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Finnish Pianist Matti Raekallio to Join Oberlin Conservatory Faculty

February 29, 2016
Erich Burnett
Finnish Pianist Matti Raekallio

Finnish pianist Matti Raekallio, an internationally lauded performer and educator hailed for his pedagogy as well as the astounding depth of his repertoire, will join the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music as professor of piano. He will begin July 1.

“It is a huge pleasure for me to be coming to Oberlin," says Raekallio, who has taught at the Juilliard School since 2007. "I’ve always felt very at home at Oberlin, and I have always felt that my colleagues here have been doing something right. It’s a very pleasant atmosphere, and I am thrilled to become a part of it myself.”

Raekallio has enjoyed a concert career spanning four decades. He made his American debut at Carnegie Hall in 1981 and has performed the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven, Scriabin, and Prokofiev, as well as an astounding 62 piano concertos. His discography numbers roughly 20 CDs for Ondine.

Raekallio’s career in education began with a 30-year appointment at the Sibelius Academy in his native Helsinki. In 2005 he became a professor at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater, und Medien in Hannover, Germany. Two years later, he joined the faculty of Juilliard. In recent years, he has continued to teach at the Hochschule and at Bard College Conservatory. Among his past students are multiple first-prize winners in major international competitions including Leeds, AXA Dublin, London, Vienna (Beethoven), Budapest (Liszt-Bartók), and Artists International in New York.

In addition, Raekallio frequently gives master classes throughout the world and serves as a juror in international youth competitions including Oberlin’s Cooper International Competition for Piano, to which he will return this summer.

"We are thrilled to welcome Matti Raekallio to Oberlin this fall," says Dean of the Conservatory Andrea Kalyn. "His accomplishments and energy as both a performer and teacher are renowned, from the extraordinary range of his concert repertoire, to his “marathon” recitals, to the scope and depth of his experience as an adjudicator and teacher. I very much look forward to all that Matti will bring to Oberlin as a teacher, performer, and colleague."

Raekallio prefers to be as flexible as possible in his approach with students, the better to accommodate their individual strengths and learning styles. “Oberlin students are of such consistently high quality, and each Oberlin student is different—which is a very good sign,” he says. “They are independent musical personalities.”

Born in Helsinki, Raekallio was a relative latecomer to music: He started playing the piano at age 11. It wasn’t until his teen years, upon hearing the work of Sviatoslav Richter, that an unyielding fire to play took hold in him. By 17, he began studying abroad, first with Maria Curcio in London, then with Dieter Weber at the Vienna Academy of Music and at the Leningrad Conservatory in Russia.

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