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Concerts Concerts

For reservations, call 212.847.9740 or email

Concerts held in Victor Borge Hall – named in honor of the legendary Danish entertainer and in recognition of his generosity to Scandinavia House – are supported in part by The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, The Louise and Karl Andrén Fund for Musical Performance, The Victor Borge Hall Endowment Fund, and The Dunard Fund.

Mystery Variations
with cellist Anssi Karttunen

Friday, May 2, 5 pm

In honor of the Sibelius Academy receiving the ASF Gold Medal this spring, celebrated Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen presents the New York Premiere of Mystery Variations – a collection of 31 variations for solo cello by as many contemporary composers based on Italian composer Giuseppe Colombi’s (1635-1694) Chiacona per basso solo, one of the oldest known pieces for the cello.

To celebrate the cellist’s 50th birthday in 2010, his wife, Muriel von Braun, and countrywoman and renowned composer Kaija Saariaho wrote to a number of composers whose music Karttunen had been working, asking each to write a variation on Colombi’s Chiacona. The composers were not told who else was involved in the project, and Karttunen agreed to perform the music before he had seen it – hence the title Mystery Variations. These 31 variations thus link the very beginning of the cello repertoire with music by some of the most distinguished composers of the present day and, with their distant echo of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 32 Diabelli Variations, provide a showcase for the extraordinary resourcefulness of contemporary cello technique.

About the cellist

Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen is one of the most reputable and versatile musicians on today’s classical music scene. Exceedingly active both as a soloist and chamber musician, his repertoire covers all of the standard works for cello, as well as a myriad of forgotten masterpieces and his own arrangements. He plays on modern, classical, and baroque cellos, as well as the violoncello piccolo.

Karttunen is a passionate advocate for contemporary music. He has performed over 135 world premieres, collaborating with such composers as Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho, Rolf Wallin, Luca Francesconi, and Tan Dun. An astounding 27 concertos have been written for him; he premiered Magnus Lindberg’s 1st Concerto with the Orchestre de Paris and 2nd Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Mania with London Sinfonietta, Martin Matalon’s cello concerto with the Orchestre National de France, Luca Francesconi’s Rest with the RAI Torino, and Kaija Saariaho's Notes on Light with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Karttunen has worked with world-renowned orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Symphony, Orchestre National de France, NHK Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Ensemble Modern, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Residentie Orchestra, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, RAI Torino, Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Avanti!, and many more. He also performs regularly as soloist and chamber musician at Europe’s most important music festivals, including Edinburgh, Salzburg, Lockenhaus, Spoleto, Berlin, Venice, Montpellier, Strasbourg, and Helsinki. His Zebra Trio, with violinist Ernst Kovacic and violist Steven Dann, performs concerts on both sides of the Atlantic. His duo with Magnus Lindberg, Dos Coyotes has performed in all over the globe.

His recordings traverse a broad spectrum of musical taste, from Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano on period instruments, to 20th century solo pieces, to concertos performed with the London Sinfonietta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. He has released recordings of concertos by Lindberg, Saariaho, and Salonen with Sony Classical. With Deutsche Grammophon, he released a DVD of Tan Dun's The Map for cello, video, and orchestra. He also appeared on the first ever contemporary music CD-ROM, Prisma, featuring the music of Kaija Saariaho. Karttunen is a founding member of, a non-profit organization for the production and sale of CDs and scores over the internet. Two of Anssi Karttunen’s recent recordings were nominated for a Gramophone Award 2013: a CD of Magnus Lindberg’s chamber music works with the composer and the clarinetist Kari Kriikku on Ondine and Henri Dutilleux’ Tout un monde lointain with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Esa-Pekka Salonen on Deutsche Grammophon, which was chosen as best contemporary recording of the year 2013.

Karttunen studied with Erkki Rautio, William Pleeth, Jacqueline du Pré, and Tibor de Machula, among others. From 1999 until 2005 he was principal cellist with the London Sinfonietta. Between 1994 and 1998, he was the Artistic Director of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra and the Suvisoitto Festival in Porvoo, Finland. Having directed the Helsinki Biennale in 1995, he has been Artistic Director of its successor, the Musica Nova festival, since the autumn of 2013.

Karttunen frequently teaches masterclasses, for example in 2012 together with Kaija Saariaho at Carnegie Hall, at the 2012 Cello Biennial Amsterdam and regularly since 2008 at the workshop series Creative Dialogue, offered in collaboration with the Sibelius Academy in Santa Fe.

He plays on a Francesco Ruggeri cello.

This concert was made possible by a contribution from Maire and Carl Gustaf Ehrnrooth. Additional support was provided by the following ASF funds: The Finnish Fund and The Hilppa Roby Fund for Finnish Cultural and Educational Programs at Scandinavia House.

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Mari Boine

Tuesday, May 13, 7 pm
$15 ($10 ASF Members)

Brave and distinctive, Mari Boine’s soaring voice has defined a new musical language in Norway. Her beguiling talent for weaving other sounds into joik, the traditional music of her native Sámi people, incorporates rich seams of other folk music, jazz, and rock.

About Mari Boine

Mari Boine is a Norwegian Sámi musician known for having added jazz and rock to the joiks of her native people. Born in Finnmark, Norway she grew up amid the Laestadian Christian movement as well as amidst discrimination against her people. Gula Gula (first released by Iđut, 1989, later re-released by Real World) was her breakthrough release, and she has continued to record popular albums that has listeners all over the world.

In 2003 Boine was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize for her ethnic intuition, her artistic strength and for the ability to communicate, which allows her to reach people in all corners of the world – regardless of cultural background. She has retained her musical roots, while giving them a contemporary expression which reaches an enormous audience all over the world. She was appointed knight, first class in the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for her artistic diversity on September 18, 2009. In early 2010 she released her first “best of” album.

Co-presented with Riddu Riđđu Festival and Center for Northern Peoples. The concert is supported by The Sámi Parliament of Norway and Music Norway.

See also Sámi Stories: Art and Identity of an Arctic People in EXHIBITIONS section.

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Concert Series

Music on Park Avenue
Evenings with Pianist Per Tengstrand

Thursday, April 17, 8 pm; Thursday, May 15, 8 pm; & Thursday, May 29, 8 pm
Series continues in the Fall & Winter 2014-15 season
$20 ($15 ASF Members)

Swedish pianist and artistic director Per Tengstrand – now in his fourth season of musical programming at Scandinavia House – performs a series of concerts with distinguished guest musicians. The series highlights the repertoire of Scandinavian chamber music and its composers. Tengstrand also hosts pre-concert talks 45 minutes prior to the start of each concert.

The Beethoven Sonatas

May 15 & May 29

Scandinavian TrioTo hear Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas in their entirety is perhaps one of the most incredible musical journeys one can embark on. After more than ten years of preparation, Swedish pianist and artistic director Per Tengstrand will play the sonatas in their chronological order.

This spring, Tengstrand will begin to describe to audiences – through music and words – how the young, confident virtuoso developed into the celebrated composer of the Pathétique and Moonlight sonatas and later a deaf master in his final years. The first three of these concerts debut this spring; the remainder will continue in upcoming seasons of Music on Park Avenue.

First Concert Tours: Prague, Berlin, & Budapest

May 15

A performance of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49, No. 1 and Piano Sonata No. 20 in G major, Op. 49, No. 2 (both published in 1805, although likely composed several years earlier), the “Grand Sonata” – Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat major, Op. 7 (1796-97) and Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10, No. 1 (1797).

The First Hit: The Pathétique Sonata

May 29

A concert including Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major, Op. 10, No. 2 (1796-98), Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3 (1798), and Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, commonly known as Sonata Pathétique (1798).

The 2014 Music on Park Avenue concert series is supported in part by a generous grant from Christina Lang Assael and The Assael Foundation and a grant from The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.

Jeffrey SiegelKeyboard Conversations® with Jeffrey Siegel:
Concerts with Lively Commentary

Thursday, May 8, 2014, 8 pm
$20 ($15 ASF Members)

Internationally acclaimed pianist Jeffrey Siegel resumes his seventh season at Scandinavia House. Each evening is comprised of informal commentary on the music and its composers, a full performance of each work, and concludes with a short Q & A session. The accessible format enriches audience understanding of classical music for the newcomer and seasoned listener alike.

Mistresses and Masterpieces

May 8

The passionate music inspired by the “significant others” in the love lives of composers, including Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, and Franz Liszt.

This series is made possible in part by a generous grant from The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, Edmund C. Duffy, Director.

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Art Afterhours

Tuesdays, 6 – 8 pm, June 3 & July 1, 2014

Come early and stay late! Art Afterhours is a once-monthly art party with extended gallery hours, 6 to 8 pm, featuring music and drinks. Meet up and socialize with other Nordic art fans at Scandinavia House to relish Sámi Stories: Art and Identity of an Arctic People after hours.


See also Sámi Stories: Art and Identity of an Arctic People in EXHIBITIONS section.


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food icon Smörgås Chef’s Dinner & a Concert

Ongoing, 5 – 10 pm (Last seating @ 9 pm)
$39 per person ($34 ASF Members)

Pairing top-notch Scandinavian cinema and music with fine Nordic cuisine, Smörgås Chef @ Scandinavia House continues its popular Dinner & a Concert prix-fixe 2-course dinner menu. Available from 5 to 10 pm (the last seating is at 9 pm), this ongoing offer features a selection of favorite dishes including herb-roasted chicken, cured gravlaks, and Swedish meatballs, and include one admission to that evening’s concert.

For more dinner reservations and more information, please call Smörgås Chef @ Scandinavia House at 212.847.9745 or visit

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