Markku Klami, composer


"Klami writes rather delicate music that makes me think of Japan."

- Timo Korhonen, guitarist

"Composing is, says Markku Klami, an endless voyage of discovery beyond horizons."

- Musica nova Helsinki Festival (from the artist biography)

"Markku is an elegant composer whose harmonies blend gently from one to another [––] he paints in long, broad arcs."

- Nils Schweckendiek, conductor

"The scarce gestures in Klami's aava (for guitar and electronics) created imaginative electric soundscapes."

- Jukka Isopuro, Helsingin Sanomat

"Klami does not use any text in his night signal (for divided male choir): the succinct, clear and captivating miniature replaces words with vocal variations and changing overtones."

- Lauri Kilpiö, Suomen Kuvalehti

"Major part of contemporary art music is technically too advanced for educational use. This is something that Markku Klami also tried to remedy in his colorful and sensitive Värein (for string orchestra, four percussionists and piano), which offers a great deal of challenges that are still possible to meet."

- Mats Liljeroos, Hufvudstadsbladet

"Klami's red moon (string quartet) is characterized by abrupt sections mixed with atmospheric, motionless chords, but the dynamics and timbre results in an shimmering texture. There is momentary melodic phrases and figurative outbreak. A heavy, solemn passage sets in and transforms gradually into a lighter, lyrical character that ends up in an ethereal sound. [--] From the silent flickering of actions the piece ends in a crackling climax."

- Martin Nygaard Hansen-Chernetskiy, Seismograf

"Markku Klami's Cinque miniature (for solo guitar) presents itself as miniaturist musical genre paintings, as the name of the composition might suggest. The musical elements holding the miniatures together – pedal points, asymmetric rhythmics, extensive use of triplets, repetitive motifs – all these suggest that all these miniatures were painted in the same situation, as variations of the same atmosphere.  The cyclical unity of the composition is intensified further by the fact that each miniature opens with tones that end the preceding miniature, and also by the fact that the first and last tone of the composition are the same."

- Juha Torvinen (work commentary on Patrik Kleemola's debut album "Perchitarrasola")

Composer Markku Klami’s work seeks to deal with the phenomenon of time – one’s conception of time and the magical power music possess in affecting one’s experience of time and surroundings around themselves. ”I am fascinated by music’s power to affect the way we perceive time and the world around us”, Markku says. ”It remains an endless source of inspiration to me”.


Markku was born in Turku, the oldest town in Finland. His fondest memories of childhood and teenage years were singing in the boys choir of 700-year old Turku Cathedral and later on in even bigger and older cathedrals around Europe on the choir’s many tours abroad. It was already then when he got a strong calling for music as not only a future profession but a way of experiencing the world. Markku wrote his first compositions for traditional instruments around the age of 10 and focused on composing and eventually performing electronic music during his teenager years.


After his composition studies at Turku Music Academy with Tuomo Teirilä he completed his studies at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki with Tapio Tuomela. He has attended masterclasses in Finland and USA, led by composers Magnus Lindberg, Jukka Tiensuu, Kimmo Hakola, Jouni Kaipainen, Bent Sørensen, Anders Eliasson, David Ludwig and Robert Paterson.


Markku has composed instrumental works ranging from solos to works for orchestra with soloists. His vocal works include two operas and works for choir and vocal ensembles. The use of electronics is a recurring feature in some of his instrumental works. While being a classically trained composer of contemporary music, Markku has a background in electronic music as well. His experimenting with synthesizers and computer-generated sounds during his teenage years led to doing gigs at different festivals with his own projects and a band in the late 1990’s and beginning of 2000’s. Since 2016 he has been singing in Audite, the chamber choir of Helsinki Conservatory of Music. Markku’s passion and interest toward the human voice has led to expand his high tenor voice further to countertenor register as well as to very low register by the means of Tuvan throat singing.


In March 2018, the first full-length puppet opera produced in the Nordic countries entitled Croak was premiered by top-of-the-line Finnish opera singers Joonas Eloranta, Anna-Kristiina Kaappola, Teppo Lampela, Merja Mäkelä and Jouni Kokora with Pori Opera Choir and Pori Sinfonietta, conducted by Nils Schweckendiek. Markku wrote Croak with Maria Kallionpää, and both composers wrote their own separate segments for the opera. The human-sized puppets designed and built by Viktor Antonov and the directing by Anna Ivanova-Brashinskaya brought the Russian puppetry tradition  and Mikhail Brashinsky’s timeless libretto of one’s craving for love and longing to be loved together with contemporary opera work. In the reviews Croak was praised as ”one of the most important and breathtaking attractions of our time”.


Markku has worked with distinguished musicians including Timo Korhonen, Shin-ichi Fukuda, Thomas Müller-Pering, Patrik Kleemola, Lauri Sallinen, Henrik Sandås, Alice Teyssier, Lucy Abrams, Petrit Çeku, Veli Kujala, Hanna Kinnunen and Tuomas Niininen to name a few. He has also worked with ensembles including International Contemporary Ensemble (New York), Uusinta Ensemble (Helsinki), Studio for New Music Ensemble (Moscow), Nordlyd String Quartet (Oslo), Avanti! Orchestra, Pori Sinfonietta, The Helsinki Strings and the Polytech Choir and conductors including Nils Schweckendiek, Dima Slobodeniouk, David Searle, Jukka Rantamäki, Juha Kuivanen, Atso Almila and Jani Telaranta.


Markku has won first prizes in the national composition competitions in Finland with his orchestral works Flow and sight - energy - vague - ocean in 2004 and 2006, respectively. In 2009 his clarinet concerto FUME was selected to the jury’s list of recommended works in the International Uuno Klami Composition Competition. In 2011 Markku was featured in the program of the European Capital of Culture in Turku with two large-scale works commissioned for the event. His music has been heard in cities from New York to Taipei and from Buenos Aires to Rome in festivals including MISE-EN MUSIC FESTIVAL, Nordic Music Days, Musica nova Helsinki, Zagreb Music Biennale, Taiwan International Guitar Festival, Atlantic Music Festival, Tampere Biennale and Nuovi Spatzi Musicali.

Markku has received artist and working grants, among other, from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, the Teosto Commission Fund, the Madetoja Foundation and the Sibelius Fund. He is also active in the music organizations and is currently a member of the board at the Society of Finnish Composers, Music Finland and the Finnish Music Council as well as a member of the Composers' Directory Group at the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA). Having a passion for composition pedagogy and education projects, Markku is also involved in several projects focusing on the pedagogy of composition.


Residing in Helsinki, Markku continues his work drawing inspiration from both urban areas and nature. The arid sceneries of remote places, the vast seashores and forests serve as an important counterweight for him in the fast-paced lifestyle of our modern culture.