, Feb. 16, 1878; d. Helsinki, Dec. 13, 1951. He studied piano and composition at the Helsinki Cons. (1895–99), then went to Berlin, where he continued his piano studies with Ansorge, Berger, and Busoni. Returning to Finland, he became active as a choral conductor in Helsinki (1902–04), and from 1909 to 1912 he was director of the Music Soc. in Turku. In 1921 he made a tour of the U.S. as a pianist. From 1923 to 1926 he taught piano and composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. He then returned to Helsinki, becoming a prof, of harmony and composition at the Sibelius Academy in 1936, remaining there until his death. He was married to the Finnish soprano Maikki Pakarinen in 1910, after her divorce from Armas Järnefelt. He publ. Minusta tuli muusikko (Helsinki, 1948). He excelled in piano compositions, often tinged with authentic Finnish colors; some of his pieces are marked by effective impressionistic devices, such as whole-tone scales and consecutive mild dissonances. Among his piano miniatures, May Night enjoyed considerable popularity with music students and their teachers.
dramatic: Opera: Daniel Hjort (Turku, April 15, 1910; rev. version, Helsinki, 1938); Peter Schlemihl. orch.: 5 piano concertos: No. 1 (1903), No. 2, Viria (The Stream; 1913), No. 3, Metamorphoses (1915), No. 4, Huhtikuu (April; 1924–26), and No. 5 (1939–41); Pastorale (1920); Ballet Music (1944); Concert Fantasy for Violin and Orch. (1945). Piano: 2 sonatas; Fantasia; 24 Preludes; Ballade; Finnische Lyrik (12 pieces); Finnische Suite (The Seasons); Maskenball, suite; 24 Etudes (1921–22); etc. vocal:Turun lilja (The Lily of Turku), cantata (1929); songs and men’s choruses.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire